We know that Goddess Lakshmi is the eternal companion of Lord Krishna. Whenever Lord Vishnu takes Avatara, the goddess is there with him too. During Krishna Avatar goddess Lakshmi makes her appearance, in the form of princess Rukmini. The only sister of five brothers, she was obviously much loved and the center of attraction at home. From visitors at her father’s house, she would often hear about Lord Krishna’s unparalleled beauty, valor, his excellent virtues and affluence. Already, by merely hearing about him, Rukmini Devi had started understanding the true essence of Lord Krishna. Attracted to his divine personality, she decided that she would only have Krishna and none other for her husband, as he was the only spouse worth having. All her family too wanted Krishna as her husband; all except her eldest brother, who wanted to give away her hand to a powerful king named Shishupala.
When the beautiful princess Rukmini realized that her brother would not allow her marriage to Krishna, she was deeply agitated. She pondered over the problem and came to a firm decision. She would send a message to Krishna, professing her single-minded affection for him. Rukmini then immediately send for a trusted Brahmin, and asked him to carry her message to Krishna.
When the Brahmin reached Krishna’s doors, he was escorted to the inner chambers. There Krishna welcomed the Brahmin with the appropriate rituals of washing his hands and feet. After the latter was seated on a high seat, Krishna politely enquired him the purpose of his visit which had prompted him to come so far to see him. It was then that the mature Brahmin revealed Rukmini’s message to Krishna. It was but a love letter from an anguished soul exclusively in love with the supreme soul. Now Shri Krishna starts reading the letter which starts like this:
Leaving aside modesty, I have fixed my mind on you’, informs Rukmini.
“Oh Most Beautiful Person in the Whole World!, I have heard from people about your good looks, beauty, sweetness, high character and noble nature. When a person hears about your qualities, these virtues enter the heart through our ears, and all our physical agitations are quietened. I know that to anyone who has eyes, the very sight of your charming form bestows all the four aims of life: namely Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha. A glimpse of you is sufficient to fulfill all our aspirations. Hence my mind shamelessly enters into you. Which sober marriageable girl of fine upbringing would not choose you as her husband when the proper time has come – considering your lineage, character, beauty, knowledge, youth, wealth and influence ? ” questions Rukmini.
‘O Mukunda, O Lion Amongst Men (Nara-Simha), which wise girl from a noble family would not seek you out as her husband, considering the fact that you are unparalleled in family lineage, character, personal charm, knowledge, youth and affluence (All qualities which a girl seeks in her husband)?’
A fine question. Krishna is definitely impressed.
Now Rukmini proceeds…
‘I have therefore chosen you as my husband. Oh Lotus-Eyed Dear Lord!, I have submitted myself unto you. Please do take accept me as your wife. Let not Shishupala pollute me with his touch, much like a jackal would pollute a share which actually belongs to a lion, the king of all animals.’
“If in this birth and also previous ones, I have properly worshipped the Almighty Lord Krishna through my Puja, Vedic sacrifices, acts of charity, observances of religious vows and penances, services to Brahmins and Gurus, may Krishna come forward to marry me, so that no ‘Shishupala’ can claim my hand. ”
‘O! Ajita, tomorrow when my marriage celebrations are about to begin, come secretly with your army, and defeating the armies of Shishupala, marry me, winning me over with your valor.’
You may be wondering how you can carry me, who lives deep inside the security of the inner chambers of her palace, without first killing my relatives? The solution to this is as follows: According to our family custom, a day before the wedding, the bride-to-be goes to a temple outside the city for worshipping goddess Parvati.’
‘O Krishna, if I am unable to bathe myself in the dust of your lotus feet, I shall give up my life by performing severe austerities, and continue to perform them in all my future births until I am able to obtain your grace.’
Essence of the proposal to Lord Krishna:
Rukmini addresses Krishna as the ‘Most Beautiful’, the word used in Sanskrit being ‘Bhuvan-Sundara’. This is a compound word which not only means the most beautiful (sundara) in the world (bhuvan), but also means the ‘one from whom all beauty in this world is derived.’ Shravana’, or hearing is the first step in spirituality. Having once heard of Lord Krishna, one starts losing his heart to him. What do we hanker for? Beauty? Krishna is the most beautiful person in the world. What do you worship? Power? Money? He is the most powerful and affluent. Not only this, all beauty, power, wealth etc. are acquired by his grace only. Knowing this the Jiva or individual soul is not ready to be wedded to anybody else other than Krishna.
By referring to Krishna as ‘Mukunda’, Rukmini Ji is referring to his physical charm, meaning one whose face (mukha) beams like a jasmine flower (kunda). The second epithet of Narasimha is however not as soft, preparing him in advance to the challenge she next inspires him with:
By calling him out as ‘Lotus-Eyed’, Rukmini is signifying that even though she is tormented by the fire of separation, it is by meditating on his lotus-eyes that she cools her agitation. Next, proceeding psychologically, Rukmini Devi first informs Krishna that her surrender at his feet is total, and then spurs him into action outlining her fear that if Shishupala managed to marry her, it would lead to a loss of Krishna’s prestige, just like when a jackal makes away with the lion’s share. If so happened this would be in clear violation of the promise made by God himself in the Ramayana:
“It is my vow to grant protection to those who come to me saying: “I am yours”
Actually the word Shishupala means ‘one who rears (pala) children (shishu)’, implying the entire worldly cycle of marrying, earning, begetting children etc. Hearing of Krishna’s qualities and having lost his heart to him, the Jiva is not prepared to be wedded to a ‘Shishupala’ husband, wanting nothing less than Krishna himself. However, complete surrender (Sharanagati) is a fundamental requirement before such a union can take place.
If in this birth and also previous ones, I have properly worshipped the Almighty Lord Krishna through my Puja, Vedic sacrifices, acts of charity, observances of religious vows and penances, services to Brahmins and Gurus, may Krishna come forward to marry me, so that no ‘Shishupala’ can claim my hand. ”
With this verse, Goddess Lakshmi in her form as Devi Rukmini, makes it clear that the goal of any Dharmic activity is to generate loving Bhakti for the highest God Krishna. The Bhagavata Purana says at another place:
‘The result of all Dharma, when correctly performed, is to generate interest in the adventures of Lord Krishna. If this does not happen, then such a Dharma would count as futile labor only.’
Often, even though we have desire for the Supreme, we are situated in circumstances from which we are unable to extricate ourselves on our own. However, Krishna can rescue us from such a situation. That is why Rukmini says: “Please come and take me from here. I am unable to do so on my own.” Therefore, the seeker will always say this to Krishna: “It is you who has to uplift me.”
Come to think of it, why don’t we achieve to the Supreme Soul Krishna? Because even though we hear of him (Shravana), we do not choose (Varana) him over everything else. Actually, we do not have to bring Krishna into our hearts as much as we have to take the world out of it. This is the true union with the one who is already there.