Junior wives of Krishna

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The women kidnapped by Narakasura ask Krishna to marry them.

Besides eight principal queens,[1] the Hindu god Krishna, an avatar of the god Vishnu in the Dwapara Yuga (epoch), is described to have many unnamed junior wives. Their number is mentioned as 16,000 or 16,100 in different scriptures. Krishna accepted them as his wives upon their insistence to save themselves from the society who saw them as slaves of the demon king Narakasura. The chief amongst them is sometimes called Rohini. When Krishna slew Narakasura, he accepted all the captive women upon their insistence to safeguard their dignity. After marriage, they all lived in Dwarka, in a divine happiness.

Number and names[edit]

Apart from his eight principal wives, Krishna is described to have married several thousand women, he rescued from the demon Narakasura. The Bhagavata Purana and the Harivamsa (appendix of Mahabharata) which are authored as spiritual texts incorporated in the actual Mahabharata state that 16,000 women were rescued, however the Vishnu Purana and the Harivamsa differ and set the number as 16,100.[2][3][4][5] Generally all of them are unnamed, however many commentators of the Bhagavata Purana regard Rohini to be their leader, though such an explicit mention is not found in the scripture.[6][7][8]

Before captivity by Narakasura[edit]

The Bhagavata Purana mentions that the captive women are princesses. The Vishnu Purana says that they are daughters of gods, siddhas (saints), demons and kings. According to the Kalika Purana and the Adi Parva book of the Hindu epic Harivamsa, they were apsaras (celestial maidens).[2][3][9] In the Dana Dharma chapter of the Shanti Parva book affixed centuries later, they are blessed by the goddess Bhudevi to be wives of Krishna.[9]

Some legends narrate that events in their past life led to them being wives of Krishna. A king had 16,000 daughters. While the king was sitting in court with the princesses, Vishnu arrived disguised as a sage. The daughters flocked around Vishnu, making their father angry who cursed them. When the daughters cried and begged for forgiveness, the king blessed them that in their next birth, they would be wives of Vishnu. In other versions, the damsels plead to others for liberation from the curse. The creator-god Brahma on the advice of his son and divine sage Narada or the sage himself give the princesses the boon to be wives of Bhagwaan Vishnu.[10]

Captivity and release[edit]

Krishna kills Narakasura.

Narakasura was the king of Pragjyotisha. He was the demon (asura) son of Vishnu's boar avatar Varaha and the earth-goddess Bhumi (Prithvi). As the son of Bhumi, he was also called Bhauma or Bhaumasura (asura suffix appended). He conquered the three worlds: heaven, earth and underworld. On earth, he captured 16000 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.[10][11]

The captive women were imprisoned at Audaka on the top of the mountain Maniparvata in his kingdom. Various demons including the five-headed Mura and his seven sons guarded the kingdom's gates. Narakasura's ten sons guarded the women.[10][11]

Indra comes to Krishna and pleads with him to save the universe from Narakasura's tyranny. Krishna and his second wife Satyabhama fly on their mount the eagle-man Garuda to Pragjyotisha. Krishna slays Mura, his sons, Narakasura's army and finally the demon-king himself. Bhumi surrenders all stolen items, including the captive women to Krishna. When Krishna arrives in the palace of the captive women, each of them prays to Krishna to accept her as his wife. Krishna complies and sends them to his capital with Narakasura's plunder and four-tusked white elephants gifted by Bhumi. After returning Aditi's earrings to Indra in heaven, Krishna returns to Dwarka and marries the rescued women, making them his junior wives, saving them from "destitution and infamy".[11][12]

Marital life[edit]

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 Krishna works as the de facto ruler of Dwarka. Each wife serves Krishna personally, worshipping him, bathing him, dressing him, fanning him, presenting him with gifts and flower garlands etc.[11]

In another story narrated in the Bhagavata Purana, Narada, Vishnu's devotee and wandering sage, was curious to find out how Krishna was managing to live with his 16,000 wives and came to Dwarka to check. Krishna welcomed Narada with all the honours due to a sage. Narada then visited every one of the houses of Krishna's 16,000 wives and was surprised to see Krishna present in every house with his wife in an atmosphere of total domesticity, laughing and joking with his wife and taking care of his children, and helping his wife in household chores. Watching this phenomenon, Narada was convinced that it was divinity in the form of Krishna, a complete and manifold manifestation who had enjoyed the company of his 16,000 consorts at the same time. He also concluded that Krishna was a divine supreme being. Having satisfied himself of the divine powers of the Lord Himself, Narada embarked on his usual voyages around the world singing the praise of Krishna.[13] A variant tells that the mischief-maker sage Narada requested 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.[14]

In the Bhagavata Purana, Rohini and Krishna are described to have unspecified number of sons, out of which only Diptiman and Tamratapta are named. The sons are said to represent all the children of the junior wives.[6]

[15][12] samba was the first born of jambavati.. Where he is a troublesome son of lord krishna... He acquired the curse of leprosy when he disrespected a sage... Where he was cured by the sun god 14 years later..Samba has been worshiped in samba purana.... He married lakshmana, the daughter of duryodhana .. And got caught in duryodhana's kingdom

The Bhagavata Purana records the wailing of Krishna's queens and their subsequent leap in Krishna's funeral pyre immolating themselves (see sati).[16] The Mausala Parva book of theMahabharata which describes the death of Krishna and end of his race records only four of Krishna's wives, including Rohini, committing sati. Dwarka submerges in the ocean and the rest of its inhabitants including Krishna's widows accompany Krishna's friend Arjuna to his capital Hastinapur. On the way, Abhira robbers attack the entourage and plunder their wealth and kidnap some of Krishna's widows. Some of the widows burn themselves alive. When the entourage reaches Hastinapur, all other widows retire to the forest for austerities (Tapas).[17]


Gopis, milkmaids from the life of young Krishna - who was a herdsman, are sometimes called his 16,000 wives. This mythology of Krishna flirting with gopis is also described theologically as devotional worship of Krishna. The gopis risked to have relationship with him. It is also said he assumed 16,000 forms at the same time to be with all of them for flirting.[5]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ D Dennis Hudson (27 August 2008). The Body of God : An Emperor's Palace for Krishna in Eighth-Century Kanchipuram: An Emperor's Palace for Krishna in Eighth-Century Kanchipuram. Oxford University Press. pp. 263–4. ISBN 978-0-19-970902-1. Retrieved 28 March 2013.
  2. ^ a b Prabhupada. "Bhagavata Purana 10.59.33". Bhaktivedanta Book Trust.
  3. ^ a b Horace Hayman Wilson (1840). "Vishnu Purana".
  4. ^ Camille Bulcke; Dineśvara Prasāda (2010). Rāmakathā and Other Essays. Vani Prakashan. p. 183. ISBN 978-93-5000-107-3. Retrieved 24 April 2013.
  5. ^ a b George Mason Williams (18 June 2008). Handbook of Hindu Mythology. Oxford University Press. pp. 188, 222. ISBN 978-0-19-533261-2. Retrieved 10 March 2013.
  6. ^ a b Prabhupada. "Bhagavata Purana 10.61.18". Bhaktivedanta Book Trust. Archived from the original on 21 September 2014.
  7. ^ Swami Venkatesananda; Venkatesananda (Swami.) (1989). The Concise Śrīmad Bhāgavataṁ. SUNY Press. pp. 301–. ISBN 978-1-4384-2283-1. Retrieved 2 March 2013.
  8. ^ Jagdish Lal Shastri; Arnold Kunst. Ancient Indian tradition & mythology. Motilal Banarsidass. Retrieved 2 March 2013.
  9. ^ a b Horace Hayman Wilson (1870). The Vishńu Puráńa: a system of Hindu mythology and tradition. Trübner. pp. 81–3. Retrieved 21 February 2013.
  10. ^ a b c Mani, Vettam (1975). Puranic Encyclopaedia: a Comprehensive Dictionary with Special Reference to the Epic and Puranic Literature. Motilal Banarsidass Publishers. p. 531. ISBN 978-0-8426-0822-0.
  11. ^ a b c d D Dennis Hudson (27 August 2008). The Body of God : An Emperor's Palace for Krishna in Eighth-Century Kanchipuram: An Emperor's Palace for Krishna in Eighth-Century Kanchipuram. Oxford University Press. pp. 256–7. ISBN 978-0-19-970902-1. Retrieved 10 March 2013.
  12. ^ a b Devdutt Pattanaik (1 September 2000). The Goddess in India: The Five Faces of the Eternal Feminine. Inner Traditions / Bear & Co. pp. 101–2. ISBN 978-0-89281-807-5. Retrieved 24 April 2013.
  13. ^ "Bhagavata Purana". Canto 10, Chapter 69 Nārada Muni Visits Lord Kṛṣṇa's Palaces in Dvārakā. Srimadbhagavatam.org. Retrieved 18 March 2013.
  14. ^ Edward Moor (1810). The Hindu Pantheon. J. Johnson. pp. 204–. Retrieved 10 March 2013.
  15. ^ Mani, Vettam (1975). Puranic Encyclopaedia: a Comprehensive Dictionary with Special Reference to the Epic and Puranic Literature. Motilal Banarsidass Publishers. p. 677. ISBN 978-0-8426-0822-0.
  16. ^ Prabhupada. "Bhagavata Purana 11.31.20". Bhaktivedanta Book Trust.
  17. ^ Kisari Mohan Ganguli. "Mahabharata". Sacred-texts.com. Retrieved 18 March 2013.