Saturday, January 26, 2013

Rukmini and Krishna - Part 1 of 3


Bhishmaka, the King of Vidharba, looked around his court with pride. His five sons were strong and powerful and were always around to protect him. Bhishmaka particularly relied on his eldest son – Rukmi, who was the strongest of them all.

However, now when King Bhishmaka thought of Rukmi, he became a little uncomfortable...,....Of late he was worried about the company that his son kept....Sishupala, Dandavakra, Jarasandha, Salva, Viduratha....They were not exactly role models for someone to follow. .Not good at all....Far from it..........

Bhishmaka reminded himself that he would have to speak to his son about that....Bhishmaka coughed as he looked at his court. His coughing fits were getting bad and he was relying more and more on his eldest son...Bhishmaka sighed...He was not as young as he used to be....He had to give the affairs of the kingdom to his son...and retire to the forests....But before that....Bhishmaka looked to his left and saw his beautiful daughter Rukmini sitting beside him. He had to find a good mate for her.....

Bhishmaka flushed with pride as he saw Rukmini keenly observing the happenings in the court. But then that was no surprise. Rukmini had always attended court. She always sat through court, ever since she had been a child. As Rukmini grew up, the habit continued. Bhishmaka was the first to acknowledge that on many occasions it was Rukmini who had helped out in the matters of the court...she was a natural at diplomacy and negotiating.

Rukmini was the apple of his eye or for that matter, everybody in his court liked Rukmini...There was something in the keen gaze with which she looked, her infectious laughter and her razor sharp intellect. People found themselves answering to her beck and call...Yes! Bhishmaka thought with fierce pride...His daughter was a gem...she deserved to be happy all through her life...Bhishmaka intended to make it happen....

'Sage Narada has come to court sir!' The guard came and announced with a smile, breaking the thoughts of the king.

The guard did not miss that both Bhishmaka's and Rukmini's eyes lit up at the mention of Narada's name. The guard wondered how a rishi could bring such joy to the King and the Princess....

Sage Narada was received with honour as the King and the Princess led him to their inside palace and gave him a very tasty meal. The rishi enjoyed the meal and later on rested for some time as the King and Rukmini left him alone.

The rishi woke up and looked with twinkling eyes and saw that Rukmini was looking at him impatiently but not saying anything. Sage Narada smiled....

He sat up and looked at King Bhishmaka, 'So what would you like to hear today, your majesty?' For that was what Sage Narada did. He traveled all over the world and brought news from all over and narrated them to the kings....

However of late, in the kingdom of Vidharba, Sage Narada had been narrating stories of only one person....Bhishmaka and Rukmini did not seem to be interested in any other person....

'Krishna… I want to hear the stories of Krishna...' Rukmini blurted out as the sage and the king looked at her with amused eyes.

Sage Narada cast a shrewd eye on Rukmini...He did not need any special powers to understand true love when he saw it....However, he wondered…how was it that a person could love another, even without meeting that person....But then Narada realised......He could not say that....He could never say that Rukmini did not know Krishna....

Sage Narada never got tired of repeating the stories of Krishna to Rukmini and Rukmini never got tired of hearing them....And so the sage narrated the latest adventures of Krishna. Rukmini listened with rapt attention as she heard about the bravery of her Krishna, the diplomacy of Krishna, the fighting prowess of Krishna....it seemed to go on and on....Rukmini was lost in her own world thinking of Krishna.....She imagined the black Krishna, with a beautiful smile in his face and twinkling eyes....She could see it all so clearly as the Sage narrated the stories.....Listening about Krishna somehow made her feel complete.....

King Bhishmaka looked at his daughter as she listened to the stories of Krishna...The thrill, the love in her eyes was unmistakable...King Bhishmaka happily nodded his head...His daughter was now a beautiful young woman and Krishna would make a perfect husband for her....

The sage left after he had told the two of them all the stories of the Dark Lord, even repeating many of them. But neither of them cared...as long as the stories were about Krishna's bravery, diplomacy and kindness....

As Sage Narada left Vidharba, he decided that now that he had seen Rukmini, the next obvious move would be to go and see the other half....He left for Dwaraka with a smile as he strummed his tamboora....

After the sage left, King Bhishmaka spoke to his daughter, 'Rukmini!’, the king said partly with happiness and partly with regret...'You are no longer a young child...You are mature enough to have your own family and start your own life ....'

Rukmini blushed furiously as she tried to scold her father playfully, 'Father!....'

King Bhishmaka tried his best to keep his face straight as he continued, 'Looking at you, I am sure, you have even chosen a good man for yourself....'

Rukmini blushed even more as she shyly nodded her head. King Bhishmaka continued, 'Well, who is he?'

'Krishna...' Rukmini said shyly as she studied her feet, not looking anywhere at her father.

Bhishmaka looked at Rukmini, pretended to be surprised, 'Krishna? The Lord of Dwaraka? But you have never even met him!'

Rukmini looked Bhishmaka with unseeing eyes, 'You are right father, I have never met him! But I know him...' Rukmini said it with a conviction that amazed Bhishmaka, '...And I love him for what he is....'

Bhishmaka watched his daughter. He could not understand the expression behind them,..Just for a minute there he thought that Rukmini actually had seen Krishna...The way, she said 'I know him...' Bhishmaka felt almost as if Rukmini had been with Krishna forever.....

Bhishmaka shook himself as he kissed his daughter on the forehead, 'He is a very good man for you! I am sure he will keep you happy....'

Rukmini fell at her father's feet as her father blessed her....

King Bhishmaka went to speak with his eldest son, 'Rukmi! I wish to talk with you...' He said as a coughing fit enveloped him....

Rukmi hurriedly seated his father and gave Bhishmaka some water. As the coughing stopped, Bhishmaka took a deep breath and continued...'As I was saying I have something to tell you!'

Rukmi looked concerned as he studied his father. His father was getting old and found it difficult to manage the affairs of the state. Rukmi nodded to himself as he realized what his father may want to talk to him....In fact that was exactly what he had in mind too. He waited patiently for his father to bring up the topic.

'It is about Rukmini...She is not a child anymore....' King Bhishmaka began guardedly...for some strange reason, the king felt hesitant to talk to his own son... But Rukmi enthusiastically nodded his head. 'That is exactly what I have in mind father! That is what I wanted to talk to you about'.
Bhishmaka relaxed. He continued hurriedly before his son could say anything. 'Good! Good! Then you must agree, that Krishna is the best match for Rukmini....'

Bhishmaka saw Rukmi's face change a dark shade as his eyes became red, 'Do you mean, that cowherd, who is now pretending to be the king of Dwaraka?'

Bhishmaka stood mute as he watched his son become more and more aggressive.. 'I thought you loved your daughter....' Bhishmaka could not say anything as Rukmi spoke in disgust, 'Is this how you show your love to your beloved daughter? You get her married to a liar? A coward?' Rukmi spat out. 'I will not let you do such a thing to my sister.'

Bhishmaka was troubled. With a weary heart he asked his son. 'If you think that Krishna is not the right choice for Rukmini, who do you think is the right choice?'

'Sishupala, of course.' Rukmi snorted. Bhishmaka felt terrible as he heard his son talk like this. Rukmi continued. 'King Sishupala, the king of chedi, the son of Damoghosha is the right choice for my sister....' Rukmi said with a finality that brook no further argument.

Bhishmaka tried his level best to talk Rukmi out of the idea. Sishupala was an arrogant man and was not even remotely the right mate for his daughter. Besides, Rukmini already loved Krishna, so there really was no question about changing her mind....

But Rukmi was adamant. He could not accept the fact that his sister had fallen in love with a man who was not born a king...a man whom Rukmi considered his enemy. He just could not allow it.

To thwart his sister and his father, Rukmi hastily arranged the wedding of Rukmini with Sishupala even without giving his sister a chance to voice out her opinion, as was the custom in those days.

4 comments: