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Bhishmaka was father of Rukmi, the elder brother of Rukmini.
Once there was a temple priest who was a staunch devotee of Lord Shiva. He used to do Pooja to Lord Shiva's feet (Shiva Paada Pooje) every day. After finishing his Pooja and closing the temple premises, the priest brought prasadha (food from the temple which is first offered to the lord) for a dog which waited outside the temple. As dogs symbolise loyalty, the dog used to accompany the priest till he reached home every day and only ate food offered by this priest. The priest had great affection towards the dog as well.
On one new moon day (Amavasya), after some delay in finishing his temple duties, the priest shut the temple premises and walked out fast to offer food for the dog. Because it was a dark night, the priest accidentally walked over the dogs face. Every dog's nature is to attack anyone who attacks it. The dog instantaneously bit the priest before it could realise that the person it bit was the priest whom the dog admired. Albeit getting bit by the dog, the priest offered the dog the prasadha. The dog, regretting its previous action, did not accept the food. The dog never ate anything after the incident and died in front of the same Shiva temple. The gods, seeing this great gesture of loyalty from the dog, awarded the post of the sun (Surya) with the name Vivasvan.[clarification needed] Many years later, the priest had also died in memory of the dog.[clarification needed] In his next life, this Brahmin priest took birth as a king at the land of Vidarbha with the name Bhishmaka. The position he attained in this birth is attributed to all the Shiva Paada Pooje (worshipping lord Shiva's feet) that was performed by the Brahmin priest.
King Bhishmaka had 4 sons and 1 daughter Rukmini. The sun god Vivasvan wished to see Bhishmaka (still retaining affection from the King's previous life) and so disguised himself as a Rishi (Sage) and came down to the earth. King Bhishmaka upon seeing the rishi showed overwhelming affection towards him, again due to their relationship from the previous birth. Bhishmaka took the Rishi to his palace where Rukmini worshipped the rishi is a very devoted manner. The rishi then advised Rukmini to do Pooja for Lord Shiva's feet (Shiva Paada Pooje) for attaining god's blessings. Rukmini made garlands for the lord, offered gandha (sandalwood) and other auspicious materials to the god's feet. This pooja was most effective during the days of Nakshatra. The prayers turned out to be so powerful that lord Shiva blessed Rukmini with the boon to marry the great Lord Krishna himself. The Shiva paada pooja takes place at most Shiva temples even today and is considered one of the most effective ways to offer prayers to lord Shiva. Many devotees throng to temples during the Shiva paada pooja to do their part in serving the lord.