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Rukmini LACMA.jpg
12th–13th century sculpture of Rukmini from Tamil Nadu.
Other namesDwarkeshvari,Vaidarbhi, Bhaishmi, Rakhumai
AffiliationAvatar of Lakshmi, Devi, Ashtabharya
AbodeDvarka, Pandharpur, Vaikuntha
TextsVishnu Puran, Bhagavata Puran, Mahabharata, Harivamsa, Rukminisha Vijaya, Skanda Purana
FestivalsRukmini Ashtami, Rukmini Dwadashi
Personal information
SiblingsRukmi and four other brothers
DynastyVrishni Yadavas (by marriage)

Rukmini (Sanskrit: रुक्मिणी, IAST: Rukmiṇī, lit. 'radiant or adorned with gold') is a Hindu goddess and the first queen consort of Krishna—an avatar of the god Vishnu. She is described as an avatar of Lakshmi, the consort of Vishnu.

Born to King Bhishmaka of Vidarbha kingdom, Rukmini is described to be beautiful, intelligent and virtuous. When her brother Rukmi tried to forcefully get her married to Shishupala, she asked Krishna to abduct her. Krishna heroically eloped with her and they had ten children including Pradyumna.

Rukmini is mainly worshipped in Maharashtra and South India. The people of Maharashtra venerate her with Vithoba (a regional form of Krishna) and call her Rakhumai.[1] In South India, she is worshipped along with Krishna and his co-wife Satyabhama.

Etymology and epithets[edit]

The name Rukmini is derived from the Sanskrit word Rukma which means 'radiant', 'clear' or 'bright'.[2] The name can also mean 'decorated with gold ornaments'.[2][3] Other names and epithets include:

  • ShreeLakshmi, Goddess of Fortune
  • Ruciranana – One who has a beautiful face, expanding like a lotus flower
  • Vaidarbhi – she who is from the kingdom of Vidarbha.[4]
  • Bhaishmi – Daughter of Bhishmaka.[4]
  • Rakhumai – Mother Rukmini.[4]
  • Chiryauvana – One who is forever young. Rukmini was given the boon of staying young forever by Rishi Durvasa who was pleased by Her hospitality during His visit to Dwaraka.
  • Pradyumna Jananī – Mother of Pradyumna


19th-century painting depicting Rukmini eloping with Krishna from a temple of Ambika (Parvati).

According to the epic Mahabharata and other Puranic scriptures, Rukmini was born to Bhishmaka—the king of Vidarbha kingdom—and had five elder brothers, among whom Rukmi was the eldest. Many Puranas such as Vishnu Purana, Bhagavata Purana, and Padma Purana praise her as an incarnation of Lakshmi, the wife of the god Vishnu.[5]


The Bhagavata Purana narrates that Rukmini once heard about Krishna and his heroic deeds such as slaying the tyrant king Kamsa and opposing the evil king Jarasandha. She fell in love with him and desired to marry him. Rukmini's parents rejoiced and gave their permission but Rukmi—who was an ally of Jarasandha—strongly opposed it. Instead, he proposed that she be married to his friend Shishupala—the crown prince of Chedi kingdom and a cousin of Krishna.[5][6][lower-alpha 1] Bhishmaka agreed and a distressed Rukmini immediately sent for a trusted brahmina and asked him to deliver a message to Krishna.[5] In the message, she told Krishna about her love and asked him to abduct her when she would visit the temple of Goddess Ambika (Parvati) before her wedding. Krishna, having received the message in Dvarka, told the brahmin to inform Rukmini that he had also heard about her and was ready to make her his wife. Krishna then immediately set out for Vidarbha with Balarama, his elder brother.[6]

A late 18th-century painting depicting the marriage of Krishna and Rukmini.

Meanwhile, in Vidarbha's capital Kundina, Bhishmaka had prepared everything for Rukmini's marriage. Shishupala, along with his allies including Jarasandha reached there. Krishna and Balaram had also arrived and Bhishmaka welcomed them. At the palace, Rukmini had lost her hopes, but the brahmana messenger came and informed that Krishna had accepted her request. The next day, she went to the temple to offer her prayers to Ambika. As she proceeded towards the wedding place, she saw Krishna and he soon swept her into his chariot with him. All of Jarasandha's forces quickly started chasing them, but they were stopped by Balarama and his army.[7] However, Rukmi chased after Krishna and Rukmini.[8] He challenged Krishna for a fight, but was easily overpowered by him. Rukmini begged Krishna to spare her brother's life and he agreed. However, he shaved Rukmi's hair and moustache as a mark of punishment and let him go free. Krishna and Rukmini reached Dvarka, where they were welcomed with great pomp and ceremony. A wedding was then conducted.[5][7][8]


The Bhagavata Purana states that Rukmini and Krishna had ten sons—Pradyumna, Charudeshna, Sudeshna, Charudeha, Sucharu, Charugupta, Bhadracharu, Charuchandra, Vicharu and Charu.[5][9] In the Harivamsa, Rukmini's sons are Pradyumna, Charudeshna, Charuchandra, Charugarbha, Sudangstra, Druma, Sushena, Charugupta, Charuvinda and Chharuvahu. A different listing is found in Anushasana Parva of the Mahabharata, where Pradyumna, Charudeshna, Sucharu, Charuvesa, Yasodhana, Charusravas, Charuyasas and Sambhu are Rukmini's sons.[5][10] These scriptures also mention that Rukmini had a daughter named Charumati.[11]

Marital life[edit]

Statue of Krishna with Rukmini — who proved her superiority over Satyabhama through her love and devotion

Though Krishna married many other women, Rukmini remained his chief consort and the queen of Dvarka. Many scriptures and folktales mention that Satyabhama, Krishna's another wife, was jealous of her and used to quarrel a lot.[12]

According to a folktale of Odisha, the divine-sage Narada once arrived in Dwaraka and asked for Krishna to be given to him as alms. Krishna's queens requested him to take anything else and Narada asked them to give wealth equal to Krishna's weight. They arranged for a big scale (Tulabharama) to be put up. Satyabhama put all of her coins, gems and jewellery on the scale, but it doesn't budge. Other wives gave their jewels, but it was of no use. At last, Rukmini came and put a single leaf of Tulsi on the scale and chanted that it represented her love for Krishna. The scales then became balanced. Though this story is absent in the main scriptures pertaining to Krishna's life, it is often repeated to enunciate the worth of Rukmini's love over Satyabhama's material wealth.[13]

In the Bhagavata Purana, another well-known incident in Rukmini's married life is narrated. When Krishna's childhood friend, Sudama, visited Dwarka. Rukmini welcomed Sudama and gave him food. She and Krishna fanned him as he rested from his long journey. This type of devotion is a characteristic of Rukmini, that was very prevalent.[14]


After the disappearance of Krishna, after the Yadu massacre, Rukmini along with Jambavati ascends herself on a pyre.[15][16]

Worship and influence[edit]

Rukmini Devi temple in Dwarka
Vithoba (left) with his consort Rakhumai at the Sion Vitthal temple, Mumbai, decorated with jewellery during the Hindu festival of Diwali

Rukmini is mainly worshipped in west and south Indian states such as Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Goa and Andhra Pradesh. Rukmini's kingdom, Vidarbha, is believed to be located in the present day Maharashtra. Along with Vithoba (a regional form of Krishna), Rukmini is worshipped as "Rukhamai" in Pandharpur region.[7][17] She is also worshipped in Pandava Thoothar Perumal Temple as the chief goddess, with Krishna being the primary deity.

The Mishmi people of Arunanchal Pradesh believe that Rukmini belonged to their tribe. The plays and dances on ‘Rukmini Haran’ are common. There is a legend that Krishna asked the Mishmi people to cut their hair as a form of punishment for not allowing him to marry Rukmini. Due to this Idu-Mishmi people are also called "chulikata" (chuli-hair, kata- cut).[18]

In 1480, Rukmini Devi's servant messenger is believed to have appeared in this world as Vadirajatirtha (1480–1600), the greatest saint in the Madhvacharya tradition. He composed a famous work Rukminishavijaya glorifying Rukmini and Krishna in 1240 verses spread over 19 chapters.[citation needed]

The Kantajew Temple at Kantanagar, is a late-medieval Hindu temple in Dinajpur, Bangladesh. The Kantajew Temple is one of the most magnificent religious edifices belonging to the 18th century. This beautiful temple is dedicated to Krishna and his wife Rukmini Built by Maharaja Pran Nath, its construction started in 1704 CE and ended in the reign of his son Raja Ramnath in 1722 CE. It boasts one of the greatest examples of terracotta architecture in Bangladesh and once had nine spires, but all were destroyed in an earthquake that took place in 1897.[citation needed]

Rukmini is believed to have been born on eighth day of the month of Pausha Krishna Paksha and this day is celebrated as Rukmini Janmashtami.[citation needed]


  1. Shishupala was also a vassal and close associate of Jarasandha and hence an ally of Rukmi.


  1. Bryant, Edwin Francis (2007). Krishna: A Sourcebook. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-803400-1.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Monier-Williams, Monier (1872). A Sanskrit-English Dictionary. Clarendon. p. 847.
  3. Chandra, Suresh (1998). Encyclopaedia of Hindu Gods and Goddesses. Sarup & Sons. ISBN 978-81-7625-039-9.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Louis-Frédéric (1977). Encyclopaedia of Asian Civilizations: N-R. L. Frédéric. p. 492. ISBN 978-2-85893-050-0.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 Mani, Vettam (1975). Puranic encyclopaedia : a comprehensive dictionary with special reference to the epic and Puranic literature. Robarts - University of Toronto. Delhi : Motilal Banarsidass. p. 657.
  6. 6.0 6.1 "CHAPTER FIFTY-TWO". Retrieved 14 June 2021.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Pattanaik, Devdutt (1 July 2018). Shyam: An Illustrated Retelling of the Bhagavata. Penguin Random House India Private Limited. ISBN 978-93-5305-100-6.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Gazetteer of the Bombay Presidency: Kathiawar (Public Domain text). Vol. VIII. Printed at the Government Central Press, Bombay. 1884. pp. 380–381.
  9. Sinha, Purnendu Narayana (1950). A Study of the Bhagavata Purana: Or, Esoteric Hinduism. Library of Alexandria. ISBN 978-1-4655-2506-2.
  10. "The Mahabharata, Book 13: Anusasana Parva: Anusasanika Parva: Section XIV". Retrieved 18 June 2021.
  11. Dalal, Roshen (2010). Hinduism: An Alphabetical Guide. Penguin Books India. ISBN 978-0-14-341421-6.
  12. Vemsani, Lavanya (13 June 2016). Krishna in History, Thought, and Culture: An Encyclopedia of the Hindu Lord of Many Names: An Encyclopedia of the Hindu Lord of Many Names. ABC-CLIO. p. 90–92. ISBN 978-1-61069-211-3.
  13. Pattanaik, Devdutt (September 2000). The Goddess in India: The Five Faces of the Eternal Feminine. Inner Traditions / Bear & Co. ISBN 978-0-89281-807-5.
  14. Mani 1975, p. 437.
  15. Dio Mahabharate.Rukmini, the princess of Gandhara, Saivya, Haimavati, and queen Jamvabati ascended the funeral pyre.”
  16. Vijayakumar, Lakshmi (1 January 2004). "Altruistic Suicide in India". Archives of Suicide Research. 8 (1): 73–80. doi:10.1080/13811110490243804. ISSN 1381-1118. PMID 16006390.
  17. Pillai, S. Devadas (1997). Indian Sociology Through Ghurye, a Dictionary. Popular Prakashan. ISBN 978-81-7154-807-1.
  18. Roychowdhury, Adrija (29 March 2018). "Fact Check: Did Rukmini come from Arunachal Pradesh? Here is what we know". The Indian Express. Retrieved 26 November 2020.


  • Rajachudamani Dikshita; English introduction, P.P. Subramanya Sastry (1920). Rukmini Kalyanam (Sanskrit). Sri Vani Vilas Press, Srirangam.

External links[edit]

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