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16108 Wives of Krushna


Many people ask why did Krushna marry 16,108 women ? 
Marrying multiple number of wives was common in those days.  But even then, 16108 was a fantastic number.  

So how and why did Krushna marry His 8 wives?

Some of his wives were from various royal families on India.
Some, like Rukshmani, Kalindi and Mitravrinda wanted to marry Krushna and asked him boldly to marry them.
Bhadra he married as result of swayamvars, where he was chosen over and above others.
Some he married like Nagnajiti and Lakshmana after being successful in a competition of some sort (like archery, rodeo etc).
Some like Satyabhama and Jambavati were given to him in marriage by their father.

Krushna married 16,100 women after he freed from the prison of Narakasur.

Narakasur of Pragjotishya (a city in the modern state of Assam, eastern India) was a mighty asur (danava).  Son of Bhumi and Varaha (Earth and Vishnu), he was a great warrior who defeated even the Devas.  He forcefully took away the royal emblem of power from Varun (white umbrella) and jeweled earrings from Adit, the mother of the Devas.  He also kidnapped 16,100 young women and held them captive in his palace.

Hearing of all these woes, Krushna went to conquer Narakasur.  Satyabhama, incarnation of Bhumi-devi, a very feisty wife, insisted on going with him to see the battle and rescue the women.  At Pragjotishya, Krushna killed numerous demons including a general called Mura, earning him the title of ‘Murari’.   In the battle with Narakasur, Satyabhama told Krushna to stop playing with the asur and kill him.  Now that the asur's mother had given him the permission, Krushna killed him with his Sudarshan chakra.     

Krushna rescued 16,100 women and restored the white umbrella and earrings to Devas.  

The 16,100 women he rescued were in a quandary.  Whilst they resented being kidnapped and kept as captives by Narakasur, at least in his palace they had shelter and protection of the state.  No one dared point a finger at them for their miserable state or question their status in society.  Now that the asura king was dead, where were they to go?  Their families may not want to take them back, as they were now had asura association.  In some cases, their families were killed off by the asura and is army.  No man would want to marry them as they were possibly ravaged by the asura.  This is the sad fact of life for many women when they are 'rescued' from their captors.  Where are they going to go ?  What can they do ?  Who will accept them as members of a civil society ?

In a male dominated world, women have only had three options.  
1) become nuns and live out their lives in some ashram.
2) become prostitutes to survive.
3) kill themselves to prove their innocence and be rid of societies' censor.

This is the same quandary that faces women in every society after any major war / defeat / conquest.  Yazidi women are facing this horrid choice in Iraq.  Women in Congo, Somalia, Rawanda and several African states face this right now.  Jewish women faced this after WWII.  Indian and Pakistani women faced this after the Partition of 1947.  Women are the real losers of war - any war.

Krushna rehabilitated the 16,100 women by marrying them.  He did not keep them as his concubines or playmates - but married them with all attendant rituals.   He gave them socially acceptable status as ‘wife’ and gave them a role in society that would be honourable and positive.  He gave them individual residences, allowing them their individual existence and not as 'poor rescued women'.  In place of sympathy, or empathy, he showed them love and respect.  He saved 16,100 women from becoming destitute.  

Draupadi and the wives of other Kuru leaders met the wives of Krushna during a pilgrimage to Kurushetra.  They asked the 16,108 wives, how they fare as co-wives of Krushna.  Wives replied that Krushna treated them as individuals and loved them for being themselves.  As a husband, Krushna spent due time with each one of his wives and they led satisfied lives as his beloved wives.

Above all, they said the secret of their marriage was mutual respect and love.  


© Bhagwat Shah   
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