I am going to take up random topics from Krishna’s life (as detailed in the Srimad Bhagavata) and not follow any specific chronological order. Today’s topic discusses the controversy with regard to Krishna’s alleged dalliance with women and him having married 16,000 women at one time:
This particular incident is tied-in with the liberation of Narakasura (I use the word liberation as opposed to killing deliberately) and the 16,000 damsels he had allegedly kept caged in his capital city of Pragjyotisha. In the Srimad Bhagavata, this story occurs in the 10th “Skandha” / Chapter-59 in the form of a story that Sage Suka tells Raja Parikshit. This day is also the day when Deepavali is celebrated in parts of South India (Naraka Chaturdashi)
I make an interpretative re-rendering of the story in order that the true purport and the allegorical significance is clarified:
I had mentioned in an earlier post (Click-here) that the word Asura is an allegorical reference to the “dark forces” within each one of us. Now if you look at the name Narakasura, one can conclude that here was a person who was going through a “living hell” with the dark forces holding sway over his mind and intellect although he lived in the “city of light” (Pragjyotisha)! On top of this not only was Narakasura living in a literal hell of his own making but he also had 16,000 thoughts threatening to break out of the cages in his brain – the reference to the 16,000 damsels is actually a reference to the thoughts running amok in his brain (damsel in distress?).
In the same post referred to above (Click-here), I had said that Vishnu is actually the Atman/soul, the indwelling reality within each person. In this particular story Krishna goes into the fight with Narakasura traveling on Garuda (Vishnu’s vahana/vehicle), carrying the bow “Sharang-Dhanva” (a weapon of Vishnu, this word appears in the Vishnu Sahasranama). Therefore Krishna by assuming the form of Vishnu is actually the Atman/soul here – that is the allegorical conclusion one must draw. The story also mentions that he had by his side his wife Satya (Satyabhama) i.e. Truth by his side and with Truth on his side the Atman wages war on the dark forces that have clouded his/her mind.
When the battle is won all the 16,000 thoughts (damsels) subside and dissolve in the Atman and this lights a lamp in the heart of the “Seer” or the realized person…
There is also one other allegory that is relevant here – In the Chakra-philosophy (notional centers of higher consciousness in the body), the Vishuddha Chakra (Throat Chakra), is depicted as a 16-petalled lotus and the flowering of this chakra is believed to purify the person (in a spiritual sense) and open up higher pathways of sensory perceptions and discrimination and help in the flowering of the 1,000-petalled Sahasrara Chakra in the Brain which is the seat of supreme consciousness (Where Shakthi merges with Shiva).
Now, 16 X 1,000 = 16,000 – an allegorical reference again here in this story to purify the Vishuddha and attain the Sahasrara*
The next time someone refers disparagingly to Krishna and his 16,000 wives perhaps we have a few answers… There is another story connected with this claim of 16,000 wives that has to do with Narada but that shall be the subject matter of a separate post.
*Attribution: The seed for the idea with regard to Chakra Philosophy comes from Guruji Amritananda Natha Saraswati whose articles appear on: http://www.themotherdivine.com/index.html