Rukmī, the elder brother of Kṛṣṇa’s first wife, Rukmiṇī, was greatly harassed and insulted in his fight with Kṛṣṇa, but on the request of Rukmiṇī his life was spared. Since then Rukmī held a great grudge against Kṛṣṇa and was always inimical toward Him. Nevertheless, his daughter married Kṛṣṇa’s son, and his granddaughter married Kṛṣṇa’s grandson Aniruddha. This fact appeared a little astonishing to Mahārāja Parīkṣit when he heard it from Śukadeva Gosvāmī, and the King addressed him as follows: “I am surprised that Rukmī and Kṛṣṇa, who were so greatly inimical to one another, could again be united by marital relationships between their descendants.” Parīkṣit Mahārāja was curious about the mystery of this incident, and therefore he inquired further from Śukadeva Gosvāmī. Because Śukadeva Gosvāmī was a perfect yogī, nothing was hidden from his power of insight. A perfect yogī like Śukadeva Gosvāmī can see past, present and future in all details. Therefore, from such yogīs or mystics nothing can be concealed. When Parīkṣit Mahārāja inquired from Śukadeva Gosvāmī, Śukadeva Gosvāmī answered as follows.
Pradyumna, the eldest son of Kṛṣṇa, born of Rukmiṇī, was Cupid himself. He was so beautiful and attractive that the daughter of Rukmī, namely Rukmavatī, could not select any husband other than Pradyumna during her svayaṁvara. Therefore, in that selection meeting she garlanded Pradyumna in the presence of all the other princes. When there was a fight among the princes, Pradyumna came out victorious, and therefore Rukmī was obliged to offer his beautiful daughter to Pradyumna. Although enmity always blazed in Rukmī’s heart because of his having been insulted by Kṛṣṇa’s kidnapping of his sister, Rukmiṇī, Rukmī could not resist consenting to the marriage ceremony just to please Rukmiṇī when his daughter selected Pradyumna as her husband. And so Pradyumna became the son-in-law as well as the nephew of Rukmī. Besides the ten sons described above, Rukmiṇī had one beautiful daughter with big eyes, and she was married to Kṛtavarmā’s son, whose name was Balī.
Although Rukmī was a veritable enemy of Kṛṣṇa, he had great affection for his sister, Rukmiṇī, and wanted to please her in all respects. On this account, when Rukmiṇī’s grandson Aniruddha was to be married, Rukmī offered his granddaughter Rocanā to Aniruddha. Such marriage between immediate cousins is not very much sanctioned by the Vedic culture, but in order to please Rukmiṇī, Rukmī offered his daughter and granddaughter to the son and grandson of Kṛṣṇa, respectively. In this way, when the negotiation of the marriage of Aniruddha with Rocanā was complete, a big marriage party accompanied Aniruddha and started from Dvārakā. They traveled until they reached Bhojakaṭa, which Rukmī had colonized after his sister had been kidnapped by Kṛṣṇa. This marriage party was led by the grandfather, namely Lord Kṛṣṇa, accompanied by Lord Balarāma, and it included Kṛṣṇa’s first wife, Rukmiṇī, His son Pradyumna, Jāmbavatī’s son Sāmba and many other relatives and family members. They reached the town of Bhojakaṭa, and the marriage ceremony was peacefully performed.
The King of Kaliṅga was a friend of Rukmī and gave him the ill advice to play chess with Balarāma and thus defeat Him in a bet. Among kṣatriya kings, gambling on chess was not uncommon. If someone challenged a kṣatriya to play on the chessboard, the kṣatriya could not refuse the challenge. Śrī Balarāmajī was not a very expert chess player, and this was known to the King of Kaliṅga. So Rukmī was advised to retaliate against the family members of Kṛṣṇa by challenging Balarāma to play chess. Although not an expert chess player, Śrī Balarāmajī was very enthusiastic in sporting activities. He accepted Rukmī’s challenge and sat down to play. Betting was with gold coins, and Balarāma first of all challenged with one hundred coins, then one thousand coins, then ten thousand coins. Each time, Balarāma lost, and Rukmī was victorious.
Śrī Balarāma’s losing the game was an opportunity for the King of Kaliṅga to criticize Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma. Thus the King of Kaliṅga was talking jokingly while purposefully showing his teeth to Balarāma. Because Balarāma was the loser in the game, He was a little intolerant of the sarcastic joking words and became somewhat agitated. Rukmī again challenged Balarāma and made a bet of a hundred thousand gold coins, but fortunately this time Balarāma won. Nonetheless, out of cunningness Rukmī claimed that Balarāma was the loser and that he himself had won. Because of this lie, Balarāmajī became most angry with Rukmī. His agitation was so sudden and great that it appeared like a tidal wave in the ocean on a full-moon day. Balarāma’s eyes are naturally reddish, and when He became agitated and angry His eyes became more reddish. This time He challenged and made a bet of a hundred million coins.