Draupadī Meets the Queens of Kṛṣṇa
There were many visitors who came to see Kṛṣṇa, and among them were the Pāṇḍavas, headed by King Yudhiṣṭhira. After talking with the gopīs and bestowing upon them the greatest benediction, Lord Kṛṣṇa welcomed King Yudhiṣṭhira and other relatives who had come to see Him. He first of all inquired from them whether their situation was auspicious. Actually, there is no question of ill fortune for anyone who sees the lotus feet of Lord Kṛṣṇa, yet when Lord Kṛṣṇa, as a matter of etiquette, inquired from King Yudhiṣṭhira about his welfare, the king became very happy by such a reception and addressed the Lord thus: “My dear Lord Kṛṣṇa, great personalities and devotees in full Kṛṣṇa consciousness always think of Your lotus feet and remain fully satisfied by drinking the nectar of transcendental bliss. The nectar which they constantly drink sometimes comes out of their mouths and is sprinkled on others as the narration of Your transcendental activities. This nectar coming from the mouth of a devotee is so powerful that if one is fortunate enough to have the opportunity to drink it, he is immediately freed from the continuous journey of birth and death. Our material existence is caused by our forgetfulness of Your personality, but fortunately the darkness of forgetfulness is immediately dissipated if one is privileged to hear about Your glories. Therefore, my dear Lord, where is the possibility of ill fortune for one who is constantly engaged in hearing Your glorious activities?
“Since we are fully surrendered unto You and have no other shelter than Your lotus feet, we are always confident of our good fortune. My dear Lord, You are the ocean of unlimited knowledge and transcendental bliss. The reactions of mental concoctions in the three phases of material life – wakefulness, sleep and deep sleep – cannot exist in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. All such reactions are invalidated by the practice of Kṛṣṇa consciousness. You are the ultimate destination of all liberated persons. Out of Your independent will only, You have descended to this earth by the use of Your own internal potency, yogamāyā, and to reestablish the Vedic principles of life You have appeared just like an ordinary human being. Since You are the Supreme Person, there cannot be any ill luck for one who has fully surrendered unto You.”
When Lord Kṛṣṇa was busy meeting various kinds of visitors and while they were engaged in offering prayers to the Lord, the female members of the Kuru dynasty and the Yadu dynasty took the opportunity to meet with one another and engage in talk of Lord Kṛṣṇa’s transcendental pastimes. The first inquiry was made by Draupadī to the wives of Lord Kṛṣṇa. She addressed them, “My dear Rukmiṇī, Bhadrā, Jāmbavatī, Satyā, Satyabhāmā, Kālindī, Śaibyā [Mitravindā], Lakṣmaṇā, Rohiṇī and all other wives of Lord Kṛṣṇa, will you please let us know how Lord Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, accepted you as His wives and married you in pursuance of the marriage ceremonies of ordinary human beings?”
To this question, the chief of the queens, Rukmiṇī-devī, replied, “My dear Draupadī, it was practically a settled fact that princes like Jarāsandha wanted me to marry King Śiśupāla, and, as is usual, all the princes present during the marriage ceremony were prepared with their armor and weapons to fight with any rival who dared to stop the marriage. But the Supreme Personality of Godhead kidnapped me the way a lion takes away a lamb from the flock. This was not, however, a very wondrous act for Lord Kṛṣṇa, because anyone who claims to be a great hero or king within this world is subordinate to the lotus feet of the Lord. All kings touch their helmets to the lotus feet of Lord Kṛṣṇa. My dear Draupadī, it is my eternal desire that life after life I be engaged in the service of Lord Kṛṣṇa, who is the reservoir of all pleasure and beauty. This is my only desire and ambition in life.”
After this, Satyabhāmā began to speak. She said, “My dear Draupadī, my father was very much afflicted by the death of his brother, Prasena, and he falsely accused Lord Kṛṣṇa of killing his brother and stealing the Syamantaka jewel, which had actually been taken by Jāmbavān. Lord Kṛṣṇa, in order to establish His pure character, fought with Jāmbavān and rescued the Syamantaka jewel, which He later delivered to my father. My father was very much ashamed and sorry for accusing Lord Kṛṣṇa of his brother’s death. After getting back the Syamantaka jewel, he thought it wise to rectify his mistake, so although he had promised others my hand in marriage, he submitted the jewel and me at the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa, and thus I was accepted as His maidservant and wife.”
After this, Jāmbavatī replied to Draupadī’s question. She said, “My dear Draupadī, when Lord Kṛṣṇa attacked my father, Jāmbavān, the king of the ṛkṣas, my father did not know that Lord Kṛṣṇa was his former master, Lord Rāmacandra, the husband of Sītā. Not knowing the identity of Lord Kṛṣṇa, my father fought with Him continuously for twenty-seven days. After this period, when he became fatigued, he could understand that since no one but Lord Rāmacandra could defeat him, his opponent, Lord Kṛṣṇa, must be the same Lord Rāmacandra. He thus came to his senses and immediately returned the Syamantaka jewel. Furthermore, to satisfy the Lord, he presented me to Him to become His wife. In this way I was married to the Lord, and thus my desire to be a servitor of Kṛṣṇa life after life was fulfilled.”
After this, Kālindī said, “My dear Draupadī, I was engaged in great austerities and penances to get Lord Kṛṣṇa as my husband. When He became aware of this fact, He very kindly came to me with His friend Arjuna and accepted me as His wife. Lord Kṛṣṇa then took me away from the bank of the Yamunā, and since then I have been engaged in the house of Lord Kṛṣṇa as a sweeper. And the Lord is treating me as His wife.”
After this, Mitravindā said, “My dear Draupadī, there was a great assembly of princes at my svayaṁvara ceremony [the personal selection of a husband]. Lord Kṛṣṇa was also present in that meeting, and He accepted me as His maidservant by defeating all the princes there. He immediately took me away to Dvārakā, exactly as a lion takes its prey from a pack of dogs. When I was thus taken away by Lord Kṛṣṇa, my brothers wanted to fight Him, and later they were defeated. Thus my desire to become the maidservant of Kṛṣṇa life after life was fulfilled.”
After this, Satyā addressed Draupadī in this way: “My dear Draupadī, my father arranged for an assembly for my svayaṁvara, and to test the strength and heroism of the prospective bridegrooms, he stipulated that they each fight with his seven ferocious bulls, which had long, sharp horns. Many heroic prospects tried to defeat the bulls, but unfortunately they were all severely struck, and they returned to their homes as defeated invalids. When Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa came and fought with the bulls, they were just like playthings for Him. He captured the bulls and roped each one of them by the nostrils. Thus they came under His control, just as a goat’s small kids come very easily under the control of children. My father was very much pleased and married me to Lord Kṛṣṇa with great pomp, giving as my dowry many divisions of soldiers, horses, chariots and elephants, along with hundreds of maidservants. Thus Lord Kṛṣṇa brought me to His capital city, Dvārakā. On the way back, He was assaulted by many princes, but Lord Kṛṣṇa defeated all of them, and thus I have the privilege of serving His lotus feet as a maidservant.”
After this, Bhadrā began to speak. She said, “My dear Draupadī, Lord Kṛṣṇa is the son of my maternal uncle. Fortunately, I became attracted to His lotus feet. When my father understood these feelings of mine, he personally arranged for my marriage, inviting Lord Kṛṣṇa to marry me and giving Him in dowry one akṣauhiṇī, or division of armed forces, along with many maidservants and other royal paraphernalia. I do not know whether I shall be able to have the shelter of Lord Kṛṣṇa life after life, but still I pray to the Lord that wherever I may take my birth I may not forget my relationship with His lotus feet.”
Then Lakṣmaṇā said, “My dear Queen, many times I heard the great sage Nārada glorifying the pastimes of Lord Kṛṣṇa. I became attracted to the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa when I heard Nārada say that the goddess of fortune, Lakṣmī, was attracted to His lotus feet. Since then I have always been thinking of Him, and thus my attraction for Him has increased. My dear Queen, my father was very affectionate toward me. When he understood that I was attracted to Kṛṣṇa, he devised a plan like that devised by your father: during the svayaṁvara, the prospective bridegrooms had to pierce the eyes of a fish with their arrows. The difference between the competition in your svayaṁvara and mine was that in yours the fish was hanging openly on the ceiling, in clear view, but in mine the fish was covered and could be seen only by its reflection in a pot of water. That was the special feature of my svayaṁvara.
“The news of this device spread all over the world, and when the princes heard of it they arrived at my father’s capital city from all directions, fully equipped with armor and guided by their military instructors. Each of them desired to win me as his wife, and one after another they raised the bow and arrow left there for piercing the fish. Many could not even join the bowstring to the two ends of the bow, and without attempting to pierce the fish, they simply left the bow as it was and went away. Some with great difficulty drew the string from one end to the other, but being unable to tie the other end, they were suddenly knocked down by the springlike bow. My dear Queen, you will be surprised to know that at my svayaṁvara meeting there were many famous kings and heroes present. Heroes like Jarāsandha, Ambaṣṭha, Śiśupāla, Bhīmasena, Duryodhana and Karṇa were, of course, able to string the bow, but they could not pierce the fish, because it was covered, and they could not trace it out from the reflection. The celebrated hero of the Pāṇḍavas, Arjuna, was able to see the reflection of the fish on the water, but although with great care he traced out the location of the fish and shot an arrow, he did not pierce the fish in the right spot. But his arrow at least touched the fish, and so he proved himself better than all the other princes.
“All the princes who tried to pierce the target were disappointed, being baffled in their attempts, and some candidates even left the place without making an attempt, but when at last Lord Kṛṣṇa took up the bow, He was able to tie the bowstring very easily, just as a child plays with a toy. He placed the arrow, and looking only once at the reflection of the fish in the water, He shot the arrow, and the pierced fish immediately fell down. This victory of Lord Kṛṣṇa was accomplished at noon, during the moment called abhijit, which is astronomically calculated as auspicious. At that time the vibration of “Jaya! Jaya!” was heard all over the world, and from the sky came sounds of drums beaten by the denizens of heaven. Great demigods were overwhelmed with joy and showered flowers on the earth.
“At that time, I entered the arena of competition, and the ankle bells on my legs sounded very melodious as I walked. I was nicely dressed with new silken garments, flowers decorated my hair, and because of Lord Kṛṣṇa’s victory I was in ecstatic joy and smiling very pleasingly. I carried in my hands a golden necklace bedecked with jewels, which glittered at intervals. My curling hair encircled my face, which shone with a bright luster due to the reflection of my various earrings. My eyes blinking, I first observed all the princes present, and when I reached my Lord I very slowly placed the golden necklace on His neck. As I have already informed you, from the very beginning my mind was attracted by Lord Kṛṣṇa, and thus I considered the garlanding of the Lord my great victory. As soon as I placed my garland on the neck of the Lord, there sounded immediately the combined vibration of mṛdaṅgas, paṭaha and ānaka drums, conch shells, kettledrums and other instruments, causing a tumultuous sound, and while the music played, expert male and female dancers began to dance, and singers began to sing sweetly.
“My dear Draupadī, when I accepted Lord Kṛṣṇa as my worshipable husband and He accepted me as His maidservant, there was a tumultuous roaring among the disappointed princes. All of them were very agitated because of their lusty desires, but without caring for them, my husband, in His form as the four-handed Nārāyaṇa, immediately took me on His chariot, which was drawn by four excellent horses. Expecting opposition from the princes, He armored Himself and took up His bow, named Śārṅga, and then our celebrated driver, Dāruka, drove the beautiful chariot, without a moment’s delay, toward the city of Dvārakā. Thus, in the presence of all the princes, I was carried away very quickly, exactly as a deer is carried away from the flock by a lion. Some of the princes, however, wanted to check our progress, and thus, equipped with proper weapons, they opposed us, just as dogs try to oppose the progressive march of a lion. At that time, due to the arrows released by the Śārṅga bow of Lord Kṛṣṇa, some of the princes lost their hands, some of them lost their legs, some lost their heads and their lives, and others fled from the battlefield.
“The Supreme Personality of Godhead then entered the most celebrated city of the universe, Dvārakā, and as He entered the city He appeared like the shining sun. The whole city of Dvārakā was profusely decorated on that occasion. There were so many flags and festoons and gates all over Dvārakā that the sunshine could not even enter the city. I have already told you that my father was very affectionate to me, so when he saw that my desire had been fulfilled by my getting Lord Kṛṣṇa as my husband, in great happiness he began to distribute to friends and relatives various kinds of gifts, such as valuable garments, ornaments, bedsteads and sitting carpets. Lord Kṛṣṇa is always self-sufficient, yet my father, out of his own accord, offered my husband a dowry consisting of riches, soldiers, elephants, chariots, horses and many rare and valuable weapons. He presented all these to the Lord with great enthusiasm. My dear Queen, at that time I could guess that in my previous life I must have performed some wonderfully pious activity, and as a result I can in this life be one of the maidservants in the house of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.”
When all the principal queens of Lord Kṛṣṇa had finished their statements, Rohiṇī, as the representative of the other sixteen thousand queens, began to narrate the incident of their becoming wives of Kṛṣṇa.
“My dear Queen, when Bhaumāsura was conquering all the world, he collected wherever possible all the beautiful daughters of the kings and kept us arrested within his palace. When news of our imprisonment reached Lord Kṛṣṇa, He fought with Bhaumāsura and released us. Lord Kṛṣṇa killed Bhaumāsura and all his soldiers, and although He had no need to accept even one wife, He nevertheless, by our request, married all sixteen thousand of us. My dear Queen, our only qualification was that we were always thinking of the lotus feet of Lord Kṛṣṇa, which is the way to release oneself from the bondage of repeated birth and death. My dear Queen Draupadī, please take it from us that we are not after any opulence such as a kingdom, an empire or a position of heavenly enjoyment. We do not want to enjoy such material opulences, nor do we desire to achieve the yogic perfections, nor the exalted post of Lord Brahmā. Nor do we want any of the different kinds of liberation – sārūpya, sālokya, sārṣṭi, sāmīpya or sāyujya. We are not at all attracted by any of these opulences. Our only ambition is to bear on our heads life after life the dust particles attached to the lotus feet of Lord Kṛṣṇa. The goddess of fortune also desires to keep that dust on her breasts, along with fragrant saffron. We simply desire this dust, which accumulates underneath the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa as He travels on the land of Vṛndāvana as a cowherd boy. The gopīs especially, and also the cowherd men and the aborigine tribeswomen, always desire to become the grass and straw on the streets of Vṛndāvana, to be trampled on by the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa. My dear Queen, we wish to remain as such life after life, without any other desire.”
Thus ends the Bhaktivedanta purport of the eighty-third chapter of Kṛṣṇa, “Draupadī Meets the Queens of Kṛṣṇa.”