Once upon a time, Lord Kṛṣṇa the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the bestower of all knowledge to all living entities from Brahmā to the insignificant ant, was sitting in the bedroom of Rukmiṇī, who was engaged in the service of the Lord along with her assistant maidservants. Kṛṣṇa was sitting on the bedstead of Rukmiṇī, and the maidservants were engaged in fanning Him with cāmaras (yak-tail fly-whisks).
Lord Kṛṣṇa's dealings with Rukmiṇī as a perfect husband is a perfect manifestation of the supreme perfection of the Personality of Godhead. There are many philosophers who propound a concept of the Absolute Truth in which God cannot do this or that. They deny the incarnation of God, or the Supreme Absolute Truth in human form. But actually, the fact is different: God cannot be subject to our imperfect sensual activities. He is the all-powerful, omnipresent Personality of Godhead, and by His supreme will, He can not only create, maintain and annihilate the whole cosmic manifestation, but He can also descend as an ordinary human being in order to execute the highest mission. As stated in the Bhagavad-gītā, whenever there are discrepancies in the discharge of human occupational duties, He descends. He is not forced to appear by any external agency, but descends by His own internal potency in order to reestablish the standard functions of human activities as well as to simultaneously annihilate the disturbing elements in the progressive march of human civilization. In accordance with this principle of the transcendental pastimes of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, He descended in His eternal form of Śrī Kṛṣṇa in the dynasty of the Yadus.
The palace of Rukmiṇī 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 cāmeli, which are considered to be the most fragrant flowers in India. 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 pārijāta, 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, Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa was very comfortably sitting and enjoying the service of Rukmiṇījī assisted by her maidservants.
Rukmiṇī was also very eager to get the opportunity of serving the Supreme Personality of Godhead as her husband. She therefore wanted to serve the Lord personally and took the handle of the cāmara from the hand of the maidservant and began to move the fan. The handle of the cāmara was made of gold, decorated and bedecked with valuable jewels, and it became more beautiful when it was taken by Rukmiṇī, 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. Rukmiṇī's raised breasts were smeared with kuṅkuma 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 Kṛṣṇa--although at that time she was old enough to have grown-up sons--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 Rukmiṇī was none other than the original goddess of fortune who is always engaged in the service of the lotus feet of Nārāyaṇa.
The pastimes of Kṛṣṇa and Rukmiṇī in Dvārakā are accepted by great authorities as manifestations of those of Nārāyaṇa and Lakṣmī, which are of an exalted opulence. The pastimes of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa in Vṛndāvana are simple and rural, distinguished from the polished urban characteristics of those of Dvārakā. The characteristics of Rukmiṇī were unusually bright, and Kṛṣṇa was very much satisfied with her behavior.
Kṛṣṇa had experienced that when Rukmiṇī was offered a pārijāta flower by Nārada Muni, Satyabhāmā had become envious of her co-wife and had immediately demanded a similar flower from Kṛṣṇa. In fact, she could not be pacified until she was promised the whole tree. That was actually done by Kṛṣṇa; the tree was brought down to the earth planet from the heavenly kingdom. After this episode, Kṛṣṇa expected that because Satyabhāmā had been rewarded by a full tree of pārijāta, Rukmiṇī would also demand something. Rukmiṇī did not mention anything of the incident, however, for she was grave and simply satisfied in her service. Kṛṣṇa wanted to see her a bit irritated, and therefore He schemed in order to see the beautiful face of Rukmiṇī in an irritated condition. Although Kṛṣṇa had more than 16,100 wives, He used to behave with each of them with familial affection; He would create a particular situation between Himself and His wife in which the wife would criticize Him in the irritation of love, and Kṛṣṇa would enjoy this. In this case, because Kṛṣṇa could not find any fault with Rukmiṇī, for she was very great and always engaged in His service, He smilingly, in great love, began to speak to her. Rukmiṇī was the daughter of King Bhīṣmaka, a powerful king. Thus Kṛṣṇa did not address her as Rukmiṇī; He addressed her this time as the princess. "My dear princess, it is very surprising. Many great personalities in the royal order wanted to marry you. Although not all of them were kings, all possessed the opulence and riches of the kingly order; they were well-behaved, learned, famous among kings, beautiful in their bodily features and personal qualifications, liberal, very powerful in strength, and advanced in every respect. They were not unfit in any way, and over and above that, your father and your brother had no objection to such marriages. On the contrary, they gave their word of honor that you would be married with Śiśupāla; the marriage was sanctioned by your parents. Śiśupāla was a great king and was so lusty and mad after your beauty that if he had married you, I think he would always have remained with you just like your faithful servant.
"In comparison to Śiśupāla, with his personal qualities, I am nothing. And you may personally realize it. I am surprised that you rejected the marriage with Śiśupāla and accepted Me, who am inferior in comparison to Śiśupāla. I think Myself completely unfit to be your husband because you are so beautiful, sober, grave and exalted. May I inquire from you the reason that induced you to accept Me? Now, of course, I can address you as My beautiful wife, but still I may inform you of My actual position--that I am inferior to all those princes who wanted to marry you.
"First of all, you may know that I was so much afraid of Jarāsandha that I could not dare to live on the land, and thus I have constructed this house within the water of the sea. It is not My business to disclose this secret to others, but you must know that I am not very heroic; I am a coward and am afraid of them. Still I am not safe, because all the great kings of the land are inimical to Me. I have personally created this inimical feeling by fighting with them in many ways. Another fault is that although I am on the throne of Dvārakā, I have no immediate claim. Although I got a kingdom by killing My maternal uncle, Kaṁsa, the kingdom was to go to My grandfather; so actually I have no possession of a kingdom. Besides that, I have no fixed aim in life. People cannot understand Me very well. What is the ultimate goal of My life? They know very well that I was a cowherd boy in Vṛndāvana. People expected that I would follow the footsteps of My foster father, Nanda Mahārāja, and be faithful to Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī and all Her friends in the village of Vṛndāvana. But all of a sudden I left them. I wanted to become a famous prince. Still I could not have any kingdom, nor could I rule as a prince. People are bewildered about My ultimate goal of life; they do not know whether I am a cowherd boy or a prince, whether I am the son of Nanda Mahārāja or the son of Vasudeva. Because I have no fixed aim in life, people may call Me a vagabond. Therefore, I am surprised that you could select such a vagabond husband.
"Besides this, I am not very much polished, even in social etiquette. A person should be satisfied with one wife, but you see I have married many times, and I have more than 16,000 wives. I cannot please all of them as a polished husband. My behavior with them is not very nice, and I know you are very much conscious of it. I sometimes create a situation with My wives which is not very happy. Because I was trained in a village in My childhood, I am not well acquainted with the etiquette of urban life. I do not know the way to please a wife with nice words and behavior. And from practical experience it is found that any woman who follows My way or becomes attracted by Me is ultimately left to cry for the rest of her life. In Vṛndāvana, many gopīs were attracted to Me, and now I have left them, and they are living but are simply crying for Me in separation. I have heard from Akrūra and Uddhava that since I left Vṛndāvana, all My cowherd boy friends, the gopīs and Rādhārāṇī, and My foster father Nanda Mahārāja, are simply crying constantly for Me. I have left Vṛndāvana for good and am now engaged with the queens in Dvārakā, but I am not well-behaved with any of you. So you can very easily understand that I have no steadiness of character; I am not a very reliable husband. The net result of being attracted to Me is to acquire a life of bereavement only.
My dear beautiful princess, you may also know that I am always penniless. Just after My birth, I was carried penniless to the house of Nanda Mahārāja, and I was raised just like a cowherd boy. Although My foster father possessed many hundreds of thousands of cows, I was not proprietor of even one of them. I was simply entrusted to take care of them and tender them, but I was not the proprietor. Here also, I am not proprietor of anything, but am always penniless. There is no cause to lament for such a penniless condition; I possessed nothing in the past, so why should I lament that I do not possess anything at present? You may note also that My devotees are not very opulent persons; they also are very poor in worldly goods. Those who are very rich, possessing worldly wealth, are not interested in devotion to Me or Kṛṣṇa consciousness. On the contrary, when a person becomes penniless, whether by force or by circumstances, he may become interested in Me if he gets the proper opportunity. Persons who are proud of their riches, even if they are offered association with My devotees, do not take advantage of consciousness of Me. In other words, the poorer class of men may have some interest in Me, but the richer class of men have no interest. I think, therefore, that your selection of Me was not very intelligent. You appear to be very intelligent, trained by your father and brother, but ultimately you have made a great mistake in selecting your life's companion.
"But there is no harm; it is better late than never. You are at liberty to select a suitable husband who is actually an equal to you in opulence, family tradition, wealth, beauty, education--in all respects. Whatever mistakes you may have made may be forgotten. Now you may chalk out your own lucrative path of life. Usually a person does not establish a marital relationship with a person who is either higher or lower than his position. My dear daughter of the King of Vidarbha, I think you did not consider very sagaciously before your marriage. Thus you made a wrong selection by choosing Me as your husband. You mistakenly heard about My having very exalted character, although factually I was nothing more than a beggar. Without seeing Me and My actual position, simply by hearing about Me, you selected Me as your husband. That was not very rightly done. Therefore I advise you that it is better late than never; you can now select one of the great kṣatriya princes and accept him as your life's companion, and you can reject Me."
Kṛṣṇa was proposing that Rukmiṇī divorce Him at a time when Rukmiṇī already had many grown-up children. Therefore Kṛṣṇa's whole proposition to Rukmiṇī appeared to be something unexpected, because according to Vedic culture there was no such thing as separation of husband and wife by divorce. Nor was it possible for Rukmiṇī to do so in advanced age, when she had many married sons. Each and every one of Kṛṣṇa's proposals appeared to Rukmiṇī to be crazy, and she was surprised that Kṛṣṇa could say such things. Simple as she was, her anxiety was increasing more and more at the thought of separation from Kṛṣṇa.
Kṛṣṇa continued: "After all, you have to prepare yourself for your next life. I therefore advise that you select someone who can help you both in this life and the next life, for I am completely unable to help. My dear beautiful princess, you know that all the members of the princely order, including Śiśupāla, Śālva, Jarāsandha, Dantavakra and even your elder brother Rukmī, are all My enemies; they do not like Me at all. They hate Me from the cores of their hearts. All these princes were very much puffed up with their worldly possessions, and they did not care a fig for anyone who came before them. In order to teach them some lessons, I agreed to kidnap you according to your desire; otherwise I actually have no love for you, although you loved Me even before the marriage.
"As I have already explained, I am not very much interested in family life or love between husband and wife. By nature, I am not very fond of family life, wife, children, home and opulences. As My devotees are always neglectful of all these worldly possessions, I am also like that. Actually, I am interested in self-realization; that gives Me pleasure, and not this family life." After submitting His statement, Lord Kṛṣṇa suddenly stopped.
The great authority Śukadeva Gosvāmī remarks that Kṛṣṇa almost always passed His time with Rukmiṇī, and Rukmiṇī was a bit proud to be so fortunate that Kṛṣṇa never left her even for a moment. Kṛṣṇa, however, does not like any of His devotees to be proud. As soon as a devotee becomes so, by some tactic He cuts down that pride. In this case also, Kṛṣṇa said many things which were hard for Rukmiṇī to hear. She could only conclude that although she was proud of her position, Kṛṣṇa could be separated from her at any moment.
Rukmiṇī was conscious that her husband was not an ordinary human being. He was the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the master of the three worlds. By the way He was speaking, she was afraid of being separated from the Lord, for she had never heard such harsh words from Kṛṣṇa before. Thus she became perplexed with fear of separation, and her heart began to palpitate. Without replying to a word of Kṛṣṇa's statement, she simply cried in great anxiety, as if being drowned in an ocean of grief. She silently scratched the ground with the nails of her toes, which were reflecting reddish light on the ground. The tears from her eyes were pink, mixed with the black cosmetic ointment from her eyelids, and the waters were dropping down, washing the kuṅkuma and saffron from her breasts. Choked up on account of great anxiety, unable to speak even a word, she kept her head downward and remained standing just like a stick. Due to extremely painful fearfulness and lamentation, she lost all her reasoning powers and became so weak that immediately her body lost so much weight that the bangles on her wrists became slackened. The cāmara rod with which she was serving Kṛṣṇa immediately fell from her hand. Her brain and memory became puzzled, and she lost consciousness. The nicely combed hair on her head scattered here and there, and she fell down straight, like a banana tree cut down by a whirlwind.
Lord Kṛṣṇa immediately realized that Rukmiṇī had not taken His words in a joking spirit. She had taken them very seriously, and in her extreme anxiety over immediate separation from Him, she had fallen into this condition. Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa is naturally very affectionate toward His devotees, and seeing Rukmiṇī's condition, His heart immediately became softened. At once He became merciful to her. The relationship between Kṛṣṇa and Rukmiṇī was as Lakṣmī-Nārāyaṇa; therefore, He appeared before her in His four-handed manifestation of Nārāyaṇa. He got down from the bedstead, brought her up by her hands, and, placing His cooling hands on her face, smoothed the scattered hairs on her head. Lord Kṛṣṇa dried the wet breast of Rukmiṇījī with His hand. Understanding the seriousness of Rukmiṇī's love for Him, He embraced her to His chest.
The Supreme Personality is very expert in putting a thing reasonably for one's understanding, and thus He tried to retract all that He said before. He is the only resort for all the devotees, and so He knows very well how to satisfy His pure devotees. Kṛṣṇa understood that Rukmiṇī could not follow the statements which He had made in a joking way. To counteract her confusion, He again began to speak, as follows.
"My dear daughter of King Vidarbha, My dear Rukmiṇī, please do not misunderstand Me. Don't be unkind unto Me like this. I know you are sincerely and seriously attached to Me; you are My eternal companion. The words which have affected you so much are not factual. I wanted to irritate you a bit, and I was expecting you to make counter answers to those joking words. Unfortunately, you have taken them seriously; I am very sorry for it. I expected that your red lips would tremble in anger on hearing My statement and you would chastise Me in many words. O perfection of love, I never expected that your condition would be like this. I expected that you would put your blinking eyes upon Me in retaliation, and in that way, I would be able to see your beautiful face in that angry mood.
"My dear beautiful wife, you know that we are householders. We are always busy in many household affairs, so we long for a time that we can enjoy some joking words between us. That is our ultimate game in household life. Actually, the householders work very hard day and night, but all fatigue of the day's labor becomes minimized as soon as they meet, husband and wife together, and enjoy life in many ways." Lord Kṛṣṇa wanted to exhibit Himself just an ordinary householder who delights himself by exchanging joking words with his wife. He therefore repeatedly requested Rukmiṇī not to take those words very seriously.
In this way, when Lord Kṛṣṇa pacified Rukmiṇī by His sweet words, she could understand that what was formerly spoken by Him was not actually meant, but was spoken to evoke some joking pleasure between themselves. She was therefore pacified by hearing the words of Kṛṣṇa. Gradually she was freed from all fearfulness of separation from Him, and she began to look on His face very cheerfully with her naturally smiling face. She said, "My dear lotus-eyed Lord, Your statement that we are not a fit combination is completely right. It is not possible for me to come to an equal level with You because You are the reservoir of all qualities, the unlimited Supreme Personality of Godhead. How can I be a fit match for You? There is no possibility of comparison with You, who are the master of all greatness, controller of the three qualities and object of worship for great demigods like Brahmā and Lord Śiva. As far as I am concerned, I am a production of the three modes of material nature. The three modes of material nature are impediments towards the progressive advancement of devotional service. When and where can I be a fit match for You? My dear husband, You have rightly said also that being afraid of the kings, You have taken shelter in the water of the sea. But who is the king of this material world? I do not think that the so-called royal families are kings of the material world. The kings of the material world are the three modes of material nature. They are actually the controllers of this material world. You are situated in the core of everyone's heart, where You remain completely aloof from the touch of the three modes of material nature, and there is no doubt about it.
"You say You always maintain enmity with the worldly kings. But who are the worldly kings? I think the worldly kings are the senses. They are most formidable, and they control everyone. Certainly You maintain enmity with these material senses. You are never under the control of the senses; rather, You are the controller of the senses, Hṛṣīkeśa. My dear Lord, You have said that You are bereft of all royal power, and that is also correct. Not only are You bereft of material world supremacy, but even Your servants, those who have some attachment to Your lotus feet, also give up the material world supremacy because they consider the material position to be the darkest region, which checks the progress of spiritual enlightenment. Your servants do not like material supremacy, so what to speak of You? My dear Lord, Your statement that You do not act as an ordinary person with a particular aim in life is also perfectly correct. Even Your great devotees and servants, known as great sages and saintly persons, remain in such a state that no one can get any clue to the aim of their lives. They are considered by the human society to be crazy and cynical. Their aim of life remains a mystery to the common human being; the lowest of mankind can know neither You nor Your servant. A contaminated human being cannot even imagine the pastimes of You and Your devotees. O unlimited one, when the activities and endeavors of Your devotees remain a mystery to the common human being, how can they understand Your motive and endeavor? All kinds of energies and opulences are engaged in Your service, but still they are resting at Your shelter.
"You have described Yourself as penniless, but this condition is not poverty. Since there is nothing in existence but Yourself, You do not require to possess anything--You Yourself are everything. Unlike others, You do not require to purchase anything extraneously. With You all contrary things can be adjusted because You are absolute. You do not possess anything, but no one is richer than You. In the material world no one can be rich without possessing. Since Your Lordship is absolute, You can adjust the contradiction of possessing nothing but at the same time being the richest. In the Vedas it is stated that although You have no material hands and legs, You accept everything which is offered in devotion by the devotees. You have no material eyes and ears, but still You can see everything everywhere, and You can hear everything everywhere. Although You do not possess anything, the great demigods who accept prayers and worship from others come and worship You to solicit Your mercy. How can You be categorized among the poor?
"My dear Lord, You have also stated that the richest section of human society does not worship You. This is also correct, because persons who are puffed up with material possessions think of utilizing their property for sense gratification. When a poverty-stricken man becomes rich, he makes a program for sense gratification. This is due to his ignorance of how to utilize his hard-earned money. Under the spell of the external energy, he thinks that his money is properly employed in sense gratification, and thus he neglects to render transcendental service. My dear Lord, You have stated that persons who possess nothing are very dear to You; renouncing everything, Your devotee wants to possess You only. I see, therefore, that a great sage like Nārada Muni who does not possess any material property is still very dear to You. And such persons do not care for anything but Your Lordship.
"My dear Lord, You have stated that a marriage between persons equal in status of social standing, beauty, riches, strength, influence and renunciation can be a suitable match. But this status of life can only be possible by Your grace. You are the supreme perfectional source of all opulences. Whatever opulent status of life one may have is all derived from You. As described in the Vedānta-sūtra, janmādyasya yataḥ: You are the supreme source from which everything emanates, the reservoir of all pleasures. Therefore, persons who are endowed with knowledge desire only to achieve You, and nothing else. To achieve Your favor, they give up everything--even the transcendental realization of Brahman. You are the supreme ultimate goal of life. You are the reservoir of all interests of the living entities. Those who are actually well-motivated desire only You, and for this reason they give up everything to attain success. They therefore deserve to be associated with You. In the society of the servitors and served in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, one is not subjected to the pains and pleasures of material society, which functions according to sex attraction. Therefore, everyone, man or woman, should seek to be an associate in Your society of servitors and served. You are the Supreme Personality of Godhead; no one can excel You, nor can anyone come up to an equal level with You. The perfect social system is that in which You remain in the center, being served as the Supreme, and all others engage as Your servitors. In such a perfectly constructed society, everyone can remain eternally happy and blissful.
"My Lord, You have stated that only the beggars praise Your glories, and that is also perfectly correct. But who are those beggars? Those beggars are all exalted devotees, liberated personalities and those in the renounced order of life. They are all great souls and devotees who have no other business than to glorify You. Such great souls forgive even the worst offender. These so-called beggars execute their spiritual advancement of life, tolerating all kinds of tribulations in the material world. My dear husband, do not think that out of my inexperience I accepted You as my husband; actually, I followed all these great souls. I followed the path of these great beggars and decided to surrender my life unto Your lotus feet.
"You have said that You are penniless, and that is correct. You distribute Yourself completely to these great souls and devotees. Knowing this fact perfectly well, I rejected even such great personalities like Lord Brahmā and King Indra. My Lord, the great time factor acts under Your direction only. The time factor is so great and powerful that within moments it can effect devastation anywhere within the creation. Considering all these factors, I thought Jarāsandha, Śiśupāla and similar other princes who wanted to marry Me to be no more important than ordinary insects.
"My dear all-powerful son of Vasudeva, Your statement that You have taken shelter within the water of the ocean, being afraid of all the great princes, is quite suitable, but my experience with You contradicts this. I have actually seen that You kidnapped me forcibly in the presence of all these princes. At the time of my marriage ceremony, simply by giving a jerk to the string of Your bow, You very easily drove the others away and kindly gave me shelter at Your lotus feet. I still remember vividly that You kidnapped me in the same way as a lion forcibly takes his share of hunted booty, driving away all other small animals within the twinkling of an eye.
"My dear lotus-eyed Lord, I cannot understand Your statement that women and other persons who have taken shelter under Your lotus feet pass their days only in bereavement. From the history of the world we can see that princes like Aṅga, Pṛthu, Bharata, Yayāti and Gaya were all great emperors of the world, and there were no competitors to their exalted positions. But in order to achieve the favor of Your lotus feet, they renounced their exalted positions and entered into the forest to practice penances and austerities. When they voluntarily accepted such a position, accepting Your lotus feet as all in all, does it mean that they were in lamentation and bereavement?
"My dear Lord, You have advised me that I can still select another from the princely order and divorce myself of Your companionship. But, my dear Lord, it is perfectly well-known to me that You are the reservoir of all good qualities. Great saintly persons like Nārada Muni are always engaged simply in glorifying Your transcendental characteristics. If someone simply takes shelter of such a saintly person, he immediately becomes freed from all material contamination. And by coming in direct contact with Your service the goddess of fortune agrees to bestow all her blessings. Under the circumstances, what woman who has once heard of Your glories from authoritative sources and somehow or other has tasted the nectarean flavor of Your lotus feet can be foolish enough to agree to marry someone of this material world who is always afraid of death, disease, old age and rebirth? I have therefore accepted Your lotus feet, not without consideration, but after mature and deliberate decision. My dear Lord, You are the master of the three worlds. You can fulfill all the desires of all Your devotees in this world and the next, because You are the Supreme Soul of everyone. I have therefore selected You as my husband, considering You to be the only fit personality. You may throw me in any species of life according to the reaction of my fruitive activities, and I haven't the least concern for this. My only ambition is that I may always remain fast to Your lotus feet, because You can deliver Your devotees from illusory material existence and are always prepared to distribute Yourself to Your devotees.
"My dear Lord, You have advised me to select one of the princes such as Śiśupāla, Jarāsandha or Dantavakra, but what is their position in this world? They are always engaged in hard labor to maintain their household life, just like the bulls working hard day and night with the oil-pressing machine. They are compared to asses, beasts of burden. They are always dishonored like the dogs, and they are miserly like the cats. They have sold themselves like slaves to their wives. Any unfortunate woman who has never heard of Your glories may accept such a man as her husband, but a woman who has learned about You--that You are praised not only in this world, but in the halls of the great demigods like Lord Brahmā and Lord Śiva--will not accept anyone besides Yourself as her husband. A man within this material world is just a dead body. In fact, superficially, the living entity is covered by this body, which is nothing but a bag of skin decorated with beards and moustaches, hairs on the body, nails on the fingers and hairs on the head. Within this decorated bag there are bunches of muscles, bundles of bones, and pools of blood, always mixed up with stool, urine, mucus, bile and polluted air, and enjoyed by different kinds of insects and germs. A foolish woman accepts such a dead body as her husband and, in sheer misunderstanding, loves him as her dear companion. This is only possible because such a woman has never tasted the ever-blissful flavor of Your lotus feet.
"My dear lotus-eyed husband, You are self-satisfied. You do not care whether or not I am beautiful or qualified; You are not at all concerned about it. Therefore Your nonattachment for me is not at all astonishing; it is quite natural. You cannot be attached to any woman, however exalted her position and beauty. Whether You are attached to me or not, may my devotion and attention be always engaged at Your lotus feet. The material mode of passion is also Your creation, so when You passionately glance upon me, I accept it as the greatest boon of my life. I am ambitious only for such auspicious moments."
After hearing Rukmiṇī's statement and her clarification of each and every word which He had used to arouse her anger of love toward Him, Kṛṣṇa addressed Rukmiṇī as follows: "My dear chaste wife, My dear princess, I was expecting such an explanation from you, and for this purpose only I spoke all those joking words, so that you might be cheated of the real point of view. Now My purpose has been served. The wonderful explanation that you have given to each and every word of Mine is completely factual and approved by Me. O most beautiful Rukmiṇī, you are My dearmost wife. I am greatly pleased to understand how much love you have for Me. Please take it for granted that no matter what ambition and desire you might have and no matter what you might expect from Me, I am always at your service. And it is a fact also that My devotees, My dearmost friends and servitors, are always free from material contamination, even though they are not inclined to ask from Me such liberation. My devotees never desire anything from Me except to be engaged in My service. And yet because they are completely dependent upon Me, even if they are found to ask something from Me, that is not material. Such ambitions and desires, instead of becoming the cause of material bondage, become the source of liberation from this material world.
"My dear chaste and pious wife, I have tested, on the basis of strict chastity, your love for your husband, and you have passed the examination most successfully. I have purposely agitated you by speaking many words which were not applicable to your character, but I am surprised to see that not a pinch of your devotion to Me has been deviated from its fixed position. My dear wife, I am the bestower of all benedictions, even up to the standard of liberation from this material world, and it is I only who can stop the continuation of material existence and call one back to home, back to Godhead. One whose devotion for Me is adulterated worships Me for some material benefit, just to keep himself in the world of material happiness, culminating in the pleasure of sex life. One who engages himself in severe penance and austerities just to attain this material happiness is certainly under the illusion of My external energy. Persons who are engaged in My devotional service simply for the purpose of material gains and sense gratification certainly are very foolish. Material happiness based on sex life is available in the most abominable species of life, such as the hogs and dogs. No one should try to approach Me for such happiness, because it is available even if one is put into a hellish condition of life. It is better, therefore, for persons who are simply after material happiness and not after Me to remain in that hellish condition."
Material contamination is so strong that everyone is working very hard day and night for material happiness. The show of religiousness, austerity, penance, humanitarianism, philanthropy, politics, science--everything is aimed at realizing some material benefit. For the immediate success of material benefit, the materialistic persons generally worship different demigods, and under the spell of material propensities they sometimes take to the devotional service of the Lord. Sometimes it so happens that if a person sincerely serves the Lord and at the same time maintains material ambition, the Lord very kindly removes the sources of material happiness. Without finding any recourse in material happiness, the devotee then engages himself absolutely in pure devotional service.
Lord Kṛṣṇa continued, "My dear best of the queens, it is clearly understood by Me that you have no material ambition; your only purpose is to serve Me, and you have long been engaged in unalloyed service. Exemplary unalloyed devotional service not only can bestow upon the devotee liberation from this material world, but it also promotes him to the spiritual world for being eternally engaged in My service. Persons who are too addicted to material happiness cannot render such service. Women whose hearts are polluted and full of material desires devise various means of sense gratification while outwardly showing themselves to be great devotees.
"My dear honored wife, although I have thousands of wives, I do not think that any one of them can love Me more than you. The practical proof of your extraordinary position is that you had never seen Me before your marriage; you had simply heard about Me from a third person, and still your faith in Me was so fixed that even in the presence of many qualified, rich and beautiful men of the royal order, you did not select any one of them as your husband, but insisted on having Me. You neglected all the princes present, and very politely you sent Me a confidential letter inviting Me to kidnap you. While I was kidnapping you, your elder brother Rukmī violently protested and fought with Me. As a result of the fight, I defeated him mercilessly and disfigured his body. At the time of Aniruddha's marriage, when we were all engaged in playing chess, there was another fight with your brother Rukmī on a controversial verbal point, and My elder brother Balarāma finally killed him. I was surprised to see that you did not utter even a word of protest over this incidence. Because of your great anxiety that you might be separated from Me, you suffered all the consequences without speaking even a word. As the result of this great silence, My dear wife, you have purchased Me for all time; I have become eternally under your control. You sent your messenger to Me inviting Me to kidnap you, and when you found that there was a little delay in My arriving on the spot, you began to see the whole world as vacant. At that time you concluded that your beautiful body was not fit to be touched by anyone else; therefore, thinking that I was not coming, you decided to commit suicide and immediately end that body. My dear Rukmiṇī, such great and exalted love for Me will always remain within My soul. As far as I am concerned, it is not within My power to repay you for your unalloyed devotion to Me."
The Supreme Personality of Godhead Kṛṣṇa certainly has no business being anyone's husband or son or father, because everything belongs to Him and everyone is under His control. He does not require anyone's help for His satisfaction. He is ātmārāma, self-satisfied; He can derive all pleasure by Himself, without anyone's help. When the Lord descends to play the part of a human being, He plays a role either as a husband, son, friend or enemy, in full perfection. As such, when He was playing as the perfect husband of the queens, especially of Rukmiṇījī, He enjoyed conjugal love in complete perfection.
According to Vedic culture, although polygamy is allowed, none of the wives should be ill-treated. In other words, one may take many wives only if he is able to satisfy all of them equally as an ideal householder; otherwise it is not allowed. Lord Kṛṣṇa is the world-teacher; therefore, even though He had no need for a wife, He expanded Himself into as many forms as He had wives, and He lived with them as an ideal householder, observing the regulative principles, rules and commitments in accordance with the Vedic injunctions and the social laws and customs of society. For each of His 16,108 wives, He simultaneously maintained different palaces, different establishments and different atmospheres. Thus the Lord, although one, exhibited Himself as 16,108 ideal householders.
Thus ends the Bhaktivedanta purport of the Second Volume, Fifth Chapter, of Kṛṣṇa, "Talks Between Kṛṣṇa and Rukmiṇī."