Polygamy In Hindu Dharma

1. Polygamy in the Hindu Scriptures

📚Shatapatha Brahmana📚
To the male (deity) he makes offering first, then to the females: he thereby endows the male pre-eminently with power. To a single male he makes offering, and to many females, whence even a single man has many wives. To the male (deity) he makes offering both with the Vashat-call and the Svâhâ-call, to the female (deities) only with the Svâhâ: he thereby endows the male pre-eminently with power.”  (source)

📚Krishna Yajur Veda📚
therefore as one goes many follow; therefore one becomes superior among many; therefore one wins many wives…”  (source)

📚Rig Veda 1.62.11📚
As yearning wives cleave to their yearning husband, so cleave our hymns to you, O Lord most potent.”  (source)

📚Rig Veda 7.18.2📚
For like a King among his wives thou dwellest: with glories, as a Sage, surround and help us.”  (source)

📚Rig Veda 7.26.3📚
Indra hath taken and possessed all castles, like as one common husband doth his spouses.”  (source)

📚Mahabharata 1.160.36📚
O revered sir, abandoning me you mayest obtain another wife. By her you mayest again acquire religious merit. There is no sin in this. For a man polygamy is an act of merit, but for a woman it is very sinful to betake herself to a second husband after the first.”  (source)

📚Mahabharata 1.197.27-28📚
Drupada answered, O scion of Kuru’s race, it has been directed that one man may have many wives. But it has never been heard that one woman may have many husbands!”  (source)

📚Mahabharata 14.80.12-18📚
Oh, let Vijaya, let him that is called Gudakesa, let this hero with reddish eyes, come back O life. O blessed lady, polygamy is not fault with men. Women only incur fault by taking more than one husband.”  (source)

📚Vishnu Smriti 26.1-4📚
If a man has several wives of his own caste, he shall perform his religious duties together with the eldest (or first-married) wife. (If he has several) wives of divers castes (he shall perform them) even with the youngest wife if she is of the same caste as himself. On failure of a wife of his own caste (he shall perform them) with one belonging to the caste next below his own; so also in cases of distress (i.e. when the wife who is equal in caste to him happens to be absent, or when she has met with a calamity); But no twice-born man ever with a Sûdra wife.”  (source)

📚Katyayana Smriti 8.6
Many wives of the same caste and of other castes existing, the rite of churning, for producing the Fire, should be done by the chaste wives of the same caste, on account of the superiority of birth.”  (source)

📚Mahabharata 13.47.4📚
It has been laid down, O grandsire, that a Brahmana can take four wives, viz., one that belongs to his own order, one that is a Kshatriya, one that is a Vaisya, and one that is a Sudra, if the Brahmana wishes to indulge in the desire of sexual intercourse.”  (source)

📚Mahabharata 13.48.4📚
The Brahmana may take four wives, one from each of the four orders. In two of them (viz., the wife taken from his own order and that taken from the one next below), he takes birth himself (the children begotten upon them being regarded as invested with the same status as his own)…A Kshatriya may take three wives… The Vaisya may take two spouses… The Sudra can take only one wife, viz., she that is taken from his own order. The son begotten by him upon her becomes a Sudra”  (source)

📚Vishnu Smriti 24.1-5📚
Now a Brahmana may take four wives in the direct order of the (four) castes; A Kshatriya, three; A Vaisya, two; A Sudra, only one. Among these (wives), if a man marries one of his own caste, their hands shall be joined.”  (source)

📚Agni Purana 154.1📚
A Brahman may take four wives, a Kshatriya three, a Vaishya two, while a member of the Shudra caste is not allowed to have more than a single wife.”  (source)

📚Mahabharata 13.44.11-12📚
A Brahmana can take three wives. A Kshatriya can take two wives. As regards the Vaisya, he should take a wife from only his own order. The children born of these wives should all be regarded as equal. Of the three wives of a Brahmana, she taken from his own order should be regarded as the foremost. Similarly, of the two wives permitted to the Kshatriya, she taken from his own order should be regarded as superior. Some say that persons belonging to the three higher orders may take, only for purposes of enjoyment (and not for those of virtue), wives from the lowest or the Sudra order. Others, however, forbid the practice.”  (source)

📚Aitareya Brahmana 3.23📚
For one man has man has many wives (represented by the Richas), but one wife has not many husbands at the same time.”  (source)

📚Baudhayana Dharmsutra📚
(Males) belonging to them (may take) wives according to the order of the castes, (viz.) a Brāhmaṇa four, a Kṣatriya three, a Vaiśya two,  a Śūdra one.”  (source)

📚Manusmriti 3.12-13📚
For ‘twice-born men’ a girl of equal caste has been recommended for the first marriage-sacrament. For those, however, who take to it through mere desire, these (following) should be regarded as preferable in due order. For the Sudra, the Sudra girl. alone has been ordained to be the wife; for the Vaisya, she as also the girl of his own caste; for the Kshatriya, those two as also the girl of his own caste; and for the Brahmana those three as also the girl of his own caste.”  (source)

📚Manusmriti 9.149📚
If to a Brāhmaṇa there be four wives in due order, for partition among the sons born of these, the rule has been declared to be as follows.”  (source)

📚Manusmriti 9.85-86📚
When twice-born men wed women of their own as well as other castes, their seniority, honour and habitation shall be according to the order of their castes. Of all wives, the wife of the man’s own caste, and never that of a different caste, shall attend to the husband’s personal service, as also to his daily sacred rites.”  (source)

📚Paraskara Grihya Sutra 1.4.8-11📚
Three (wives are allowed) to a Brahmana, in accordance with the order of the castes, Two to a Raganya, One to a Vaisya, One Sudra wife besides to all, according to some (teachers), without using Mantras (at the ceremonies of wedding, &c.).”  (source)

📚Yajnavalkya Smriti 3.57📚
Three, according to the order of the caste, so also two, and one for a Brahmana, a Ksatriya and a Vaisya respectively (may be the wives). To a person born as a Sudra, a girl of her own caste is his wife.”  (source)

📚Vasistha Dharmsutra 1.24📚
Three wives (are permitted) to a Brāhmaṇa according to the order of the castes, two to a Kṣatriya, one to a Vaiśya and to a Śūdra.”  (source)

📚Narada Smriti 12.4-6📚
When a Brahman, Kshatriya, Vaisya, or Sudra takes a wife, it is best for him to take her out of his own caste; and so is a member of her own caste (the most eligible) husband for a woman (of any caste). A Brahman may marry three wives of different caste, in the direct order of the castes; and so may a Sudra woman take a husband of any of the three castes above her own. For a Kshatriya, two wives differing (from him) in caste are permitted; for a Vaisya, a single wife differing (from him) in caste…”  (source)

📚Markandeya Purana 113.31-34📚
A Brahmana does not lose his caste, if after marrying first in the house of Brahmana, he takes wives from other castes. Similarly O king, a Kshatriya does not lose his caste, if after first taking the hand of a Kshatriya girl he marries other caste girls. So a Vaisya is not excluded from his caste if he marries a Sudra girl after first taking a Vaisya wife. This is the due order. 0 king, the Brahmanas, Kshatriyas, and, Vaisyas lose their caste if they marry the girls o£ other castes, before taking wives from their respective orders.”  (source)

2. Gods and Kings committing Polygamy

• Dashrath had 350 wives

According to the Valmiki Ramayana, King Dashrath is said to have 350 wives,

📚Valmiki Ramayana 2.34.10-14📚
Oh, Sumantra! being all my wives, who are here. Surrounded by all of them, I want to see the virtuous Rama.” Sumantra, after entering the gynaecium, spoke these words to those women as follows: “Oh, the venerable ladies! The king is calling you. Go there without delay. All those women, asked thus by Sumantra as per the king’s orders, went to his palace, after knowing the instructions of their husband. Encircling Kausalya, three hundred fifty women, steadfast in their vow of devotion to their husband, with their eyes reddened, went there slowly. After arrival of his wives, king Dasaratha spoke to that charioteer as follows, “Oh, Sumantra! Bring my son here.”  (source)

• Krishna had 16108 wives

📚Brahma Purana 95.12-18📚
O excellent brahmins, with a separate body for each of these, Krsna married them in accordance with piety. There were sixteen thousand and one hundred women or even more. Lord Krsna took up as many forms. But those virgins considered him as their sole lord individually, thinking, “Krsna married me alone.””  (source)

📚Vishnu Purana 5.28.1-5📚
RUKMINI bare to Krishna these other sons, Chárudeshna, Sudeshña, Chárudeha, Sushena, Chárugupta, Bhadracháru, Cháruvinda, Sucháru, and the very mighty Cháru; also one daughter, Chárumatí. Krishna had seven other beautiful wives, Kálindí, Mitravrindá, the virtuous Nágnajití, the queen Jámbavatí; Rohini, of beautiful form; the amiable and excellent daughter of the king of Madra, Mádrí; Satyabhámá, the daughter of Satrujit; and Lakshmañá, of lovely smiles. Besides these, he had sixteen thousand other wives.”  (source)

📚Shrimad Bhagavatam 10.69.1-6📚
Śukadeva Gosvāmī said: Hearing that Lord Kṛṣṇa had killed Narakāsura and had alone married many brides, Nārada Muni desired to see the Lord in this situation. He thought, “It is quite amazing that in a single body Lord Kṛṣṇa simultaneously married sixteen thousand women, each in a separate palace.” Thus the sage of the demigods eagerly went to Dvārakā.”  (source)

📚Linga Purana section 1.69.82📚
The excessively strong one, of unequalled exploit, Kṛṣṇa took up sixteen thousand one hundred girls for his own pleasure.”  (source)

📚Brahma Viavarta Purana Krishna Janma Khanda 54.15-16📚
Thus he married also Kalindi, Laksmanä, Saivya, Satya, Sati, Jambavati, Mitravinda and Nägnajiti. Thereafter lord Krsna killed Narakäsura in the battle-field and abducted the sixteen thousand damsels kept by him in captivity and marrying them he enjoyed their company.”  (source)

• Vasudeva had 14 wives

📚Brahma Purana 12.36-38📚
Vasudeva had fourteen excellent women as his wives. The first five were: a descendant of Puri named Rohini, Madira, Vaisakhi, Bhadra and Sunamni. The second set of seven ladies comprised Sahadeva, Santideva, Sridevi, Devaraksita, Vrkadevi, Upadevi, and Devaki. The thirteenth and the fourteenth were Sutanu and Yadavi. These two had at first been maid servants. The renowned Sauri (Krsna) was born of Devaki and Vasudeva…”  (source)

📚Harivamsa Purana 1.35.3📚
Vaishampayana said:—Of the fourteen beautiful wives of Vasudeva, Rohini, of Puru’s race, was the first Madira, the second, Vaishakhi the third, Bhadra the fourth, Sunama the fifth, Sahadeva the sixth, Devaki the seventh, Shantideva the eighth, Shrideva the ninth, Devarakshita the tenth, Vrikadevi the eleventh, Upadevi the twelfth, Sutanu the thirteenth, and Badarva the fourteenth. The last two were his female attendants.”  (source)

• Soma had 27 wives

📚Brahma Purana 1.173📚
Brilliant children of unmeasured splendour were born of those ladies of holy rites who had been mentioned as the twenty-seven wives of Soma.”  (source)

📚Brahma Vaivarta Purana Brahma Khanda 9.42📚
The spouses of the moon include, Asvini, Bharani, Krttika, Rohini, Mrgasira, Ardra, Punarvasu, Pusya, Aslesa, Magha, Purvaphalguni, Uttaraphalguni, Hasta, Citra, Svati, Visakha, Anuradha, Jyestha, Mula, Purvasadha, Uttarasadha, Sravana, Dhanistha, Satabhisa, Purva Bhadrapada, Uttara Bhadrapada and Revati. These are the twenty seven in number of all these the passionate and beautiful Rohini is dearest to him, because she had always overpowered the moon because of her live and devotion. The moon then neglected his other wives considerably.”  (source)

📚Shrimad Bhagavatam 6.6.2📚
He gave ten daughters in charity to Dharmarāja [Yamarāja], thirteen to Kaśyapa [first twelve and then one more], twenty-seven to the moon-god, and two each to Aṅgirā, Kṛśāśva and Bhūta. The other four daughters were given to Kaśyapa. [Thus Kaśyapa received seventeen daughters in all.]”  (source)

• Hanuman’s father Kesari had 2 wives

📚Brahma Purana Gautami Mahatmya 14.1-4📚
Another holy centre is the Paisaca Tirtha. It is honoured by persons who expound the doctrine of Brahman. I shall recount to you its form and features. On the southern bank of Gautami, at the side of Branmagiri, O Narada, there is a mountain Anjana. On that mountain, O excellent sage, there was an excellent celestial damsel Anjana. She had a downfall due to a curse. Her face resembled that of a monkey. Her husband’s names was Kesari. Adrika was another wife of Kesari. She too was a celestial damsel who had a downfall due to a curse. Her face and head resembled those of a cat. She too stayed on the Anjana mountain.”  (source)

• Rudra had 11 wives

📚Shrimad Bhagavatam 3.12.13📚
O Rudra, you also have eleven wives, called the Rudrāṇīs, and they are as follows: Dhī, Dhṛti, Rasalā, Umā, Niyut, Sarpi, Ilā, Ambikā, Irāvatī, Svadhā and Dīkṣā.”  (source)

📚Brahma Viavarta Purana Brahma Khanda 9.13-22📚
I shall now narrate the names of the wives of Rudras. Listen to me attentively. These were Kala, Kalavati, Kastha, Kalika, Kalahapriya, Kandali, Bhisana, Rasna, Pramoca, Bhusana and Suki. Many sons were born to them who became the attendants of Siva.”  (source)

• Agni had 2 wives

📚Devi Bhagavatam 12.10.81-100📚
Here resides the Agni Deva very gladly with his two wives Svāhā and Svadhā and with his Vāhana and the other Devas…”  (source)

• Ganesha had 2 wives

📚Shiva Purana📚
By this marriage that was celebrated, Gaṇeśa has obtained two wives joyously. They are the excellent daughters of Prajāpati Viśvarūpa.”  (source)

• Vishnu had 3 wives

📚Brahma Vaivarta Purana Prakriti Khanda 6.17📚
Lord Visnu had three spouses named Ganga, Sarasvati and Laksmi who always resided with him with love and affection.”  (source)

• Brahma had 2 wives

📚Skanda Purana
O Kāśyapa, we are Gāyatrī and Sarasvatī, the beloved wives of Brahma.”  (source)

• Yamaraja had 10 wives

📚Shrimad Bhagavatam 6.6.4📚
The ten daughters given to Yamarāja were named Bhānu, Lambā, Kakud, Yāmi, Viśvā, Sādhyā, Marutvatī, Vasu, Muhūrtā and Saṅkalpā. Now hear the names of their sons.”  (source)

• Garuda had 5 wives

📚Brahmanda Purana 3.7.448-454📚
The wives of Garuḍa were the other five viz.—Bhāsī, Krauñcī, Śukī, Dhṛtarāṣṭrī and Śyenī. I shall recount to you the children born of them.”  (source)

📚Vayu Purana 2.8.319📚
The wives of Garutman (Garuda ) were Bhasi, Kraunci, Suki, Dhrtarastri and Bhadra. Their sons are being enumerated.”  (source)

• Uttanapada had 2 wives

📚Linga Purana 1.62.1-5📚
An emperor of great splendour, the best among all those who wield weapons, king Uttānapāda, ruled over the earth. He had two wives, Sunīti and Suruci.”  (source)

📚Shrimad Bhagavatam 4.8.8📚
King Uttānapāda had two queens, named Sunīti and Suruci. Suruci was much more dear to the King; Sunīti, who had a son named Dhruva, was not his favorite.”  (source)

• Sage Yagnavalkya had 2 wives

📚Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 4.5.1📚
gñavalkya had two wives, Maitreyî and Kâtyâyanî.”  (source)

• Sage Mandarkini had 2 wives

📚Valmiki Ramayana 3.11.16-17📚
Then those five celestial beauties have led that sage astray who discerned the nature of this and the other world, or good and bad, or the nature of Absolute-Soul and Body- bound Soul, towards the passional restraint by, as though to achieve god’s task. Also thus, those five celestial apsaras attained wifehood of that sage, and for them he built a house in there, concealed inside that lake.”  (source)

• Prajapati Angira had 2 wives

📚Shrimad Bhagavatam 6.6.19📚
The prajāpati Aṅgirā had two wives, named Svadhā and Satī. The wife named Svadhā accepted all the Pitās as her sons, and Satī accepted the Atharvāṅgirasa Veda as her son.”  (source)

• Sage Saubhari had 50 wives

📚Shrimad Bhagavatam 9.6.52📚
In the beginning I was alone and engaged in performing the austerities of mystic yoga, but later, because of the association of fish engaged in sex, I desired to marry. Then I became the husband of fifty wives, and in each of them I begot one hundred sons, and thus my family increased to five thousand members. By the influence of the modes of material nature, I became fallen and thought that I would be happy in material life. Thus there is no end to my material desires for enjoyment, in this life and the next.”  (source)

• Sage Visravas had 4 wives

📚Vayu Purana 2.9.32-34📚
The sage Visravas was born of Idavida. He had four wives who made the family of Pulastya flourish. Brhaspati, the preceptor of the Devas, had a famous daughter named Devarinini. He (Visravas) married that girl. He (Visravas) married Puspotkata and Vaka, the daughters of Malyavan as well as Kaikasi, the daughter of Malin. Listen to their progeny.”  (source)

• Atri had 10 wives

📚Vayu Purana 2.9.67📚
I shall now recount the lineage of Atri, the third Prajapati. He had ten chaste and beautiful wives.”  (source)

• Sage Bhrigu had 2 wives

📚Brahmanda Purana 3.1.74-76📚
The two wives of Bhrgu were excellent nobility of birth. They were unrivalled and splendid. (One of them) was the daughter of Hiranyakasipu, well-renowned by the name of Divya. The second was Paulomi, the daughter of excellent complexion, of Puloman…”  (source)

📚Vayu Purana 2.4.73📚
Bhrgu had two unequalled, excellent and auspicious wives of noble families. One was the daughter of Hiranyaka£ipu, famous by the name ‘Divya’ and the other was the fair-complexioned daughter of Puloman, named Paulomi.”  (source)

• Sage Marici had 4 wives

📚Brahma Purana 1.195-198📚
Upadānavī was the daughter of Hayaśiras, Śarmiṣṭhā was the daughter of Vṛṣaparvan, Puloman and Kālakā were the two daughters of Vaiśvānara. They were the wives of Marīci. They had great strength and they bore many children. They had sixty thousand sons who delighted Dānavas. Marīci who performed a very great penance, procreated another fourteen hundred sons who stayed in the city of Hiraṇyapura. The Dānavas named Paulomas (Sons of Pulomā) and Kālakeyas (Sons of Kālakā) were very terrible. Vipracitti’s sons were born of Siṃhikā. Due to the admixture of Daityas and Dānavas they became valorous and powerful.”  (source)

📚Brahmanda Purana 3.6.26📚
Vaiśvānara had two daughters viz. Pulomā and Kālikā. Nahuṣa was the son of Prabhā and Jayanta the son of Śacī. Śarmiṣṭhā gave birth to Pūru and Upadānavī to Duṣyanta. Vaiśvānara’s daughters were these two viz. Pulomā and Kālakā. Both these daughters had many children. They were the wives of Mārīca. Both of them had between them sixty thousand children. They were the leaders of the Dānavas.”  (source)

• Sage Kashyapa had 13 wives

📚Shrimad Bhagavatam 6.6.24-26📚
O King Parīkṣit, now please hear from me the names of Kaśyapa’s wives, from whose wombs the population of the entire universe has come. They are the mothers of almost all the population of the entire universe, and their names are very auspicious to hear. They are Aditi, Diti, Danu, Kāṣṭhā, Ariṣṭā, Surasā, Ilā, Muni, Krodhavaśā, Tāmrā, Surabhi, Saramā and Timi. From the womb of Timi all the aquatics took birth, and from the womb of Saramā the ferocious animals like the tigers and lions took birth.”  (source)

📚Matsya Purana 4.53-54📚
Out of the girls he created, he gave ten to Dharma, thirteen to Kasyapa…”  (source)

📚Brahma Purana 1.164-165📚
O leading brahmins, now listen to the names of the wives of Prajāpati Kaśyapa. They are Aditi, Diti, Danu, Ariṣṭā, Surasā, Khasā, Surabhi, Vinatā, Tāmrā, Krodhavaśā, Irā, Kadrū and Muni. O brahmins, know the children born of them.”  (source)

📚Devi Bhagavatam 4.3.21-22📚
Vyāsa said :– Dakṣa Prajāpati had two daughters, Diti and Aditi; these two, of high rank, were married to Kaśyapa; and they were his favourites. Aditi gave birth to the very powerful Indra, the king of the Devas. Diti, too, asked for a son of the same strength, prowess, and splendour as those of Indra.”  (source)

• Aditi’s son Aditya had 4 wives

📚Kurma Purana 1.20.1-2📚
Aditi gave birth to her son Lord Aditya (the sun-god) from Kasyapa. This Aditya had four wives. They were Samjna, Rajni, Prabha, and Chaya…”  (source)

• Seventh son of Aditi also had 4 wives

📚Shrimad Bhagavatam 6.18.3-4📚
Dhātā, the seventh son of Aditi, had four wives, named Kuhū, Sinīvālī, Rākā and Anumati. These wives begot four sons, named Sāyam, Darśa, Prātaḥ and Pūrṇamāsa respectively. The wife of Vidhātā, the eighth son of Aditi, was named Kriyā. In her Vidhātā begot the five fire-gods named the Purīṣyas. The wife of Varuṇa, the ninth son of Aditi, was named Carṣaṇī. Bhṛgu, the son of Brahmā, took birth again in her womb.”  (source)

• King Harishchandra had 100 wives

📚Aitareya Brahmana 7.13📚
Harischandra, the son of Vedhas, of the Ikshavaku race, was a king who had no son. Though he had a hundred wives, they did not give birth to a son.”  (source)

• King Yayati had 2 wives

📚Padma Purana 2.79.1-2📚
There (i.e. in that king) only, whose wife is Śarmiṣṭḥā and whose wife is beautiful Devayānī, good fortune is seen. This cannot be false, O king; then O glorious king, how are you fascinated by (the beauty of) this maiden’s body since you are known as a husband having two wives?”  (source)

• Arjuna had 4 wives

📚Devi Bhagavatam Purana 2.7📚
Sūta said :–  The chaste Draupadi was the common wife of all the five very beautiful sons of Kunti; and she bore five sons, one to every husband. Arjuna had one wife more; she was Subhadrā, the sister of Śrī Kṛṣṇa. By the order of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, Arjuna stole her away (took her by force).”  (source)

• Ram had multiple wives

📚Valmiki Ramayana 2.8.12
Rama’s wives will get delighted. Your daughters-in-law will be unhappy because of Bharata’s waning position.”  (source)

• King Somaka had 100 wives

📚Mahabharata 3.127📚
’O Yudhishthira! there was a virtuous king Somaka by name. He had one hundred wives, O king, all suitably matched to their husband. He took great care, but could not succeed in getting a single son from any one of them, and a long time elapsed during which he continued a sonless man. Once upon a time, when he had become old, and was trying every means to have a son, a son was born to him, Jantu by name, out of that century of women.”  (source)

• King Sharyati had 4000 wives

📚Devi Bhagavatam Purana 7.2.31📚
Śaryāti, the son of Vaivasvata, had four thousand married wives. All of them were endowed with auspicious signs and beautiful all of them were daughters of kings. They all were very obliging and dear to their husbands. But, out of all of these, the King had only one daughter exceptionally lovely and beautiful.”  (source)

• King Sasabindu had 10,000 wives

📚Shrimad Bhagavatam 9.23.32📚
The famous Śaśabindu had ten thousand wives, and by each he begot a lakh of sons. Therefore the number of his sons was ten thousand lakhs.”  (source)