For any activity to succeed, be it spiritual or otherwise, we need the grace of Lord. How do we know that our activity is being blessed by Lord? The Lord’s presence can be felt in various ways, like through pleasant showers or a great Mahan comes when we undertake the activity (like Vamana in Bali’s sacrifice), or unexpectedly anything auspicious happens.
Likewise, our Friday satsangs started on August 1, 2008 and today is the first-year completion of the satsang and it happens to be on an Ashada-Friday A Friday on Ashada (Aadi) month is considered auspicious, because it is special to Lakshmi Devi. What to say of today, when it is verily Varalakshmi Puja! It is indeed a blessing.
The grace of Mahalakshmi is required to attain the Lord. In Srirangam, only after Mother’s darshan and after a big Pradakshina around the temple, can we have Lord Ranganatha’s sanctum. By the time we reach the Lord’s sanctum, it is said, that the Mother quickly goes from her place to the Lord’s sanctum and apprises of our ensuing visit and places a recommendation on our behalf to show His compassion on us! In Tirupati, Lakshmi Devi resides in the heart of Lord Balaji. Everytime a devotee comes and falls at the Lord’s feet, Mother looks at us and then at the Lord to see if the Lord blesses him. First her divine sight (‘kataksha’) falls on us. In Vaishnava Sampradaya, Lakshmi Devi’s krupa only can reach us to the Lord. Even the fact that Varalakshmi Puja precedes Janmashtami by 2 weeks shows this very fact!
We sometimes mistake that Lakshmi is the goddess of monetary benefits alone. However, that is incorrect. There are 8 different Lakshmis. Even those who wish for Moksha have to pray to Moksha Lakshmi. Let us pray to Mahalakshmi and our Sadguru Maharaj that our satsang flourish in a grand manner, and more and more devotees get an opportunity to attend satsangs.
Signifying the fact that there are 8 forms of Lakshmi Devi, In Srimad Bhagavatam, the birth of Mahalakshmi is in the 8th Canto – 8th Chapter – 8th Sloka. During the churning of the milky ocean, she appears with enchanting beauty as a lightening.
Then it mentions how everyone wants to marry Lakshmi Devi, while the mother sees that everyone has a vice if he has a virtue. There was no one other than Lord Vishnu who did not have a vice, but only had virtues. And it was only the Lord who stood without any expectations. Hence she chose Lord Maha Vishnu as her match – ‘ramaa mukundam nirapeksham iipsitam’
Lakshmi Devi wishes to to be with the Lord in every of His avatars. Another wedding of Lakshmi Devi, this time in the form of Rukmini Devi, with her consort, Lord Krishna is described in great detail. Today we shall listen to “Rukmini Kalyanam” by Gayathriji from Boston.
Following this, Gayathriji gave a wonderful talk on Rukmini Kalyanam.
We talk a lot about the necessity and importance of Satsang. We all desire. The best desire is to desire for Lord – the more we listen to the glories of the Lord, our desires for the Lord increases. Rukmini’s wedding is an illustration of this very fact.
The Lord created Dwaaraka and he ruled it. The wedding of Balarama with Revathi was also over, and it was time to get Lord Krishna married.
Bhishmaka was the king of Vidharba. He had 5 sons – Rukmi, Rukmaratha, Rukmakesan, Rukmabaahu, Rukmamaali, and a little daughter – Rukmini. She gets a lot of satsang through Sadhus in the palace. They talk about the creation of the Universe, Matsya Kurma Avatars, Dhruva Charita, Prahlada Charita, and Rama Avatar. They say, the very valorous Lord Rama has now incarnated as Lord Krishna. They talk about the Lord’s birth, Puthana Moksha, Shakatasura Vadham, Navaneetha Lila, Brindavan Lilas, Vanabhojanam, Yagna Patni Uddharana, Kaliya Moksha, Govardhana Uddharana , Murali gana, Rasa Kreeda and Kamsa Vadam. The very same Lord is now ruling Dwaraka.
Rukmini would long to marry Krishna and look at her dad. Her dad knew his daughter’s heart. The 5 sons never had a chance to have satsang, so these stories do not interest them. Her dad would think, ‘Will I be fortunate to have Lord Krishna as my son-in-law?’ The next day, in court, he expresses this wish. Everyone but Rukmi is happy about the decision. He opposes it and says, ‘Dad! Are you a lunatic? Krishna’s status is no match to us! He is pitch dark, while our Rukmini is golden. He is a cowherd. He has no education! He went to school only for 64 days! His parents were in prison! He is hiding from his enemies and lives inside the seas!’
Bhishmaka stopped him short and said, ‘You talk so because you lack Satsang. You cannot bad mouth someone because you don’t know about him. Do whatever you like.’
Rukmi decided that Sishupala, his close friend and the son of Dhamagosha (king of Chedi) was the apt match to Rukmini and he sent invitations to everyone for the wedding. Rukmini was in the ‘kanya matam’ and when she learned of this news, she was depressed and broke down. ‘Who will meet my Gopala and convey my message to him! There is just one day to go’, she thought. ‘Can I send the cloud as the messenger? No! the cloud will be busy drinking the waters of the seas. Can I send the bee? No, it will be lost in the honey of the Lord’s Vyjayanthi Mala. How about my companions? No, its not possible in a day. Mind is the fastest! So why not send it? If my mind goes to Sri Krishna, how can it ever return?’
One should not go in search of a Guru. We donot have the intellect to judge a Guru. If our thirst for God is true, the Lord sends a Guru. That was when the Guru came in the form of a Bhagavata, singing ‘Kshemam kuru Gopaala…’. Consoled, she invited the Bhagavata and the girls, after paying respects, conveyed this information.
The Bhagavata said, ‘Lord Krishna would certainly be a great suit to you. Don’t worry, these invitations are only man-made. Don’t worry about it. I am on my way to Dwaraka, I will take your message.’ The Guru takes the message of the devotee to the Lord. Rukmini wrote 7 crisp, sweet slokas as her message for Krishna.
The Bhagavata appeared at Krishna’s court in Dwaraka in no time. The Lord paid his respects and inquired. ‘I am coming from Vidarbha and I have a message from Rukmini.’, said the Bhagavata. ‘Go on, read it yourself’, said the Lord.
He read it wonderfully, just as Rukmini would herself read it for Krishna.
Shrutvaa gunaan bhuvanasundara shrunvataam te
Nirvishya karna vivarair haratonga taapam’
Rukmini debates on how she would address the Lord.
“ ‘Swami’ ? No, he would think I am saint. How about ‘raaja raaja raaja..sri..’ No. it would seem like a citizen with a petition! How about ‘Prabhu’ ? no it would mean I am a beggar expecting money. How about ‘Prananatha’? No! Krishna may think, how dare this girl address me as her saviour even before marriage!”
Finally she picks the word ‘Bhuvanasundara’ – a word that describes the sum and substance of the Lord’s beauty and prods Krishna to read further.
The letter contained answers to all of Krishna’s questions if he read the letter.
Krishna, ‘Bhuvanasundara! Hmm! Are you entranced by my looks? Do you know about my character?’
She says, ‘Shrutvaa Gunaan!’ – I have heard all about your character.
Krishna, ‘What have you heard about me?
Rukmini, ‘Your character is such that all the worldly miseries are lost by merely listening to them. Only one misery(‘thaapa’) is left behind – and that thaapa is the longing to attain Your Feet. ‘
Krishna, ‘Now that you have heard about me, have you seen me?’
Rukmini, ‘Roopam – akilaartha laabam’ – Your form is the essence of the world. The more I listen to your glories, the more I get your form in my Dhyana and that is how I have seen you.
I am not an expressive girl. I am a shy person by nature. Now I overcome my shyness and write this letter. Please understand how desperate I am to reach you, Oh Krishna! Not only me, any one who listens to your glories and gets your form in Dhyana, will long to attain you!’
Krishna, ‘You desire to attain me! Have you done enough merits to attain me?’
Rukmini, ‘poorthe ishta datta dharma’. Yes Indeed I have done all the merits. But Krishna! You are not the one that can be reached by accruing merits, are you? How can you be reached? You can be reached only by ‘aatma samarpana’ (surrendering oneself to You). Here I surrender myself. Please accept me.’
Krishna, ‘Well, If I do accept you, you are going to be in the women’s harem and I am a king. How am I to meet you?’
Rukmini, ‘My marriage with Sishupala has been arranged. In our family custom, the bride will perform Gauri Pooja before the wedding and so I will be there and you can take me from there.’
Krishna, ‘Should I elope with you?’
Rukmini, ‘Nay! Only a coward does that. You are a man of courage and valor. Please bring your bow ‘saarnga’ and defeat anyone who opposes you and rightfully take me as kanyashulkam.’
Krishna, ‘Okay, If I don’t show up at the Gauri temple on the day of the wedding, are you going to marry Sishupala?’
Rukmini, ‘I will take hundreds of births to attain you. Not in one birth shall I get wedded to anyone other than you.’
Saying so, Rukmini signs ‘-Yours Rukmini Devi’.
The Lord is extremely pleased with this surrender of Rukmini Devi, gets his chariots ready and goes to Vidarbha desa followed by Balarama.
Rukmini is dressed like a bride in a magnificent silk saree with borders of swan-designs. Her hair is beautifully plaited and decked with ornaments and flowers. Her earrings are moving back and forth. She sports a beautiful ‘kasturi tilaka’ on her forehead and wears different kinds and sizes of ornaments on her neck. Her fingers shine with finger rings and wears a toe ring on her toe. Her head is bent down and she walks at the pace of a swan, holding a lotus on one hand and her friend’s hand with the other. She gets the blessings of all elderly women there.
Suddenly, she hears the sound of Panchajanya and senses the smell of Tulsi, which gives away the fact that the Lord has arrived there to take her. At that moment, she sees the Bhagavata – her eyes well with tears of gratitude and folds her hands in respect. After all, can we ever repay a Guru who takes us to the Lord?
The princes waiting to see Rukmini are blinded by the glitter on the gems in her finger-rings. As her head bends down in shyness, her curly hair falls on her forehead. In the pretext of setting it right, she raises her forehead and her eyes meet with that of the Lord. The moment their eyes meet, the Lord takes her on His chariot and rides her away in a flash. The enemies see with awe at the divine couple. One of them shouted, ‘Hey! Krishna has taken away the bride. Let’s chase him!’ the other, still unable to come out of the awe, ‘Oh! What a wonderful sight it was!’
When Shishupala hears the news that Rukmini has been taken by Krishna, he screams at Rukmi in anger, ‘I trusted that you will get me married to her. You betrayed me!’. Rukmi waged a war against Krishna and the Yadava, but eventually loses. Rukmi, out of shame, goes to a place called Bhojagatam.
Krishna brings Rukmini to his parents – Devaki and Vasudeva. On an auspicious day, when all the Mahans, Rishis, Sadhus, Bhagavatas Devas and other elders are present, the Divine Couple are united in a wedlock, as described by Sri Narayana Thirtha in his ‘Kalyana tharangam’.
“Acharya vachanaat sarvam akarotu yadunandhanah vaachaama gocharaatmaanam vasudevasva maayayaa
Dwaarakaa nagari madhye sahasrasthamba mantape
Rathna simhasanaaroodam sagalatram jagusurah
Alokaye rukmini kalyana gopalam….
Neelamegha nibhaakaaram baalaarka samaana chelam
nilambaranujam gopa baalakam neelalakandham ”
Nishaji added something that she listened to Sri Ramuji’s speech about this: ‘When Rukmini heard Govardhana Udharanam lila, she was pretty sure the Lord will accept her, for that Lila verily goes to show that the Lord does not forsake anyone who surrenders unto Him.’
Narayananji added, ‘Our Swamiji would say that all our Puranic stories have philosophies behind them but it is not necessary to look at philosophies when it comes to Bhagavatam, for the very stories are filled with Bhakti Bhaava. Still, if there is a dry-hearted person who wants to look at philosophy behind this particular episode, there is certainly one!
Rukmini Devi represents the Jivatma which longs to attain the Paramatma and Lord Krishna is the Paramatma. The 5 brothers of Rukmini represent the 5 senses. These five senses always try to get us into worldly matters and away from God. When the quest for God is true, the Guru comes by Himself and takes the message of the devotee to the Lord. If the message is delivered by the Guru, the Lord Himself comes. We usually imagine that it is we who who have to go to temples to see the Lord. But the fact is, the Lord Himself comes right to our place and takes.
‘Rukmini Kalyanam’ is indeed the merger of the Jivatma into the Paramatma.
The satsang ended with prayers with Mahamantra Kirtan.