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Rukmini Devi’s pride in virtue and devotional practices

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000001.jpgVrindavan, 2018.04.27

Vrindavan is the town of Radha and Krishna but let us not forget the glories of Rukmini Devi, who is one of the most glorious female figures of the Shrimad Bhagavatam.

Today is Rukmani Dwadasi, the occasion of Rukmini Devi’s appearance on earth. Just as Lakshmi Devi is Lord Vishnu’s consort, Rukmini Devi is Shri Krishna’s first wife.

Rukmini Devi’s pastime of demanding that Shri Krishna save her from a bad marriage reminds us of the power of women’s svabhiman (pride in virtue). Rukmini Devi’s svabhiman and faith prompted her to write a letter to Shri Krishna asking him to marry her. Knowing the purity of her intentions, He accepted.

The Shrimad Bhagavatam states that Rukmini is none other than Lakshmi Devi, the grantor of material fortune that all need in order to have the fortunate material circumstances that allow the mind to be freed from the burden of worries about material circumstances and become engaged in bhakti.

“O hero among the Kurus, the Supreme Lord Himself, Govinda, married King Bhishmaka’s daughter, Vaidarbhi Rukmani, who was a direct expansion of the Goddess of fortune [Sriyo maatraam].” (Bhagavata Purana 10.52.16)

Rukmini Devi was extremely devoted and attached to Lord Krishna and she was helped by the material circumstance of being betrothed to Shishupala. Her parents wanted her to marry Shri Krishna but her brother, Rukmi wanted that she should marry Shishupala as this would be good for his political career. So Rukmini wrote to Shri Krishna asking Him to save her:

śrī-rukmiṇy uvāca 

śrutvā guṇān bhuvana-sundara śṛṇvatāṁ te
nirviśya karṇa-vivarair harato’ṅga-tāpam
rūpaṁ dṛśāṁ dṛśimatām akhilārtha-lābhaṁ
tvayy acyutāviśati cittam apatrapaṁ me

kā tvā mukunda mahatī kula-śīla-rūpa-
vidyā-vayo-draviṇa-dhāmabhir ātma-tulyam
dhīrā patiṁ kulavatī na vṛṇīta kanyā
kāle nṛ-siṁha nara-loka-mano-‘bhirāmam

tan me bhavān khalu vṛtaḥ patir aṅga jāyām
ātmārpitaś ca bhavato’tra vibho vidhehi
mā vīra-bhāgam abhimarśatu caidya ārād
gomāyu-van mṛga-pater balim ambujākṣa

Shri Rukmini said: O beauty of the worlds, having heard of Your qualities, which enter the ears of those who hear and remove their bodily distress, and having also heard of Your beauty, which fulfills all the visual desires of those who see, I have fixed my shameless mind upon You, O Krsna. [37]

O Mukunda, You are equal only to Yourself in lineage, character, beauty, knowledge, youthfulness, wealth and influence. O lion among men, You delight the minds of all mankind. What aristocratic, sober-minded and marriageable girl of a good family would not choose You as her husband when the proper time has come? [38]

Therefore, my dear Lord, I have chosen You as my husband, and I surrender myself to You. Please come swiftly, O almighty one, and make me Your wife. My dear lotus-eyed Lord, let Sisupala never touch the hero’s portion like a jackal stealing the property of a lion. [39]

The most famous temple with Rukmini Devi in Braj is the Dwarkadhish temple in Mathura. In this temple Rukmini Devi is with Dwarkadish and Radha Rani is with Laddu Gopal, so, at this temple, Shri Krishna’s childhood pastimes and His later opulent pastimes as king of Dwarka are both honored.

The temple was established by Seth Gokul Das (the treasurer of the Gwalior Estate) in 1814 and is one of Mathura’s most famous temples.

Rukmini Devi also has a colony of Vrindavan named after her – “Rukmani Vihar.”  The entrance of this colony on Chattikara road features a gate with an almost life-size statue of the pastime of Shri Krishna kidnapping Rukmini.

Meditating on Shrimati Rukmini Devi’s letter to Shri Krishna helps us to remember to practice connecting to Shri Krishna using all our senses. The practice of engaging as many of the senses as possible, in different ways, in order to keep the mind focused on devotional practices is described by Shri Sanatan Goswami in his commentary on the ninth verse of Brihad Bhagwatamritam

Although we normally think of chanting as being the business of the tongue, all of one’s conscious faculties can be engaged with the Holy Name. The mind can contemplate the syllables of the Lord’s names and their meanings, and the external senses can interact with the Name each in their own way. Speech and hearing are obviously involved, but the sense of touch can also feel the Name written in sacred clay on one’s body, the eyes can see the name written in various places, the hands and legs can work to carry a banner inscribed with the name, and so on.

In her appeal to Shri Krishna, Rukmini Devi describes the different devotional activities that she hopes make her eligible to be saved by Shri Krishna:

pūrteṣṭa-datta-niyama-vrata-deva-vipra-
gurv-arcanādibhir alaṁ bhagavān pareśaḥ
ārādhito yadi gadāgraja etya pāṇiṁ
gṛhṇātu me na damaghoṣa-sutādayo’nye

If I have sufficiently worshiped the Supreme Personality of Godhead by pious works, sacrifices, charity, rituals and vows, and also by worshiping the demigods, Brahmanas and gurus, then may Gadagraja come and take my hand, and not Damaghosa’s son or anyone else. [40]

In the Gopala-tapani Upanisad 57, it is written that, as Lakshmi is Vishnu’s Shakti (power or strength) so Rukmani is Krishna’s strength.

Rukmini is the mother of Pradyumana who was the crown prince of Dwarka and carried on Shri Krishna’s lineage on earth.

Shri Rukmini Devi ki Jai! Lakshmi Devi ki jai!

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