The Vishnu Purana

by Horace Hayman Wilson | 1840 | 287,946 words | ISBN-10: 8171102127

The English translation of the Vishnu Purana. This is a primary sacred text of the Vaishnava branch of Hinduism. It is one of the eighteen greater Puranas, a branch of sacred Vedic literature which was first committed to writing during the first millennium of the common era. Like most of the other Puranas, this is a complete narrative from the cr...

Chapter XXVIII - Slaughter of Rukmini

RUKMINĪ bare to Kṛṣṇa these other sons, Cārudeṣṇa, Sudeṣṇa, Cārudeha, Sushena, Cārugupta, Bhadracāru, Cāruvinda, Sucāru, and the very mighty Cāru; also one daughter, Cārumatī. Kṛṣṇa had seven other beautiful wives, Kālindī, Mitravrindā, the virtuous Nāgnajitī, the queen Jāmbavatī; Rohiṇī, of beautiful form; the amiable and excellent daughter of the king of Madra, Mādrī; Satyabhāmā, the daughter of Śatrujit; and Lakṣmaṇā, of lovely smiles[1]. Besides these, he had sixteen thousand other wives[2].

The heroic Pradyumna was chosen for her lord, at her public choice of a husband, by the daughter of Rukmin; and he had by her the powerful and gallant prince Aniruddha, who was fierce in fight, an ocean of prowess, and the tamer of his foes. Keśava demanded in marriage for him the granddaughter of Rukmin; and although the latter was inimical to Kṛṣṇa, he betrothed the maiden (who was his son's daughter) to the son of his own daughter (her cousin Aniruddha). Upon the occasion of the nuptials Rāma and other Yādavas attended Kṛṣṇa to Bhojakaṭa, the city of Rukmin. After the wedding had been solemnized, several of the kings, headed by him of Kaliṅga, said to Rukmin, “This wielder of the ploughshare is ignorant of the dice, which may be converted into his misfortune: why may we not contend with him, and beat him, in play?” The potent Rukmin replied to them, and said, “So let it be:” and he engaged Balarāma at a game of dice in the palace. Balarāma soon lost to Rukmin a thousand Niṣkas[3]: he then staked and lost another thousand; and then pledged ten thousand, which Rukmin, who was well skilled in gambling, also won. At this the king of Kaliṅga laughed aloud, and the weak and exulting Rukmin grinned, and said, “Baladeva is losing, for he knows nothing of the game; although, blinded by a vain passion for play, he thinks he understands the dice.” Halayudha, galled by the broad laughter of the Kaliṅga prince, and the contemptuous speech of Rukmin, was exceedingly angry, and, overcome with passion, increased his stake to ten millions of Niṣkas. Rukmin accepted the challenge, and therefore threw the dice. Baladeva won, and cried aloud, “The stake is mine.” But Rukmin called out as loudly, that he was the winner. “Tell no lies, Bala,” said he: “the stake is yours; that is true; but I did not agree to it: although this be won by you, yet still I am the winner.” A deep voice was then heard in the sky, inflaming still more the anger of the high-spirited Baladeva, saying, “Bala has rightly won the whole sum, and Rukmin speaks falsely: although he did not accept the pledge in words, he did so by his acts (having cast the dice).” Balarāma thus excited, his eyes red with rage, started up, and struck Rukmin with the board on which the game was played, and killed him[4]. Taking hold of the trembling king of Kaliṅga, he knocked out the teeth which he had shewn when he laughed. Laying hold of a golden column, he dragged it from its place, and used it as a weapon to kill those princes who had taken part with his adversaries. Upon which the whole circle, crying out with terror, took to flight, and escaped from the wrath of Baladeva. When Kṛṣṇa heard that Rukmin had been killed by his brother, he made no remark, being afraid of Rukminī on the one hand, and of Bala on the other; but taking with him the newly wedded Aniruddha, and the Yādava tribe, he returned to Dvārakā.

Footnotes and references:


The number specified, however, both in this place and in c. 32, is nine, instead of eight. The commentator endeavours to explain the difference by identifying Rohiṇī with Jāmbavatī; but in the notices of Kṛṣṇa's posterity, both in this work and in the Bhāgavata, she is distinct from Jāmbavatī. She seems, however, to be an addition to the more usually specified eight, of whose several marriages the Bhāgavata gives the best account. In addition to the three first, respecting whom particulars are found in all, Kālindī, or the Yamunā, is the daughter of the sun, whom Kṛṣṇa meets on one of his visits to Indraprastha, and who claims him as the reward of her penance. His next wife, Mitravindā, is the daughter of his maternal aunt, Rājādhidevī (p. 437), and sister of Vinda and Anuvinda, kings of Avantī: she chooses him at her Swayambara. The Hari Vaṃśa calls her Saudattā, daughter of Śivi; and she is subsequently termed Śaivyā by our text. Nāgnajitī or Satyā, the next wife, was the daughter of Nagnajit, king of Kausāla, and was the prize of Kṛṣṇa's overcoming seven fierce bulls, whom no other hero had encountered with success. Bhadrā, princess of Kekaya, also Kṛṣṇa's cousin, the daughter of Śrutakīrtti (p. 437), was his next: and his eighth wife was Mādrī, the daughter of the king of Madra; named, according to the Bhāgavata, Lakṣaṇā; and to the Hari V., Saubhīmā; distinguishing, as does our text, clearly Lakṣmaṇā from Mādrī, and like it having no satisfactory equivalent for Bhadrā. The Hari Vaṃśa does not name Rohiṇī, but specifies other names, as Vrihatī, &c. In the life of Kṛṣṇa, taken from the Bhāgavata through a Persian translation, published by Maurice, there is a curious instance of the barbarous distortion of Sanscrit names by the joint labours of the English and Persian translators: the wives of Kṛṣṇa are written, Rokemenee (Rukminī), Seteebhavani (Satyabhāmā), Jamoometee (Jāmbavatī), Kalenderee (Kālindī), Lechmeena (Lakṣmaṇā), Soeta (Satyā?), Bhedravatee (Bhadrā), Mihrbenda (Mitravinda).


These, according to the Mahābhārata, p. 579 Ādi P., were Apsarasas, or nymphs. In the Dāna Dharma they become Kṛṣṇa's wives through a boon given him by Umā.


The Niṣka is a weight of gold, but according to different authorities of very different amount. The commentator here terms it a weight of four Suvarṇas, each about 175 grains troy.


The Bhāgavata and Hari Vaṃśa, which both tell this story, agree in the death of Rukmin; but in the Mahābhārata he appears in the war, on the side of the Paṇḍavas. The occurrence is a not very favourable picture of courtly manners; but scenes of violence have never been infrequent at the courts of Rajput princes.

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