This story is connected to the story of the liberation of Narakasura and Krishna marrying the 16,000 women imprisoned in his castle. You can read that post here where the allegorical significance of the 16,000 wives was discussed. There is one more reference to this story of 16,000 wives of Krishna in the Bhagavata involving the intrepid Deva-Rishi (Sage of the gods) Narada. This episode appears under the same name that I have used for this post “Krishna the householder” (Skandha:10; Chapter:69)
When Sage Narada heard the story of Narakasura’s liberation and Krishna’s marriage to the 16,000 damsels, he couldn’t believe what he was hearing and his curiosity was piqued. “How could one man simultaneously marry 16,000 women and how could one man manage such a large number of wives and household? Surely there must be more to this than what I hear…” So thinking the curious Narada traveled to Dwaraka to find out the truth.
Even as he entered the city of Dwaraka, Narada heard the sweet chirping of birds and the buzzing of bees, he saw great Sarus cranes swimming gracefully on lakes covered with lotuses and lilies of various hues. The houses leading up to the mansion of Krishna were all bedecked with flowers and precious stones. He finally entered the private chambers of Krishna and saw with his own eyes the 16,000 chambers!
He entered one and saw Krishna talking to his beloved wife Rukmini. He quickly went to the next chamber and saw there too Krishna playing dice with Satya and Uddhava. He walked into another chamber and saw Krishna playing with little children. In yet another chamber there was no Krishna, but then he looked out of the window and there was Krishna tending to the agricultural fields himself. In another house he saw Krishna doing his Sandhya rituals, in another he saw Krishna and Balarama engaged in a wrestling bout. He walked out into the garden and saw Krishna engaged in watersports with beautiful damsels. He walked into the magnificent court and saw there Krishna in deep deliberation with his ministers. In another chamber he saw Krishna in deep meditation…
It was Krishna, Krishna, Krishna everywhere. Narada walked out in a daze and then realization hit him…
He knew then that all this was the play of the supreme being, who is all pervasive and at the same time is also the indwelling spirit within each being. It is that very same soul, the atman that is present in each animate and inanimate being – this is the UNIVERSALITY OF THE CONCEPT OF GODHEAD unique to Sanatana Dharma, the concept of:
एकं सद्विप्रा बहुधा वदन्ति
Ekam Sat; Vipra Bahuda Vadanthi
“That which exists, that truth is but one; the sages and the knowers call it by different names”
The one atman pervades, envelops, invades, and animates everything… To paraphrase Swami Vivekananda “I am but an exaggeration of the amoeba…”