pitrā dattā devayānyai
śarmiṣṭhā sānugā tadā
svānāṁ tat saṅkaṭaṁ vīkṣya
tad-arthasya ca gauravam
pitrā—by the father; dattā—given; devayānyai—unto Devayānī, the daughter of Śukrācārya; śarmiṣṭhā—the daughter of Vṛṣaparvā; sa-anugā—with her friends; tadā—at that time; svānām—of his own; tat—that; saṅkaṭam—dangerous position; vīkṣya—observing; tat—from him; arthasya—of the benefit; ca—also; gauravam—the greatness; devayānīm—unto Devayānī; paryacarat—served; strī-sahasreṇa—with thousands of other women; dāsa-vat—acting as a slave.
Vṛṣaparvā wisely thought that Śukrācārya’s displeasure would bring danger and that his pleasure would bring material gain. Therefore he carried out Śukrācārya’s order and served him like a slave. He gave his daughter Śarmiṣṭhā to Devayānī, and Śarmiṣṭhā served Devayānī like a slave, along with thousands of other women.
In the beginning of these affairs concerning Śarmiṣṭhā and Devayānī, we saw that Śarmiṣṭhā had many friends. Now these friends became maidservants of Devayānī. When a girl married a kṣatriya king, it was customary for all her girl friends to go with her to her husband’s house. For instance, when Vasudeva married Devakī, the mother of Kṛṣṇa, he married all six of her sisters, and she also had many friends who accompanied her. A king would maintain not only his wife but also the many friends and maidservants of his wife. Some of these maidservants would become pregnant and give birth to children. Such children were accepted as dāsī-putra, the sons of the maidservants, and the king would maintain them. The female population is always greater than the male, but since a woman needs to be protected by a man, the king would maintain many girls, who acted either as friends or as maidservants of the queen. In the history of Kṛṣṇa’s household life we find that Kṛṣṇa married 16,108 wives. These were not maidservants but direct queens, and Kṛṣṇa expanded Himself into 16,108 forms to maintain different establishments for each and every wife. This is not possible for ordinary men. Therefore although the kings had to maintain many, many servants and wives, not all of them had different establishments.
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