Thursday, December 20, 2012

60 Bhagavatham - Rukmini haranam

As promised, Krishna pays a visit to the house of Akrura and also the (hunchback woman) Sairandhri. Krishna sends Akrura as an emissary to Hastinapura, the capital of the Kauravas, to make enquiries about the well-being of his cousins Yudhishtra and the other Pandavas. Krishna builds a fortress called Dwaraka and lives there, to protect himself from the attacks of Jarasandha, the father-in-law of Kamsa. Jarasandha had vowed to rid the earth of the Yadava clan. Balarama marries Revati, the daughter of Kakudmi (of Saurashtra).
Bhishmaka was the king of Vidarbha. He had five sons and one daughter. The eldest son was Rukmi and the daughter was Rukmini, a part manifestation of Lakshmi, the consort of Vishnu. Having heard about the exploits and glory of Krishna, Rukmini looked upon Krishna as her befitting husband. But Rukmi, her brother hated Krishna and wanted her to be married to Sishupala, king of Chedi. He also deterred his parents and other relations from their choice of Krishna as the suitor.
Rukmini decides to communicate directly with Krishna. She sends a message through a trusted brahmin, Sunanda, to bring Krishna to Vidarbha. Sunanda reaches Dwaraka. Krishna welcomes him and provides him heavenly hospitality, even seating him on Krishna's throne. Krishna enquires Sunanda about the reason for his visit. He reports the facts about the proposal for Rukmini's marriage and gives Krishna the message from Rukmini.
Rukmini praises the excellent qualities of Krishna. "Having heard about your infinite qualities, I have set my mind on you. I have chosen you as my husband. Take me as your wife from here. Let not Sishupala touch my body, which rightfully belongs to you. You shall reach the territories of Vidarbha incognito, before the day of marriage . The following day, you shall crush the forceful armies of Sishupala and Jarasandha, with the help of your generals. As a prize of valour you shall marry me perforce, according to the rakshasa system of marriage. If you are hesitant to kill my relatives in the process, there is a plan. On the eve of marriage a grand procession will be taken out, where the bride will worship Goddess Ambika, our family deity. If however, I do not secure your grace, my Lord, I shall lay down my life."
Sunanda delivers the secret message and asks Krishna to consider whatever is worth doing, without delay. Krishna heartily laughed: "My mind is likewise set on her. I know about Rukmi's grudge. I shall bring the princess devoted to me to Dwaraka." He orders his charioteer Daruka to get ready for the journey. In a single night, Krishna reaches Vidarbha along with Sunanda.
Bhishmaka, out of affection for his son Rukmi, performs the necessary rites prior to his daughter's wedding with Sishupala, against his own will. Salva, Jarasandha, Dantavaktra, Viduratha, Paundraka and other kings inimical to Krishna and Balarama were also present on the occasion. They had made up their minds to jointly contend with Krishna, if he chooses to take away the bride.
Balarama apprehends strife, hearing of Krishna's departure to Vidarbha alone --  and also aware about the troops marshaled by the kings friendly to Sishupala. He proceeds immediately to Kundinapura with a huge army.
Rukmini was anxious, as Sunanda had not returned yet. She contemplates on Krishna. She saw Sunanda, and could guess from his pleasant countenance that he had met Krishna. Sunanda reports that Krishna has reached Vidarbha and tells her about his unfailing assurance that he would indeed take Rukmini to Dwaraka. Rukmini bows to Sunanda and expresses her indebtedness to him.
Knowing that Krishna and Balarama have come to their place, the King pays respects them and the people rejoice - as they consider Krishna as the ideal choice for their princess Rukmini.
Guarded by armed soldiers and accompanied by companions, Rukmini sets off to worship Goddess Ambika. She extolls Parvati and prays that Krishna be her husband. As she comes out of the temple, her brilliant charm sets off a flutter in all the warriors' hearts, who stood watching. Rukmini moves slowly. Lifting her locks with her left hand, she searches for Krishna amidst the thousands of warriors. While she was about to mount her chariot, Krishna snatches her away to his own chariot, unmindful of the kings hostile to him, who just kept gazing.
Comfortably seating her in his chariot bearing the emblem of Garuda, Krishna departs swiftly to Dwaraka along with the others headed by Balarama. The allies of Rukmi, headed by Jarasandha, follow Krishna in hot pursuit. The Yadava army of Balarama, turns around to face the challengers. Rukmini looks bashfully at Krishna, her eyes filled with fear. Krishna comforts her: "Don't be afraid, dear. The armies of the enemy will be destroyed by your own troops." After a fierce battle, the kings led by Jarasandha turned their backs and withdrew. They try and console Sishupala, who was distressed that his marriage to Rukmini was thwarted by Krishna.
Rukmi, unable to tolerate the turn of events, declared that he would never return to Kundinapura without bringing back his sister Rukmini.  He pursues Krishna in a chariot. He shouts at Krishna to stop. After a fierce one-to-one battle, Krishna defeats him. Rukmi leaps from his chariot with a sword and rushes at Krishna. Krishna destroys the sword with his arrows. He lifts a sword and prepares to strike at Rukmi. Rukmini clasps her Lord's feet and prays to show mercy to her brother. Krishna desists from killing Rukmi. He binds Rukmi with his scarf and disfigures his face by shaving off, with with the sword, parts of his moustache and hair. Balarama joins them with his army and seeing the plight of Rukmi, admonishes Krishna after releasing Rukmi from bondage: "You have done an impious act abhorred by the Vrishni race. Your act amounts to killing him." He consoles Rukmini and asks her not to take offence at such an act by the Vrishnis. Comforted by Balarama, Rukmi leaves. As he has vowed not to enter Kundinapura, he builds a mansion and a city for himself named Bhojakata.
The marriage of Krishna with Rukmini was then solemnised in a due ceremony, and celebrated in a grand manner, attended by kings friendly to the Yadus. There was great jubilation among the citizens of Dwaraka as Krishna wed Rukmini, who was none other than Lakshmi.

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Srimad Bhagavatham