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Draupadi

Other names: Drowpadi, Yajnaseni, Parshati, Panchali, Sairindhri, Panchami, Nitayauvani, Yajnaseni

Draupadi was the daughter of Drupad, King of Panchal and wife of the five Pandavas. Draupadi and her brother Dhristadyumna emerged together from a sacrificial fire that the king had lit to gain revenge on Drona, to whom he had lost half his kingdom. It is believed that Goddess Kali had given a part of her powers to her, for the destruction of the Kauravas. Draupadi was a damsel of dark complexion but of great beauty, “As radiant and graceful as if she had descended from the city of the gods.” Draupadi’s other name was Krishnaa (dark skinned). Draupadi’s real name was Krishna, but she was called Draupadi and Yajnaseni by her father; Parshati, by her grandfather Prushata; Panchali by her country; Sairindhri, `the maid-servant’ by the queen of Viraat; Panchami, for her having five husbands; and also Nitayauvani, `the ever-young.’

Drupad had organized a Swayamvar (a public occasion at which a princess chose her husband) for her marriage. At the Swayamvar, at which his skill in archery was displayed, through piercing the eye of a fish rotating on a wheel, Arjun was chosen by Draupadi. When he arrived home with his bride, Mother Kunti, who was busy cooking when Arjun arrived home, and so did not actually see what Arjun had brought home with him (his bride) requested him to share whatever he had amongst all the five brothers. So Draupadi got married to all five brothers. Few scholars are of the opinion that the reason for this marriage was due to then famous custom of polyandry. Draupadi may be the only celebrated bride among all the classics of the world to have multiple husbands simultaneously.

Draupadi was a damsel of dark complexion but of great beauty, “As radiant and graceful as if she had descended from the city of the gods.” Draupadi’s other name was Krishnaa (dark skinned). Draupadi’s real name was Krishna

Due to their internal rivalry, to humiliate Yudhishthir, Duryodhan, the eldest of the Kauravas, induced him to gamble with loaded dice. Due to this fraud, engineered by Shakuni (Duryodhan’s uncle), Yudhishthir lost all his wealth, and along with his brothers, even lost Draupadi.  The Kauravas insulted Draupadi by calling her a maidservant and treated her with extreme disrespect. Duryodhan’s younger brother Dushasan caught hold of her hair and dragged her before the royal assembly and tried to remove her clothes, but she prayed to Krishna and was spared that humiliation. At that very moment, Bhima vowed to kill Dushasan and Duryodhan personally.

 

Draupadi had a marvelous blend of intensity that suits Kshatriyas and forgiveness that fits devotees. She was very intelligent and knowledgeable. When Dushasan was dragging her by the hair to the court, she ridiculed him, comparing his prowess to that of her husbands. She also boldly reprimanded the elders present in the court and appealed to them for justice. She also asked if Yudhishtir had a right to put his wife at stake when he had already lost himself. But no courtier could answer those questions and so remained silent. At last, Duryodhan’s brother Vikarna supported Draupadi but Karna derided him and questioned his support for her. Thus, despite being humiliated, Draupadi won morally. Draupadi never forgot that insult; when she heard about a possible pact between the Kauravas and Pandavas, she reminded her husbands of the public humiliation they had inflicted on them and thus encouraged them to fight the Mahabharata war. She also vowed to tie her hair up only after she applied Dushasan’s blood to it. Thus she left her hair free and unbraided till Bhima killed Dushasan in the war and brought his blood to Draupadi.

Draupadi had a marvelous blend of intensity that suits Kshatriyas and forgiveness that fits devotees. She was very intelligent and knowledgeable. When Dushasan was dragging her by the hair to the court, she ridiculed him, comparing his prowess to that of her husbands. She also boldly reprimanded the elders present in the court and appealed to them for justice. She also asked if Yudhishtir had a right to put his wife at stake when he had already lost himself. But no courtier could answer those questions and so remained silent. At last, Duryodhan’s brother Vikarna supported Draupadi but Karna derided him and questioned his support for her.

During the exile in the forest, Jaydrath, son-in-law of Dhritrashtra and King Viraat’s brother–in-law Kichak tried to molest Draupadi but did not succeed. Bhima killed Kichak then and there, and Jaydrath was later killed by Arjun during the Mahabharata war.

 

Draupadi had five sons from the five Pandavas: Prativindya from Yudhishthir, Shrutsen from Bhima, Shrutkirti from Arjun, Shrutanik from Nakul and Shrutkarma from Sahadev. During the war, when injured Duryodhan asked Ashwathama to kill the Pandavas and bring him their heads, he attacked the camp of the Pandavas at night and brought the heads of their five sons. The Pandavas were not present in the camp at that time. So there was no one to contest Ashwathama. Duryodhan was in fact very remorseful upon seeing the heads of the sons of the Pandavas, as he considered his enmity was with the Pandavas and not with their young sons. Due to this sinful act, Ashwathama had to bear many  serious insults and a curse.

 

A great saga pertaining to the legend of Rakhi is the evergreen story of Lord Krishna and Draupadi. Both of them hold a very special position in the Hindu household owing to their connection with the Mahabharata. It is generally assumed that the original ritual of Rakhi began with Draupadi and Krishna during the epic war.

During the war, when injured Duryodhan asked Ashwathama to kill the Pandavas and bring him their heads, he attacked the camp of the Pandavas at night and brought the heads of their five sons. The Pandavas were not present in the camp at that time. So there was no one to contest Ashwathama. Duryodhan was in fact very remorseful upon seeing the heads of the sons of the Pandavas, as he considered his enmity was with the Pandavas and not with their young sons. Due to this sinful act, Ashwathama had to bear many  serious insults and a curse.

According to the legend, Krishna loved Draupadi so much, that he called her ‘Sakhi’. Draupadi too had tremendous faith in Krishna. She prayed to him with utmost devotion. During the great battle of Mahabharata, Lord Krishna threw a celestial weapon at Shishupal, in order to punish him for his numerous sins. During the act of hurling the Sudarshan Chakra from his index finger, Krishna hurt himself. On seeing the blood drops, Draupadi immediately rushed to protect her Lord. She tore off a piece from her sari and wrapped it around his finger, stopping the bleeding. Krishna was touched by her gesture of devotion and pure love.

 

He asked her what she would like in return for this favor. Draupadi, like a true sister, merely asked for the Lord’s holy presence in her life forever. From that moment onwards, Lord Krishna accompanied Draupadi like a shadow, protecting her from every small and big trouble. When the Kauravas tried to dishonor Draupadi through “Cheer Haran” (removing her sari) before the royal assembly, she prayed to Krishna continuously. The Lord saved her honor by making her sari endless, and therefore unremovable, and later punished the sinners during the battle of Mahabharata.

During the great battle of Mahabharata, Lord Krishna threw a celestial weapon at Shishupal, in order to punish him for his numerous sins. During the act of hurling the Sudarshan Chakra from his index finger, Krishna hurt himself. On seeing the blood drops, Draupadi immediately rushed to protect her Lord. She tore off a piece from her sari and wrapped it around his finger, stopping the bleeding. Krishna was touched by her gesture of devotion and pure love.

At the end of the Mahabharata, Draupadi accompanied her five Pandava husbands to the Himalayas and it is believed that she died first, after melting in the ice.

Draupadi, the heroic princess of the epic Mahabharata, is the epitome of womanhood. Throughout history Draupadi has remained an enigmatic woman of substance. Fragile, with a granite will, compassionate yet volcanic enough to reduce her enemies to ashes.

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