Srî Suka said: ‘Thus being blessed by Krishna, the descendant of Ikshvâku [Mucukunda] circumambulating Him bowed down and left through the mouth of the cave. Noticing that the human beings, the animals, plants and trees were all in a poor condition [were small], he concluded that the Age [the yuga] of Kali had arrived and went in the northern direction

He had faith in the process of penance, was of self-control and free from attachments and doubts. With his mind thus absorbed in Krishna he entered the realm of the mountain Gandhamâdana [‘the nice smell’], the residence of Nara-Nârâyana, he who conquering all duality had found peace in his austerity, worshiped the Lord.

The Supreme Lord returned to His city Mathurâ that was surrounded by the Yavanas, killed the barbarian army and brought their riches to Dvârakâ. As Acyuta was engaged in taking the wealth with oxen and men, Jarâsandha arrived on the scene leading twenty-three armies. Seeing the mighty waves of soldiers of the enemy armies, the two Mâdhavas adopting a human course, quickly ran away, oh King. Abandoning the load of riches, appearing afraid but factually being free from fear, They on Their lotus petal feet covered many yojanas. Seeing the Two escape, the mighty ruler of Magadha loudly laughed and pursued the Lords with charioteers and soldiers, not being quite aware of Their special nature.

Exhausted from full speed having run a long distance, They climbed a very high mountain known as Pravarshana [‘the rainy one’] where the mighty Lord [Indra] is always showering rains. Knowing that They were hiding on the mountain, but not exactly where, oh King, he [Jarâsandha], with firewood set ablaze the mountain on all sides. Quickly leaping down from the eleven yojanas high, everywhere burning mountain, They fell to the ground. Not being seen by Their opponent or his helpers, the two finest Yadus returned to Their city that had the ocean as its moat, oh King. The king of the Magadhas mistakenly thought that Balarâma and Kes’ava had burned in the fire, pulled back his huge force and returned to Magadha. As previously stated, the opulent sovereign of Ânarta, named Raivata, on the order of Brahmâ gave Balarâma his daughter Raivatî in marriage. The Supreme Lord Govinda, oh hero among the Kurus, married Vaidarbhî [Rukminî], the daughter of Bhîshmaka, on her own request. She was a plenary portion of the Goddess of Fortune. With force overruling Sâlva and the other kings in support of Sisupâla, He accomplished this [by stealing her away] before the eyes of all the people, just like the son of Târksya [Garuda, stole] the nectar from heaven.’

The honorable king said: ‘In the manner of a Râkshasa [by kidnapping thus], so I heard, the Supreme Lord thus married Rukminî, the daughter of Bhîshmaka with the charming face. Oh lord, I would like to hear how Krishna, He with His immeasurable potency, stole away His bride and [therewith] defeated such kings as Jarâsandha and Sâlva. What intelligent person, oh brahmin, can ever get enough of listening to the righteous, enchanting and always new stories we hear about Krishna, which remove the worldly contamination?’

The son of Vyâsa said: ‘There was a king named Bhîshmaka, the great ruler of Vidarbha, who had five sons and one daughter with an exceptionally pretty face. Rukmî was the first-born son, followed by Rukmaratha, Rukmabâhu, Rukmakes’a and Rukmamâlî. Rukminî was their chaste sister [rukma means: ‘what is bright or radiant’]. Hearing Mukunda’s beauty, prowess, character and opulence being sung by those who came to her family home, she deemed Him a suitable husband. Krishna knowing her to be a repository of intelligence, auspicious marks, magnanimity, beauty, good behaviour and other qualities, likewise considered her a suitable wife, and decided to marry her. But Rukmî, who hated Krishna, prevented this, even though his family wanted to give his sister to Krishna, oh King. He thought of Sisupâla. The princess of Vidarbha with her dark eyes, was unhappy with that knowledge. She pained her mind and quickly sent a certain dependable brahmin to Krishna. After arriving in Dvârakâ he was ushered in by the gatekeepers and saw the Original Personality sitting on a golden throne. The moment the Lord who is good to the brahmins, saw him, He came down from His throne, seated him and performed worship the same way the residents of heaven worship Him.

With him having eaten and rested, He who is the goal of the devotees approached him to personally massage his feet. Patiently He asked him: ‘Oh My best one, are the religious activities supported by your first-class, twice-born seniors, proceeding without too much difficulty, and are you always happy within? When a brahmin remains satisfied with whatever [comes his way] and does not fail in his religious duty, that will bring him all he desires. Dissatisfied he, even as a master of enlightened souls, will keep moving from world to world, while satisfied he, even when he possesses nothing, will sleep well with all his limbs [and mind] free from distress. I bow My head again and again to those brahmins who are satisfied with what they get, for they, peaceful and free from false ego, are the best well-wishers of all living beings. Are you faring well as a subject to your king? He in whose kingdom the people being protected lead a happy life, is very dear to Me. Where have you come from, crossing the ocean of troubles, and for what purpose have you come here? Please tell us everything, if it is not a secret. What is it that we may do for you?’

After the Supreme One, who for the sake of His pastimes assumes His bodies, thus had asked these questions, the brahmin related everything to Him. ‘Srî Rukminî told me: “Oh Most Beautiful One of all the Worlds, I heard about Your qualities. For all who listen and whom You have entered through the openings of their ears, You thus remove the distress of their bodies. To those who have eyes, the sight of Your beauty constitutes the complete fulfillment of their life’s purpose. Therefore I have without any shame devoted my mind to You Acyuta! Who, oh Mukunda, compares to Your greatness, Your lineage, character, beauty, knowledge, youth, property and influence? Which sober and marriageable girl of a noble birth would, coming of age, not choose You for her husband, oh lion among men, oh You who fills the mind of every member of society with joy?

I thus have chosen Your good Self, oh dear Lord, for my husband. I offer myself hereby to You as Your wife, oh Omnipotent One. Please accept me! May the king of Cedi [Sisupâla], who like a jackal wants to steal away the portion belonging to the king of the animals, never touch what is allotted to the [real] hero. When I sufficiently have worshiped the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the Lord, by the performance of pious works, with sacrifices, charity, observances and vows, by honoring the gods, the gurus and the brahmins, and with other activities, may [Krishna] the elder brother of Gada then [please] come and take my hand, and not the son of Damaghosha or others like him? Come tomorrow when the marriage takes place, unseen to Vidarbha, oh Invincible One. Fight surrounded by Your officers then to crush the armed resistance of the kings of Caidya and Magadha, and next, as the reward for Your valor, marry me in the râkshasa style [by taking me with You].

You may wonder how, with me moving within my quarters, You can carry me away without killing my relatives. Let me tell You how: the day before there is a large ceremonial procession outside [the palace] for the presiding deity of the family. In that ceremony the new bride approaches the goddess Girijâ [Ambikâ in her temple]. Great souls like [Siva] the husband of Ûma, in order to overcome their own ignorance, long to bathe in the dust of Your lotus feet. When I, oh Lotus-eyed One, cannot obtain Your mercy, I should, being weakened by vows, give up my life to attain You [only] after hundreds of births.” The brahmin ended with: ‘This is the confidential message I bring you, oh Lord of the Yadus, please consider what needs to be done right now in this matter.’

Krishna kidnaps Rukminî

Srî Suka said: ‘When [Krishna] the descendant of Yadu heard the confidential message of the princess of Vidarbha, He took the hand of the messenger into His own and addressed him with a smile. The Supreme Lord said: ‘I as well have to think of her constantly and cannot sleep at night. I know that Rukmî in his enmity is against My marriage with her. I will bring her, that indisputable beauty who deems Me the best, over here and crush in battle that half-breed royalty, the way one ignites a fire from firewood!’

Srî Suka said: ‘Knowing the exact [astronomical] time of Rukminî’s marriage, Madhusûdana told His charioteer: ‘Dâruka, get the chariot immediately ready.’ He brought the chariot yoked with the horses Saibya, Sugrîva, Meghapushpa and Balâhaka, and stood with folded palms before Him. Sauri mounted His chariot together with the brahmin and drove swiftly with His horses in a single night to the Vidarbha kingdom. King Bhîshmaka, who out of affection for his son [Rukmî] obeyed his control, was about to give his daughter away to Sisupâla and saw to it that the required duties were performed. The city was thoroughly cleansed and its avenues, streets and intersections were abundantly sprinkled with water. It was decorated with banners on flagpoles and with archways. The women and men of the city in their opulent homes aromatic with aguru, arrayed in spotless clothing, wearing their jewels, having smeared their bodies with fragrant substances and having decorated themselves with flowers and other ornaments. He [Bhîshmaka] saw to it that the forefathers, the demigods and the brahmins were worshiped according to the rules, oh King, that they were properly fed and that the auspicious mantras were recited. The bride properly bathed, cleaned her teeth, put on her auspicious marriage necklace as also a brand-new set of clothes and adorned herself with the most excellent jewels. For the protection of the bride, the best among the brahmins recited mantras from the Sâma, Rig and Yajur Veda, and the priests expert in the Atharva mantras poured oblations of ghee to pacify the ruling planets. The king, very well versed in the vidhi, donated gold, silver, clothing and sesame seeds mixed with raw sugar to the brahmins. King Damaghosha, the lord of Cedi, the same way arranged for the knowers of the mantras to perform for his son [the bridegroom] everything that was conducive to his prosperity. He travelled to Kundina [Bhîshmaka’s capital] accompanied by hordes of elephants dripping with mada, golden chariots decorated with garlands and many regiments infantry and cavalry. The master of Vidarbha met him half way to prove his respects, and with pleasure settled him in a specially constructed residence. Sâlva, Jarâsandha, Dantavakra and Vidûratha, who all sided with Sisupâla, came together with Paundraka and thousands of others. Those who were inimical towards Krishna and Râma had decided on the following: ‘When Krishna together with Râma and the other Yadus comes to steal Sisupâla’s bride we, in order to secure her, together will join to fight Him.’ All the kings thus had arrived with a complete contingent of troops and vehicles.

When Lord Balarâma heard about these preparations of the hostile kings and that Krishna had set off alone to steal the bride, He, fearing a fight, filled with love for His brother swiftly went to Kundina together with a mighty force of elephants, horses, chariots and soldiers on foot. The daughter of Bhîshmaka with her lovely hips who awaited the arrival of Krishna, did not see the brahmin return and then wondered: ‘Alas, only three yamas [nine hours] remain before I will marry. How unlucky I am, the Lotus-eyed One does not come and I do not know why, nor has as yet the brahmin carrying my message returned. Perhaps the One Faultless in Mind and Body, despite His initial willingness saw something contemptible in me, so that He does not come to take my hand. What a misfortune! The creator is not favourably disposed towards me, nor is the great Lord Siva... or maybe Devî has turned against me, his consort [known as] Gaurî, Rudrânî, Girijâ or Satî.’

Ruminating this way the young girl, whose mind had been stolen by Krishna, closed her eyes brimming with tears, aware of the time that was left. While the bride thus was waiting for Govinda’s arrival, oh King, her left thigh, arm and eye twitched, foretelling something desirable. That very moment the purest one among the brahmins appeared, following the command of Krishna, to see the divine princess who stayed in the inner chambers of the palace. Noticing his joyful face and the relaxed movements of his body she, as an expert in telling signs, inquired with a pure smile. He told her about the arrival of Yadunandana [the ‘Child of the Yadus’] and related the words He had said to assure her that He would marry with her. Realizing that He had come, the mind of Vaidarbhî cleared, whereupon she gladdened knew no better answer than to bow down to the dear brahmin. [The king] hearing that Râma and Krishna had arrived eager to witness his daughter’s marriage, accompanied by the sounds of instruments came to welcome Them with abundant offerings. As was prescribed he performed worship with desirables like honey-milk [madhu-parka], and brought new clothes. \Generously arranging for an opulent place to stay he afforded Them, Their soldiers and associates, proper hospitality. With all that was wanted he was thus of respect for the kings who had assembled, according to each his power, age, strength and wealth. The residents of Vidarbha-pura hearing that Krishna had arrived, all came to drink in His lotus face with the cupped palms of their eyes [and said]: ‘He who also possesses such a perfect body, is the only one to deserve Rukminî as a wife. He is the most suitable husband for princess Bhaishmî! May Acyuta, the Cause of the Three Worlds, be pleased with whichever of our good deeds and be as merciful to accept the hand of Rukminî.’ This is what the citizens bound to their increasing pure love said.

The bride protected by guards left the inner palace and went to the temple of Ambikâ. Going there on foot to see the lotus petal feet of Bhavânî, she, totally absorbed in meditating on Krishna’s lotus feet, kept silent in the midst of her mothers and female companions. She was guarded by the valiant, armed soldiers of the king, and while they stood prepared with their weapons raised, cymbals and mridangas, conch shells, horns and other wind instruments were played. The bride was accompanied by the well ornamented wives of the brahmins, thousands of prominent courtesans carrying various items of worship and presents, flower garlands, fragrances, clothing and jewellery, as also by singers who sang and offered prayers, by musicians and bards and by chroniclers and heralds. Reaching the temple of the goddess she washed her feet and lotuslike hands, sipped water for purification and entered, sanctified and peaceful, the place where Ambikâ resided. The so very young girl was by the elderly wives of the brahmins, who were well acquainted with the injunctions, accompanied in offering her respects to Bhavânî, who was there together with her consort Lord Bhava [Siva]. [She prayed:] ‘Again and again, oh Ambikâ, I offer you and also your children [Ganesa and Kârtikeya] my obeisances. Please allow Krishna, the Supreme Lord, to be my husband.’

With different offerings of water, fragrant substances, whole grains and incense, gifts of clothing, garlands, necklaces and ornaments, and an array of lamps, she offered worship, as also did the wives of the brahmins with savouries, cakes, prepared betel nut, sacred threads, fruits and sugar cane. The women gave her what remained of the offering as also their blessings, whereupon the bride bowed down to them and to the deity and ate some of the food that was sacrificed. Then she ended her vow of silence and left the temple of Ambikâ, while she with her hand, beautified by a jewelled ring, held on to a maidservant. With her well-formed waist, the earrings decorating her face, her pure beauty, the gem-studded belt on her hips and her budding breasts, she was just like the illusory potency of the Lord which bewilders even the sober souls. Seeing her pure smile, her bimba red lips reflected in her jasmine-bud teeth, her gait like a royal swan as she walked her feet which were tinkling and were beautified by the effulgence of her finely crafted ankle bells, the assembled and respectable heroes were bewildered and distressed by the lust she generated. With her, on the pretext of the procession, offering her beauty to Lord Krishna, the minds of the kings, who saw her broad smiles and shy glances, were stolen, and their weapons dropped to the ground as they fainted and fell from their horses, elephants and the chariots on which they were seated. Slowly walking, she put the two whorls of her lotus flower feet one before the other, meanwhile eagerly expecting the arrival of the Supreme Personality. Throwing aside her hair with the nails of her hand she, coyly looking at the kings present, from the corners of her eyes that very moment spotted Acyuta. Straight in front of the eyes of His enemies Krishna then seized the king’s daughter who stood prepared to mount His chariot.

He lifted her onto His chariot which was marked with the flag of Garuda, drove back the circle of kings and slowly left the place with Balarâma in front, just like a lion would do removing his prey from the midst of jackals.

The adversaries headed by Jarâsandha, could in their conceit, with their honor ruined, not bear the defeat: ‘We archers are damned with those cowherds, like a bunch of puny animals, stealing the honor of us, the lions!’