Power of Chastity

Srimad Bhagavatam 10.53.46-55 - Power of Chastity (download mp3) , (download flv) and (download mp4)
by Adi Keshava Prabhu at ISKCON Chowpatty

SB 10.53.46
namasye tvambike ’bhiksnam
 sva-santana-yutam sivam
bhuyat patir me bhagavan
 krsnas tad anumodatam

[Princess Rukmini prayed:] O mother Ambika, wife of Lord Siva, I repeatedly offer my obeisances unto you, together with your children. May Lord Krsna become my husband. Please grant this!

SB 10.53.47-48
adbhir gandhaksatair dhupair
 vasah-sran-malya bhusanaih
 pradipavalibhih prthak
vipra-striyah patimatis
 tatha taih samapujayat

Rukmini worshiped the goddess with water, scents, whole grains, incense, clothing, garlands, necklaces, jewelry and other prescribed offerings and gifts, and also with arrays of lamps. The married brahmana women each performed worship simultaneously with the same items, also offering savories and cakes, prepared betel nut, sacred threads, fruit and sugarcane juice.

SB 10.53.49
tasyai striyas tah pradaduh
 sesam yuyujur asisah
tabhyo devyai namas cakre
 sesam ca jagrhe vadhuh
The ladies gave the bride the remnants of the offerings and then blessed her. She in turn bowed down to them and the deity and accepted the remnants as prasadam.

SB 10.53.50
muni-vratam atha tyaktva
pragrhya panina bhrtyam

The princess then gave up her vow of silence and left the Ambika temple, holding on to a maidservant with her hand, which was adorned with a jeweled ring.

SB 10.53.51-55
tam deva-mayam iva dhira-mohinim
 su-madhyamam kundala-manditananam
syamam nitambarpita-ratna-mekhalam
 vyañjat-stanim kuntala-sankiteksanam
suci-smitam bimba-phaladhara-dyuti-
pada calantim kala-hamsa-gaminim
vilokya vira mumuhuh samagata
 yasasvinas tat-krta-hrc-chayarditah
yam viksya te nrpatayas tad udara-hasa-
 vridavaloka-hrta-cetasa ujjhitastrah
petuh ksitau gaja-rathasva-gata vimudha
 yatra-cchalena haraye ’rpayatim sva-sobham
saivam sanais calayati cala-padma-kosau
 praptim tada bhagavatah prasamiksamana
utsarya vama-karajair alakan apangaih
 praptan hriyaiksata nrpan dadrse ’cyutam ca
tam raja-kanyam ratham aruraksatim
 jahara krsno dvisatam samiksatam

Rukmini appeared as enchanting as the Lord’s illusory potency, who enchants even the sober and grave. Thus the kings gazed upon her virgin beauty, her shapely waist, and her lovely face adorned with earrings. Her hips were graced with a jewel-studded belt, her breasts were just budding, and her eyes seemed apprehensive of her encroaching locks of hair. She smiled sweetly, her jasmine-bud teeth reflecting the glow of her bimba-red lips. As she walked with the motions of a royal swan, the effulgence of her tinkling ankle bells beautified her feet. Seeing her, the assembled heroes were totally bewildered. Lust tore at their hearts. Indeed, when the kings saw her broad smile and shy glance, they became stupefied, dropped their weapons and fell unconscious to the ground from their elephants, chariots and horses. On the pretext of the procession, Rukmini displayed her beauty for Krsna alone. Slowly she advanced the two moving lotus-whorls of her feet, awaiting the arrival of the Supreme Lord. With the fingernails of her left hand she pushed some strands of hair away from her face and shyly looked from the corners of her eyes at the kings standing before her. At that moment she saw Krsna. Then, while His enemies looked on, the Lord seized the princess, who was eager to mount His chariot.

According to Srila Jiva Gosvami, Rukmini was anxious that her locks of hair might impede her vision, since she was most eager to see her beloved Krsna. The nondevotees, or demons, are bewildered at seeing the opulences of the Lord and think that His potency is meant for their gross sense gratification. But Rukmini, an expansion of Krsna’s internal pleasure potency, was meant for the Lord alone.

Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti quotes the following verse to describe the kind of woman known as syama:

sita-kale bhaved usno
 usna-kale tu sitala
stanau su-kathinau yasyah
 sa syama parikirtita

“A woman is called syama when her breasts are very firm and when someone in her presence feels warm in the winter and cool in the summer.”

Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti further points out that since the beautiful form of Rukmini is a manifestation of the Lord’s internal energy, the nondevotees cannot perceive her. Thus the heroic kings assembled in Vidarbha were agitated with lust upon seeing the Lord’s illusory potency, an expansion of Rukmini. In other words, no one can lust after the Lord’s eternal consort, since as soon as one’s mind is contaminated with lust, the covering of Maya separates one from the pristine beauty of the spiritual world and its inhabitants.

Finally, Srimati Rukmini-devi felt shy as she looked from the corners of her eyes at the other kings, for she did not want to meet the glances of those inferior men.