52. Krsna Kidnaps Rukmini
52 / Kåñëa Kidnaps Rukmiëé
After hearing Rukmiëé's statement, Lord Kåñëa was very pleased. He immediately shook hands with the brähmaëa and said: "My dear brähmaëa, I am very glad to hear that Rukmiëé 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 Bhéñmaka, and sometimes I cannot sleep at night because I am thinking of her. I can understand that the marriage of Rukmiëé with Çiçupäla 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 Rukmiëé, like fire, from their midst."
Kåñëa, upon being informed of the specific date of Rukmiëé's marriage, became anxious to leave immediately. He asked His driver, Däruka, to harness the horses for His chariot and prepare to go to the kingdom of Vidarbha. The driver, just after hearing this order, brought Kåñëa's four special horses. The names and descriptions of these horses are mentioned in the Padma Puräëa. The first one, Çaivya, was greenish; the second, Sugréva, was grayish like ice; the third, Meghapuñpa, was the color of a new cloud; and the last, Balähaka, was of ashen color. When the horses were yoked and the chariot ready to go, Kåñëa helped the brähmaëa up and gave him a seat by His side. Immediately they started from Dvärakä and within one night arrived at the province of Vidarbha. The kingdom of Dvärakä is situated in the western part of India, and Vidarbha is situated in the northern part. They are separated by a distance of not less than 1,000 miles, but the horses were so fast that they reached their destination, a town called Kuëòina, within one night, or at most, twelve hours.
King Bhéñmaka was not very enthusiastic about handing his daughter over to Çiçupäla, but he was obliged to accept the marriage settlement due to his affectionate attachment for his eldest son, who had negotiated it. As a matter of duty, he was decorating the city for the marriage ceremony and was acting in great earnestness to make it very successful. Water was sprinkled all over the streets, and the city was cleansed very nicely. Since India is situated in the tropical zone, the atmosphere is always dry. Due to this, dust always accumulates on the streets and roads; so they must be sprinkled with water at least once a day, and in big cities like Calcutta, twice a day. The roads of Kuëòina were arranged with colored flags and festoons, and gates were constructed at particular crossings. The whole city was decorated very nicely. The beauty of the city was enhanced by the inhabitants, both men and women, who were dressed in washed cloth, decorated with sandalwood pulp, pearl necklaces and flower garlands. Incense was burning everywhere, and fragrances like aguru scented the air. Priests and brähmaëas were sumptuously fed and, according to ritualistic ceremony, were given sufficient wealth and cows in charity. In this way, they were engaged in chanting Vedic hymns. The King's daughter, Rukmiëé, was exquisitely beautiful. She was very clean and had beautiful teeth. The auspicious sacred girdle was tied on her wrist. She was given various types of jewelry to put on and long silken cloth to cover the upper and lower parts of her body. Learned priests gave her protection by chanting mantras from the Säma Veda, Åg Veda and Yajur Veda. After this they chanted mantras from the Atharva Veda and offered oblations in the fire to pacify the ominous conjunctions of different stars.
King Bhéñmaka was very experienced in dealing with the brähmaëas and priests when such ceremonies were held. He specifically distinguished the brähmaëas by giving them large quantities of gold and silver, grains mixed with molasses, and cows decorated with golden ornaments. Damaghoña, Çiçupäla's father, executed all kinds of ritualistic performances to invoke good fortune for his own family. Çiçupäla's father was known as Damaghoña due to his superior ability to cut down unregulated citizens. Dama means curbing down, and ghoña means famous; so he was famous for controlling the citizens. Damaghoña thought that if Kåñëa came to disturb the marriage ceremony, he would certainly cut Him down with his military power. Therefore, after performing the various auspicious ceremonies, Damaghoña gathered his military divisions, known as Madasravi. He took many elephants, garlanded with golden necklaces, and many chariots and horses which were similarly decorated. It appeared that Damaghoña, along with his son and other companions, was going to Kuëòina, not completely forgetting the marriage, but mainly intent on fighting.
When King Bhéñmaka learned that Damaghoña and his party were arriving, he left the city to receive them. Outside the city gate there were many gardens where the guests were welcomed to stay. In the Vedic system of marriage, the bride's father receives the large party of the bridegroom and accommodates them in a suitable place for two or three days until the marriage ceremony is performed. The party led by Damaghoña contained thousands of men, among whom the prominent kings and personalities were Jaräsandha, Dantavakra, Vidüratha and Pauëòraka. It was an open secret that Rukmiëé was meant to be married to Kåñëa but that her elder brother, Rukmé, had arranged her marriage to Çiçupäla. There was also some whispering going on about a rumor that Rukmiëé had sent a messenger to Kåñëa; therefore the soldiers suspected that Kåñëa might cause a disturbance by attempting to kidnap Rukmiëé. Even though they were not without fear, they were all prepared to give Kåñëa a nice fight in order to prevent the girl from being taken away. Çré Balaräma received the news that Kåñëa had left for Kuëòina accompanied only by a brähmaëa; He also heard that Çiçupäla was there with a large number of soldiers. Suspecting that they would attack Kåñëa, Balaräma took strong military divisions of chariots, infantry, horses and elephants and arrived at the precinct of Kuëòina.
Meanwhile, inside the palace, Rukmiëé was expecting Kåñëa to arrive, but when neither He nor the brähmaëa 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 brähmaëa nor Çyämasundara has returned. I cannot ascertain any reason for this." Having little hope, she thought perhaps Kåñëa had found reason to become dissatisfied and had rejected her fair proposal. As a result the brähmaëa 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.
Rukmiëé further began to think that demigods such as Lord Brahmä, Lord Çiva and the goddess Durgä 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 Våndävana were not worshiping him (Kåñëa having stopped the Indra-yajïa), he became very angry and wanted to chastise them. Thus Rukmiëé was thinking that since she did not worship Lord Çiva or Lord Brahmä very much, they might have become angry and tried to frustrate her plan. Similarly she thought that the goddess Durgä, the wife of Lord Çiva, might have taken the side of her husband. Lord Çiva is known as Rudra, and his wife is known as Rudräëé. Rudräëé and Rudra refer to those who are very accustomed to putting others in a distressed condition so they might cry forever. Rukmiëé was thinking of the goddess Durgä as Girijä, the daughter of the Himalayan Mountains. The Himalayan Mountains are very cold and hard, and she thought of the goddess Durgä as hardhearted and cold. In her anxiety to see Kåñëa, Rukmiëé, who was after all still a child, thought this way about the different demigods. The gopés worshiped goddess Kätyäyané to get Kåñëa as their husband; similarly Rukmiëé was thinking of the various types of demigods, not for material benefit, but in respect to Kåñëa. Praying to the demigods to achieve the favor of Kåñëa is not irregular, and Rukmiëé was fully absorbed in thoughts of Kåñëa.
Even though she pacified herself by thinking that the time for Govinda to arrive had not yet expired, Rukmiëé 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 Rukmiëé 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 Rukmiëé, full of anxiety, saw the brähmaëa messenger. Kåñëa, being the Supersoul of all living beings, could understand Rukmiëé's anxiety; therefore He sent the brähmaëa inside the palace to let her know that He had arrived. When Rukmiëé saw the brähmaëa, she could understand the auspicious trembling of her body and immediately became elated. She smiled and inquired from him whether or not Kåñëa had already come. The brähmaëa replied that the son of the Yadu dynasty, Çré Kåñëa, had arrived; he further encouraged her by saying that Kåñëa had promised to carry her away without fail. Rukmiëé was so elated by the brähmaëa'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, Rukmiëé implied that she would remain ever grateful to the brähmaëa. Anyone who gets the favor of the goddess of fortune, as did this brähmaëa, is without a doubt always happy in material opulence.
When King Bhéñmaka heard that Kåñëa and Balaräma had come, he invited Them to see the marriage ceremony of his daughter. Immediately he arranged to receive Them, along with Their soldiers, in a suitable garden house. As was the Vedic custom, the King offered Kåñëa and Balaräma honey and fresh washed cloth. He was hospitable not only to Kåñëa, Balaräma and kings such as Jaräsandha, but he also received many other kings and princes according to their respective personal strength, age and material possessions. Out of curiosity and eagerness, the people of Kuëòina assembled before Kåñëa and Balaräma and began to drink the nectar of Their beauty. With tearful eyes, they offered Them their silent respects. They were very pleased, considering Lord Kåñëa the suitable match for Rukmiëé. They were so eager to unite Kåñëa and Rukmiëé that they began to pray to the Personality of Godhead: "My dear Lord, if we have performed any pious activities that You are satisfied with, kindly be merciful upon us and accept the hand of Rukmiëé." It appears that Rukmiëé was a very popular princess, and all the citizens, out of intense love for her, prayed for her best fortune. In the meantime, Rukmiëé, being very nicely dressed and protected by bodyguards, came out of the palace to visit the temple of Ambikä, the goddess Durgä.
Deity worship in the temple has been in existence since the beginning of Vedic culture. There is a class of men described in the Bhagavad-gétä as the veda-väda-rata; they only believe in the Vedic ritualistic ceremonies, but not in the temple worship. Such foolish people may here take note that although this marriage of Kåñëa and Rukmiëé took place more than 5,000 years ago, there were arrangements for temple worship. In the Bhagavad-gétä the Lord says, yänti deva-vratä devän: "The worshipers of the demigods attain the abodes of the demigods." There were many people who worshiped the demigods and many who directly worshiped the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The system of demigod worship was directed mainly to Lord Brahmä, Lord Çiva, Lord Gaëeça, the sun-god and the goddess Durgä. Lord Çiva and the goddess Durgä were worshiped even by the royal families; other minor demigods were worshiped by silly inferior people. As far as the brähmaëas and Vaiñëavas are concerned, they simply worship Lord Viñëu, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. In the Bhagavad-gétä the worship of demigods is condemned, but not forbidden; there it is clearly stated that the less intelligent class of men worship the different kinds of demigods for material benefit. On the other hand, even though Rukmiëé was the goddess of fortune, she went to the temple of the goddess Durgä because the family deity was worshiped there. In the Çrémad-Bhägavatam it is stated that as Rukmiëé was proceeding towards the temple of the goddess Durgä, within her heart she was always thinking of the lotus feet of Kåñëa. Therefore when Rukmiëé went to the temple it was not with the intention of an ordinary person, who goes to beg for material benefits; her only target was Kåñëa. When people go to the temple of a demigod, the objective is actually Kåñëa, since it is He who empowers the demigods to provide material benefits.
As Rukmiëé proceeded toward the temple, she was very silent and grave. Her mother and her girl friend were by her side, and the wife of a brähmaëa was in the center; surrounding her were bodyguards. (This custom of a would-be bride going to the temple of a demigod is still practiced in India.) As the procession continued, various musical sounds were heard. Drums, conchshells, and bugles of different sizes such as paëavas, turyas and bheris combined to make a sound which was not only auspicious but very sweet to hear. There were thousands of wives of respectable brähmaëas present. These women were all dressed very nicely with suitable ornaments. They presented Rukmiëé with flower garlands, sandalwood pulp and a variety of colorful garments to assist her in worshiping Lord Çiva and the goddess Durgä. Some of these ladies were very old and knew perfectly well how to chant prayers to the goddess Durgä and Lord Çiva; so, followed by Rukmiëé and others, they led these prayers before the deity.
Rukmiëé offered her prayers to the deity by saying, "My dear goddess Durgä, I offer my respectful obeisances unto you as well as to your children." The Goddess Durgä has four famous children: two daughters--the goddess of fortune, Lakñmé, and the goddess of learning, Sarasvaté--and two famous sons, Lord Gaëeça and Lord Kärttikeya. They are all considered to be demigods and goddesses. Since the goddess Durgä is always worshiped along with her famous children, Rukmiëé specifically offered her respectful obeisances to the deity in that way; however, her prayers were different. Ordinary people pray to the goddess Durgä for material wealth, fame, profit, strength and so on; Rukmiëé, however, desired to have Kåñëa for her husband and therefore prayed to the deity to be pleased upon her and bless her. Since she desired only Kåñëa, her worship of the demigods is not condemned. While Rukmiëé was praying, a variety of items were presented before the deity, chief of which were water, different kinds of flames, incense, garments, garlands and various foodstuffs prepared with ghee, such as puris and kacuris. There were also fruits, sugarcane, betel nuts and spices offered. With great devotion, Rukmiëé offered them to the deity according to the regulative principles directed by the old brähmaëa ladies. After this ritualistic ceremony, the ladies offered the remnants of the foodstuffs to Rukmiëé as prasädam, which she accepted with great respect. Then Rukmiëé offered her obeisances to the ladies and to the goddess Durgä. After the business of deity worship was finished, Rukmiëé caught hold of the hand of one of her girl friends and left the temple, accompanied by the others.
All the princes and visitors who came to Kuëòina for the marriage were assembled outside the temple to see Rukmiëé. The princes were especially very eager to see her because they all actually thought that they would have Rukmiëé as their wife. Struck with wonder upon seeing Rukmiëé, they thought that she was specially manufactured by the Creator to bewilder all the great chivalrous princes. Her body was well-constructed, the middle portion being thin. She had green eyes, pink lips, and a beautiful face which was enhanced by her scattered hair and by different kinds of earrings. Around her feet she wore jeweled lockets. The bodily luster and beauty of Rukmiëé appeared as if painted by an artist perfectly presenting beauty following the description of great poets. The breast of Rukmiëé is described as being a little bit high, indicating that she was just a youth not more than thirteen or fourteen years old. Her beauty was specifically intended to attract the attention of Kåñëa. Although the princes gazed upon her beautiful features, she was not at all proud. Her eyes moved restlessly, and when she smiled very simply, like an innocent girl, her teeth appeared just like lotus flowers. Expecting Kåñëa to take her away at any moment, she proceeded very slowly towards her home. Her legs moved just like a full-grown swan, and her ankle bells tinkled very mildly.
As already explained, the great chivalrous princes who assembled there were so overwhelmed by Rukmiëé's beauty that they almost became unconscious. Full of lust, they hopelessly desired Rukmiëé's hand, comparing their own beauty with hers. Çrématé Rukmiëé, however, was not interested in any of them; in her heart she was simply expecting Kåñëa 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 Kåñëa was present amongst them. Although Rukmiëé had never before seen Kåñëa, she was always thinking of Him; thus she had no difficulty in recognizing Him amongst the princely order. Kåñëa, not being concerned with the other princes, immediately took the opportunity of placing Rukmiëé on His chariot, marked by a flag bearing an image of Garuòa. He then proceeded slowly, without fear, taking away Rukmiëé exactly as the lion takes the deer from the midst of the jackals. Meanwhile Balaräma appeared on the scene with the soldiers of the Yadu dynasty.
Jaräsandha, who had many times experienced defeat by Kåñëa, began to roar: "How is this? Kåñëa is taking Rukmiëé away from us without any opposition! What is the use in our being chivalrous fighters with arrows? My dear princes, just look! We are losing our reputation by this action. He is just like the jackal taking away the booty from the lion."
Thus ends the Bhaktivedanta purport of the Fifty-second Chapter of Kåñëa, "Kåñëa Kidnaps Rukmiëé."