The Vishnu Purana (abridged)

27,616 words

The Vishnu Purana (Viṣṇu Purāṇa) is a religious Hindu text and one of the (most important) eighteen Mahapuranas. It is also known as Puranaratna ("gem of Puranas"). Presented as a dialogue between Parashara and his disciple Maitreya, the major topics discussed include creation, stories of battles fought between asuras and devas, the Avat...

Rukmini and Rukmi

There was a king named Bhishmaka who ruled in the kingdom of Kundina. The king had a son named Rukmi and a daughter named Rukmimi. Krishna and Rukmini wished to marry each other. But Rukmi did not like Krishna, so he refused to get his sister married off to Krishna.

Bhishmaka was also an ally of Jarasandha’s. So he agreed with Rukmi and decided to marry his daughter to Shishupala. All these allies of Jarasandha’s went to Kundina to witness the marriage and Krishna and the Yadavas also went there. But one day before the marriage was due to take place, Krishna abducted Rukmini.

Thereupon several kings like Poundraka, Dantavakra, Viduratha, Shishupala, Jarasandha and Shalva attacked the Yadavas so as to kill Krishna. But they were defeated by Balarama and the other Yadavas.

Rukmi resolved, “I will not return to Kundina without killing Krishna.” He followed Krishna with many soldiers, horses, elephants,and chariots. But Krishna easily defeated Rukmi.

When Krishna was about to kill Rukmi, Rukmini said, “I have only one brother. Please spare his life.”

Krishna spared Rukmi’s life. But Rukmi had resolved that he would not return to Kundina without killing Krishna. So he had to build a new city known as Bhojakata where he began to live.

Krishna married Rukmini according to the rakshasa form of marriage. They had a son called Pradyumna who was kidnapped by Shambarasura as soon as he was born. But later, Pradyumna was to kill Shambarasura.

“Tell me this story,” asked Maitreya of Parashara.

Shambarasua knew that Pradyumna was destined to kill him. So six days after Pradyumna’s birth, he kidnapped the newly born baby and threw it into the ocean. The ocean was full of sharks and crocodiles. The baby might have died, but a fish swallowed it up and the baby was saved. Later on, some fishermen caught the fish and brought it to Shambarasura’s kitchen.

Shambarasura had a housekeeper named Mayavati. When the fish was cut, Mayavati found the baby inside. She was very surprised. “Who is this boy and how did he come to be here?’, she wondered. She went to Narada to find out who the boy was and Narada told her the entire story. He also told her to ensure that the boy was brought up properly.

This Mayavati proceeded to do. She was well versed in the techniques of maya or illusions and these she taught to Pradyumna. When Pradyumna grew up, she told him the entire story of his birth and kidnapping. Hearing this, Pradyumna challenged Shambarasura to a duel. Shambarasura used a lot of maya, but thanks to Mayavati, Pradyumna had also learnt the use of maya. So he did manage to kill Shambarasura.

After this, Pradyumna and Mayavati returned to Krishna and Rukmini. Everyone was happy and Pradyumna married Mayavati.

Apart from Pradyumna, Krishna and Rukmini had eight other sons and a daughter. And apart from Rukmini, Krishna had seven other major wives. Their names were Kalindi, Mitravinda, Satya, Jambavati or Rohini, Sushila, Satyabhama, and Lakshmana. The total number of Krishna’s wives was sixteen thousand.

Pradyumna married King Rukmi’s daughter and had a son named Aniruddha. Aniruddha married Rukmi’s grand-daughter. On the occasion of this marriage, Krishna, Balarama and the other Yadavas arrived at Rukmi’s capital Bhojakata.

After the marriage was over, some kings told Rukmi, “Balarama is addicted to playing dice, although he cannot play it at all well. Why not arrange match of dice in which we can defeat Balarama?”

Rukmi agreed to this proposition and a match was arranged in which Rukmi played with Balarama. In the first round, Rukmi won four thousand gold pieces off Balarama. This happened a second time and a third time as well. At this, the king of Kalinga and Rukmi began to laugh at Balarama.

Balarama got angry and placed four crores of gold pieces as a bet. Rukmi threw the dice, but this time Balarama won.

“I have won,” said Balarama.

“No, you haven’t”, replied Rukmi. “You did place the bet, but I did not accept it. So you have not really won.”

Words were then heard from heaven which said that it was Balarama who was in the right. Although Rukmi had not verbally accepted the bet, his throwing of the dice meant that the bet was acceptable to him.

This roused Balarama’s anger and he picked up a dice and killed Rukmi with it. He also caught hold of the king of Kalinga and broke off the king’s teeth. It was with these teeth that the king of Kalinga had laughed at Balarama. Many were the other kings whom Balarama killed on this occasion.

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