Many people in today’s world have the misconception that there were 16000 wives of Krishna. The reason for that is closing the mind to knowing the full story and just reading parts of it. It is true that he had eight wives who are fondly called and known as the Ashtabharyas but what is the story behind the sixteen thousand wives? Let’s find out!
It is rightly said that where there are conceptions, there are plenty of misconceptions too. It is like 2 sides of the coin. Where there is one side to a story, there is another one contradicting it or telling a different story altogether. Ancient Hindu culture stands very right to the above sentences. One needs to understand that we have a very rich culture of some of the most excellent mythological stories.
However, all of these stories may not be easily believable due to the gravity of the concepts and tales told in these stories. We are certainly baffled when we hear stories about Lord Rama, Ravana, Hanuman and their adventures, Lord Krishna and his wonders, the Pandavas, the Kauravas, the great Kurukshetra war and much more. It is definitely hard to believe that all this was true and really these incidents happened and are in fact a part of the glorious legacy and history of our culture.
Just like any other story from mythology, this story has its set of versions too. The crux of the story is the demon Narakasura i.e the king of Pragjyotisha. He is also the son of Varaha, an avatar of Vishnu and Prithvi, the earth goddess. Narakasura was also known by the names Bhauma due to being the son of Prithvi and Bhaumasura which is simply an amalgamation of the words Bhauma and Asura. He was so powerful that he had the strength of capturing all the three worlds – Heaven, Earth and Hell and he rightly used his strength, valour and power to do that. He managed to capture 16,000 princesses of a certain defeated nation. More information on this is given in Vishnu Purana which says that these princesses were the lovely daughters of gods, saints, demons and kings. Adi Parva and Kalika Purana also mention that these were celestial nymphs.
The demon captivated the women in Maniparavata. Seeing the menace that was being caused by Narakasura, Lord Indra went to Krishna for help. Krishna, along with his wife Satyabhama who is said to be an incarnation of Prithvi Devi arrived at the place where these princesses were captivated. Narakasura had a blessing from the gods that he would not be killed without his mother’s wishes.
He can only attain death if his mother truly hopes death on him. Krishna gave a tough fight to Narakasura but the demon wasn’t weak. There was one point where he attacked Krishna in a brutal way and Krishna fainted. This made Satyabhama furious at the demon and truly wished for his destruction. Krishna and Satyabhama started shooting arrows at him and he was finally killed.
It was required for the princesses to maintain their dignity in the world and hence, Krishna decided to marry them and give them their dignity and respect back in society. Some ancient texts say that he did not give himself to them as their husband but simply married to protect them from the vicious society. While other texts have mentioned that he gave them a home, hundreds of servants and made a thousand parts of himself to spend time with the wives.
So indeed there were 16000 wives of Krishna but it is important to understand the purpose and emotion behind the act rather than looking at the act from a superficial perspective. Krishna was always caring, generous and hoped for only right in the world as he did in this story too.