16,100 Wives of Lord Krishna
Narak Chaturdasi occurred on November 4 this year. This festival honors the rescue of the 16,100 maidens by Lord Krishna and Queen Satyabhama (an expansion of Bhumi Devi). This great dramatic story is found in the Srimad Bhagavatam. When I read this story, it really blew my mind. It is hard to visualize that many wives. I do not know about you, but having one husband would be enough for me. Pandit Rajin Balgobind helped me understand the symbolism behind it all.
So why did they rescue all these unmarried princesses? It all starts with Narakasura, a nasty, wicked demon, who was stirring up problems with the demigods, asuras and humankind. Narakasura was the son of the earth goddess, Bhumi Devi. Narak stole Lord Varuna's (sea god) umbrella, Mother Aditi's (Indra's mother) earrings and the play ground of the demigods called Mani-parvata. Then he started kidnapping young, unmarried women from the abodes of the demigods, asuras and humanity. He definitely had an obsession with taking what did not belong to him. He reminds me of some modern criminals who traffic in jewels, land and young women. Indra complained to Krishna about his thefts from the demigods, so Krishna flew with his third wife, Satyabhama, on the top of Garuda, the sacred bird of Vishnu. Birds are considered to be the messengers of the gods and goddesses in many traditions. The demon had received a boon from Brahma that he could only be killed by his mother. So she gave him a final blow. After they defeated this disgusting, vile demon, Bhumi Devi, Narak's mother, opened up his palace to the pair. The umbrella, jewels and playground were all returned to the demigods. Sixteen thousand one hundred young women were discovered in the palace. All of them wished Krishna was their husband, so he consented to their wishes and transported them all to Dvaraka, his earthly capitol city, and 16,100 palaces were built for each of the maidens. Krishna also uprooted the Parijata Tree in the abode of the demigods and brought it back to Satyabhama's palace. It was planted on the garden grounds near her palace. He had to defeat Indra and other demigods in order to bring back this very heavenly tree to please Satyabhama. It was so beautiful and fragrant that the bees followed the plant to Earth from the heavenly regions. Krishna manifested himself in 16,100 forms and married each queen at each separate place all at one time. All his relatives appeared at all the weddings all at one time. In the a commentary written by A.C. Bhaktivendanta Swami Prabhupada, on the Srimad Bhagavatam, he states that Narada Muni, the sage to the gods, was the only one who could see what was going on in each of the palaces all at one time. Each queen thought she was his favorite queen since he always appeared to stay with her all the time. Krishna was able to divide himself among the queens because he took on a spiritual form. Krishna was a householder and loved being with people. He did not avoid family life and live away from people in an ashram. He was in the thick of things. The householder life provides the most spiritual growth because of the close, every day interaction required in relationship with one person.
Narkasura means Nar (human) and asura (demon). In other words, we are our own best friend or enemy. Pandit Rajin told me, "With a combination of devotion (Bhakti-love of God/dess) and enacting our divine qualities, we can free ourselves a 1000 fold from all negative bondages and maintain 16 qualities of perfection." So the 16,100 princesses symbolize the 16 qualities. He named the 16 different qualities: 1. Sadgunah-knowing right from wrong. 2. Viryam-having courage. 3. Krutagnasya-being one who remembers the help given to them by others. 4. Drundvarata-being firmly resolved. 5. Satyavrata-one who speaks only the truth. 6. Dharmavaan-conscientious, acting according to one's conscience. 7. Charitra-one who conducts him or herself nobly. 8. Vidvaan-knowledgeable and wise. 9. Sarvabutah-one who is abled, one who can achieve the task. 10. Sarmartah-one who is abled, one who can achieve the task. 11. Priya darshanah-one who is attractive. 12. Aatmavan-one who has achieved self-realization. 13. Itakroho-one who has mastered anger. 14. Dhuytiman-one who has great shine or radiance. 15. Anasuyakah-one without jealousy. 16. Kasyabibyata devah cajyata rosaya mynuge-one who achieves the ability to command even the gods.
All these virtues and qualities can be eventually obtained though devotion or love of God/dess. That is why Bhakti is the supreme virtue through which all the great virtues and qualities can be obtained. Love makes the world go round! One example of great love was during World War II when a number of people of various faiths hide Jews in their homes to save them from the Nazi Concentration Camps. These people were putting their own lives on the line. The SS soldiers could have put them in the camps, too, if they found Jews in their homes. Yet for these individuals they put love first over their own situation. I think of this today while our Jewish brothers & sisters are celebrating Hannukah, the Festival of Lights. We have our own Festival Lights, Divali, where light over came the darkness. These great persons overcame the darkness with great love.
JAI SHRI BHAKTI!
JAI SHRI 16,100 WIVES!