Rukmini was an incarnation of Lakshmi, the goddess of fortune. When Krishna incarnated on earth during Dipara Yuga, Lakshmi also incarnated as Rukmini, the daughter of Bhishmaka, the king of Vidarbha. Just as Lakshmi is Vishnu`s Shakti so Rukmini is Krishna`s strength and thus the two cannot be separated.
Rukmini always loved Krishna from her earliest memories as a child and knew she must become His wife. Everyday, she prayed to Mother Divine to make it so. Never was there a moment that she was not engaged in loving thought of Krishna, thinking of His virtue, character, charm and greatness. Krishna also loved Rukmini and knew her to be the most sought after, virtuous and beautiful princess on Earth.
Rukmini, from an early age, begged Bhishmaka, her father, to arrange her marriage with Krishna and her father initially approved the marriage of Rukmini to Krishna.Rukmini anxiously awaited the day when she would be old enough to marry and become the wife of Krishna.
Rukmini`s eldest brother Rukmin (a friend of King Kamsa, who was killed by Krishna) was set against the marriage and for political reasons wanted his sister to marry his friend Shishupala, the crown prince of Chedi. Shishupala was also a vassal of Jarasandha and hence an enemy of Krishna.Rukmin was an ambitious prince and convinced Bhishmaka that the best course of action for political reasons was for Rukmini to be married to Shishupala .
Rukmini came to know about the conspiracy and immediately called Sunanda, a Brahman upon whom she had faith, to deliver a letter to Krishna.
The letter ran as follows:
"My heart has already accepted you as lord and master. I charge you therefore to come and succour me before Shishupala carries me off by force. The matter cannot brook any delay; so you must be here tomorrow. Shishupala's forces, as well as Jarasandha's, will oppose you and will have to be overcome before you can have me. May you be the triumphant hero and capture me! My brother has decided to marry me to Shishupala and, as part of the wedding ceremonies, I am going to the temple along with my retinue to offer worship to Parvati. That would be the best time for you to come and rescue me. If you do not turn up, I will put an end to my life so that I may at least join you in my next birth."
After hearing Rukmini's statement, Lord Krishna was very pleased. He immediately shook hands with the brahmana and said: "My dear brahmana, I am very glad to hear that Rukmini is anxious to marry Me, since I am also anxious to get her hand. My mind is always absorbed in the thought of the daughter of Bhishmaka, and sometimes I cannot sleep at night because I am thinking of her. I can understand that the marriage of Rukmini with Shishupala has been arranged by her elder brother in a spirit of animosity toward Me; so I am determined to give a good lesson to all of these princes. Just as fire is extracted and utilized after manipulating ordinary wood, similarly, after dealing with these demoniac princes, I shall bring forth Rukmini, like fire, from their midst."
After saying this, Krishna set off to Vidarbha with his elder brother Balarama.
In the meantime, Shishupala was delighted to get the news from Rukmin that he would marry Rukmini.Jarasandha, not so trusting, sent all his armies and associates along because he felt that Krishna would certainly come and run off with Rukmini.
Meanwhile, inside the palace, Rukmini was expecting Krishna to arrive, but when neither He nor the brahmana who took her message appeared, she became full of anxiety and began to think how unfortunate she was. "There is only one night between today and my marriage day, and still neither the brahmana nor Syamasundara has returned. I cannot ascertain any reason for this." Having little hope, she thought perhaps Krishna had found reason to become dissatisfied and had rejected her fair proposal. As a result the brahmana might have become disappointed and not come back. Although she was thinking of various causes for the delay, she expected them both at every moment.
Rukmini further began to think that demigods such as Lord Brahma, Lord Siva and the goddess Durga might have been displeased. It is generally said that the demigods become angry when they are not properly worshiped. For instance, when Indra found that the inhabitants of Vrndavana were not worshiping him (Krishna having stopped the Indra-yajna), he became very angry and wanted to chastise them. Thus Rukmini was thinking that since she did not worship Lord Siva or Lord Brahma very much, they might have become angry and tried to frustrate her plan. Similarly she thought that the goddess Durga, the wife of Lord Siva, might have taken the side of her husband. Lord Siva is known as Rudra, and his wife is known as Rudrani. Rudrani and Rudra refer to those who are very accustomed to putting others in a distressed condition so they might cry forever. Rukmini was thinking of the goddess Durga as Girija, the daughter of the Himalayan Mountains. The Himalayan Mountains are very cold and hard, and she thought of the goddess Durga as hardhearted and cold. In her anxiety to see Krishna, Rukmini, who was after all still a child, thought this way about the different demigods. The gopis worshiped goddess Katyayani to get Krishna as their husband; similarly Rukmini was thinking of the various types of demigods, not for material benefit, but in respect to Krishna. Praying to the demigods to achieve the favor of Krishna is not irregular, and Rukmini was fully absorbed in thoughts of Krishna.
Rukmini Visits Devi Temple
Even though she pacified herself by thinking that the time for Govinda to arrive had not yet expired, Rukmini felt that she was hoping against hope. She began to shed tears, and when they became more forceful, she closed her eyes in helplessness. While Rukmini was in such deep thought, auspicious symptoms appeared in different parts of her body. Trembling began to occur in her left eyelid and in her arms and thighs. When trembling occurs in these parts of the body it is an auspicious sign indicating that something lucrative can be expected.
Just then Rukmini, full of anxiety, saw the brahmana messenger. Krishna, being the Supersoul of all living beings, could understand Rukmini's anxiety; therefore He sent the brahmana inside the palace to let her know that He had arrived. When Rukmini saw the brahmana, she could understand the auspicious trembling of her body and immediately became elated. She smiled and inquired from him whether or not Krishna had already come. The brahmana replied that the son of the Yadu dynasty, Sri Krishna, had arrived; he further encouraged her by saying that Krishna had promised to carry her away without fail. Rukmini was so elated by the brahmana's message that she wanted to give him in charity everything she possessed. However, finding nothing suitable for presentation, she simply offered him her respectful obeisances. The significance of offering respectful obeisances to a superior is that the one offering obeisances is obliged to the respected person. In other words, Rukmini implied that she would remain ever grateful to the brahmana. Anyone who gets the favor of the goddess of fortune, as did this brahmana, is without a doubt always happy in material opulence.'
Bhishmaka received the news that Krishna was coming by his secret agent. Bhishmaka secretly accepted Krishna and wished that Rukmini would get married to him. After Krishna and Balarama reached Bhishmaka, he welcomed them joyfully and made them comfortable in a palace he made especially for Krishna. In her palace, Rukmini got ready for her forthcoming marriage. She went to the temple to pray but was severely disappointed when she did not see Krishna there. Inside the temple, she prayed to goddess Parvati so that Krishna would come and take her away for marriage.
"Oh Devi," implored Rukmini, praying for her intercession. "I prostrate myself before thee who knowest my devotion. Grant that Krishna may espouse me."
As Rukmini went out of the temple, the great chivalrous princes who assembled there were so overwhelmed by Rukmini's beauty that they almost became unconscious. Full of lust, they hopelessly desired Rukmini's hand, comparing their own beauty with hers. Srimati Rukmini, however, was not interested in any of them; in her heart she was simply expecting Krishna to come and carry her away. As she was adjusting the ornaments on her left-hand finger, she happened to look upon the princes and suddenly saw that Krishna was present amongst them. Although Rukmini had never before seen Krishna, she was always thinking of Him; thus she had no difficulty in recognizing Him amongst the princely order. Krishna, not being concerned with the other princes, immediately took the opportunity of placing Rukmini on His chariot, marked by a flag bearing an image of Garuda. He then proceeded slowly, without fear, taking away Rukmini exactly as the lion takes the deer from the midst of the jackals. Meanwhile Balarama appeared on the scene with the soldiers of the Yadu dynasty.
They both started to ride off when Shishupala noticed them. All of Jarasandha`s armed forces quickly started chasing them. While Balarama occupied most of them and held them back, Rukmin had almost caught up with Krishna and Rukmini.Krishna was about to kill him when Rukmini fell at the feet of Krishna and begged that her brother`s life be spared. Krishna being big hearted agreed to spare Rukmin`s life but as a punishment shaved Rukmin`s head and let him go free. To be disfigured thus was a sign of shame for the defeated warrior.
The defeated Rukmin was ashamed to return to Kundinapura and built at the very site of the battle between Krishna and himself a new city, Bhojakata, over which he ruled.
After defeating all the opposing elements and forcibly carrying away Rukmini,Krishna brought her to His capital city, Dvaraka, and then married her according to the Vedic ritualistic principle. After this marriage, Krishna became the King of the Yadus at Dvaraka. On the occasion of His marriage with Rukmini, all the inhabitants were happy, and in every house there were great ceremonies. The inhabitants of Dvaraka City became so pleased that they dressed themselves with the nicest possible ornaments and garments, and they went to present gifts according to their means to the newly married couple, Krishna and Rukmini. All the houses of Yadupuri (Dvaraka) were decorated with flags, festoons and flowers. Each and every house had an extra gate specifically prepared for this occasion, and on both sides of the gate there were big water jugs filled with water. The whole city was flavored by the burning of high quality incense, and at night there was illumination by thousands of lamps, decorating each and every building.
The entire city appeared jubilant on the occasion of Lord Krishna's marriage with Rukmini. Everywhere in the city there was profuse decorations of banana trees and betel nut trees. These two trees are considered very auspicious in happy ceremonies. At the same time there was an assembly of many elephants, who carried the respective kings of different friendly kingdoms. It is the habit of the elephant that whenever he sees some small plants and trees, out of his sportive frivolous nature, he uproots the trees and throws them hither and thither. The elephants assembled on this occasion also scattered the banana and betel nut trees, but in spite of such intoxicated action, the whole city, with the trees thrown here and there, looked very nice.
The friendly kings of the Kurus and the Pandavas were represented by Dhrtarastra, the five Pandu brothers, King Drupada, King Santardana, as well as Rukmini's father, Bhismaka. Because of Krishna's kidnapping Rukmini, there was initially some misunderstanding between the two families, but Bhismaka, King of Vidarbha, being approached by Sri Balarama and persuaded by many saintly persons, was induced to participate in the marriage ceremony of Krishna and Rukmini. Although the incidence of Krishna's kidnapping was not a very happy occurrence in the kingdom of Vidarbha, kidnapping was not an unusual affair among the ksatriyas. Kidnapping was, in fact, current in almost all marriages. Anyway, King Bhismaka was from the very beginning inclined to hand over his beautiful daughter to Krishna. In one way or another his purpose had been served, and so he was pleased to join the marriage ceremony, even though his eldest son was degraded in the fight. Maharaja Nanda and the cowherd boys of Vrndavana also joined the marriage ceremony. Kings from the kingdoms of Kuru, Srnjaya, Kekaya, Vidarbha and Kunti came to Dvaraka on this occasion with all their royal paraphernalia.
Krishna had a beautiful palace constructed for Rukmini and it was wonderfully furnished. There were many canopies hanging on the ceiling with laces bedecked with pearl garlands, and the whole palace was illuminated by the effulgence of valuable jewels. There were many flower orchards of baela and cameli, which are considered to be the most fragrant flowers in the world. There were many clusters of these plants, with blooming flowers enhancing the beauty of the palace. And because of the exquisite fragrance of the flowers, little groups of humming bees were gathered around the trees, and at night the pleasing moonshine glittered through the network of holes in the windows. There were many heavily flowered trees of parijata, and the mild wind stirred the flavor of the flowers all around. Within the walls of the palace, there was incense burning, and the fragrant smoke was leaking out of the window shutters. Within the room there were mattresses covered with white bedsheets resembling the foam of milk; the bedding was as soft and white as milk foam. In this situation, Krishna was very comfortably sitting and enjoying the service of Rukmini assisted by her maidservants.
Rukmini was also very eager to get the opportunity of serving her husband. She therefore wanted to serve the Lord personally and took the handle of the camara from the hand of the maidservant and began to move the fan. The handle of the camara was made of gold, decorated and bedecked with valuable jewels, and it became more beautiful when it was taken by Rukmini, because all of her fingers were beautifully set with jeweled rings. Her legs were decorated with ankle bells and jewels, which rang very softly between the pleats of her sari. Rukmini's raised breasts were smeared with kunkuma and saffron; thus her beauty was enhanced by the reflection of the reddish color emanating from her covered breasts. The highly raised lower part of her buttocks was decorated with a jeweled lace girdle, and a locket of great effulgence hung on her neck. Above all, because she was engaged in the service of Lord Krishna her beautiful body was beyond compare in the three worlds. When we take account of her beautiful face, it appears that the curling hair on her head, the beautiful earrings on her ears, her smiling mouth, and her necklace of gold, all combined to shower rains of nectar; and it was definitely proved that Rukmini was none other than the original goddess of fortune who is always engaged in the service of the lotus feet of Narayana.
The pastimes of Krishna and Rukmini in Dvaraka were manifestations of those of Narayana and Laksmi, which are of an exalted opulence. The pastimes of Radha and Krishna in Vrndavana were simple and rural, distinguished from the polished urban characteristics of those of Dvaraka. The characteristics of Rukmini were unusually bright, and Krishna was very much satisfied with her behavior.
It is said that Cupid was born as the son of Krishna, celebrated by the name Pradyumna. His qualities were most similar to those of Krishna.
The first son of Queen Rukmini was Pradyumna. She had nine other sons and one daughter. The other sons were Charudeshna, Sudeshna, Charudeha, Sushena, Charugupta, Bhadracharu, Charuvinda, Sucharu, and the very mighty Charu. The daughter of Krishna and Rukmini was named Charumati.