There was hardly any woman, young or old, who was not influenced by Sri Krishna’s disarming charm. Legend has it that Sri Krishna had 16,008 wives. However, how was His relationship with the three most important women in His life— Yashoda, His mother, Rukmini, His first wife, and Radha, His unrequited love? Were all of them Krishna devotees?
Krishna and Yashoda
Although Krishna was born to Devaki, it was Yashoda who had the good fortune of bringing Him up. She was the one who experienced the joys of holding Bal Gopal when He took His first steps, of feeding Him, of putting Him to sleep, and of watching Him grow up to a lovely youth.
According to a story, one day, when Narada arrived at Mathura, he saw mother Yashoda bathing her Krishna. Her legs were stretched and Krishna was lying on her legs with His face down. He clutched onto Yashoda’s toes in order to avoid falling off. Narada was overwhelmed by what he saw and wondered what penance had Yashoda undertaken in her previous life so that the Lord Himself was touching her feet.
Later, when it was time for Bal Krishna to walk, mother Yashoda held His lotus fingers and helped Him take His first steps. Vishnu in His Trivikrama avatar measured the three worlds with His three giant steps and here was Krishna ‘allowing’ a mere mortal to hold His hands and teach Him walking. Again, it was Yashoda who saw the seven oceans, the whole universe, and Narayana seated upon Adishesha beside Mahalakshmi inside little Krishna’s mouth.
Yashoda’s affection for Krishna was more than ‘Vatsalya Prema’. Her love for Krishna was more than motherly love; it was ‘Vatsalya Bhakti’, mother’s devotion.
Krishna and Radha
Radha Rani was not just one of Sri Krishna’s gopis; she was the most important one. Many consider Radha as the ‘Devotional Energy’ of Sri Krishna. In fact, she was an integral part of Krishna. That is one of the reasons why we take her name before Krishna’s name. It is her divine love that completes the entity of Sri Krishna. If we remove the ‘R’ from Radha-Krishna, we are left with ‘adha’ or ‘half’ Krishna.
There are many stories that narrate the eternal love between Radha and Krishna. One such is a story of the night when Krishna told Rukmini that He was not feeling well because He did not drink warm milk that Radha used to give Him before He retired to bed every night. Hearing this, Rukmini went to Radha’s house to fetch some milk. But when Radha heard about it, she drank the milk herself. Rukmini was perplexed but she came back to Krishna. Upon returning, she found that there were boils on Krishna’s feet. These were not there when she left. Krishna explained that Radha drank very hot milk which gave Him the boils.
Radha was devoted to Krishna all her life, even after He left Mathura and even though they never married. Srila Prabhupada, while talking about the love between Radha and Krishna says, “…in the spiritual world, the highest, topmost level of love is parakiya. Parakiya means love – not by marriage, but by friendship. There, it is pure”.
Krishna and Rukmini
Princess Rukmini was deeply in love with Krishna even before they met. She made up her mind to marry Krishna but her brother Rukmi was dead against it. Rukmini wrote a secret letter to Krishna where she suggested that they should have a ‘rakshasa vivaha’ where the bride is abducted. Krishna conceded.
Once in Dwarka, they had a grand wedding. Krishna loved and respected Rukmini. He also gave her the name ‘Sri’ and said that from then on He will be known as Sri Krishna, taking Rukmini’s name before Krishna’s name. It is believed that Rukmini was an incarnation of Goddess Lakshmi who followed Vishnu whenever He came to the earth in the human form.
The tulabharam story talks about the depth of Rukmini’s love for Krishna. Legend has it that Narada once told Krishna’s second wife, Satyabhama, that He loved Rukmini more than her. Narada said that if Satyabhama accepted the tulabharam challenge and won it, Krishna would love her more. Instigated by Narada’s words, Satyabhama accepted the challenge in which Krishna sat on one side of a weighing scale (tula) and Satyabhama put all her wealth on the other scale but failed to match it to Krishna’s weight. Confused by what she saw, Satyabhama asked Rukmini to help. Rukmini simply put a tulsi leaf on the pile of wealth and immediately outweighed Krishna. This shows that Sri Krishna does not want wealth from a devotee. All He wants is devotion and Rukmini indeed was an ardent Krishna devotee.