Neha Patil (Editor)

Draupadi

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Draupadi
Family  Drupada (father) Prashati (mother) Dhristadyumna, Shikhandi (sibiling)
Spouse(s)  Yudhishthira, Bhima, Arjuna, Nakula and Sahadeva
Children  Prativindhya, Satanika, Sutasoma, Srutasena, Srutakarma (children)

Draupadi (Sanskrit: द्रौपदी, [d̪rəʊpəd̪i]) is one of the most important female characters in the Hindu epic, Mahabharata. According to the epic, she is the daughter of Drupada, King of Panchala.

Contents

Draupadi had five sons: Prativindhya, Sutasoma, Srutakarma, Satanika, and Srutasena.

Draupadi is considered as one of the Panch-Kanyas or Five Virgins.

Etymology

Like other epic characters, Draupadi is referred to by multiple names in the Mahabharata. Her names are as follows:

  • Draupadi (द्रौपदी) – daughter of Drupada.
  • Krishnaa (कृष्णा) – one who has a dark complexion.
  • Panchali (पाञ्चाली) – one from the land of Panchala.
  • Yajnaseni (याज्ञसेनी) – one born from a Yajna or fire-sacrifice.
  • Drupadakanya (द्रुपदकन्या) – the daughter of Drupada.
  • Sairandhri (सैरन्ध्री) – an expert maid (her assumed name during her second exile in which she worked as Virat kingdom's queen Sudeshna's hair-stylist).
  • Mahabharati (महाभारती) – great wife of the five descendents of Bharata. (Indian Novelist Chitra Chaturvedi referred to her as 'Mahabharati' in her book by the same name).
  • Parshati (पर्षती) – the granddaughter of Prishata.
  • Nitayuvani (नित्ययुवनी) – one who never becomes old.
  • Malini (मालिनी) – one who makes garlands.
  • Yojanagandha (योजनगन्धा) – she whose fragrance can be felt for miles.{* Yojananagandha is the name of Satyavati, the fisherman's daughter, given to her by the sage Parasara. She was earlier known as Matsyagandha because of the odour of fish she carried. The Adiparva of the Mahavarata describes how Maharshi Parasara was attracted by Satyavati's beauty while sailing in her boat in the river Yamuna and mated with her in the boat. This unison of the couple eventually led to the birth of the sage Krishna Dwaipayana Vyasa, the author of the epic Mahabharata. Satyavati or Matsagandha was renamed by Parasara as Yojanagandha meaning 'one whose fragrance could be felt from miles (Yojana) afar.'
  • Birth

    According to the epic Mahābhārata, Bareilly region (Panchala) is said to be the birthplace of Draupadi, who was also referred to as 'Panchali'. King Drupada of Panchala had been defeated by the Pandava prince Arjuna on behalf of Drona, who subsequently took half his kingdom. To gain revenge on Drona, he performed a yajña called Putrakameshti yajna to obtain a means of besting him. From the sacrificial fire, Draupadi emerged as a beautiful dark-skinned young woman after her sibling Dhrishtadyumna. When she emerged from the fire, a heavenly voice said that she would bring about the destruction of the Kuru line. Draupadi is described in the Mahabharata as a very beautiful woman of that time.

    Marriage

    Drupada intended to wed his daughter to Arjuna. Upon hearing of the Pandavas' supposed death at Varnavata, he set up a Swayamvara contest for Draupadi to choose her husband from the competitive contest. At the Swayamvara, almost all the assorted monarchs were unable to complete the challenge. Only Karna was able to wield and string the bow, but Draupadi refused him to take part in the competition, rejecting him for being a mere "suta-putra", the son of a charioteer. Later, the Pandavas showed up incognito; Arjuna in disguise wins Draupadi's hand. When Draupadi arrives with the five Pandavas to meet Kunti, they inform her that Arjuna won a prize at a competition, to which Kunti says, "Share the prize". This motherly command leads the five brothers to become the five husbands of Draupadi.

    Through her marriage, Draupadi goes on to bear each of the Pandava brothers a son. The sons are eventually killed after the battle of Kurukshetra ends.

    Living in Indraprastha

    With the Pandavas' survival revealed, a succession crisis was started. Upon the news of Yudhishthira's death, the title of crown prince had fallen to Duryodhana. Dhritrashtra invites the Pandavas to Hastinapur and proposes that the kingdom be divided. The Pandavas are assigned the wasteland Khandavprastha, referred to as unreclaimed desert. Drupada becomes enraged at the perceived insult towards his daughter; at Yudhishthira's prodding, Draupadi pacifies her father despite her own misgivings. With the help of Krishna, Pandavas rebuilt Khandavprastha into the glorious Indraprastha. The crown jewel of the kingdom was built at the Khandava forest, where Draupadi resided in the "Palace of Illusions". Yudhishthira performed the Rajasuya Yagna with Draupadi by his side; the Pandavas gained lordship over many regions. During the drama of the opening ceremony, Krishna is forced to kill Shishupala using his Sudarshana Chakra. In the process, his finger gets cut; Draupadi quickly tears off some of her own dress to cover the wound, earning Krishna's praise.

    Duryodhana's Alleged insult

    Duryodhana and his entourage explored the keep during their visit to Yudhishthira's Rajasuya Yagna. While touring the grounds, Duryodhana falls prey to one of the many illusions. When Duryodhana stepped on the apparently solid part of the courtyard, there was a splash and Duryodhana found himself waist deep in water, drenched from head to foot by the hidden pool.

    In the original Vyaasa Mahabharatha, there is no reference of Draupadi being present during the above incident. Duryodhana expresses his anguish about the wealth and splendour of the Pandavas in the subsequent chapter to Shakuni, Duryodhana's uncle. Duryodhana's jealousy is quite apparent. Shakuni gives solace to him stating that together they would show Pandavas their place. Once Duryodhana reaches his palace and meets his father Dhrithrashtra, he narrates the incident and falsely invokes Draupadi and Krishna into the scene.

    However, in some versions of the Mahabharatha, Draupadi and her maids saw this from the balcony and were amused. Duryodhana felt extremely insulted that Draupadi and her maids saw his embarrassing predicament. Draupadi joked "Andhasya Putra Andhaha" meaning "a blind man's son is blind". In some other versions of the Mahabharatha, Bhima, Arjuna, and the twin brothers alongside their retinues witness Duryodhana's fall and laughed with their servants. Some say the popular insult of a "blind man's son" is believed to be a later addition. Duryodhana felt insulted by the behaviours of the four Pandavas, stoking his hatred of them.

    The game of dice

    This key incident is often considered to mark a definitive moment in the story of Mahabharata. It is one of the driving reasons that ultimately led to the Kurukshetra war.

    Together with his maternal uncle Shakuni, Duryodhana conspired to call on the Pandavas to Hastinapur and win their kingdoms in a game of gambling. The plan's architect, Shakuni had magic dice that would never disobey his will, as they were made from the bones of Shakuni's father. As the game proceeds, Yudhishthira loses everything at first. In the second round, Yudhishthira's brother Nakula is stake, and Yudhishthira loses him. When Draupadi finds out about this, she immediately goes to the Rajsabha and asks that the game be ended. Shakuni manipulates Yudhisthira's mind and Yudhisthira commands Draupadi to leave. Yudhisthira subsequently gambles away Sahdev, Arjuna and Bheem. Finally, Yudhishthira puts himself at stake, and loses again. For Duryodhana, the humiliation of the Pandavas was not complete. He prods Yudhishthira that he has not lost everything yet; Yudhishthira still has Draupadi with him and if he wishes he can win everything back by putting Draupadi at stake. Inebriated by the game, Yudhishthira, to the horror of everybody present, puts Draupadi up as a bet for the next round. Playing the next round, Shakuni wins. Draupadi was horrified after hearing that she was staked in the game and now is a slave for Duryodhana. Draupadi questions Yudhishthira's right on her as he had lost himself first and she was still the queen. She refuses to present herself in court. Duryodhana, angry with Draupadi's behaviour, commands his younger brother Dushasana to bring her into the court, forcefully if he must. Dushasana grabs her by the hair and brings her into the court, dragging her by the hair.

    Dushasana drags Draupadi to the court by the hair. Seeing this, Bheem pledges to remove Dushasana's hands, as they touched Draupadi's hair. Now in an emotional appeal to the elders present in the forum, Draupadi repeatedly questions the legality of the right of Yudhishthira to place her at stake.

    In order to provoke the Pandavas further, Duryodhana bares and pats his thigh looking into Draupadi's eyes, implying that she should sit on his thigh. In rage Bhima vows in front of the entire assembly that he would break that thigh of Duryodhana, or accept being Duryodhana's slave for seven lifetimes. At this time Vikarna, a brother of Duryodhana asks the kings assembled in the court to answer the question of Draupadi. He gives his opinion that Draupadi is not won rightfully as Yudhishthira lost himself first before staking her. Besides, no one has right to put a women on bet according to shastras; not a husband, father, or even the gods. Hearing these words, and remembering how Draupadi had insulted him during her swayamvara, Karna gets angry and says that when Yudhishthira lost all his possession he also lost Draupadi, even specifically staking her. A monogamist, Karna goes on to call Draupadi, a women with five husbands, a whore, adding that dragging her to court is not surprising act whether she be attired or naked. Duryodhana orders Dushasana to disrobe Draupadi. Seeing her husbands' passivity, Draupadi prays to Krishna to protect her. A miracle occurs henceforward, which is popularly attributed to Krishna. As the Pandavas and the court looks away, Dushasana unwraps layers and layers of her sari. As her sari keeps getting extended, everyone looks upon in awe, and Dushasana himself is forced to stop due to exhaustion. At this point, a furious Bhima vows to drink the blood from his chest, at the pain of not seeing his ancestors/entering heaven. This vow unsettles the entire court.

    The only Kauravas who object to the disrobing of Draupadi in the court are Vikarna and Vidura. Vidura openly calls Duryodhana a snake and a demon, but after finding no support, even from his own brother, Vidura is helpless. Draupadi herself verbally eviscerates the entire court, threatening that once Drupada heard of his daughter's insult, he would tear Hastinapur to the ground. Just as she is about to curse the Kuru dynasty, she is interrupted by the queen mother Gandhari. Gandhari counsels Dhritarashtra to action. Also fearing retribution from Panchal, Dhritarashtra intervenes and grants Draupadi three wishes. In her first wish, Draupadi asks that her husbands be freed from bondage so her sons would not be called slaves. In her second wish, she asks for all the wealth Pandavas lost in the dice game to be restored to them. When Dhritarashtra asks her for her third wish, she requests that the powers stolen from Pandavas by cheating should be returned. Shakuni and Duryodhana later convince Dhritarashtra to give an exile for 12 years and 1 year of agyaatvaas.

    Abduction by Jayadratha

    While the Pandavas were in the Kamyaka forest, they often went hunting, leaving Draupadi alone. At this time Jayadratha, the son of Vriddhakshatra and the husband of Duryodhana's sister Dussala, passed through Kamyaka forest on the way to Salwa Desa. Jayadratha met Draupadi and then started beseeching her to go away with him and desert her husbands. Draupadi pointed out the immorality of deserting one's spouses when they were in difficulty, and attempted to stall and dissuade Jayadradtha by describing how the Pandavas would punish him. Failing with words, Jayadratha forced her onto his chariot. Meanwhile, the Pandavas finished their hunt and found Draupadi missing. Learning of their wife's abduction by Jayadratha they rushed to save her. On seeing the Pandavas coming after him, Jayadratha left Draupadi on the road, though ultimately the Pandavas managed to arrest him. Yudhishthira urged Bhima to spare Jayadratha's life for the sake of Dussala and Gandhari, much to the indignation of Draupadi. In some versions of the story, Yudhishthira asks Draupadi to pass the sentence since it was she who was attacked, and she begrudgingly counsels to spare him because of the relations they share. Before freeing him, the Pandavas shaved Jayadratha's head at five places in order to publicly humiliate him.

    Kichaka's death

    On the year they had to go into exile, the Pandavas chose to stay in the Matsya Kingdom.

    One day Kichaka, and the commander of king Virata's forces, happened to see the Draupadi. He was filled with lust by looking at her and requested her hand in marriage. Draupadi refused him, saying that she was already married to Gandharvas. She warned Kichaka that her husbands were very strong and that he would not be able to escape death at their hands. Later, he forced his sister, the queen Sudeshna, to help him win Draupadi. Sudeshana ordered Draupadi to fetch wine from Kichaka's house, overriding Draupadi's protests. When Draupadi went to get wine, Kichaka tried to molest her. Draupadi escaped and runs into the court of Virata. Kichaka kicked her in front of all the courtiers, including Yudhishthira. Fearful of losing his most powerful warrior, even Virat did not take any action. Bhima is present, and only a look from Yudhishthira prevents him from attacking Kichaka. Furious, Draupadi asked about the duties of a king and dharma. Draupadi then cursed Kichaka with death by her husband's hand. Laughing it off, Kichaka only doubted their whereabouts and asked those present where are the Ghandaravas were. Yudhishthira then told Sairandhri to go to the temple, as Kichaka would not do anything to her there (in some versions, he recommends she seeks refuge with the queen). With this, the king asked Kichaka to leave and praised Yudhishthira's reply as he himself could not think of anything.

    Later that night, Arjuna consoled Draupadi, and with Bhima, they hatched a plan to kill Kichaka. Draupadi meets with Kichaka, pretending to actually love him and agreeing to marry him on the condition that none of his friends or brothers would know about their relationship. Kichaka accepted her condition. Draupadi asked Kichaka to come to the dancing hall at night. Bhima(in the guise of Draupadi), fights with Kichaka and kills him, with Arjuna playing the mridangam in order to mask the sounds of battle.

    Kurukshetra War

    During the war, Draupadi stays at the Pandavas' camp. Though initially very eager for combat, even volunteering to could fight herself, she sours on the war as it progresses. The fall of Bhishma and the death of Abhimanyu hit her very hard. On the 16th day, Bhima kills Dushasana, fulfilling his oath, and Draupadi gleefully washes her hair with her brother-in-law's blood.

    Ashwatthama

    Ashwathama, in order to avenge his father's as well as other Kuru warriors' deceitful killing by the Pandavas, attacks their camp at night with Kripacharya and Kritavarma.Ashwathama killed Dhrishtadyumna, Shikhandi, Upapandavas, and the remaining Pandava and Panchala army. In the morning, Yudhishthira hears the news and asks Nakula to bring Draupadi from Matsya kingdom. Draupadi vows that if the Pandavas don't kill Ashwatthama, she would fast to death. Yudhishthira tries to console her, reminding her of Ashwatthama's immortal status. Draupadi then says she will be pacified if the Pandavas can bring her the jewel from Ashwatthama's head The Pandavas find Ashwatthama at Vyasa's hut. Arjuna and Ashwatthama end up firing the Brahmashirsha astra at each other. Vyasa intervenes and asks the two warriors to withdraw the destructive weapon. Not endowed with the knowledge to do so, Ashwatthama instead redirects the weapon to Uttara's womb, killing the Pandavas' only heir. Krishna curses him for this act; as part of his penance, Ashwathama gives his gem to the Pandavas and thus, Draupadi is pacified.

    Death and to heaven

    When her husbands retired from the world and went on their journey towards the Himalayas and heaven, she accompanied them, and was the first to fall on the journey. When Bhima asked Yudhishthira why Draupadi had fallen, Yudhishthira names Draupadi's partiality towards Arjuna as the reason.

    On the remaining journey, the rest of the Pandavas all fall, with only Yudhishthira surviving. Eventually, he is taken to a palace where he sees his brothers and Draupadi. Draupadi is decked in garlands, "possessed of solar splendour". Sensing his puzzlement, Indra tells Yudhishthira that Draupadi was Sree incarnated, revealing the destiny of her birth.

    Children

    Draupadi had five sons, one son each from the Pandava brothers. They were known as Upapandavas. Their names were Prativindhya, Sutasoma, Shrutakarma, Satanika, and Shrutasena. Ashwatthama killed Upapandavas during his surprise raid on Pandava camp.

    Polyandry

    Polyandry, was not regarded without censure by the society spoken of in the epic. The Indo-Aryan texts almost never mention or allow polyandry, although polygamy was common among men of higher social ranks. Her marriage to five men was controversial. However, when questioned by Kunti to give an example of polyandry, Yudhishthira cites Gautam-clan Jatila (married to seven Saptarishi) and Hiranyaksha's sister Pracheti (married to ten brothers). According to Motilal Banarsidass:

    Draupadi's polyandrous marriage seems to have been a historic event; otherwise the author of the Mahābhārata, who is at his wit's end to justify it, would have quietly kept silence about it. ... The Mahābhārata proceeds to give several fantastic reasons in justification of Draupadī's marriage; only one of them may be given by way of illustration. Draupadī got five husbands in this life because in one of her previous existences she had five times uttered the prayer to God, 'Give me a husband' (Mbh 1:213). [See also Mbh 1:206:2,27; 1:210:29 for contemporary cultural responses to polyandry.

    Draupadi as a village god

    The Draupadi Amman cult (or Draupadi cult) is a tradition that binds together a community of people in worshipping Draupadi Amman as a village goddess with unique rituals and mythologies. Fire walking or theemithi is a popular ritual enacted at Draupadi Amman temples.

    There are over 400 temples dedicated to Draupadi in the Indian states of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Malaysia, Mauritius, Réunion, South Africa. In these communities, Draupadi is worshiped mainly by people of the Vanniyar caste. There are a few processions and festivals which are conducted for about 3 weeks a year. The most famous festival is in the village Durgasamudram, Tirupati of Chittoor district.

    In media and television

    In B.R.Chopra's Mahabharat, Draupadi was portrayed by Roopa Ganguly.

    In the 2008 Television series, Kahaani Hamaaray Mahaabhaarat Ki, Draupadi was enacted by Anita Hassanandani Reddy.

    In 2013 Mahabharat TV Series, Draupadi was played by Pooja Sharma.

    In Dharmakshetra (2014), Draupadi was portrayed by Kashmira Irani

    In Suryaputra Karna (2015 TV Series) Draupadi was portrayed by Pankhuri Awasthi

    In Draupadi (DD Kisan) Mitali Nag essays the role of Draupadi

    Druapadi as an epitome of feminism

    Draupadi in Mahabharata is one of the only examples that participated in the practice of polyandry. She actively participated in her husbands’ political affairs. When her husband Yudhishthira, put her at stake in a game of dice, she questioned his act instead of submitting to what he wanted. She also questioned the court as to why was it that when Yudhishthira had bet himself and lost the game, he has the right to still bet against her. This showed that in a predominant male society, she raised her voice. She argued and pleaded to defend her honour several times. After the shameful incident of her attempted disrobing, she cursed the Kauravas that they would pay for their acts. Her form became so fearful, that the King had to apologise for his sons’ disorderly conduct and offer her a boon. That’s when Draupadi asked back for her husbands’ titles and lands, and nothing for her own self. During the Agyaata Vaas in King Virata’s kingdom, Draupadi was disguised as one of the queen’s maids. Keechaka, the King’s brother-in-law, tried to have his way with Draupadi, who turned to the king for help. This shows that Panchali had a firm belief in the law of the land, and didn’t take matters into her own hands. Draupadi is an embodiment of all the women who have stood up for their rights and have succeeded. She was well aware of her rights and did not hesitate in exercising them.

    References

    Draupadi Wikipedia


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