Shocked to read the figure? But yes, scriptures do mention that Lord Krishna had 16,000 wives. To be specific, He had 16,108 wives. Now, though we all know that polygamy was a popular practice in ancient times, yet 16,108 seems like going out of the way.
There are many such stories in Indian mythology that are simply intriguing. Lord Krishna, known for His many miracles, never fails to intrigue us with some of the most spectacular stories. His eternal love with Radha, his marriage to eight most beautiful princesses and yet having 16,000 and plus wives, certainly make us wonder as what would have been the reason for this.
If we go by the scriptures, we will find that Lord Krishna never married Radha. But He did marry eight women. The names of all His eight wives were Rukmini, Satyabhama, Jambavati, Kalindi, Mitravinda, Nagnajiti, Bhadra and Lakshmana. Of them, Rukmini and Satyabhama were the most well-known.
Now moving on to the story of 16,000 wives, all of us know very well that Lord Krishna was a miracle king. Whatever happened related to Him, happened for a reason. Therefore, it would not be wrong to say that having 16,108 wives was also part of ‘Krishna leela’.
So, what led to the circumstances where Lord Krishna had to marry 16,000 women? Let us find out.
Story Of Narakasura
Narakasura was the king of Pragjyotisha, identified with present-day Assam. He was the demon (asura) son of Vishnu’s boar avatar Varaha and the earth-goddess Bhumi devi (Earth). As the son of Bhumi, he was also called Bhauma or Bhaumasura. He conquered the three worlds: heaven, earth and underworld. On earth, he captured 16,000 princesses of defeated nations. In heaven, he stole the earrings of Aditi, mother of Indra – the king of gods and heaven. In the underworld, he seized the imperial umbrella of Varuna, the god of the waters.
He imprisoned the princesses on a mountain. Meanwhile, Indra pleaded Lord Krishna to fight Narakasura, get back Aditi’s earrings and free the world from the tyranny of the demon. So, Lord Krishna went and killed the demon.
After the death of Narakasura, Bhumi devi returned all the stolen items, including the 16,000 women to Krishna. Lord Krishna set them free but they did not comply.
In ancient times, the women who were abducted by the kings of other kingdoms were not taken back when the king was vanquished. They led a life of stigma and shame pertaining to the belief that they have been touched by some other man. The 16,108 women in Narakasura’s cell would also have suffered the same. Hence, they prayed to Lord Krishna to accept all of them as His wives.
The 16,108 wives
Lord Krishna thus, married all of them. The Bhagavata Purana captures the life of Krishna’s wives after their marriage. Each of the junior wives was given a home, with hundreds of maid-servants. Krishna divides himself into several forms, one for each wife and spends the night with each wife simultaneously. In the morning, all his forms unite into one body of Krishna when He works as the king of Dwarka. Each wife serves Krishna personally, worshipping him, bathing him, dressing him, fanning him, presenting him with gifts and flower garlands.
The Miracle King
According to another story, the mischief-maker sage Narada once requested Lord Krishna to gift him one of his many wives, as he was a bachelor. Krishna told him to win any wife for himself, if he was not with her. Then Narada went round to each of the houses of Krishna’s 16,008 wives but found Krishna in every house that he visited, and thus Narada had to remain a bachelor.
Watching this phenomenon, Narada was convinced that it was divinity in the form of Lord Krishna, a complete and manifold manifestation who had enjoyed the company of his 16,000 consorts at the same time. That is why Lord Krishna is the Supreme Divine who is there with all His devotees in some or the other form, just like His 16,108 wives.
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