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The marriage of Krishna and Rukmini.
(Krishna defeats all the princes and takes Rukmini home to Dvaraka)
Being struck with Rukmini’s beauty, all the princes had fallen to the ground, bereft of reason. Now, having become enraged, they picked themselves up, put on their armor, and with bows in hand and surrounded by their armies, they pursued Lord Krishna in great haste. Upon seeing this, the Yadu commanders turned to face the pursuing princes and kings, and thus they soon became covered with showers of arrows.
While observing the fierce fight, Rukmini shyly gazed upon Krishna’s face, with fear in her eyes, and she expressed her gratitude for His having taken such a risk for her sake.
Krishna just laughed and replied, “Do not be afraid, beautiful-eyed one. The enemy will soon be destroyed by Our soldiers.”
The Yadu heroes, headed by Gada (Krishna’s younger brother, by another wife of Vasudeva) and Sankarshana, could not tolerate this aggression, and so they began to strike down the opposing warriors with their arrows. Indeed, because of Balarama’s valiant fighting, the battlefield was soon strewn with millions of severed heads; hands clutching swords, clubs and bows; smashed chariots, and dead animals.
Upon witnessing the terrible carnage, the survivors, headed by Jarasandha, fled from the battlefield, thinking it unwise to risk defeat, simply for Sishupala’s sake. All these kings approached Sishupala, who appeared like a demented person, for his face was drained of all color, as if dried up, and his enthusiasm was gone.
Jarasandha then tried to encourage the depressed Sishupala by saying, “Listen, O tiger among men, give up your grief. After all, a person’s happiness and distress are never permanent. Just as a puppet dances according to the will of the puppeteer- so in this world, we act under the control of the Supreme Lord.”
“I fought with Krishna eighteen times and came out victorious only once. Still, I never lamented nor rejoiced, for I knew that this world is driven by fate. Now, we have again been defeated, because time has favored our enemies. But, in the future, when time becomes auspicious, we shall conquer.”
Being thus persuaded, Sishupala returned home, as did the other surviving kings and princes. Rukmi, however, was especially envious of Krishna and could not tolerate that the Lord had kidnapped his sister.
Frustrated and angry, Rukmi encased himself in armor, and in the midst of the assembled kings he vowed, “I shall never again enter Kundina if I do not kill Krishna in battle and bring back Rukmini with me. I swear this before you.”
After saying this, Rukmi assembled his army, mounted his chariot and told the driver, “Go quickly to where Krishna is. This wicked-minded cowherd boy, being infatuated by His prowess, has abducted my sister, but today I shall cut down his false pride with my sharp arrows.”
Boasting in this way, Rukmi approached Lord Govinda, being ignorant of His power, and challenged, “Stand and fight!” Rukmi then drew his bow and struck Krishna with three arrows, and after doing so, he again shouted, “Stand here for a moment, O defiler of the Yadu dynasty! Wherever you go, carrying off my sister like a crow stealing butter from the sacrificial arena, I will follow. Release my sister before You are struck dead by my arrows and made to lie down upon the battlefield!”
In response, Krishna smiled, and then, with six arrows, He struck Rukmi and broke his bow. The Lord then struck Rukmi’s horses with eight arrows, his chariot driver with two, and the chariot’s flag with three.
Rukmi got down from his disabled chariot, grabbed another bow and struck Krishna with five arrows, but the Lord quickly broke that one as well. When he ran out of arrows, Rukmi picked up various weapons to fight with Krishna hand-to-hand; an iron bludgeon, three-pointed spear, sword, pike and javelin- and the Lord smashed all to bits.
At last, in desperation, Rukmi furiously rushed at Krishna, sword in hand, hoping to kill Him. With His arrows, however, Krishna broke Rukmi’s sword and shield into small pieces. Then, as Krishna took His sword to kill Rukmi, Rukmini became highly alarmed.
Falling at her husband’s lotus feet, she pleaded, “O Lord of lords, master of the universe, please do not kill my brother.”
Being highly mortified, Rukmini’s body trembled, her mouth became dry, and her throat became choked up. In her agitation, her necklace fell down as she grasped Krishna’s lotus feet in supplication.
Feeling compassionate, Krishna desisted from killing Rukmi. Still, He wanted to give Rukmi some light punishment. After tying Rukmi with a strip of cloth, Krishna cut off parts of his mustache, beard and hair with His sword, giving him, as it were, quite a comical haircut.
After crushing their opponents, the Yadu heroes, headed by Lord Balarama, arrived there. When Balarama saw Rukmi in such a sorry condition, practically dying of shame, he became compassionate towards His sister-in-law.
To please Rukmini, Balarama untied Rukmi and then spoke in such a way as to chastise Krishna just a little: “My dear brother, You have acted quite improperly! This deed will bring shame upon Us, for to disfigure a close relative in this way is as good as killing him.”
Then, addressing Rukmini, Balarama said, “O saintly lady, do not be displeased with Us. No one but oneself is responsible for his joy or sorrow in this world, because a man experiences the results of his own deeds. And, after all, kshatriyas are the emblem of materialistic life, and while competing for sense gratification, they may sometimes resort to even killing their own brother.”
“My dear Rukmini, you are acting like an ignorant person because you wish good for someone that is inimical to all living beings, and has tried to harm your true well-wishers. The Supreme Lord’s maya makes men forget their real selves. Accepting the material body as the self, they consider others to be friends, enemies or neutral parties. It is only the material body, which is imposed upon us by ignorance, that causes us to undergo the experiences of birth and death.”
“O intelligent lady, the soul is unaffected by birth and death, and thus we conceive of ourselves as being born or dying only due to ignorance. It is just like the phases of the moon, for they exist only due to our limited perception, and do not exist for the moon itself. Therefore, please dispel the grief that is weakening your mind, by the strength of transcendental knowledge, and resume your natural cheerful mood.”
Being enlightened by Lord Balarama, Rukmini gave up her depression, but not Rukmi. Cast out by his enemies and deprived of his strength and bodily radiance, he could not forget how he had been disfigured. Because he had vowed never to return to Kundina without killing Krishna, in frustration, Rukmi went to a place called Bhojakata, and after constructing a small cottage, he resided there for the rest of his life.
Lord Krishna brought Rukmini to Dvaraka, and they were married, giving rise to a great celebration. All the men and women dressed in their finest and brought presents that they offered to the bride and groom. The city was gorgeously decorated, and the streets were cleansed by the intoxicated elephants that belonged to the kings who were there as guests.
The members of numerous royal families visited Dvaraka at this time, including Dhritarashtra, the Pandavas, Drupada, and Bhishmaka. Bhishmaka had been upset because of the kidnapping of his daughter, but Lord Balarama, along with some great sages, were able to induce him to take part in the wedding ceremony, since, after all, his original purpose was being served (he had originally wanted Rukmini to marry Krishna). (In the Padma Purana it mentions that Nanda Maharaja, along with the cowherd men and boys, also visited Dvaraka at this time.)