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Drupad

Other names: Drupada, Drupaad, Droopad

Drupad was the prince of Panchal. His father King Prushata sent him to the hermitage of Sage Agnivesh for his education. There, Drupad got acquainted with a Brahmin, Drona, Son of Sage Bharadwaj. In a moment of camaraderie Drupad swore that they would equally share whatever the two owned. Both went their different ways after completing their education.

 

In due course Drupad became the King of Panchal. But life was not good to Drona. Teaching assignments were hard to come by and he spent most of the time unemployed and in poverty. Once, his young son Ashwatthama began to cry for milk, which led to an altercation with his wife Kripi. He then made his way to Drupad’s court. After the exchange of pleasantries Drona reminded Drupad of the promise he had made to share his wealth with him, and demanded two cows from his share of the cows in Drupad’s cowsheds. Drupad responded that an innocent comment made during one’s childhood could not be treated as a binding oath. Furthermore, he said, Drona should have realized that friendship exists only between equals, and one cannot equate a powerful king with a poor Brahmin. Drupad added, however, that many Brahmins approached him daily for all kinds of donations, and so if Drona were to approach him in a similar fashion, then he, Drupad, would gift him much more than two cows.  But Drona’s self-respect was hurt to the quick by Drona’s denial of their friendship, and he went away in a huff. The insult festered in his soul, waiting for an appropriate time to erupt.

Furthermore, he said, Drona should have realized that friendship exists only between equals, and one cannot equate a powerful king with a poor Brahmin. Drupad added, however, that many Brahmins approached him daily for all kinds of donations, and so if Drona were to approach him in a similar fashion, then he, Drupad, would gift him much more than two cows.  

Dronacharya took his revenge later on. After teaching archery to the Kauravas and Pandavas, Dronacharya asked them to tie Drupad up and bring him in front of him as his Gurudakshina (a gift given to the teacher by the student on completion of their education). So, the Pandavas went to Drupad, tied him up, and brought him in front of Dronacharya. Now it was Drupad’s turn, he wanted to obtain a son who could fight  and defeat Drona. In order to obtain such an offspring he requested Sage Yaja to conduct a sacrifice. Yaja was assisted by his younger brother Upayagya (some texts say that Yaja assisted Upayagya) and hence two offerings were prepared. From the first offering to the sacrificial fire, a full-grown son emerged, armed with a sword and a bow. He was Dhristadyumna, destined to slay Drona. From the second offering a full-grown daughter emerged, whose beauty blinded the eyes. She was Draupadi. When Draupadi emerged from the fire there came an oracle that announced she would side with God against the evil Kauravas.

Now it was Drupad’s turn, he wanted to obtain a son who could fight  and defeat Drona. In order to obtain such an offspring he requested Sage Yaja to conduct a sacrifice. Yaja was assisted by his younger brother Upayagya (some texts say that Yaja assisted Upayagya) and hence two offerings were prepared. From the first offering to the sacrificial fire, a full-grown son emerged, armed with a sword and a bow. He was Dhristadyumna, destined to slay Drona. From the second offering a full-grown daughter emerged, whose beauty blinded the eyes. She was Draupadi. When Draupadi emerged from the fire there came an oracle that announced she would side with God against the evil Kauravas.

Drupad, as the father of Draupadi, arranged a Swayamvar (selection of her husband by a princess in public) for her. He held a contest to assist Draupadi in choosing a suitable match. A wooden fish was suspended high above a reflective pool of oil; furthermore, the fish rotated. Contestants were required to string a heavy bow and then hit the eye of the rotating fish with an arrow, but were allowed to aim only by looking at the fish’s reflection in the pool of oil. It was Arjun, the peerless archer, who alone was able to accomplish the set task and so he and Draupadi were married.

During the war of Mahabharata, Drupad supported the Pandavas and was killed by Dronacharya. After this, his son Dhristadyumna killed Dronacharya. Dhristadyumna was then killed by Ashwathama, thus ending this ongoing saga of hate and revenge.

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