It is often held against Hinduism in general and Lord Krishna in particular that He had 16 000 wives.
People whom I had met often had no idea about this and stated Lord Krishna had 16000 wives and he spent time with them merrily, without being aware of the Facts.
Yes,Lord Krishna had 16 000 wives.
Some Purans say 16,100.
He rescued these women from Narakasura, who was his son through Bhu Devi in His earlier Avatar as Varaha.
It is worthy of note that Lord Krishna had ‘divided Himself into 16000/100 and been with them.
This is an indication that it was not actually physical but Mystical and spiritual.
Krishna and 16000 wives
Another point is that Lord Krishna did not any Children through these Junior wives.
It is a part of ancient warfare to confiscate,the cattle before invasion and capture the women of the enemy after the war.
generally these women were returned tot he Vanquished after the War was over.
In this case, as Narakasura died, It is to convey Lord Krishna took care these women and as they were devoted to Him as God spent time with them.
Nothing more can be read into this.
Narakasura was the king of Pragjyotisha, identified with present-day Assam. He was the demon (asura) son of Vishnu’s boar avatar Varaha and the earth-goddess Bhumi (Prithvi). As the son of Bhumi, he was also called Bhauma or Bhaumasura (asura suffix appended). He conquered the three worlds: heaven, earth and underworld. On earth, he captured 16,000 princesses of defeated nations. In heaven, he stole the earrings of Aditi, mother of Indra – the king of gods and heaven. In the underworld, he seized the imperial umbrella of Varuna, the god of the waters.
The captive women were imprisoned at Audaka on the top of the mountain Maniparvata in his kingdom. Various demons including the five-headed Mura and his seven sons guarded the kingdom’s gates. Narakasura’s ten sons guarded the women.
Indra comes to Dwarka, Krishna’s capital and pleads with him to save the universe from Narakasura’s tyranny. Krishna and his second wife Satyabhama fly on their mount the eagle-man Garuda to Pragjyotisha. Krishna slays Mura, his sons, Narakasura’s army and finally the demon-king himself. Bhumi surrenders all stolen items, including the captive women to Krishna. When Krishna arrives in the palace of the captive women, each of them prays to Krishna to accept her as his wife. Krishna complies and sends them to his capital with Narakasura’s plunder and four-tusked white elephants gifted by Bhumi. After returning Aditi’s earrings to Indra in heaven, Krishna returns to Dwarka and marries the rescued women, making them his junior wives, saving them from “destitution and infamy…
The Bhagavata Purana captures the life of Krishna’s wives after their marriage. Each of the junior wives was given a home, with hundreds of maid-servants. Krishna divides himself into several forms, one for each wife and spends the night with each wife simultaneously. In the morning, all his forms unite into one body of Krishna when Krishna works as the king of Dwarka. Each wife serves Krishna personally, worshipping him, bathing him, dressing him, fanning him, presenting him with gifts and flower garlands etc.
In another story narrated in the Bhagavata Purana, Narada, Vishnu’s devotee and wandering sage, was curious to find out how Krishna was managing to live with his 16,000 wives and came to Dwarka to check. Krishna welcomed Narada with all the honours due to a sage. Narada then visited every one of the houses of Krishna’s 16,000 wives and was surprised to see Krishna present in every house with his wife in an atmosphere of total domesticity, laughing and joking with his wife and taking care of his children, and helping his wife in house hold chores. Watching this phenomenon, Narada was convinced that it was divinity in the form of Krishna, a complete and manifold manifestation who had enjoyed the company of his 16,000 consorts at the same time. He also concluded that Krishna was monogamist and divine supreme being. Having satisfied himself of the divine powers of the Lord Himself, Narada embarked on his usual voyages around the world singing the praise of Krishna. A variant tells that the mischief-maker sage Narada requested Krishna to gift him one of his many wives, as he was a bachelor. Krishna told him to win any wife for himself, if he was not with her. Then Narada went round to each of the houses of Krishna’s 16,008 wives but found Krishna in every house that he visited, and thus Narada had to remain a bachelor.
In the Bhagavata Purana, Rohini and Krishna are described to have unspecified number of sons, out of which only Diptiman and Tamratapta are named. The sons are said to represent all the children of the junior wives.
The Bhavishya Purana, the Skanda Purana and the Varaha Purana narrate that some of Krishna’s junior wives were infatuated with Samba, the handsome, trouble-maker son of Krishna and one of his senior queens, Jambavati. One wife Nandini disguised herself as Samba’s wife and embraced him. For this incest, Krishna cursed Samba to be inflicted with leprosy and his wives to be kidnapped by Abhira robbers after his death.
The Bhagavata Purana records the wailing of Krishna’s queens and their subsequent leap in Krishna’s funeral pyre immolating themselves (see sati). The Mausala Parva book of theMahabharata which describes the death of Krishna and end of his race records only four of Krishna’s wives, including Rohini, committing sati. Dwarka submerges in the ocean and the rest of its inhabitants including Krishna’s widows accompany Krishna’s friend Arjuna to his capital Hastinapur. On the way, Abhira robbers attack the entourage and plunder their wealth and kidnap some of Krishna’s widows. Some of the widows burn themselves alive. When the entourage reaches Hastinapur, all other widows retire to the forest for austerities (tapas).