The story of why Lord Krsna has 16,108 wives speaks a lot of His nobility
Utter the name 'Kartika' and a visible excitement can be noticed amongst devotees of Krsna. It is festival time in Vraja! In this present month of Kartika, which is another name of Krsna's most intimate devotee and consort-Radha, lakhs of visitors and pilgrims converge upon the holy land of Vrndavana, They commemorate Krsna's lifting of the Govardhana Hill and perform Chaurassi Krosha Parikrama at this heavenly time.
In this same month (more than 5,000 years ago), Krsna accepted, along with His eight wives, 16,100 captive princesses as His wives an act that has made Him the centre of controversy for the censorious, ill informed masses. They strongly believe Krsna ro be a ribald woman izer or the God of eroticism. "What need was there to keep 16,108 wives?" the cynics demand.
A demon named Narakasura had abducted young, unmarried princesses and locked them in the dungeons of his castle. Upon Indra's request, Krsna singlehandedly demolished the demon's invincible headquarters at Pragjyotishpura (now known as Tejpur in the state of Assam) and annihilated his formidable army. After slicing off Narakasura's head with His Sudarsana Cakra, Krsna freed the 16,100 captive princesses whose hearts immediately went to him.
Stringent norms, prevalent in ancient times, imposed social censure upon and familial rejection of any female member (married or unmarried) who ventured out of home, after dusk, without an authorized chaperone-they were labelled as 'unchaste' and subsequently disowned by spouse, in-laws and children. So, in the face of such a cruel fate, the helpless princesses did something astonishing; breaching the norms of modesty. They pleaded with Krsna to marry them and were quite unabashed about it. Acknowledging their appeal, Krsna brought them back to Dvaraka where He married all of them with great pomp and splendour. Visvakarma constructed a palace for each of the 16,100 newly-wed queens-every palace was resplendent with unparalleled opulence, furnished with unimaginable amenities and replete with thousands of maidservants and mind-boggling luxuries.
From hopeless, deserted victims of abduction to the acclaimed status of queens of Dwaraka- only an extraordinary personality, like Krsna, could bestow such unparalleled good fortune beyond the wildest expectations of a needy soul. If posterity sees right (through the eye of knowledge) it would knight Krsna with the title-Lord Magnanimous- otherwise, the only other absurd alternative is to foolishly misperceive such noble munificence as an act of lascivious intent.
Damodara Pandita Dasa serves as a spiritual counsellor in BhaktiVedanta Hospital, Mumbai.