After hearing Rukmini's statement, Lord Krsna was very pleased. He immediately shook hands with the brahmana and said: "My dear brahmana, I am very glad to hear that Rukmini is anxious to marry Me, since I am also anxious to get her hand. My mind is always absorbed in the thought of the daughter of Bhismaka, and sometimes I cannot sleep at night because I am thinking of her. I can understand that the marriage of Rukmini with Sisupala has been arranged by her elder brother in a spirit of animosity toward Me; so I am determined to give a good lesson to all of these princes. Just as fire is extracted and utilized after manipulating ordinary wood, similarly, after dealing with these demoniac princes, I shall bring forth Rukmini, like fire, from their midst."
Krsna, upon being informed of the specific date of Rukmini's marriage, became anxious to leave immediately. He asked His driver, Daruka, to harness the horses for His chariot and prepare to go to the kingdom of Vidarbha. The driver, just after hearing this order, brought Krsna's four special horses. The names and descriptions of these horses are mentioned in the Padma Purana. The first one, Saibya, was greenish; the second, Sugriva, was grayish like ice; the third, Meghapuspa, was the color of a new cloud; and the last, Balahaka, was of ashen color. When the horses were yoked and the chariot ready to go, Krsna helped the brahmana up and gave him a seat by His side. Immediately they started from Dvaraka and within one night arrived at the province of Vidarbha. The kingdom of Dvaraka is situated in the western part of India, and Vidarbha is situated in the northern part. They are separated by a distance of not less than one thousand miles, but the horses were so fast that they reached their destination, a town called Kundina, within one night or, at most, twelve hours.
King Bhismaka was not very enthusiastic about handing his daughter over to Sisupala, but he was obliged to accept the marriage settlement due to his affectionate attachment for his eldest son, who had negotiated it. As a matter of duty, he was decorating the city for the marriage ceremony and was acting in great earnestness to make it very successful. Water was sprinkled all over the streets, and the city was cleansed very nicely. Since India is situated in the tropical zone, the atmosphere is always dry. Due to this, dust always accumulates on the streets and roads; so they must be sprinkled with water at least once a day, and in big cities like Calcutta, twice a day. The roads of Kundina were arranged with colored flags and festoons, and gates were constructed at particular crossings. The whole city was decorated very nicely. The beauty of the city was enhanced by the inhabitants, both men and women, who were dressed in washed cloth, decorated with sandalwood pulp, pearl necklaces and flower garlands. Incense was burning everywhere, and fragrances like aguru scented the air. Priests and brahmanas were sumptuously fed and, according to ritualistic ceremony, were given sufficient wealth and cows in charity. In this way, they were engaged in chanting Vedic hymns. The King's daughter, Rukmini, was exquisitely beautiful. She was very clean and had beautiful teeth. The auspicious sacred girdle was tied on her wrist. She was given various types of jewelry to put on and long silken cloth to cover the upper and lower parts of her body. Learned priests gave her protection by chanting mantras from the Sama Veda, Rg Veda and Yajur Veda. After this they chanted mantras from the Atharva Veda and offered oblations in the fire to pacify the ominous conjunctions of different stars.
King Bhismaka was very experienced in dealing with the brahmanas and priests when such ceremonies were held. He specifically distinguished the brahmanas by giving them large quantities of gold and silver, grains mixed with molasses, and cows decorated with gold and ornaments. Damaghosa, Sisupala's father, executed all kinds of ritualistic performances to invoke good fortune for his own family. Sisupala's father was known as Damaghosa due to his superior ability to cut down unregulated citizens. Dama means curbing down, and ghosa means famous; so he was famous for controlling the citizens. Damaghosa thought that if Krsna came to disturb the marriage ceremony, he would certainly cut Him down with his military power. Therefore, after performing the various auspicious ceremonies, Damaghosa gathered his military divisions, known as Madasravi. He took many elephants, garlanded with golden necklaces, and many chariots and horses which were similarly decorated. It appeared that Damaghosa, along with his son and other companions, was going to Kundina, not completely forgetting the marriage, but mainly intent on fighting.
When King Bhismaka learned that Damaghosa and his party were arriving, he left the city to receive them. Outside the city gate there were many gardens where the guests were welcome to stay. In the Vedic system of marriage, the bride's father receives the large party of the bridegroom and accommodates them in a suitable place for two or three days until the marriage ceremony is performed. The party led by Damaghosa contained thousands of men, among whom the prominent kings and personalities were Jarasandha, Dantavakra, Viduratha and Paundraka. It was an open secret that Rukmini was meant to be married to Krsna but that her elder brother, Rukmi, had arranged her marriage to Sisupala. There was also some whispering going on about a rumor that Rukmini had sent a messenger to Krsna; therefore the soldiers suspected that Krsna might cause a disturbance by attempting to kidnap Rukmini. Even though they were not without fear, they were all prepared to give Krsna a nice fight in order to prevent the girl from being taken away. Sri Balarama received the news that Krsna had left for Kundina accompanied only by a brahmana; He also heard that Sisupala was there with a large number of soldiers. Suspecting that they would attack Krsna, Balarama took strong military divisions of chariots, infantry, horses and elephants and arrived at the precinct of Kundina.
Meanwhile, inside the palace, Rukmini was expecting Krsna to arrive, but when neither He nor the brahmana who took her message appeared, she became full of anxiety and began to think how unfortunate she was. "There is only one night between today and my marriage day, and still neither the brahmana nor Syamasundara has returned. I cannot ascertain any reason for this." Having little hope, she thought perhaps Krsna had found reason to become dissatisfied and had rejected her fair proposal. As a result the brahmana might have become disappointed and not come back. Although she was thinking of various causes for the delay, she expected them both at every moment.
Rukmini further began to think that demigods such as Lord Brahma, Lord Siva and the goddess Durga might have been displeased. It is generally said that the demigods become angry when they are not properly worshiped. For instance, when Indra found that the inhabitants of Vrndavana were not worshiping him (Krsna having stopped the Indra-yajna), he became very angry and wanted to chastise them. Thus Rukmini was thinking that since she did not worship Lord Siva or Lord Brahma very much, they might have become angry and tried to frustrate her plan. Similarly she thought that the goddess Durga, the wife of Lord Siva, might have taken the side of her husband. Lord Siva is known as Rudra, and his wife is known as Rudrani. Rudrani and Rudra refer to those who are very accustomed to putting others in a distressed condition so they might cry forever. Rukmini was thinking of the goddess Durga as Girija, the daughter of the Himalayan Mountains. The Himalayan Mountains are very cold and hard, and she thought of the goddess Durga as hardhearted and cold. In her anxiety to see Krsna, Rukmini, who was after all still a child, thought this way about the different demigods. The gopis worshiped goddess Katyayani to get Krsna as their husband; similarly Rukmini was thinking of the various types of demigods, not for material benefit, but in respect to Krsna. Praying to the demigods to achieve the favor of Krsna is not irregular, and Rukmini was fully absorbed in thoughts of Krsna.
Even though she pacified herself by thinking that the time for Govinda to arrive had not yet expired, Rukmini felt that she was hoping against hope. She began to shed tears, and when they became more forceful, she closed her eyes in helplessness. While Rukmini was in such deep thought, auspicious symptoms appeared in different parts of her body. Trembling began to occur in her left eyelid and in her arms and thighs. When trembling occurs in these parts of the body it is an auspicious sign indicating that something lucrative can be expected.
Just then Rukmini, full of anxiety, saw the brahmana messenger. Krsna, being the Supersoul of all living beings, could understand Rukmini's anxiety; therefore He sent the brahmana inside the palace to let her know that He had arrived. When Rukmini saw the brahmana, she could understand the auspicious trembling of her body and immediately became elated. She smiled and inquired from him whether or not Krsna had already come. The brahmana replied that the son of the Yadu dynasty, Sri Krsna, had arrived; he further encouraged her by saying that Krsna had promised to carry her away without fail. Rukmini was so elated by the brahmana's message that she wanted to give him in charity everything she possessed. However, finding nothing suitable for presentation, she simply offered him her respectful obeisances. The significance of offering respectful obeisances to a superior is that the one offering obeisances is obliged to the respected person. In other words, Rukmini implied that she would remain ever grateful to the brahmana. Anyone who gets the favor of the goddess of fortune, as did this brahmana, is without a doubt always happy in material opulence.
When King Bhismaka heard that Krsna and Balarama had come, he invited Them to see the marriage ceremony of his daughter. Immediately he arranged to receive Them, along with Their soldiers, in a suitable garden house. As was the Vedic custom, the King offered Krsna and Balarama honey and fresh washed cloth. He was hospitable not only to Krsna, Balarama and kings such as Jarasandha, but he also received many other kings and princes according to their respective personal strength, age and material possessions. Out of curiosity and eagerness, the people of Kundina assembled before Krsna and Balarama and began to drink the nectar of Their beauty. With tearful eyes, they offered Them their silent respects. They were very pleased, considering Lord Krsna the suitable match for Rukmini. They were so eager to unite Krsna and Rukmini that they began to pray to the Personality of Godhead: "My dear Lord, if we have performed any pious activities that You are satisfied with, kindly be merciful upon us and accept the hand of Rukmini." It appears that Rukmini was a very popular princess, and all the citizens, out of intense love for her, prayed for her best fortune. In the meantime, Rukmini, being very nicely dressed and protected by bodyguards, came out of the palace to visit the temple of Ambika, the goddess Durga.
Deity worship in the temple has been in existence since the beginning of Vedic culture. There is a class of men described in the Bhagavad-gita as the veda-vada-rata; they only believe in the Vedic ritualistic ceremonies, but not in the temple worship. Such foolish people may here take note that although this marriage of Krsna and Rukmini took place more than five thousand years ago, there were arrangements for temple worship. In the Bhagavad-gita the Lord says, yanti deva-vrata devan: "The worshipers of the demigods attain the abodes of the demigods." There were many people who worshiped the demigods and many who directly worshiped the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The system of demigod worship was directed mainly to Lord Brahma, Lord Siva, Lord Ganesa, the sun-god and the goddess Durga. Lord Siva and the goddess Durga were worshiped even by the royal families; other minor demigods were worshiped by silly inferior people. As far as the brahmanas and Vaisnavas are concerned, they simply worship Lord Visnu, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. In the Bhagavad-gita the worship of demigods is condemned, but not forbidden; there it is clearly stated that the less intelligent class of men worship the different kinds of demigods for material benefit. On the other hand, even though Rukmini was the goddess of fortune, she went to the temple of the goddess Durga because the family deity was worshiped there. In the Srimad-Bhagavatam it is stated that as Rukmini was proceeding towards the temple of the goddess Durga, within her heart she was always thinking of the lotus feet of Krsna. Therefore when Rukmini went to the temple it was not with the intention of an ordinary person, who goes to beg for material benefits; her only target was Krsna. When people go to the temple of a demigod, the objective is actually Krsna, since it is He who empowers the demigods to provide material benefits.
As Rukmini proceeded toward the temple, she was very silent and grave. Her mother and her girl friend were by her side, and the wife of a brahmana was in the center; surrounding her were bodyguards. (This custom of a would-be bride's going to the temple of a demigod is still practiced in India.) As the procession continued, various musical sounds were heard. Drums, conchshells, and bugles of different sizes such as panavas, turyas and bheris combined to make a sound which was not only auspicious but very sweet to hear. There were thousands of wives of respectable brahmanas present. These women were all dressed very nicely with suitable ornaments. They presented Rukmini with flower garlands, sandalwood pulp and a variety of colorful garments to assist her in worshiping Lord Siva and the goddess Durga. Some of these ladies were very old and knew perfectly well how to chant prayers to the goddess Durga and Lord Siva; so, followed by Rukmini and others, they led these prayers before the deity.
Rukmini offered her prayers to the deity by saying, "My dear goddess Durga, I offer my respectful obeisances unto you as well as to your children." The Goddess Durga has four famous children: two daughters--the goddess of fortune, Laksmi, and the goddess of learning, Sarasvati--and two famous sons, Lord Ganesa and Lord Karttikeya. They are all considered to be demigods and goddesses. Since the goddess Durga is always worshiped along with her famous children, Rukmini specifically offered her respectful obeisances to the deity in that way; however, her prayers were different. Ordinary people pray to the goddess Durga for material wealth, fame, profit, strength and so on; Rukmini, however, desired to have Krsna for her husband and therefore prayed to the deity to be pleased upon her and bless her. Since she desired only Krsna, her worship of the demigods is not condemned. While Rukmini was praying, a variety of items were presented before the deity, chief of which were water, different kinds of flames, incense, garments, garlands and various foodstuffs prepared with ghee, such as puris and kachauris. There were also fruits, sugarcane, betel nuts and spices offered. With great devotion, Rukmini offered them to the deity according to the regulative principles directed by the old brahmana ladies. After this ritualistic ceremony, the ladies offered the remnants of the foodstuffs to Rukmini as prasadam, which she accepted with great respect. Then Rukmini offered her obeisances to the ladies and to the goddess Durga. After the business of deity worship was finished, Rukmini caught hold of the hand of one of her girl friends and left the temple, accompanied by the others.
All the princes and visitors who came to Kundina for the marriage were assembled outside the temple to see Rukmini. The princes were especially very eager to see her because they all actually thought that they would have Rukmini as their wife. Struck with wonder upon seeing Rukmini, they thought that she was specially manufactured by the Creator to bewilder all the great chivalrous princes. Her body was well-constructed, the middle portion being thin. She had green eyes, pink lips, and a beautiful face which was enhanced by her scattered hair and by different kinds of earrings. Around her feet she wore jeweled lockets. The bodily luster and beauty of Rukmini appeared as if painted by an artist perfectly presenting beauty following the description of great poets. The breast of Rukmini is described as being a little bit high, indicating that she was just a youth not more than thirteen or fourteen years old. Her beauty was specifically intended to attract the attention of Krsna. Although the princes gazed upon her beautiful features, she was not at all proud. Her eyes moved restlessly, and when she smiled very simply, like an innocent girl, her teeth appeared just like lotus flowers. Expecting Krsna to take her away at any moment, she proceeded very slowly towards her home. Her legs moved just like a full-grown swan, and her ankle bells tinkled very mildly.
As already explained, the great chivalrous princes who assembled there were so overwhelmed by Rukmini's beauty that they almost became unconscious. Full of lust, they hopelessly desired Rukmini's hand, comparing their own beauty with hers. Srimati Rukmini, however, was not interested in any of them; in her heart she was simply expecting Krsna to come and carry her away. As she was adjusting the ornaments on her left-hand finger, she happened to look upon the princes and suddenly saw that Krsna was present amongst them. Although Rukmini had never before seen Krsna, she was always thinking of Him; thus she had no difficulty in recognizing Him amongst the princely order. Krsna, not being concerned with the other princes, immediately took the opportunity of placing Rukmini on His chariot, marked by a flag bearing an image of Garuda. He then proceeded slowly, without fear, taking away Rukmini exactly as the lion takes the deer from the midst of the jackals. Meanwhile Balarama appeared on the scene with the soldiers of the Yadu dynasty.
Jarasandha, who had many times experienced defeat by Krsna, began to roar: "How is this? Krsna is taking Rukmini away from us without any opposition! What is the use in our being chivalrous fighters with arrows? My dear princes, just look! We are losing our reputation by this action. He is just like the jackal taking away the booty from the lion."
Thus ends the Bhaktivedanta purport of the Fifty-third Chapter of Krsna, "Krsna Kidnaps Rukmini."