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I heard that, after the Kurukshetra war, some of Krishna's wives were kidnapped by thieves.

If true, what are the reasons behind this?

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Yes, it's true.
Many of the Krishna's wives were kidnapped by robbers out of lust (cupidity). Some of them resisted, some vanished, some were saved and some surrendered. This incident happened at today's Punjab region. Though the Abhira robbers belonged to South Rajasthan & north Gujarat.

According to Bhavishya Purana, Krishna had cursed some of his own younger wives for committing incestuous adultery with Krishna's son Samba, that they will be kidnapped by Abhira robbers.

When Gandhari's (& Brahmanas who were made fun of by Samba) curses triggered, all the Yadavas started killing each other with iron clubs. Many were killed including Krishna's sons, Kritavarma, Satyaki and so on. Upon Krishna's instruction before accidental death, his aid Daruka ji went to Paandavas to make them aware about the ongoing slaughter. Arjuna alone went to Dwarka to rescue those 16000+ queens, children and other people. There were also people of Dwarka which were not yet killed.

From Mausala Parva:

Dhananjaya, after abandoning Dvaraka, proceeded by slow marches, causing the Vrishni women to rest in pleasant forests and mountains and by the sides of delightful streams. Arrived at the country of the five waters (Punjab), the puissant Dhananjaya planted a rich encampment in the midst of a land that abounded with corn and kine and other animals. Beholding those lordless widows escorted by Pritha’s son alone O Bharata, the robbers felt a great temptation (for plunder). Then those sinful wretches, with hearts overwhelmed by cupidity, those Abhiras of ill omen, assembled together and held a consultation. They said, ‘Here there is only one bowman, Arjuna. The cavalcade consists of children and the old. He escorts them, transgressing us. The warriors (of the Vrishnis) are without energy.’ Then those robbers, numbering by thousands, and armed with clubs, rushed towards the procession of the Vrishnis, desirous of plunder. Urged by the perverse course of time they fell upon that vast concourse, frightening it with loud leonine shouts and desirous of slaughter. The son of Kunti, suddenly ceasing to advance along the path, turned, with his followers, towards the place where the robbers had attacked the procession. Smiling the while, that mighty-armed warrior addressed the assailants, saying, ‘You sinful wretches, forbear, if ye love your lives. Ye will rue this when I pierce your bodies with my shafts and take your lives.’ Though thus addressed by that hero, they disregarded his words, and though repeatedly dissuaded, they fell upon Arjuna. Then Arjuna endeavoured to string his large, indestructible, celestial bow with some effort. He succeeded with great difficulty in stringing it, when the battle had become furious. He then began to think of his celestial weapons but they would not come to his mind. Beholding that furious battle, the loss of the might of his arm, and the non-appearance of his celestial weapons, Arjuna became greatly ashamed. The Vrishni warriors including the foot-soldiers, the elephant-warriors, and the car-men, failed to rescue those Vrishni women that were being snatched away by the robbers. The concourse was very large. The robbers assailed it at different points. Arjuna tried his best to protect it, but could not succeed. In the very sightof all the warriors, many foremost of ladies were dragged away, while others went away with the robbers of their own accord. The puissant Arjuna, supported by the servants of the Vrishnis, struck the robbers with shafts sped from Gandiva. Soon, however. O king, his shafts were exhausted. In former days his shafts had been inexhaustible. Now, however, they proved otherwise.

The obvious reason was the departure of lord Krishna and the fulfilment of the Paandava's duties on earth. The time for Paandavas also had arrived and this event was a notify for them. When Arjuna was full of grief due to his non-competency in saving the women, he goes to sage Vyasa and asks about why his powers were failing him.

Vyasa said, ‘The mighty car-warriors of the Vrishni and the Andhaka races have all been consumed by the Brahmana’s curse. O chief of Kuru’s race, it behoveth thee not to grieve for their destruction. That which has happened had been ordained. It was the destiny of those high-souled warriors. Krishna suffered it to take place although he was fully competent to baffle it. Govinda was able to alter the very course of the universe with all its mobile and immobile creatures. What need then be said of the curse of even high-souled Brahmanas? He who used to proceed in front of thy car, armed with discus and mace, through affection for thee, was the four-armed Vasudeva, that ancient rishi. That high-souled one of expansive eyes, Krishna, having lightened the burthen of the Earth and cast off his (human) body, has attained to his own high seat. By thee also, O foremost of men, with Bhima for thy helpmate and the twins, O mighty-armed hero, has the great work of the gods been accomplished. O foremost one of Kuru’s race, I regard thee and thy brothers as crowned with success, for ye have accomplished the great purpose of your lives. The time has come for your departure from the world.

  • What can be the estimated ages of those 16100 wives when they massacred? – user9554 Jul 11 '17 at 4:36
  • @Ajay, usually it's a belief that Krishna had 16108 queens. Another belief (which I personally find appropriate), he had 8 queens. Remaining were the women which were rescued from a evil king name NarakAsura. Those were sheltered by Krishna. Coming to your Qn, we cannot surely guess the age of all those women. Since Krishna was aged around 80 years during his death, those women also should be between 50 to 75 years. – iammilind Jul 11 '17 at 4:40
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    Krishna's age when he died is 125 years – user9554 Jul 11 '17 at 6:10
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Yes. They were kidnapped as they saw Samba, who was born with Amsa of Lord Shiva, with lust. Samba was their son and due to this heinous act, they were cursed by Lord Krishna. This is explained in detail in Chapter 70 of Matysa Purana.

Siva said— There will be 16,000 wives of Krspa in the Yuga mentioned above. When once, in the spring time, those ladies, having decorated themselves with ornaments, would be drinking together on the banks of a pond studded with full budded lotus flowers, dancing with the wind and resounding with the melodious notes of the cuckoo and musical tunes of the big black bee, they will see Lord Sämba, beautiful like Cupid, having eyes handsome like those of a gazelle, and wearing the garlands of mälati, passing by.They will cast on him amorous glances, their hearts being fired with lustful feelings and they being targets of the arrows of Cupid. Lord Krsna will come to know all that with his mental vision, and will curse them as follows: "Because you cherished the desire of amorous pastime during my absence, all of you will be taken away by bandits".

How did they overcome this situation?

Then those ladies, overcome with grief on account of such a curse, will please (by their prayers), when the Lord will say: "Dälbhya Rsi of eternal soul, the favourite of the Brähmaqas, will teach you a vrata, which will be the means of your liberation from the bondage and which will actually free you all. This vrata will be of great benefit of futurity. With these words, the Lord of Dvärävati (Dwaraka) left them.

What previous karma made them to get deluded by cupid?

Dälbhya said— "O Ladies! In the days gone by, all of you were sporting in the Mänsarovara lake, when Närada, chanced to go there. Then you were the daughters of Agni, in the form of nymphs. You did not salute the sage, but asked him how Näräyma, the Lord of the universe, would be your husband. Närada blessed you with the boon asked for, but also cursed you for not saluting him. He said that, by giving away two beddings, according to prescribed rites, on the twelfth day of the bright fortnight, in the months of Caitra and Vaiéäkha you would get Krsna as your husband in the next life." And cursed you as follows— "Because in your conceit of beauty and prosperity you have omitted to salute me before putting me this question, you will also be separated from Krsna and will be lowered to the rank of public women, after being forcibly carried away by thieves. In consequence of the curses of Närada and Krsna you gave way to lustful feelings and have become prostitutes.

Later Sage Dalbhya taught them a Vrata (ordinance) and they were relieved of that bad situation.

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