Rukmini – Krishna’s Wife

Umayal Subramaniam posted under Book Review on 2023-06-01

As a child after seeing television serials of the puranas I always thought that being a princess was easy. This book shatters the image of the princess in my mind as Rukmini transforms the word princess. She is not the coy, dressed up mute spectator to the affairs of the kingdom like her brother wishes her to be. As a young girl Rukmini has so many like-minded friends but not family. She is independent, rides chariots and is skilled in basic warfare and loves travelling. The sisterhood she feels with Mirtavinda because both of them have not so good relationship with their brothers and with Draupadi because both of them love Krishna, one as a sister, is beautifully portrayed. Though she meets them rarely the bond is beautiful. Her first meeting with Krishna is full of surprise, lies, love and fun and Krishna playfully accuses her of committing an espionage. Both Krishna and Rukmini hate Jarasandha for entirely different reasons and this is the first rung of their love story. Growing up without a mother, a hostile brother and a father who loved Rukmini but thought she was headstrong she was self-sufficient, educated in sastras and statecraft. She always stood up for justice and righteousness and made sure to protect people under her care be it the palace maids in Vidharba or the public of Dwaraka. Her understanding of life and her judgement is well seen from her statement she addresses to her father “Rama’s sacrifices were made from a position of strength. Not as a spineless man who fears a more powerful king. Stop subverting history to suit your weaknesses.” She is sure of her love for Krishna when Krishna stays at her palace overnight to safeguard Mathura and put Jarasandha in a trail and both of them discuss how to stop the evil Jarasandha and protect the small kingdoms, the companionship they feel without the need for words and their understanding of things to happen and let go for larger good to happen is seamlessly weaved in this story. When Jarasandha announces her betrothal to Shishupala she screams loudly “I don’t consent” which even though drowned out was bravery of the highest order. Rukmini lived for the sake of Krishna, the love of her life. She married him even though she knew life would not be pleasant but challenging if she married him.  She also knew she would never become a queen as Yadava’s followed the republican system of governance. She would at most be a noble lady. She broke an arranged marriage and eloped with Krishna. All though courtship as well as marriage their meetings were short, their separations were long and painful but yet they were always a powerful couple who nestled in each other’s trust and love. Krishna spends most of his time in the affairs of the kuru dynasty and other princely states that Rukmini manages the whole country, the households, the other wives of Krishna all by herself. Her decision making skills, her foresight, her soul she has exchanged with Krishna. This book shows her as the pillar of strength of Krishna, she being a bond which holds them together. Rukmini took too much burden on her shoulders and managed everything in the absence of Krishna. In Krishna’s Dwaraka women were treated as equals when in her vidharba her voice was unheard and disrespected. She doesn’t complain and is happy all the way until Krishna blocks her out. This book is a must read for all the women who seek inspiration, for she is confident, charismatic, empowered, extraordinary, indomitable, fascinating, independent, patient, intelligent without giving up culture, tradition and values of righteousness. The book is a blend of the history with a contemporary narrative that portrays the ancient Indian women not as a meek lamb but as fierce tigress. All Sai Swaroopa Iyer’s books make us proud to be an Indian woman with a beautiful cultural backing behind us and help us take up multiple roles in the family and society without feeling guilty.  ~*~