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The slaying of Rukmi by Lord Balarama is described in Srimad Bhagavatam, Harivamsa and Vishnu Purana.

This page gives a comparative study of all three texts as to how they differ in the details of the incident.

The basic story is summarised thus: On the occasion of Krsna's grandson Aniruddha's marriage to Rochana, the granddaughter of Rukmi, Rukmi organised a game of dice, and was joined by the King of Kalinga, Ashmaka, Pandya and other kingdoms. Balarama agreed to play with Rukmi, and so placing their wealth as stakes began playing.

Since Balarama was winning most of the time, Rukmi decided to cheat, and so he played deceitfully and boasted to Balarama that he won. Enraged by his deceit, Balarama lifted his mace and killed Rukmi.

The question is this: How does RUkmi's actions (cheating in the dice game) justify Balarama killing him?

There are two more famous dice games in our scriptures:

  • The one between Nala and Pushkara
  • The one between Kauravas and Pandavas

In both the above games too, there is a lot of deceit involved. In the first case, Pushkara cheats in the game and exiles Nala, who after learning the art of dice, returns and wins back his kingdom from Pushkara.

In the second case, Shakuni cheats to a large extent, which causes the enslaving and mistreatment of Draupadi, following which due to Draupadi's virtuosity, the Pandavas are freed, and they return to Indraprastha (after which they come back for the second game).

In both cases, the cheater is not punished with death, but is ousted in some way or the other. So how does Rukmi's deceit not grant him a punishment similar to the above two cases, but instead amounts to his death?

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    @Keshav That begs another question, just because a lout like Rukmi insulted him by calling him a cowherd, how does that justify killing him? – Surya Jun 7 '16 at 13:38
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    I think insulting the supreme lord of all the worlds to his face is a pretty big deal. In any case, the reason Krishna didn't kill Jarasandha is that it was important for Bhima to kill Jarasandha as part of the Rajasuya Yagna. – Keshav Srinivasan Jun 7 '16 at 13:50
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    @Keshav That is unfair. – Surya Jun 7 '16 at 14:42
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    Well, like it or not unintentional sins can still be sins. That's just part of the fundamental nature of Dharma. – Keshav Srinivasan Jun 7 '16 at 14:45
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    @Keshav Well that is the Dharma I question. You have to explain it in an answer. Just saying it is dharma will not do. – Surya Jun 7 '16 at 14:52

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