The Genealogy of the Family of Kṛṣṇa
Kṛṣṇa had 16,108 wives, and in each of them He begot ten sons, all of them equal to their father in the opulences of strength, beauty, wisdom, fame, wealth and renunciation. “Like father, like son.” All the 16,108 wives of Kṛṣṇa were princesses, and when each saw that Kṛṣṇa was always present in her respective palace and did not leave home, she considered Kṛṣṇa a henpecked husband who was very much attached to her. Every one of them thought that Kṛṣṇa was her very obedient husband, but actually Kṛṣṇa had no attraction for any of them. Although each thought that she was the only wife of Kṛṣṇa and was very, very dear to Him, Lord Kṛṣṇa, being ātmārāma, self-sufficient, felt neither attraction nor enmity toward any one of them; He was equal to all the wives and treated them as a perfect husband would, just to please them. For Him, there was no need of even a single wife. In fact, since they were women, the wives could not understand the exalted position of Kṛṣṇa, nor the truths about Him.
All the princesses who were wives of Kṛṣṇa were exquisitely beautiful, and each one of them was attracted by Kṛṣṇa’s eyes, which were just like lotus petals, and by His beautiful face, long arms, beautiful ears, pleasing smile, humorous talk and sweet words. Influenced by these features of Kṛṣṇa, they all used to dress themselves very attractively, desiring to attract Him by their feminine bodily appeal. They exhibited their feminine characteristics by smiling and moving their eyebrows, thus shooting sharp arrows of conjugal love just to awaken Kṛṣṇa’s lusty desires for them. Still, they could not arouse Kṛṣṇa’s mind or His sexual appetite. This means that Kṛṣṇa never had any sexual relations with any of His many wives, save and except to beget children.
The queens of Dvārakā were so fortunate that they got Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa as their husband and personal companion, although He is not approachable by exalted demigods like Brahmā. Lord Kṛṣṇa and His queens remained together as husband and wife, and Kṛṣṇa, as an ideal husband, treated them in such a way that at every moment there was an increase of transcendental bliss in their smiling exchanges, talking and mixing together. Each and every wife had hundreds and thousands of maidservants, yet when Kṛṣṇa entered the palaces of His thousands of wives, each one of them used to receive Kṛṣṇa personally by seating Him in a nice chair, worshiping Him with all requisite paraphernalia, personally washing His lotus feet, offering Him betel nuts, massaging His legs to relieve them of fatigue, fanning Him to make Him comfortable, offering all kinds of scented sandalwood pulp, oils and aromatics, putting flower garlands on His neck, dressing His hair, getting Him to lie down on the bed and assisting Him in taking His bath. Thus they served Kṛṣṇa always in every respect, especially when Kṛṣṇa was eating. They always engaged in the service of the Lord.
Each of Kṛṣṇa’s 16,108 queens had ten sons. The sons of the first eight queens are listed as follows. By Rukmiṇī, Kṛṣṇa had the following ten sons: Pradyumna, Cārudeṣṇa, Sudeṣṇa, Cārudeha, Sucāru, Cārugupta, Bhadracāru, Cārucandra, Vicāru and Cāru. None of them were inferior in their qualities to their divine father, Lord Kṛṣṇa. The names of Satyabhāmā’s ten sons are as follows: Bhānu, Subhānu, Svarbhānu, Prabhānu, Bhānumān, Candrabhānu, Bṛhadbhānu, Atibhānu, Śrībhānu and Pratibhānu. The ten sons of the next queen, Jāmbavatī, were headed by Sāmba. Their names are as follows: Sāmba, Sumitra, Purujit, Śatajit, Sahasrajit, Vijaya, Citraketu, Vasumān, Draviḍa and Kratu. Lord Kṛṣṇa was specifically very affectionate to the sons of Jāmbavatī. The ten sons Lord Kṛṣṇa had by His wife Satyā, the daughter of King Nagnajit, were as follows: Vīra, Candra, Aśvasena, Citragu, Vegavān, Vṛṣa, Āma, Śaṅku, Vasu and Kunti. Amongst all of them, Kunti was very powerful. Kṛṣṇa’s ten sons by Kālindī were as follows: Śruta, Kavi, Vṛṣa, Vīra, Subāhu, Bhadra, Śānti, Darśa, Pūrṇamāsa and Somaka, the youngest son. The ten sons Lord Kṛṣṇa begot in His next wife, Lakṣmaṇā, the daughter of the king of Madras Province, were named Praghoṣa, Gātravān, Siṁha, Bala, Prabala, Ūrdhaga, Mahāśakti, Saha, Oja and Aparājita. The ten sons of His next wife, Mitravindā, were as follows: Vṛka, Harṣa, Anila, Gṛdhra, Vardhana, Unnāda, Mahāṁsa, Pāvana, Vahni and Kṣudhi. The ten sons of His next wife, Bhadrā, were named Saṅgrāmajit, Bṛhatsena, Śūra, Praharaṇa, Arijit, Jaya, Subhadra, Vāma, Āyur and Satyaka. Besides these eight chief queens, Kṛṣṇa had 16,100 other wives, and all of them also had ten sons each.
The eldest son of Rukmiṇī, Pradyumna, was married with Māyāvatī from his very birth, and afterwards he married Rukmavatī, the daughter of his maternal uncle, Rukmī. From Rukmavatī, Pradyumna had a son named Aniruddha. In this way, Kṛṣṇa’s family – Kṛṣṇa and His wives, along with their sons and grandsons and even great-grandsons – all combined together to include very nearly one billion family members.
Rukmī, the elder brother of Kṛṣṇa’s first wife, Rukmiṇī, was greatly harassed and insulted in his fight with Kṛṣṇa, but on the request of Rukmiṇī his life was spared. Since then Rukmī held a great grudge against Kṛṣṇa and was always inimical toward Him. Nevertheless, his daughter married Kṛṣṇa’s son, and his granddaughter married Kṛṣṇa’s grandson Aniruddha. This fact appeared a little astonishing to Mahārāja Parīkṣit when he heard it from Śukadeva Gosvāmī, and the king addressed him as follows: “I am surprised that Rukmī and Kṛṣṇa, who were so greatly inimical to one another, could again be united by marital relationships between their descendants.” Parīkṣit Mahārāja was curious about the mystery of this incident, and therefore he inquired from Śukadeva Gosvāmī. Because Śukadeva Gosvāmī was a perfect yogī, nothing was hidden from his power of insight. A perfect yogī like Śukadeva Gosvāmī can see past, present and future in all details. Therefore, from such yogīs or mystics nothing can be concealed. When Parīkṣit Mahārāja inquired from Śukadeva Gosvāmī, Śukadeva Gosvāmī answered as follows.
Pradyumna, the eldest son of Kṛṣṇa, born of Rukmiṇī, was Cupid himself. He was so beautiful and attractive that the daughter of Rukmī, namely Rukmavatī, could not select any husband other than Pradyumna during her svayaṁvara. Therefore, in that selection meeting she garlanded Pradyumna in the presence of all the other princes. When there was a fight among the princes, Pradyumna came out victorious, and therefore Rukmī was obliged to offer his beautiful daughter to Pradyumna. Although enmity always blazed in Rukmī’s heart because of his having been insulted by Kṛṣṇa’s kidnapping of his sister, Rukmiṇī, Rukmī could not resist consenting to the marriage ceremony just to please Rukmiṇī when his daughter selected Pradyumna as her husband. And so Pradyumna became the son-in-law as well as the nephew of Rukmī. Besides the ten sons described above, Rukmiṇī had one beautiful daughter with big eyes, and she was married to Kṛtavarmā’s son, whose name was Balī.
Although Rukmī was a veritable enemy of Kṛṣṇa, he had great affection for his sister, Rukmiṇī, and wanted to please her in all respects. On this account, when Rukmiṇī’s grandson Aniruddha was to be married, Rukmī offered his granddaughter Rocanā to Aniruddha. Such a marriage between immediate cousins is not very much sanctioned by the Vedic culture, but in order to please Rukmiṇī, Rukmī offered his daughter and granddaughter to the son and grandson of Kṛṣṇa, respectively. In this way, when the negotiation of the marriage of Aniruddha with Rocanā was complete, a big marriage party accompanied Aniruddha and started from Dvārakā. They traveled until they reached Bhojakaṭa, which Rukmī had colonized after his sister had been kidnapped by Kṛṣṇa. This marriage party was led by the grandfather, namely Lord Kṛṣṇa, accompanied by Lord Balarāma, and it included Kṛṣṇa’s first wife, Rukmiṇī, His son Pradyumna, Jāmbavatī’s son Sāmba and many other relatives and family members. They reached the town of Bhojakaṭa, and the marriage ceremony was peacefully performed.
The king of Kaliṅga was a friend of Rukmī’s and gave him the ill advice to play chess with Balarāma and thus defeat Him in a bet. Among kṣatriya kings, gambling on chess was not uncommon. If someone challenged a kṣatriya to play on the chessboard, the kṣatriya could not refuse the challenge. Śrī Balarāmajī was not a very expert chess player, and this was known to the king of Kaliṅga. So Rukmī was advised to retaliate against the family members of Kṛṣṇa by challenging Balarāma to play chess. Although not an expert chess player, Śrī Balarāmajī was very enthusiastic in sporting activities. He accepted Rukmī’s challenge and sat down to play. Betting was with gold coins, and Balarāma first of all challenged with one hundred coins, then one thousand coins, then ten thousand coins. Each time, Balarāma lost, and Rukmī was victorious.
Śrī Balarāma’s losing the game was an opportunity for the king of Kaliṅga to criticize Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma. Thus the king of Kaliṅga was talking jokingly while purposefully showing his teeth to Balarāma. Because Balarāma was the loser in the game, He was a little intolerant of the sarcastic joking words and became somewhat agitated. Rukmī again challenged Balarāma and made a bet of a hundred thousand gold coins, but fortunately this time Balarāma won. Nonetheless, out of cunningness Rukmī claimed that Balarāma was the loser and that he himself had won. Because of this lie, Balarāmajī became most angry with Rukmī. His agitation was so sudden and great that it appeared like a tidal wave in the ocean on a full-moon day. Balarāma’s eyes are naturally reddish, and when He became agitated and angry His eyes became more reddish. This time He challenged and made a bet of a hundred million coins.
Again Balarāma was the winner according to the rules of chess, but Rukmī again cunningly claimed that he had won. Rukmī appealed to the princes present, and he especially mentioned the name of the king of Kaliṅga. During the dispute there was a voice from the sky, and it announced that for all honest purposes Balarāma was the actual winner of this game, that He was being abused, and that the statement of Rukmī that he had won was absolutely false.
In spite of this divine voice, Rukmī insisted that Balarāma had lost, and by his persistence it appeared that he had death upon his head. Falsely puffed up by the ill advice of his friend, he did not give much importance to the oracle, and he began to criticize Balarāmajī. He said, “My dear Balarāmajī, You two brothers, cowherd boys only, may be very expert in tending cows, but how can You be expert in playing chess or shooting arrows on the battlefield? These arts are well known only to the princely order.” Hearing this kind of pinching talk by Rukmī and hearing the loud laughter of all the other princes present there, Lord Balarāma became as agitated as burning cinders. He immediately took His club in His hand and, without further talk, struck Rukmī on the head. From that one blow, Rukmī fell down immediately and was dead and gone. Thus Rukmī was killed by Balarāma on that auspicious occasion of Aniruddha’s marriage. These things are not very uncommon in kṣatriya society.
The king of Kaliṅga, afraid that he would be the next one attacked, fled from the scene. Before he could escape even a few steps, however, Balarāmajī immediately captured him, and because the king had always shown his teeth while criticizing Balarāma and Kṛṣṇa, Balarāma broke all the king’s teeth with His club. The other princes supporting the king of Kaliṅga and Rukmī were also captured, and Balarāma beat them with His club, breaking their legs and hands. They did not try to retaliate but thought it wise to run away from the bloody scene.
During this strife between Balarāma and Rukmī, Lord Kṛṣṇa did not utter a word, for He knew that if He supported Balarāma, Rukmiṇī would be unhappy, and if He said that the killing of Rukmī was unjust, then Balarāma would be unhappy. Therefore, Lord Kṛṣṇa was silent on the death of His brother-in-law Rukmī on the occasion of His grandson’s marriage. He did not disturb His affectionate relationship with either Balarāma or Rukmiṇī. After this, the bride and bridegroom were ceremoniously seated on the chariot, and they started for Dvārakā, accompanied by the bridegroom’s party. The bridegroom’s party was always protected by Lord Kṛṣṇa, the killer of the Madhu demon. Thus they left Rukmī’s kingdom, Bhojakaṭa, and happily started for Dvārakā.
Thus ends the Bhaktivedanta purport of the sixty-first chapter of Kṛṣṇa, “The Genealogy of the Family of Kṛṣṇa.”