Everyone knows Sri Krishna had 16000 wives, (the number is 16108 ). But for those who don’t know the real story behind it, this very fact has been a matter of mockery. Yes, the number is great. However, only a few know the real deal behind the story. And only few who have dug deep in the Bhagavata Purana (Srimad Bhagavatam) know the life of Krishna in detail.
Srimad Bhagavatam is a huge text explaining lots of Krishna Leela but before reaching to all of them one has to understand Krishna. Read philosophical discussions on Bhagavad Gita and Srimad Bhagavatam. If one tries to directly jumps in the middle of the text trying to read Krishna Leela before understanding him, it can create lots of misunderstandings in the mind of the reader.
16108 Wives of Lord Krishna
Lord Krishna was chief of Yadavas clan in Dwarka, Yadava doesn’t have kings. They have “chiefs” to whom they counsel. Lord Krishna only had 8 wives then, a common practice of polygamy during the days. They were: Rukmini, Satyabhama, Jambavati, Nagnajiti, Kalindi, Mitravinda, Bhadra, and Lakshmana.
Pragjyotishpur was once ruled by a very powerful asura king named, Naraka. He was the son of Bhudevi (Goddess Earth) and Varaha, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Despite inheriting the genes of Gods, Narakasura was an Asura. He became very powerful by the boon Bhudevi received for her son by Lord Vishnu.
Some texts say that Narakasura was the son of Hiranakhya (Hiranyakashipu’s brother) with the mother being the same, Goddess Earth (Bhudevi)
In association with another Asura named Banasura, Narak became very evil. Naraka did great penance for Lord Brahma, who ultimately granted him the boon, that only his mother could kill him.
Narakasura once captured all the Kingdoms on the earth and Swarga loka, even Lord Indra had to flee. He captured 16,100 women after defeating the respective kings. (Note: Dwarka was not a Kingdom)
Aditi approached Satyabhama for help. When Satyabhama heard of the Naraka’s behavior with women, she was enraged. Satyabhama approached Lord Krishna for permission to wage a war against Narakasura. Lord Krishna attacked Pragjyotishpur, riding his mount Garuda with wife Satyabhama. During the battle, Krishna killed Mura, Narakasura’s general. Thus Krishna is called ‘Murāri‘ (the enemy of Mura). Narakasura was killed by the arrow of Devi Satyabhama, an avatar of Bhudevi.
After defeating Narakasura the 16,100 women were released by Krishna. However all of the 16,100 women were captivated by the divine beauty of Lord Krishna, and everyone committed themselves that they would either marry Krishna or commit suicide.
So, Lord Krishna married them in order to restore their honor and raise their status in the society to queen. There is nobility in his actions, and that is how he had 16,100 additional wives. Thus, Lord Krishna had 16108 wives in Total.
The conclusion of it? Read more. Study more about Shastras and scriptures.