Krishna Lilas - The Nectarian Pastimes of the Sweet Lord

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53. Kṛṣṇa Defeats All the Princes and Takes Rukmiṇī Home to Dvārakā

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All the princes led by Jarāsandha became very angry at Kṛṣṇa's kidnapping Rukmiṇī. Struck by the beauty of Rukmiṇī, they had fallen from the backs of their horses and elephants, but now they began to stand up and properly arm themselves. Picking up their bows and arrows, they began to chase Kṛṣṇa on their chariots, horses and elephants. To check their progress, the soldiers of the Yadu dynasty turned and faced them. Thus terrible fighting between the two belligerent groups began. The princes opposing Kṛṣṇa were led by Jarāsandha and they were all very expert in fighting. They began to shoot their arrows at the soldiers of Yadu just as a cloud splashes the face of a mountain with torrents of rain. Gathered on the face of a mountain, a cloud does not move very much, and therefore the force of rain is much more severe on a mountain than it is anywhere else.

The opposing princes were determined to defeat Kṛṣṇa and recapture Rukmiṇī from His custody, and they fought with Him as severely as possible. Rukmiṇī, seated by the side of Kṛṣṇa, saw arrows raining from the opposing party onto the faces of the soldiers of Yadu. In a fearful attitude, she began to look on the face of Kṛṣṇa, expressing her gratefulness that He had taken such a great risk for her sake only. Her eyes moving, she appeared to be very sorry and Kṛṣṇa could immediately understand her mind. He encouraged her with these words: "My dear Rukmiṇī, don't worry. Please rest assured that the soldiers of the Yadu dynasty will kill all the opposing soldiers without delay."

As Kṛṣṇa was speaking with Rukmiṇī, the commanders of the Yadu dynasty's soldiers, headed by Lord Balarāma, who is also known as Saṅkarṣaṇa, as well as Gadadhara, not tolerating the defiant attitude of the opposing soldiers, began to strike their horses, elephants, and chariots with arrows. As the fighting progressed, the princes and soldiers of the enemy camp began to fall from their horses, elephants and chariots. Within a very short time, it was seen that millions of severed heads, decorated with helmets and earrings, had fallen on the battlefield. The soldiers' hands were cut up along with their bows and arrows and clubs; one head was piled upon another, and one horse was piled upon another. All the infantry soldiers, as well as their camels, elephants and asses, fell down with severed heads.

When the enemy, headed by Jarāsandha, found that they were gradually being defeated by the soldiers of Kṛṣṇa, they thought it unwise to risk losing in the battle for the sake of Śiśupāla. Śiśupāla himself should have fought to rescue Rukmiṇī from the hands of Kṛṣṇa, but when the soldiers saw that Śiśupāla was not competent enough to fight with Kṛṣṇa, they decided not to lose their strength unnecessarily; therefore they ceased fighting and dispersed.

Some of the princes, as a matter of etiquette, appeared before Śiśupāla. They saw that Śiśupāla was very much discouraged, like one who has lost his wife. His face appeared to be dried up, and he had lost all his energy, and all the luster of his body had disappeared. They began to address Śiśupāla thus: "My dear Śiśupāla, don't be discouraged in this way. You belong to the royal order and are the chief amongst the fighters. There is no question of distress or happiness for a person like you because neither of these conditions is everlasting. Take courage. Don't be disappointed by this temporary reverse. After all, we are not the final actor; as puppets dance in the hands of a magician, we are all dancing by the will of the Supreme, and according to His grace only we suffer distress or enjoy happiness, which therefore balance equally in all circumstances."

The whole catastrophe of the defeat was due to the envious nature of Rukmiṇī's elder brother, Rukmī. Having seen his sister forcibly taken away by Kṛṣṇa after he had planned to marry her with Śiśupāla, Rukmī was frustrated. So he and Śiśupāla, his friend and intended brother-in-law, returned to their respective homes. Rukmī, very much agitated, was determined to personally teach Kṛṣṇa a lesson. He called for his own soldiers--a military phalanx consisting of several thousand elephants, horses, chariots and infantry--and, equipped with this military strength, he began to follow Kṛṣṇa to Dvārakā. In order to show his prestige, Rukmī began to promise before all the returning kings, "You could not help Śiśupāla marry my sister, Rukmiṇī, but I cannot allow Rukmiṇī to be taken away by Kṛṣṇa. I shall teach Him a lesson. Now I am going there." He presented himself as a big commander and vowed before all the princes present, "Unless I kill Kṛṣṇa in the fight and bring back my sister from His clutches, I shall no more return to my capital city, Kuṇḍina. I make this vow before you all, and you will see that I shall fulfill it." After thus vibrating all these boasting words, Rukmī immediately got on his chariot and told his chariot driver to pursue Kṛṣṇa. He said, "I want to fight with Him immediately. This cowherd boy has become very proud because of His tricky way of fighting with the kṣatriyas, but today I shall teach Him a good lesson. Because He has the impudency to kidnap my sister, I, with my sharpened arrows, shall teach Him very good lessons indeed." Thus this unintelligent man, Rukmī, ignorant of the extent of the strength and activities of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, began to voice impudent threats.


In great stupidity he soon stood before Kṛṣṇa, telling Him repeatedly, "Stop for a minute and fight with me!" After saying this he drew his bow and directly shot three forceful arrows against Kṛṣṇa's body. Then he condemned Kṛṣṇa as the most abominable descendant of the Yadu dynasty and asked Him to stand before him for a minute so that he could teach Him a good lesson. "You are carrying away my sister just like a crow stealing clarified butter meant for use in a sacrifice. You are simply proud of Your military strength, but You cannot fight according to regulative principles. You have stolen my sister; now I shall relieve You of Your false prestige. You can keep my sister under Your possession only as long as I do not pinion You to the ground for good with my arrows."

Krishna Rukmini

Lord Kṛṣṇa, after hearing all these crazy words from Rukmī, immediately shot an arrow and severed the string of Rukmī's bow, making him unable to use another arrow. Rukmī immediately took another bow and shot another five arrows at Kṛṣṇa. Being attacked for the second time by Rukmī, Kṛṣṇa again severed his bowstring. Rukmī took a third bow, and Kṛṣṇa again cut off its string. This time, in order to teach Rukmī a lesson, Kṛṣṇa personally shot six arrows at him, and then He shot another eight arrows. Thus four horses were killed by four arrows, the chariot driver was killed by another arrow, and the upper portion of Rukmī's chariot, including the flag, was chopped off with the remaining three arrows.

Having run out of arrows, Rukmī took the assistance of swords, shields, tridents, lances and similar other weapons used for fighting hand-to-hand, but Kṛṣṇa immediately severed them all in the same way. Being repeatedly baffled in his attempts, Rukmī simply took his sword and ran very swiftly toward Kṛṣṇa, just as a fly proceeds toward a fire. As soon as Rukmī reached Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa cut his weapon to pieces. This time Kṛṣṇa took out His sharp sword and was about to kill him immediately, but Rukmī's sister Rukmiṇī, understanding that this time Kṛṣṇa would not excuse her brother, fell down at the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa and in a very grievous tone, trembling with great fear, began to plead with her husband.

Rukmiṇī first addressed Kṛṣṇa as "Yogeśvara." Yogeśvara means one who is possessed of inconceivable opulence and energy. Kṛṣṇa possesses inconceivable opulence and energy, whereas Rukmiṇī's brother had only limited military potency. Kṛṣṇa is immeasurable, whereas her brother was measured in every step of his life. Therefore, Rukmī was not even comparable to an insignificant insect before the unlimited power of Kṛṣṇa. She also addressed Kṛṣṇa as the God of the gods. There are many powerful demigods, such as Lord Brahmā, Lord Śiva, Indra, and Candra; Kṛṣṇa is the Lord of all these gods, whereas Rukmiṇī's brother was not only an ordinary human being, but was, in fact, the lowest of all because he had no understanding of Kṛṣṇa. In other words, a human being who has no conception of the actual position of Kṛṣṇa is the lowest in human society. Rukmiṇī also addressed Kṛṣṇa as "Jagatpati," the master of the whole cosmic manifestation. In comparison, her brother was only an ordinary prince.

In this way, Rukmiṇī compared the position of Rukmī to that of Kṛṣṇa and very feelingly pleaded with her husband not to kill her brother just before the auspicious time of her being united with Kṛṣṇa, but to excuse him. In other words, she displayed her real position as a woman. She was happy to get Kṛṣṇa as her husband just at the moment when her marriage to another was to be performed, but she did not want it to be at the loss of her elder brother, who, after all, loved his young sister and wanted to hand her over to one who was, according to his own calculations, a better man. While Rukmiṇī was praying to Kṛṣṇa for the life of her brother, her whole body trembled, and because of her anxiety, her face appeared to by dried up, her throat became choked, and, due to her trembling, the ornaments on her body loosened and fell scattered on the ground. Lord Kṛṣṇa immediately became compassionate and agreed not to kill the foolish Rukmī. But, at the same time, He wanted to give him some light punishment, so He tied him up with a piece of cloth and snipped at his moustache, beard and hair, keeping some spots here and there.

While Kṛṣṇa was dealing with Rukmī in this way, the soldiers of the Yadu dynasty, commanded by Balarāma Himself, broke the whole strength of Rukmī's army just as an elephant in a tank discards the feeble stem of a lotus flower. In other words, as an elephant breaks the whole construction of a lotus flower while bathing in a reservoir of water, so the military strength of the Yadus broke up Rukmī's forces. Yet when the commanders of the Yadu dynasty came back to see Kṛṣṇa, they were all surprised to see the condition of Rukmī. Lord Balarāma became especially compassionate for His sister-in-law, who was newly married to His brother. In order to please Rukmiṇī, Balarāma personally untied Rukmī, and in order to further please her, Balarāma, as the elder brother of Kṛṣṇa, spoke some words of chastisement. "Kṛṣṇa, Your action is not at all satisfactory," He said. "This is an abomination very much contrary to our family tradition! To cut someone's hair and shave his moustache and beard is almost comparable to killing him. Whatever Rukmī might have been, he is now our brother-in-law, a relative of our family, and You should not have put him in such a condition."

After this, in order to pacify her, Lord Balarāma said to Rukmiṇī, "You should not be sorry because your brother has been made very odd-looking. Everyone suffers or enjoys the results of his own actions." Lord Balarāma wanted to impress upon Rukmiṇī that she should not have been sorry for the consequences suffered by her brother due to his actions. There was no need of being too affectionate toward such a brother. Lord Balarāma again turned toward Kṛṣṇa and said, "My dear Kṛṣṇa, a relative, even though he commits such a blunder and deserves to be killed, should be excused. For when such a relative is conscious of his own fault, that consciousness itself is like death. Therefore, there is no need in killing him." He again turned toward Rukmiṇī and informed her that the current duty of the kṣatriya in the human society is so fixed that, according to the principles of fighting, one's own brother may become an enemy on the opposite side. A kṣatriya does not hesitate to kill his own brother. In other words, Lord Balarāma wanted to instruct Rukmiṇī that Rukmī and Kṛṣṇa were right in not showing mercy to each other in the fighting, despite the family consideration that they happened to be brothers-in-law.


Śrī Balarāma continued to inform Rukmiṇī that kṣatriyas are typical emblems of the materialistic way of life; they become puffed-up whenever there is a question of material acquisition. Therefore, when there is a fight between two belligerent kṣatriyas on account of kingdom, land, wealth, women, prestige or power, they try to put one another into the most abominable condition. Balarāma instructed Rukmiṇī that her affection toward her brother Rukmī, who had created enmity with so many persons, was a perverse consideration befitting an ordinary materialistic person. Her brother's character was not at all adorable, considering his treatment toward other friends, and yet Rukmiṇī, as an ordinary woman, was so affectionate toward him. He was not fit to be her brother, and still Rukmiṇī was lenient toward him.

"Besides that," Balarāma continued, "the consideration that a person is neutral or is one's friend or enemy is generally made by persons who are in the bodily concept of life. Such foolish persons become bewildered by the illusory energy of the Supreme Lord. The spirit soul is of the same pure quality in any embodiment of matter, but those who are not sufficiently intelligent see only the bodily differentiations of animals and men, literates and illiterates, rich and poor, and so on, which cover the pure spirit soul. Such differentiation, observed purely on the basis of the body, is exactly like differentiation between fires in terms of the different types of fuel they consume. Whatever the size and shape of the fuel, there is no such variety of size and shape of the fire which comes out. Similarly, in the sky there are no differences in size or shape."

In this way Balarāma appeased them by His moral and ethical instruction. He stated further: "This body is part of the material manifestation. The living entity or spirit soul, being in contact with matter, is transmigrating, due to illusory enjoyment, from one body to another, and that is known as material existence. This contact of the living entity with the material manifestation has neither integration nor disintegration. My dear chaste sister-in-law, the spirit soul is, of course, the cause of this material body, as much as the sun is the cause of sunlight, eyesight and the forms of material manifestation." The example of the sunshine and the material manifestation is very appropriate in the matter of understanding the living entity's contact with this material world. In the morning, there is sun rise, and the heat and light expand gradually throughout the whole day. The sun is the cause of all material production and shapes and forms; it is due to the sun that integration and disintegration of material elements take place. But as soon as the sun is set, the whole manifestation is no longer connected to the sun, which has passed from one place to another. When the sun passes from the eastern to the western hemisphere, the result of interaction due to the sunshine in the eastern hemisphere remains, but the sunshine itself is visible again on the western hemisphere. Similarly, the living entity accepts or produces different bodies and different bodily relationships in a particular circumstance, but as soon as he gives up the present body and accepts another, he has nothing to do with the former body. Similarly, the living entity has nothing to do with the next body which he accepts. He is always free from the contact of this bodily contamination. Therefore, the conclusion is that the appearance and disappearance of the body have nothing to do with the living entity, as much as the waxing and waning of the moon have nothing to do with the moon. When there is waxing of the moon, we falsely think that the moon is developing, and when there is waning of the moon we think that the moon is decreasing. Factually the moon, as it is, is always the same; it has nothing to do with such visible waxing and waning activities.

"Consciousness of material existence can be compared to sleeping and dreaming. When a man sleeps, he dreams of many nonfactual happenings, and as a result of dreaming he becomes subjected to different kinds of distress and happiness. Similarly, when person is in the dreaming condition of material consciousness, he suffers the effects of accepting a body and giving it up again in material existence. Opposite to this material consciousness is Kṛṣṇa consciousness. In other words, when a man is elevated to the platform of Kṛṣṇa consciousness he becomes free from this false conception of life."

In this way, Śrī Balarāma instructed them in spiritual knowledge. He addressed His sister-in-law thus: "Sweet, smiling Rukmiṇī, do not be aggrieved by false motives caused by ignorance. Due to false notions only one becomes unhappy, but this unhappiness is immediately removed by discussing the philosophy of actual life. Be happy on that platform only."

After hearing such enlightening instruction from Śrī Balarāma, Rukmiṇī immediately became pacified and happy and adjusted her mental condition, which was very much afflicted by seeing the degraded position of her brother, Rukmī. As far as Rukmī was concerned, neither was his promise fulfilled nor his mission successful. He had come from home with his soldiers and military phalanx to defeat Kṛṣṇa and release his sister, but on the contrary, he lost all his soldiers and military strength. He was personally much degraded, and in that condition he was very sorry; but by the grace of the Lord he could continue his life to the fixed destination. Because he was a kṣatriya, he could remember his promise that he would not return to his capital city, Kuṇḍina, without killing Kṛṣṇa and releasing his sister, which he had failed to do; therefore, he decided in anger not to return to his capital city, and he constructed a small cottage in the village known as Bhojakaṭa and began to reside there for the rest of his life.

After defeating all the opposing elements and forcibly carrying away Rukmiṇī, Kṛṣṇa brought her to His capital city, Dvārakā, and then married her according to the Vedic ritualistic principle. After this marriage, Kṛṣṇa became the King of the Yadus at Dvārakā. On the occasion of His marriage with Rukmiṇī, all the inhabitants were happy, and in every house there were great ceremonies. The inhabitants of Dvārakā 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, Kṛṣṇa and Rukmiṇī. All the houses of Yadupurī (Dvārakā) 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 Kṛṣṇa's marriage with Rukmiṇī. 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 Pāṇḍavas were represented by Dhṛtarāṣṭra, the five Pāṇḍu brothers, King Drupada, King Santardana, as well as Rukmiṇī's father, Bhīṣmaka. Because of Kṛṣṇa's kidnapping Rukmiṇī, there was initially some misunderstanding between the two families, but Bhīṣmaka, King of Vidarbha, being approached by Śrī Balarāma and persuaded by many saintly persons, was induced to participate in the marriage ceremony of Kṛṣṇa and Rukmiṇī. Although the incidence of Kṛṣṇa's kidnapping was not a very happy occurrence in the kingdom of Vidarbha, kidnapping was not an unusual affair among the kṣatriyas. Kidnapping was, in fact, current in almost all marriages. Anyway, King Bhīṣmaka was from the very beginning inclined to hand over his beautiful daughter to Kṛṣṇa. 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. It is mentioned in the Padma Purāṇa that Mahārāja Nanda and the cowherd boys of Vṛndāvana joined the marriage ceremony. Kings from the kingdoms of Kuru, Sṛñjaya, Kekaya, Vidarbha and Kunti came to Dvārakā on this occasion with all their royal paraphernalia.

Krishna Rukmini

The story of Rukmiṇī's being kidnapped by Kṛṣṇa was poeticized, and the professional readers recited it everywhere. All the assembled kings and, especially, their daughters were struck with wonder and became very pleased upon hearing the chivalrous activities of Kṛṣṇa. In this way, all visitors as well as the inhabitants of Dvārakā City became joyful seeing Kṛṣṇa and Rukmiṇī together. In other words, the Supreme Lord, the maintainer of everyone, and the goddess of fortune were united, and all the people felt extremely jubilant.

Thus ends the Bhaktivedanta purport of the Fifty-third Chapter of Kṛṣṇa, "Kṛṣṇa Defeats all the Princes and Takes Rukmiṇī Home to Dvārakā."

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