I am sure you must be wondering why have I added Rukmi to the list of Least Known Characters? We all know Rukmi was the brother of Rukmini, wife of Krishna. But, very few people know how exactly his battle with Krishna ended and his death.
Rukmi was son of King of Vidarbha, Bhishmaka. He was a mighty warrior but not of the level of Pandava’s, Kaurava’s and certainly not of Lord Krishna. Rukmi wanted his sister Rukmini to marry with Shishupala, the king of Chedi kingdom. But, Lord Krishna abducted Rukmini with Rukmini’s consent. Shishupala and Rukmi tried to stop Krishna. Shishupala was defeated by Krishna. This was the beginning of hatred of Shishupala towards Krishna.
Then Rukmi tried to stop Krishna but Krishna defeated Rukmi as well. Just as Lord Krishna was about to kill him, Rukmini stopped him. In the end, as a sign of defeat, Krishna shaved Rukmi’s head and went to Dwaraka along with Rukmini. Rukmi did not return to Kundinapuri (currently in Amaravati district of Maharashtra) and established a city Bhojakata to the west of it and remained there making it the capital of Vidarbha.
Next reference of Rukmi comes just before Kurukshetra war. When it was decided that Pandava’s will have fight a war with Kaurava’s, Rukmi went to Kurukshetra. In the Pandava’s camp, Rukmi started boasting foolishly that with his might he will win the war for Pandava’s single-handedly. At one point Rukmi mocked Bhishma and Dronacharya, that’s when Arjuna and Bhima almost tried to kill him. But, Krishna stopped them and asked Rukmi to leave Pandava’s camp. Then Rukmi went to Kaurava’s camp. But, he was rejected there as well because of his relation and proximity to Krishna and Pandava’s. So, in the end, Rukmi and army of Vidarbha remained neutral in Kurukshetra war.
The final reference to Rukmi comes in Mahabharata during Aniruddha’s marriage (grandson of Krishna and son of Pradyumna). But more information is received from Bhagwat Purana and Harivamsa. King of Kalinga and Rukmi once challenged Balarama for a game of chess, knowing very well that he was not good at it. Balarama lost a lot in the beginning. But, when Balarama won King of Kalinga and Rukmi started mocking, making fun of Dwaraka and laughing loudly at him and Krishna. Enraged Balarama killed Rukmi with his mace hitting on his head. Balarama then killed King of Kalinga and also injured others who laughed. This was the end of Rukmi!
I’m sure many of you didn’t know this…