Understanding from Srimad Bhagavatam
Many times due to insufficient knowledge people decry Krishna marrying 16108 queens. It seems as though Krishna were fulfilling an insatiable appetite for women. However scriptures, great sages and demigods glorify these pastimes of Lord Krishna. Proper understanding about the marriage pastimes of Lord Krishna can be gained by learning from the Srimad-Bhagavatam in which the great sage Shukadeva Goswami has narrated these pastimes.
In marrying 16108 queens, Lord Krishna exhibited His immeasurable opulence. Lord Krishna is the original Supreme Personality of Godhead, Absolute Truth. To marry so many queens and maintain them in great opulence keeping them fully satisfied is nothing wonderful for Him. No other person in existence can achieve such a feat of opulence, power and perfect marital harmony.
The first eight queens Lord Krishna married were :
Lord Krishna married Rukmini, in response to her letter in which she request Him to kidnap her from the ceremony in which she was to be married to Shishiupala by the wish of her brother Rukma. Krishna ran away from the battlefield in his duel with Jarasandha in order to marry her. He is called Ranachora because of this incident. In the Kshatriya tradition of marriage called rakshasa, Krishna carried Rukmini away from the ceremony and fought off all the warriors who tried to obstruct Him.
He married Jambavati and Satyabhama in the episode of the Syamantaka Mani (a valuable gem that produced Gold). Krishna was falsely accused by King Satrajit of killing his brother Prasena for acquiring the valuable Syamantaka gem that Satrajit had received from the Sun God. To clear His name, Krishna went in search of the Syamantaka gem and found it in the possession of His great devotee Jambavan. Krishna indulged in a mock fight with him for 28 days, before Jambavan realised whom he was fighting. Jambavan handed over the gem as well as his daughter Jambavati to Krishna. On receiving the Jewel, Satrajit was remorseful at having defamed Krishna. To atone, he handed over the Syamantaka gem along with his beautiful daughter Satyabhama to Krishna. Krishna however returned the Syamantaja gem to Satrajit.
She is the personified Yamuna who desired to marry Krishna, which was fulfilled by Him.
She was married by Krishna by kidnapping her from her Svyamavara ceremony
Krishna married Satya by taming 7 powerful bulls. Her father had devised the test for anyone who desired to marry his daughter.
Bhadra had a strong desire to marry Krishna and was given to Krishna by her brother unconditionally.
Lakshmana was kidnapped from her svayamvara ceremony and married by Krishna.
As far as the remaining 16100 queens are concerned, the narration in the Bhagavatam is as follows:
The king of heaven, Indra once came to Dwaraka to complain to Lord Krishna of the heinous activities of one demon called Bhaumasura, who had usurped some property of the demigods. Lord Krishna mounted His eagle carrier Garuda along with Satyabhama and went to attack the capital of Bhaumasura called Pragjyotishapura. There he destroyed the strong fortifications of the city and killed Bhaumasura along with his soldiers and associates. Bhaumasura was the son of mother earth. Mother earth offered wonderful prayers to Lord Krishna and returned the property of the demigods to Krishna, which included the celestial, earrings of Mother Aditi, the mother of demigods.
When Krishna entered the palace of Bhaumasura, He saw 16100 princesses who had been kidnapped by Bhaumasura from various kings. The princesses prayed with uncontaminated hearts to have Krishna as their husband. Lord Krishna could understand their pure desire and decided to accept them. In a Vedic society the girls having lived for a period outside the protection of their fathers would not have been accepted by anyone else. He despatched all of them in palanquins along with suitable dress and paraphernalia to Dwaraka to marry them there.
Later Krishna returned to Dwaraka after a brief sojourn to the heavenly planets where he returned the property of the demigods to them and also fought with them for getting the Parijata tree for the pleasure of his wife Satyabhama.
Krishna expanded Himself into 16100 forms and married all the princesses at the exact same auspicious moment. Although this is impossible for any other person, it was not very significant for the omnipresent Supreme Personality of Godhead.
The Lord thus had totally 16108 queens. He built 16108 opulent palaces for the queens and lived like a perfect householder in 16108 different forms with each of His queens.The queens would personally serve the Lord not waiting for the hundreds of maidservants and Krishna would respond like a perfect husband. In this way they enjoyed transcendental conjugal bliss. These dealings of the Supreme Lord as an ordinary householder are mysterious even to great demigods and sages.
The true identity of the Lord and the queens is not of ordinary human beings. Lord Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead and all the 16108 queens of Krishna are expansions of the Goddess of fortune Lakshmi ji. They are eternally related as Husband and wife. Although Krishna’s activities appear to be those of a powerful King, we should never forget His Supreme position. The Lord performs His superhuman pastimes for us to be attracted to Him and revive our adoring, devotional attitude towards Him.
The Srimad-Bhagavatam later describes the great sage Narada Muni being astonished at hearing how the Lord had defeated Bhaumasura (also called Narakasura) and expanded into 16100 forms to marry the princesses abducted by the demon. Narada Muni visits Dwaraka and goes to each of the 16108 palaces and is wonder struck to see the Lord engaged in intimate household affairs in each of the palaces. It appears as though a continuous festival is going on in Dwaraka.
He observes the unfathomable opulence of each palace and his admiration for the Lord magnifies. Sage Narada offers prayers of glorification to the Lord. He requests the Lord for a benediction, which is the ideal prayer of a pure devotee. It reveals the exalted state of consciousness Lord Krishna expects the soul’s of this mortal world to achieve.
“The conditioned souls who have now been put into the blind well of material existence can get out of this eternal captivity only by accepting Your lotus feet. Thus, You are the only shelter of all conditioned souls. My dear Lord, You have very kindly asked what You can do for me. In answer to this I simply request that I may not forget Your lotus feet at any time. I do not care where I may be, but I pray that I may be allowed to constantly remember Your lotus feet.”
Excerpt From: HDG A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. “KRSNA, The Supreme Personality of Godhead – 1970 Edition” – Chapter 69
The wonderful pastimes are exhibited by the Lord for arousing such pure devotional feelings in the souls bewildered by the material energy. With proper understanding under the guidance of a bonafied Acharya, this greatest of benefits can be achieved.