“Even though there were many thousands of maidservants who were equally beautiful and qualified, and who were of the same age, Rukminidevi personally was engaged in fanning Lord Krishna. Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, worshiped even by Narada, but still, as soon as He saw Narada enter the palace, Krishna got down immediately from Rukmini's bedstead and stood up to honor him.” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 2, Ch 14)Download this episode (right click and save)
The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Bhagavan, has unlimited opulence. A popular magazine publishes an annual list of the richest people in the world. The rankings are based on net worth, which includes both salary and properties held. The list grabs the attention of the public since there is a competitive spirit in material life. It is also interesting to see just how much people have; i.e. what constitutes their amazing wealth.
For Bhagavan, the wealth is unimaginable. One of the reasons is that His eternal consort is the goddess of fortune. One of her names is Lakshmi Devi, and since Lakshmi is always by His side, Narayana is never poor. In whichever area He goes, He is always the richest man.
Some five thousand years ago Narayana descended to earth in the spiritual form of Krishna, whose name means “all-attractive.” Just as Bhagavan has avataras, or non-different forms who descend to earth, the same applies for Lakshmi Devi. One of her avataras is Rukmini Devi, a person from whom the seekers of peace, prosperity, and spiritual advancement can learn.
1. It is not necessary to see God to have attachment to Him
Rukmini was the daughter of King Bhishmaka. When she reached an age suitable for marriage, there was a roster of potential matches, consisting of other kings from around the world. Shri Krishna was the king of Dvaraka, which was a unique city. It was underwater and guarded by gates on all sides. There is an interesting story behind its creation. That story is told in the Shrimad Bhagavatam and several Puranas.
Rukmini had never met Shri Krishna. She had never seen Him. Yet she gave her heart to Him. She decided that she would only marry the king of Dvaraka. The problem was that her marriage was already set to take place to Shishupala, who was actually a rival to Krishna. Shishupala had seen Krishna, and he was anything but devoted.
Rukmini made her decision through hearing. From her example, we see that hearing is actually more important than seeing when it comes to spiritual matters. A person can see the Supreme Lord and still not properly recognize Him. Through hearing, the consciousness gradually becomes purified. Full attachment can come through hearing alone. Rukmini’s will was so strong that she was not going to be denied.
2. There is no harm in dreaming big in bhakti
Since Bhagavan has full aishvarya, or wealth, He can give anything to His devotees. In one of the popular religions around the world a common practice is to ask God for the daily bread. The idea is that eating is important and ultimately the origin of everything is responsible for making food available. The practice is indicative of intelligence, a step up from thinking that everything came into being through random collisions of chemicals.
At the same time, God can deliver much more than bread. Indeed, the animals find food without offering similar prayers. The child also has no concept of a higher power. The material nature accommodates the temporary living situation of the spirit soul inside of a material body.
The more a person knows God, the more they see available for them. Rukmini asked for marriage, to spend all her time with Krishna personally. She was not afraid to ask for this boon. Whether the request is granted or not is up to God and His discretion. But there is no harm in thinking big, especially if your motives are pure. Rukmini had undying affection for Krishna, and since the Lord rescues the surrendered souls, He was not about to let her marry Shishupala.
3. Krishna loves the brahmanas
Rukmini devised a plan for marriage. As she very well couldn’t broadcast this to everyone, she sent a letter to Krishna. A brahmana in her kingdom was the messenger. Krishna received that brahmana very nicely. Since he delivered the message, it had every likelihood of reaching its intended destination.
After they were married, there was another notable incident with a brahmana. Sudama Vipra came to meet Krishna in Dvaraka. He was an old friend, dating back to when the two were in school together, under the guidance of the guru named Sandipani. As a member of the priestly class, Sudama was very poor. He came with a meager offering of chipped rice, as he could not afford anything more. Krishna was so pleased with this offering that through Rukmini’s blessings the brahmana’s shack of a home was transformed into a palace.
4. There is no harm in respecting Durga Devi
It was the custom in Rukmini’s family to worship Durga Devi on the day of a wedding. This was to seek the devi’s blessings, to ensure that wedded life would go on happily and in the proper way. Rukmini’s heart was already given to Krishna, so she easily could have skipped this ritual. She could have lectured her family that such worship was not necessary, since Krishna is worshiped by both Durga Devi and her husband Shiva, who is also known as Mahadeva.
Instead, Rukmini subtly involved Durga Devi in the wonderful pastime of her marriage to Krishna. She suggested to the king of Dvaraka that He come and kidnap her on the day of the proposed wedding to Shishupala. The perfect time to come would be either when she was going to the Durga temple or coming back from it. In this way Rukmini did not violate family tradition or her own vow to be fully devoted to Krishna only.
5. Krishna has amazing timing
It is described that Krishna took Rukmini away like Garuda snatches a snake. The snakes are the enemies of Garuda, who is a special kind of bird. He is the carrier of Lord Vishnu. In this way he is a servant engaged in devotional service, or bhakti-yoga. Krishna was like an eagle in quickly taking away Rukmini, to everyone’s surprise.
There was no written guarantee given beforehand. Rukmini had only hope to go on. She had not even seen Krishna up until then. The Supreme Lord came at just the right time. He fought off the people who objected. He safely brought Rukmini back to Dvaraka and married her.
In the same way, He swiftly rescues the souls suffering in the material world who want out. When they want only escape from the cycle of birth and death, He shows Himself as the impersonal light known as Brahman. When they want His association only, He comes either personally or through His representative known as the spiritual master. The guru is even superior to a brahmana, as he carries with Him a message from the spiritual world, with explicit instructions on how to make the most out of this valuable human life.
Many lessons from Rukmini to learn,
Like how Shri Krishna’s favor to earn.
Vision of the Divine not required,
From hearing alone bhakti inspired.
Lord having affection for brahmanas respectable,
Rescuing souls with timing impeccable.
With respect towards demigods can behave,
Krishna or His representative coming to save.