Q. Why did Sri Krishna marry so many women?
A. Bhaumasura had kidnapped and made captive over sixteen thousand princesses by collecting them from the palaces of various kings.
Lord Krishna killed Bhaumasura and after entered the palace of Bhaumasura. When the princesses saw the Supreme Personality of Godhead Krishna, enter the palace, they immediately became captivated by the beauty of the Lord and prayed for His causeless mercy. Within their minds, they decided to accept Lord Krishna as their husband without hesitation. Each one of them prayed to Providence that Krishna might become her husband. Sincerely and seriously, they offered their hearts to the lotus feet of Krishna with an unalloyed devotional attitude. As the Supersoul in everyone’s heart, Krishna could understand their uncontaminated desire and He agreed to accept them as His wives.
In Vedic system, if a girl is touched by a man then nobody will marry that girl. And because of this also they pleaded Lord Krishna to accept them because nobody else is going to marry them.
Krishna arranged to marry the 16,108 girls brought from the custody of Bhaumasura. By expanding Himself in 16,108 forms, He simultaneously married them all in different palaces at the same auspicious moment. All the palaces of the over 16,000 queens of Krishna were filled with suitable gardens, furniture and other paraphernalia, of which there is no parallel in this world. The queens of Krishna were all expansions of the goddess of fortune, Lakshmiji.
In the Vedic system, a ksatriya could have more than one wife and we find many examples of this. (When Krishna accepted wives, he did so in His lila as a king, or ksatriya.) Even so, we cannot find anyone marrying 16,108 wives! And to satisfy all of His queens, He manifested Himself in an expanded form of Krishna to reside with each queen, simultaneously! This is but one demonstration of the unique opulence and unlimited potency of Krishna. “Why only 16,108 wives?”, Srila Prabhupada would sometimes remark about Krishna’s marriages. Everything and everyone ultimately are His property and He is ultimate enjoyer.
Srila Prabhupada says in the purport of Srimad Bhagavatam 1.1.31
“As mentioned above, the Lord entered His home palaces occupied by 16,108 queens. This means that the Lord at once expanded Himself in as many plenary expansions as there were queens and palaces and entered in each and every one of them simultaneously and separately.
Thus the Personality of Godhead manifested Himself in 16,108 plenary expansions and simultaneously entered into each and every one of the palaces of the queens. This is called vaibhava, or the transcendental potency of the Lord. And because He can do so, He is also known as Yogeshvara. Ordinarily, a yogi or mystic living being is able to expand himself at utmost to tenfold expansions of his body but the Lord can do so to the extent of as many thousands or infinitely, as He likes. Unbelievers become astonished to learn that Lord Krishna married more than 16,000 queens because they think of Lord Krishna as one of them and measure the potency of the Lord by their own limited potency.
One should know, therefore, that the Lord is never on the level of the living beings, who are but expansions of His marginal potency and one should never equalize the potent and the potency, although there is very little difference of quality between the potent and the potency. The queens were also expansions of His internal potency and thus the potent and potencies are perpetually exchanging transcendental pleasures, known as pastimes of the Lord. One should not, therefore, become astonished to learn that the Lord married so many wives. On the contrary, one should affirm that even if the Lord marries sixteen thousand million wives, He is not completely manifesting His unlimited and inexhaustible potency. He married only 16,000 wives and entered in each and every one of the different palaces just to impress in the history of the human beings on the surface of the earth that the Lord is never equal to or less than any human being, however powerful he may be. No one, therefore, is either equal to or greater than the Lord. The Lord is always great in all respects. “God is great” is eternal truth.”
His marrying Rukmini and other queens should not be seen from the mundane platform. Rukmini and all the other queens of Dvaraka are actually expansions of Srimati Radharani and are the internal spiritual energy of the Lord. There is nothing immoral, unfaithful or reproachable in the divine pastimes of the Supreme Lord – they are all meant simply for increasing the spiritual happiness of His devotees.
Srila Prabhupada says in the purport of Srimad Bhagavatam 1.1.35
“Lord Krishna’s behavior with His wives is never to be understood as mundane sex relation. The women who became the wives of the Lord are certainly not ordinary women, because to get the Lord as one’s husband is the result of many, many millions of births’ tapasya (austerity). When the Lord appears on different lokas, or planets, or on this planet of human beings, He displays His transcendental pastimes just to attract the conditioned souls to become His eternal servitors, friends, parents and lovers respectively in the transcendental world, where the Lord eternally reciprocates such exchanges of service. Service is pervertedly represented in the material world and broken untimely, resulting in sad experience. The illusioned living being conditioned by material nature cannot understand out of ignorance that all our relations here in the mundane world are temporary and full of inebrieties. Such relations cannot help us be happy perpetually, but if the same relation is established with the Lord, then we are transferred to the transcendental world after leaving this material body and become eternally related with Him in the relation we desire. The women amongst whom He lived as their husband are not, therefore, women of this mundane world, but are eternally related with Him as transcendental wives, a position which they attained by perfection of devotional service. That is their competency.”
Srimad Bhagavatam 1.1.36
Although the queens’ beautiful smiles and furtive glances were all spotless and exciting, and although they could conquer Cupid himself by making him give up his bow in frustration and although even the tolerant Shiva could fall victim to them, still, despite all their magical feats and attractions, they could not agitate the senses of the Lord.
Srila Prabhupada writes in purport
Lord Shiva, who is considered to be most tolerant, was also struck by Cupid’s arrow because he also became mad after the Mohini incarnation of the Lord and acknowledged himself to be defeated. Cupid, however, was himself captivated by the grave and exciting dealings of the goddesses of fortune and he voluntarily gave up his bow and arrow in a spirit of frustration. Such was the beauty and attraction of the queens of Lord Krishna. Yet they could not disturb the transcendental senses of the Lord. This is because the Lord is all-perfect atmarama or self-sufficient. He does not require anyone’s extraneous help for His personal satisfaction. Therefore, the queens could not satisfy the Lord by their feminine attractiveness but they satisfied Him by their sincere affection and service. Only by unalloyed transcendental loving service could they satisfy the Lord and the Lord was pleased to treat them as wives in reciprocation. Thus being satisfied by their unalloyed service only, the Lord reciprocated the service just like a devout husband. Otherwise He had no business becoming the husband of so many wives. He is the husband of everyone, but to one who accepts Him as such, He reciprocates. This unalloyed affection for the Lord is never to be compared to mundane lust. It is purely transcendental. And the grave dealings, which the queens displayed in natural feminine ways, were also transcendental because the feelings were expressed out of transcendental ecstasy.
Krishna taught Bhagavad-gita and lived as an ideal king and we should abide by those instructions. But just as we cannot imitate Krishna’s lifting Govardhana or dancing on Kaliya’s hoods, similarly we cannot imitate His rasa-lila or marrying so many wives.