Rukmini (Sanskrit: रुक्मिणी, IAST: Rukmini, lit.'radiant') is a Hindu Goddess and the first queen and chief wife of Krishna.[3][4][5] She is an incarnation of Goddess Lakshmi.

Rukmini
Goddess of Fortune[1][2]
Rakhumai.jpg
Sculpture of Rukmini as Rakhumai in Pandharpur
Other namesVaidharbi, Bhaishmi, Rakhumai
Devanagariरूक्मिणी
AffiliationAshtabharya, Devi, Avatar of Lakshmi
AbodeDvārakā, Pandharpur
TextsVishnu Purana, Bhagavata Purana, Mahabharata, Harivamsa, Rukminisha Vijaya, Skanda Purana
FestivalsRukmini Ashtami, Rukmini Dwadashi
Personal information
Born
Died
Parents
SiblingsRukmi
ConsortKrishna
Children
DynastyVrishni (by marriage)

Rukmini is mainly worshipped in Maharashtra and South India. The people of Maharashtra venerate her with Vithoba (a regional form of Krishna) and call her Rakhumai.[6] In South India, she is worshipped with Krishna, along with his other primary consort, Satyabhama.

Etymology and epithets

The name Rukmini is derived from the Sanskrit word Rukma which means 'Radiant', 'Clear' or 'Bright'.[7] The name can also mean 'decorated with gold ornaments'.[8][7] Other names and epithets include:

  • ShreeLakshmi, Goddess Of Fortune
  • Ruciranana – One Who Has A Beautiful Face, Expanding Like A Lotus Flower
  • Vaidarbhi – She Who Is From The Kingdom Of Vidarbha.[9]
  • Bhaishmi – Daughter Of Bhishmaka.[9]
  • Rakhumai – Mother Rukmini.[9]
  • Chiryauvana – One Who Is Forever Young.
  • Pradyumna Janani – Mother Of Pradyumna.

Legend

 
19th-century painting depicting Rukmini eloping with Krishna from a temple of Ambika (Parvati).

According to the epic Mahabharata and other Puranic scriptures, Rukmini was born to Bhishmaka—the king of Vidarbha kingdom—and had five elder brothers, among whom Rukmi was the eldest. Many Puranas such as Vishnu Purana, Bhagavata Purana and Padma Purana praise her as an incarnation of Goddess Lakshmi, the wife of the God Vishnu.[10]

Marriage

The Bhagavata Purana narrates that Rukmini once heard about Krishna and his heroic deeds, such as slaying the tyrant king Kamsa, and opposing the evil king Jarasandha. She fell in love with him and desired to marry him. Rukmini's parents rejoiced and gave their permission, but Rukmi — who was an ally of Jarasandha — strongly opposed it. Instead, he proposed that she be married to his friend Shishupala— the crown prince of Chedi Kingdom, and a cousin of Krishna.[10][11][a] Bhishmaka agreed, and a distressed Rukmini immediately sent for a trusted messenger and asked him to deliver a message to Krishna.[10] In the message, she wrote to Krishna about her love and asked him to abduct her when she visited the temple of Goddess Ambika (Parvati) before her wedding. Krishna, having received the message in Dwaraka, told the messenger to inform Rukmini that he had received her letter and would come to make her his wife. Krishna then immediately set out for Vidarbha with Balarama, his elder brother.[11]

 
A late 18th-century painting depicting the marriage of Krishna and Rukmini.

Meanwhile, in Vidarbha's capital Kundina, Bhishmaka had prepared for Rukmini's marriage. Shishupala, along with his allies including Jarasandha had arrived. Krishna and Balarama had also arrived, and Bhishmaka welcomed them. At the palace, Rukmini had lost all hope, but the messenger turned up and informed that Krishna had accepted her request. The next day, she went to the temple to offer her prayers to Ambika. As she proceeded towards the wedding venue, she saw Krishna and he soon swept her into his chariot with him. All of Jarasandha's forces quickly started chasing them, but they were repulsed by Balarama and his army.[12] Rukmi chased after Krishna and Rukmini.[13] He challenged Krishna for a fight, but was easily overpowered by the former. Rukmini begged Krishna to spare her brother's life, and the latter agreed. However, he shaved Rukmi's hair and moustache as a mark of punishment, and let him go free. Krishna and Rukmini reached Dwaraka, where they were welcomed with great pomp and ceremony. A wedding was then conducted.[12][10][13]

Children

The Bhagavata Purana states that Rukmini and Krishna had ten sons—Pradyumna, Charudeshna, Sudeshna, Charudeha, Sucharu, Charugupta, Bhadracharu, Charuchandra, Vicharu and Charu.[10][14] In the Harivamsa, Rukmini's sons are Pradyumna, Charudeshna, Charuchandra, Charugarbha, Sudangstra, Druma, Sushena, Charugupta, Charuvinda and Chharuvahu. A different listing is found in Anushasana Parva of the Mahabharata, where Pradyumna, Charudeshna, Sucharu, Charuvesa, Yasodhana, Charusravas, Charuyasas and Sambhu are Rukmini's sons.[10][15] These scriptures also mention that Rukmini had a daughter named Charumati.[16]

Marital Life

 
Statue of Krishna with Rukmini — who proved her superiority over Satyabhama through her love and devotion

Though Krishna married many other women, Rukmini remained his chief consort and the queen of Dwarka. Many scriptures have mentioned that Rukmini and other wives of Krishna lived like sisters.

According to a folktale of Odisha, the divine-sage Narada once arrived in Dwaraka and asked for Krishna to be given to him as alms. Krishna's queens requested him to take anything else and Narada asked them to give wealth equal to Krishna's weight. They arranged for a big scale (Tulabharama) to be put up. Satyabhama put all of her coins, gems and jewellery on the scale, but it doesn't budge. Other wives gave their jewels, but it was of no use. At last, Rukmini came and put a single leaf of Tulsi on the scale and chanted that it represented her love for Krishna. The scales then became balanced. Though this story is absent in the main scriptures pertaining to Krishna's life, it is often repeated to enunciate the worth of Rukmini's love over Satyabhama's material wealth. The only known versions of this story are from Padma Puran and Devi Bhagwat Puran, where Satyabhama succeeds in weighing Krishna normally with gold items.

In the Bhagavata Puran, another well-known incident in Rukmini's married life is narrated. When Krishna's childhood friend, Sudama, visited Dwarka. Rukmini welcomed Sudama and gave him food. She and Krishna fanned him as he rested from his long journey. This type of devotion is a characteristic of Rukmini, that was very prevalent.[17]

Death

After the disappearance of Krishna, after the Yadu massacre, Rukmini along with Jambavati ascends herself on a pyre.[18][19]

Worship and influence

 
Rukmini Devi temple in Dwarka
 
Vithoba (left) with his consort Rakhumai at the Sion Vitthal temple, Mumbai, decorated with jewellery during the Hindu festival of Diwali

Rukmini is mainly worshipped in west and south Indian states such as Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Goa, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Rukmini's kingdom, Vidarbha, is believed to be located in the present day Maharashtra. Along with Vithoba (a regional form of Krishna), Rukmini is worshipped as "Rukhamai" in Pandharpur region.[20][12] She is also worshipped in Pandava Thoothar Perumal Temple as the chief goddess, with Krishna being the primary deity.

The Mishmi people of Arunachal Pradesh believe that Rukmini belonged to their tribe. The plays and dances on ‘Rukmini Haran’ are common. There is a legend that Krishna asked the Mishmi people to cut their hair as a form of punishment for not allowing him to marry Rukmini. Due to this Idu-Mishmi people are also called "chulikata" (chuli-hair, kata- cut).[21]

In 1480, Vadiraja Tirtha (1480–1600), one of the prominent saints in the Tattvavada tradition of Sri Madhvacharya has composed a famous work Rukminisha Vijaya glorifying Rukmini and Krishna in 1241 verses spread over 19 chapters.[22]

The Kantajew Temple at Kantanagar, is a late-medieval Hindu temple in Dinajpur, Bangladesh. The Kantajew Temple is one of the most magnificent religious edifices belonging to the 18th century. This beautiful temple is dedicated to Krishna and his wife Rukmini Built by Maharaja Pran Nath, its construction started in 1704 CE and ended in the reign of his son Raja Ramnath in 1722 CE. It boasts one of the greatest examples of terracotta architecture in Bangladesh and once had nine spires, but all were destroyed in an earthquake that took place in 1897.[citation needed]

Rukmini is believed to have been born on eighth day of the month of Pausha Krishna Paksha and this day is celebrated as Rukmini Janmashtami.[citation needed]

Notes

  1. ^ Shishupala was also a vassal and close associate of Jarasandha and hence an ally of Rukmi.

References

  1. ^ A.C Bhakti vedanta swami (1968). Bhagavad Gita as it isThe Marriage of Kṛṣṇa and Rukmiṇī. Dvārakā’s citizens were overjoyed to see Kṛṣṇa, the Lord of all opulence, united with Rukmiṇī, the goddess of fortune
  2. ^ Kṛṣṇa Dvaipāyana Vyāsadeva (2002). TheSummumBonumŚrīmad Bhāgavatam rukmi's defeatandmarriage (PDF). Oh King all the citizens in Dvārakā were overjoyed to see Kṛṣṇa, the Master of All Opulence joined in marriage with Rukmiṇī, the goddess of fortune
  3. ^ Balfour, Edward (1885). The Cyclopædia of India and of Eastern and Southern Asia: Commercial, Industrial and Scientific, Products of the Mineral, Vegetable, and Animal Kingdoms, Useful Arts and Manufactures. B. Quaritch. p. 454.
  4. ^ Select Specimens of the Theatre of the Hindus. Parbury, Allen. 1835. p. 83. The marriage was solemnized at Dwarakú , and Rukmini remained the chief of Krishna's wives
  5. ^ Mitchell, John Murray (1885). Hinduism Past and Present: With an Account of Recent Hindu Reformers and a Brief Comparison Between Hinduism and Christianity. Religious Tract Society. p. 117. He had eight chief wives; the queen of all, Rukmini, had been betrothed to another, but on her marriage-day Krishna carried her off in a chariot and made her his own wife.
  6. ^ Bryant, Edwin Francis (2007). Krishna: A Sourcebook. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-803400-1.
  7. ^ a b Monier-Williams, Monier (1872). A Sanskrit-English Dictionary. Clarendon. p. 847.
  8. ^ Chandra, Suresh (1998). Encyclopaedia of Hindu Gods and Goddesses. Sarup & Sons. ISBN 978-81-7625-039-9.
  9. ^ a b c Louis-Frédéric (1977). Encyclopaedia of Asian Civilizations: N-R. L. Frédéric. p. 492. ISBN 978-2-85893-050-0.
  10. ^ a b c d e f Mani, Vettam (1975). Puranic encyclopaedia : a comprehensive dictionary with special reference to the epic and Puranic literature. Robarts - University of Toronto. Delhi : Motilal Banarsidass. p. 657. ISBN 9780842608220.
  11. ^ a b "CHAPTER FIFTY-TWO". vedabase.io. Retrieved 14 June 2021.
  12. ^ a b c Pattanaik, Devdutt (1 July 2018). Shyam: An Illustrated Retelling of the Bhagavata. Penguin Random House India Private Limited. ISBN 978-93-5305-100-6.
  13. ^ a b Gazetteer of the Bombay Presidency: Kathiawar (Public Domain text). Vol. VIII. Printed at the Government Central Press, Bombay. 1884. pp. 380–381.
  14. ^ Sinha, Purnendu Narayana (1950). A Study of the Bhagavata Purana: Or, Esoteric Hinduism. Library of Alexandria. ISBN 978-1-4655-2506-2.
  15. ^ "The Mahabharata, Book 13: Anusasana Parva: Anusasanika Parva: Section XIV". www.sacred-texts.com. Retrieved 18 June 2021.
  16. ^ Dalal, Roshen (2010). Hinduism: An Alphabetical Guide. Penguin Books India. ISBN 978-0-14-341421-6.
  17. ^ Mani 1975, p. 437.
  18. ^ Dio Mahabharate.Rukmini, the princess of Gandhara, Saivya, Haimavati, and queen Jamvabati ascended the funeral pyre."
  19. ^ Vijayakumar, Lakshmi (1 January 2004). "Altruistic Suicide in India". Archives of Suicide Research. 8 (1): 73–80. doi:10.1080/13811110490243804. ISSN 1381-1118. PMID 16006390. S2CID 41567060.
  20. ^ Pillai, S. Devadas (1997). Indian Sociology Through Ghurye, a Dictionary. Popular Prakashan. ISBN 978-81-7154-807-1.
  21. ^ Roychowdhury, Adrija (29 March 2018). "Fact Check: Did Rukmini come from Arunachal Pradesh? Here is what we know". The Indian Express. Retrieved 26 November 2020.
  22. ^ Vyasanakere Prabhanjanacharya (1996). Rukmiṇīśavijayaḥ: mahākāvyam. Aitareya Prakāśanam Vyāsanakere. p. 7.

Bibliography

  • Rajachudamani Dikshita; English introduction, P.P. Subramanya Sastry (1920). Rukmini Kalyanam (Sanskrit). Sri Vani Vilas Press, Srirangam.

External links