54. Pradyumna Born to Krsna and Rukmini
54 / Pradyumna Born to Kṛṣṇa and Rukmiṇī
It is said that Cupid, who is directly part and parcel of Lord Vāsudeva and who was formerly burned to ashes by the anger of Lord Śiva, took birth in the womb of Rukmiṇī begotten by Kṛṣṇa. This is Kāmadeva, a demigod of the heavenly planets especially capable of inducing lusty desires. The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa, has many grades of parts and parcels, but the quadruple expansions of Kṛṣṇa--Vasudeva, Saṅkarṣaṇa, Pradyumna and Aniruddha--are directly in the Viṣṇu category. Kāma, or the Cupid demigod, who later on took his birth in the womb of Rukmiṇī, was also named Pradyumna, but he cannot be the Pradyumna of the Viṣṇu category. He belongs to the category of jīva-tattva, but for special power in the category of demigods, he was a part and parcel of the super prowess of Pradyumna. That is the verdict of the Gosvāmīs. Therefore, when Cupid was burned into ashes by the anger of Lord Śiva, he merged into the body of Vasudeva, and in order to get his body again, he was begotten by Lord Kṛṣṇa Himself; he was directly released from his body in the womb of Rukmiṇī and was born as the son of Kṛṣṇa, celebrated by the name Pradyumna. Because he was begotten by Lord Kṛṣṇa directly, his qualities were most similar to those of Kṛṣṇa.
There was a demon of the name Śambara who was destined to be killed by this Pradyumna. The Śambara demon knew of his destiny, and as soon as he learned that Pradyumna was born, he took the shape of a woman and kidnapped the baby from the maternity home less than ten days after his birth. The demon took him and threw him directly into the sea. But, as it is said, "Whoever is protected by Kṛṣṇa, no one can kill; and whoever is destined to be killed by Kṛṣṇa, no one can protect." When Pradyumna was thrown into the sea, a big fish immediately swallowed him. Later on this fish was caught by the net of a fisherman, and the fish was later on sold to the Śambara demon. In the kitchen of the demon there was a maidservant whose name was Māyāvatī. This woman had formerly been the wife of Cupid, and had been called Rati. When the fish was presented to the demon Śambara, it was taken charge of by his cook, who was to make it into a palatable fish preparation. Demons and the rākṣasas are accustomed to eat meat, fish and similar non-vegetarian foods. Similarly, other demons, like Rāvaṇa, Kaṁsa and Hiraṇyakaśipu, although born of brāhmaṇa and kṣatriya fathers, used to take meat and flesh without discrimination. This practice is still prevalent in India, and those who are meat and fish eaters are generally called demons and rākṣasas.
The cook found a nice baby within the belly of the fish.
When the cook was cutting the fish, he found a nice baby within the belly of the fish, and he immediately presented him to the charge of Māyāvatī, who was an assistant in the kitchen affairs. This woman was surprised to see how such a nice baby could remain within the belly of a fish, and the situation perplexed her. The great sage Nārada then appeared and explained to her about the birth of Pradyumna, how the baby had been taken away by Śambara and later on thrown into the sea, and so on. In this way the whole story was disclosed to Māyāvatī, who had formerly been Rati, the wife of Cupid. Māyāvatī knew that she had previously been the wife of Cupid; after her husband was burnt into ashes by the wrath of Lord Śiva, she was always expecting him to come back again in the material form. This woman was engaged for cooking rice and dahl in the kitchen, but when she got this nice baby and understood that he was Cupid, her own husband, she naturally took charge of him and with great affection began to bathe him. Miraculously, the baby very swiftly grew up, and within a very short period he became a very beautiful young man. His eyes were just like the petals of lotus flowers, his arms were very long, down to the knees, and any woman who happened to see him became captivated by his bodily beauty.
Māyāvatī could understand that her former husband, Cupid, born as Pradyumna, had grown into such a nice young man, and she also gradually became captivated and lusty. She was smiling before him with a feminine attractiveness, expressing her desire for sexual unity. He therefore inquired from her, "How is it possible that first of all you were affectionate like a mother, and now you are expressing the symptoms of a lusty woman? What is the reason for such a change?" On hearing this statement from Pradyumna, the woman, Rati, replied, "My dear sir, you are the son of Lord Kṛṣṇa. Before you were ten days old, you were stolen by the Śambara demon and later on thrown into the water and swallowed up by a fish. In this way you have come under my care, but actually, in your former life as Cupid, I was your wife; therefore, my manifestation of conjugal symptoms is not at all incompatible. Śambara wanted to kill you, and he is endowed with various kinds of mystic powers. Therefore, before he again attempts to kill you, please kill him as soon as possible with your divine power. Since you were stolen by Śambara, your mother, Rukmiṇī-devi, has been in a very grievous condition, like a cuckoo bird who has lost her babies. She is very affectionate toward you, and since you have been taken away from her, she has been living like a cow aggrieved over the loss of its calf."
Māyāvatī had mystic knowledge of supernatural power. Supernatural powers are generally known as māyā, and to supersede all such supernatural power there is another supernatural power which is called mahāmāyā. Māyāvatī had the knowledge of the mystic power of mahāmāyā, and she delivered to Pradyumna this specific energetic power in order to defeat the mystic powers of the Śambara demon. Thus being empowered by his wife, Pradyumna immediately went before Śambara and challenged him to fight. Pradyumna began to address him in very strong language, so that his temper might be agitated and he would be moved to fight. At Pradyumna's words, the demon Śambara, being insulted, felt just like a snake feels after being struck by one's leg. A serpent cannot tolerate being kicked by another animal or by a man, and he immediately bites the opponent.
Śambara felt the words of Pradyumna as if they were a kick. He immediately took his club in his hand and appeared before Pradyumna to fight. In great anger, he began to beat Pradyumna with his club, just as a thunderbolt beats a mountain. The demon was also groaning and making a noise like a thundering cloud. Pradyumna protected himself with his own club, and eventually he struck the demon very severely. In this way, the fighting between Śambarāsura and Pradyumna began very seriously.
But Śambarāsura knew the art of mystic powers and could raise himself in the sky and fight from outer space. There is another demon of the name Maya, and Śambarāsura learned many mystic powers from him. He thus raised himself high in the sky and began to threw various types of nuclear weapons at the body of Pradyumna. In order to combat the mystic powers of Śambarāsura, Pradyumna remembered another mystic power, known as mahāvidyā, which was different from the black mystic power. The mahāvidyā mystic power is based on the quality of goodness. Understanding that his enemy was formidable, Śambara took assistance from various kinds of demonic mystic powers belonging to the Guhyakas, the Gandharvas, the Piśācas, the snakes and the Rākṣasas. But although the demon exhibited his mystic powers and took shelter of supernatural strength, Pradyumna was able to counteract his strength and powers by the superior power of mahāvidyā. When Śambarāsura was defeated in every respect, Pradyumna then took his sharpened sword and immediately cut off the demon's head, which was decorated with a helmet and with valuable jewels. When Pradyumna thus killed the demon, all the demigods in the higher planetary systems began to shower flowers on him.
Pradyumna's wife, Māyāvatī, could travel in outer space, and therefore they directly reached his father's capital, Dvārakā, by the airways. They passed above the palace of Lord Kṛṣṇa and began to come down as a cloud comes down with lightning. The inner section of a palace is known as antaḥpura (private apartments). Pradyumna and Māyāvatī could see that there were many women there, and they sat down among them. When the women saw Pradyumna, dressed in bluish garments, with very long arms, curling hair, beautiful eyes, a smiling reddish face, jewelry and ornaments, they first of all could not recognize him as Pradyumna, a personality different from Kṛṣṇa. They all felt themselves to be very much blessed by the sudden presence of Kṛṣṇa, and they wanted to hide in a different corner of the palace.
When the women saw, however, that all the characteristics of Kṛṣṇa were not present in the personality of Pradyumna, out of curiosity they came back again to see him and his wife, Māyāvatī. All of them were conjecturing as to who he was, for he was so beautiful. Among the women was Rukmiṇīdevī, who was equally beautiful, with her lotus-like eyes. Seeing Pradyumna, she naturally remembered her own son, and milk began to flow from her breast out of motherly affection. She then began to wonder, "Who is this beautiful young boy? He appears to be the most beautiful person. Who is the fortunate young woman able to give birth to this nice boy in her womb and become his mother? And who is that young woman who has accompanied him? How have they met? Remembering my own son, who was stolen even from the maternity home, I can only guess that if he is living somewhere, he might have grown by this time to be like this boy." Simply by intuition, Rukmiṇī could understand that Pradyumna was her own lost son. She could also observe that Pradyumna resembled Lord Kṛṣṇa in every respect. She was struck with wonder as to how he acquired all the symptoms of Kṛṣṇa. She therefore began to think more confidently that the boy must be her own grown-up son because she felt much affection for him, and, as an auspicious sign, her left arm was trembling.
At that very moment, Lord Kṛṣṇa, along with His father and mother, Devakī and Vasudeva, appeared on the scene. Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, could understand everything, yet in that situation He remained silent. However, by the desire of Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the great sage Nārada also appeared on the scene, and he began to disclose all the incidents--how Pradyumna had been stolen from the maternity home and how he had grown up and had come there with his wife Māyāvatī, who formerly had been Rati, the wife of Cupid. When everyone was informed of the mysterious disappearance of Pradyumna and how he had grown up, they all became struck with wonder because they had gotten back their dead son after they were almost hopeless of his return. When they understood that it was Pradyumna who was present, they began to receive him with great delight. One after another, all of the members of the family--Devakī, Vasudeva, Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa, Lord Balarāma, and Rukmiṇī and all the women of the family--began to embrace both Pradyumna and his wife Māyāvatī. When the news of Pradyumna's return was spread all over the city of Dvārakā, all the astonished citizens began to come with great anxiety to see the lost Pradyumna. They began to say, "The dead son has come back. What can be more pleasing than this?"
Śrīla Śukadeva Gosvāmī has explained that, in the beginning, all the residents of the palace, who were all mothers and stepmothers of Pradyumna, mistook him to be Kṛṣṇa and were all bashful, infected by the desire for conjugal love. The explanation is that Pradyumna's personal appearance is exactly like Kṛṣṇa's, and he was factually Cupid himself. There was no cause of astonishment, therefore, when the mothers of Pradyumna and other women mistook him in that way. It is clear from the statement that Pradyumna's bodily characteristics were so similar to Kṛṣṇa's that he was mistaken to be Kṛṣṇa even by his mother.
Thus ends the Bhaktivedanta purport of the Fifty-fourth Chapter of Kṛṣṇa, "Pradyumna Born to Kṛṣṇa and Rukmiṇī."
Thus ends Volume One of Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.