Book Review: Celebrate Krishna Janmashtami through the story of ‘Rukmini’

“Did Krishna really love Rukmini” is an often heard question, which this book tackles with sensitivity. (Image: Rupa Publications on FB]

Wondering how we celebrate Krishna Janmashtami especially when “Happy Janmashtami” is trending today across social media? Celebrating the beautiful story of Rukmini is a tempting offering for many readers, one that matches the festive outpouring of emotional fervour across the country. For readers who enjoy reading about Shri Krishna Vasudeva, as he is known and revered, Saiswaroopa Iyer’s recently published book, “Rukmini’ deftly establishes beyond doubt that the life of Lord Krishna can be best understood through the journey of his much loved better half – yes, Princess Rukmini, who is also worshipped as a Goddess.

Who is Rukmini – Princess or Goddess?

One way to read ‘Rukmini’ is to view it as an exciting journey with the Princess of Vidarbha, who does not bow down to patriarchy, etches a place for herself with intelligent debates in the assembly known as ‘Sudharma’ where she holds her standpoint firmly when debating on issues of strategic and political importance, showing beyond doubt that she stands her ground firmly as a fitting partner for her husband. Her relationship with the Pandavas and Draupadi, known as Krishna’s sister, enriches the narrative with deep insights.

Rukmini’s relation with Satyabhama

Even her friendship with Satyabhama, with whom popular misconception would like us to believe there was intense jealousy and rivalry, makes for a fascinating reading.

Through their conversations, you can break through the illusion of stereotypes about the two women who respect each other amidst their deep respect for the man who remains at the centre of their life. Through life-threatening situations they confront together, one gets a glimpse of how strong the women are from within and how their friendship demonstrates both are willing to do anything it takes to safeguard both Krishna and His land.

“Did Krishna really love Rukmini” is an often heard question, which this book tackles with sensitivity.

From sweet glimpses of their banter such as Rukmini teasing her husband, “You know your ways around traps, don’t you?” to the more serious discussions between them that hint at a dark and turbulent future ahead, where Krishna entrusts only Rukmini with the secret of how to navigate complex and dangerous waterways to evacuate people from Dwarka in the event of an emergency.

Published by Rupa, each diligently researched chapter in Saiswaroopa Iyer’s ‘Rukmini’ seems to evolve organically and a reader instinctively knows that it will lead somewhere deeper than its logical closure, but further to an ending that is deeply philosophical and out-of-the-box too.

Through turbulent moments, Rukmini is calm, playfully clear and engaging, a powerful and clear voice embodying a woman’s intuitive intelligence and inner strength to endure amidst tumultuous times, if ever there was one.

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