Draupadi, also referred to as (Agnijyotsna) Kṛṣṇə draupadī (Devanagari: कृष्ण द्रौपदी ; approximate pronunciation: [krɪʂɳə d̪rəʊpəd̪iː]) is the "emerged" daughter of King Drupada of Panchāla and the wife of the five Pandavas in the epic Mahābhārata. When Yudhisthira becomes the king of Hastinapura at the end of the war, Draupadi (again) becomes the queen of Indraprastha. She is also variously referred to as Panchali (meaning one from the kingdom of Panchala), Yajnaseni (meaning one born from a Yajna or fire-sacrifice), Mahabhaaratii (great wife of the five descendents of Bharata) and Sairandhri (literally: an expert maid, her assumed name during her second exile in which she worked as Virat kingdom's queen Sudeshna's hair-stylist). She is described in the Mahabharata as being extraordinarily beautiful, unsurpassed by any other woman of her time. Draupadi is one of the Panch-Kanya (The Five Virgins) of the ancient Hindu epic.
- The well-known Sanskrit hymn that defines the Panchakanyas (five iconic heroines of Hindu epics) runs:
- Sanskrit transliteration IAST: ahalyā draupadī sītā tārā mandodarī tathā ।
pañcakanyāḥ smarennityaṃ mahāpātakanāśinī॥
- English translation: Ahalya, Draupadi, Sita, Tara and Mandodari
One should forever remember the Panchakanya who are the destroyers of great sins.
- Vaman Shivaram Apte in: The Student's Sanskrit-English Dictionary, Motilal Banarsidass Publ., 1970, p. 73.
- Orthodox Hindus, especially Hindu wives, remember the Panchakanya in this daily morning prayer. Their names are extolled and the prayer is pratah smaraniya, prescribed to be recited in the early hours of the morning.
- Drupada, had a daughter risen from the centre of the sacrificial altar. Of eyes like lotus-petals and of faultless features endued with youth and intelligence, she is extremely beautiful. And the slender-waisted Draupadi of every feature perfectly faultless, and whose body emitteth a fragrance like unto that of the blue lotus for two full miles around who's existence could take away people's breath, she was the most beautiful women ever born.
- A mysterious prophecy resounds, and the bewitchingly beautiful princess Draupadi arises from the sacred fire in Panchala.
- Saraswati Nagpal in: Draupadi: Fire-Born Princess: Campfire Mythology Line (Campfire Graphic Novels), Amazon.com, 2 April 2013
- The faultless Draupadi, slender-waisted like the wasp, was born of a portion of w:SachISachi (the queen of the celestials), in the line of Drupada. And she was neither low nor tall in stature. And she was of the fragrance of the blue lotus, of eyes large as lotus-petals, of thighs fair and round, of dense masses of black curly hair. And endued with every auspicious feature and of complexion like that of the w:Emeraldemerald, she became the charmer of the hearts of five foremost of men.
- Drupada had long cherished the hope that Arjuna would become his daughter's husband. He never revealed his wish to any man, but ere he proclaimed the swayamvara of Draupadi, he thought of the great Pandava archer, and caused to be made a powerful bow which only a strong man could bend and string...He issued the proclamation: “The man who will bend the bow and shoot an arrow through the wheel which will strike and bring down the golden fish shall obtain my daughter in marriage."
- Sacred Texts in: Chapter XIII The Choice of Draupadi, Sacred-texts.com
- The rajahs then descended from their gorgeous thrones and gathered around Draupadi as the bright gods gather around Párvati, the mountain bride of Shiva. Their hearts were filled with love for the maiden and with hate for one another. Rivals frowned upon rivals. Those who had been close friends became of a sudden angry enemies because that Draupadi was so beautiful. Soon many rajahs strained their arms in vain.
- Sacred Texts in: "Chapter XIII The Choice of Draupadi"
- I am a [[king's daughter, and will not wed with the base-born. . . .
- Draupadi intervened when Karna strode forward; he took the bow and bent it and fixed the bowstring, quoted in: "Sacred Texts in: "Chapter XIII The Choice of Draupadi""
- He [Arjuna disguised as a Brahmin] drew the cord, and the arrow flew upwards with a hissing sound; it hit the target eye, and the golden fish fell over and clashed upon the ground. The heart of Draupadi was filled with joy, and, smiling coyly, she advanced towards Arjuna and flung the golden bridal garland over his shoulders. Celestial blossoms fluttered, descending through the air, and the sound of celestial music was heard.
- Sacred Texts in: "Chapter XIII The Choice of Draupadi"
- Arjuna took Draupadi by the hand and led her away in peace from that scene of angry strife. So ended the swayamvara, and Krishna declared that the bride had been fairly won.
- Sacred Texts in: "Chapter XIII The Choice of Draupadi"
- The Pandava brethren went towards the house of the potter, and they entered and addressed their mother Pritha, saying: "A great gift have we obtained this day. Said Pritha [Kunti] said "Then share the gift between you, as becomes brethren." Yudhishthira said: "What hast thou said, O mother? The gift is the Princess Draupadi whom Arjuna hath won at the swayamvara."
- Sacred Texts in: "Chapter XIII The Choice of Draupadi"
- The Pandavas married Draupadi, the Pancala princess, daughter of Drupada, and the Pancalas were the staunch supporters of the Pandavas.
- Gaṅgā Rām Garg in: Encyclopaedia of the Hindu World, Volume 1, Concept Publishing Company, 1992, p.20
- They [Pandavas] came to Drupada's capital, Kampilya, where Arjuna won Draupadi, the princess, in a svayamvara contest. Hearing of the success of the Pandavas, Dhritarashtra called them back to Hastinapura and gave them the Khandava-Prastha, where Mayasura erected for them a wonderful assembly hall.
- Gaṅgā Rām Garg in: "Encyclopaedia of the Hindu World, Volume 1", p. 24
- My tongue never uttereth an untruth and my heart never inclineth to what is [sin]ful. When my heart approveth of it, it can never be sinful. I have heard in the Purana that a lady of name Jatila, the foremost of all virtuous women belonging to the race of Gotama had married seven Rishis. So also an ascetic's daughter, born of a tree, had in former times united herself in marriage with ten brothers all bearing the same name of Prachetas and who were all of souls exalted by asceticism. O foremost of all that are acquainted with the rules of morality, it is said that obedience to superior is ever meritorious. Amongst all superiors, it is well-known that the mother is the foremost. Even she hath commanded us to enjoy Draupadi as we do anything obtained as alms. It is for this, O best of Brahmanas, that I regard the (proposed) act [of marriage of all five brothers with Draupadi] as virtuous.
- 'O Sankara, I desire to have from thee only one husband possessed of every virtue?
- Thou hast, O maiden, addressed me five full times, repeating, 'Give me a husband.' Therefore, O amiable one, it shall even be as thou hast asked. Blessed be thou. All this, however, will happen in a future life of thine!**Sankara in:
- Sankara quoted in: "Section CLXLIX (Vaivahika Parva continued)"
- O Drupada, this thy daughter of celestial beauty is that maiden. Indeed, the faultless Krishna sprung from Prishata's race hath been pre-ordained to become the common wife of five husbands. The celestial Sri, having undergone severe ascetic penances, hath, for the sake of the Pandavas, had her birth as thy daughter, in the course of thy grand sacrifice. That handsome goddess, waited upon by all the celestials, as a consequence of her own acts becomes the (common) wife of five husbands. It is for this that the self-create had created her. Having listened to all this, O king Drupada, do what thou desirest.
- Vyasa quoted in: "Section CLXLIX (Vaivahika Parva continued)"
- The gods have already declared that she will become the wife of all the five Pandava brethren... Pandava brethren were five incarnations of [[w:Indra|Indra, and thus were but as one.
- Vyasa to Drupad who had objections to his daughter marrying five people, quoted in "Sacred Texts in: "Chapter XIII The Choice of Draupadi"
- The enmity and jealousy that develops between the cousins forces the Pandavas to leave the kingdom when their father dies. During their exile the five jointly marry Draupadi (who is born out of a sacrificial fire and whom Arjuna wins by shooting an arrow through a row of targets) and meet their cousin Krishna, who remains their friend and companion thereafter Although the Pandavas return to the kingdom, they are again exiled to the forest, this time for 12 years, when Yudhishthira loses everything in a game of dice with Duryodhana, the eldest of the Kauravas.
- The denuding of Draupadi occurred after the game [dice], but the honour of Draupadi was saved by the grace of Krishna. Dhritarastra, however, returned everything to the Pandavas. Soon afterwards the second game of dice was played in which the stake was that the loser should spend twelve years in the forest and the thirteenth year incognito. This time also Pandavas were defeated and they had to leave for the forest, when Draupadi accompanied them.
- Gaṅgā Rām Garg in: "Encyclopaedia of the Hindu World, Volume 1", p. 25
- Draupadi, heroine of the Mahabharata epic, is bold and forthright even in adversity. Her husband Yudhisthira succumbing to his weakness for gambling, stakes and loses all (in a rigged game), including his wife. Draupadi challenges the assembly and demands to know how it is possible for one who has staked and lost his own self to retain the right to wager her.
- Duryodhana, the winner of the bet, insists that Draupadi is indeed his to do with as he pleases and orders that she be disrobed. Furious at this insult to her honor, Draupadi loosens her coifed hair and vows that she will not knot it again until she has washed it in Duryodhana's blood. As she is disrobed, the more her sari is pulled away the longer it becomes. It is this event which turns Draupadi from a contented, but strong willed wife into a vengeful goddess.
- Smithosnian in: "Draupadi"
- Draupadi was appointed as a chambermaid to the queen Sudesna. The Pandavas passed the thirteenth year with great caution, as otherwise they had to repeat a further 12-year exile.
- Gaṅgā Rām Garg in: "Encyclopaedia of the Hindu World, Volume 1", p. 284
- Draupadi experienced an unpleasant adventure [as chambermaid]. [[w:Kichaka|Kicaka, the commander-in-chief and brother-in-law of the king falls in love with the pretty chamber-maid and waylays her. But even at the time when she was appointed by the queen, Draupadi had given out that she was the wife of five Gandharvas who would protect her in difficulties.
- The cowherds come to Uttara, the young prince, who has stayed back in the town, and exhort him to march against the Kauravas. But he has no charioteer. Draupadi then mediates through the princess to make Uttara take Arjuna as charioteer.
- Moriz Winternitz in: "A History of Indian Literature, Volume 1", p. 337
- After the period of exile, during which the Kauravas try in vain to persecute or even kill them, they demand their rightful kingdom which is, however, denied. A grim battle ensues.
- Gaṅgā Rām Garg in: "Encyclopaedia of the Hindu World, Volume 1", p. 55
- My brothers have all dropped down here. They must go with me. Without them by me I do not wish to go to Heaven, O lord of all the deities. The delicate princess (Draupadi) deserving of every comfort, O Purandara, should go with us. It behoveth thee to permit this.
- This one is Sree herself. It was for destroying the evil, that she took birth, as the daughter of Drupada, among human beings, issuing not from any mother’s womb, O Yudhishtira, endued with agreeable perfume and capable of delighting the whole world. She was born in the race of Drupada and was enjoyed by you all.
- Indra told Yudhishtira when he found Draupadi in the heaven decked in a garland of lotuses quoted in: The Mahabharata of Krishna-Dwaipayana VyasaBook 18 Svargarohanika-parva, The Public's Library and Digital Archive (The Public's Library and Digital Archive)
The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda/Volume 4/Lectures and Discourses/The Mahabharata
Vivekananda in:The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda/Volume 4/Lectures and Discourses/The Mahabharata, Wikisource
- King Drupada was a great king, king of the Panchalas, and his daughter, Draupadi, famed far and wide for her beauty and accomplishments, was going to choose a hero...at a Svayamvara.
- When all those princes failed in hitting the mark, then the son of King Drupada rose up in the midst of the court and said: "The Kshatriya, the king caste has failed; now the contest is open to the other castes. Let a Brahmana, even a Shudra, take part in it; whosoever hits the mark, marries Draupadi."
- Among the Brahmanas were seated the five [[w:Pandava|Pandava brothers... He lifted the bow in his hand, strung it without any effort, and drawing it, sent the arrow right through the wheel and hit the eye of the fish. Then there was great jubilation. Draupadi, the princess, approached Arjuna and threw the beautiful garland of flowers over his head.
- The five brothers now returned home to Kunti with the princess... They shouted out to her joyously, "Mother, we have brought home a most wonderful alms today." The mother replied, "Enjoy it in common, all of you, my children." Then the mother seeing the princess, exclaimed, "Oh! what have I said! It is a girl!" But what could be done! The mother's word was spoken once for all. It must not be disregarded. The mother's words must be fulfilled. She could not be made to utter an untruth, as she never had done so. So Draupadi became the common wife of all the five brothers.
- In ancient India, if a man of the military caste was challenged to fight, he must at any price accept the challenge to uphold his honour. And if he was challenged to play dice, it was a point of honour to play, and dishonourable to decline the challenge. King Yudhishthira, says in the Epic, she [Draupadi] was the incarnation of all virtues. Even he, the great sage-king, had to accept the challenge. Shakuni and his party had made false dice. So Yudhishthira lost game after game, and stung with his losses, he went on with the fatal game, staking everything he had, and losing all, until all his possessions, his kingdom and everything, were lost. The last stage came when, under further challenge, he had no other resources left but to stake his brothers, and then himself, and last of all, the fair Draupadi, and lost all. Now they were completely at the mercy of the Kauravas, who cast all sorts of insults upon them, and subjected Draupadi to most inhuman treatment. At last through the intervention of the blind king, they got their liberty, and were asked to return home and rule their kingdom. But Duryodhana saw the danger and forced his father to allow one more throw of the dice in which the party which would lose, should retire to the forests for twelve years, and then live unrecognised in a city for one year; but if they were found out, the same term of exile should have to be undergone once again and then only the kingdom was to be restored to the exiled. This last game also Yudhishthira lost, and the five Pandava brothers retired to the forests with Draupadi, as homeless exiles.
Sita and Draupadi: Aggressive Behavior and Female Role-Models in the Sanskrit Epic
Sally J. Sutherland in:Sita and Draupadi: Aggressive Behavior and Female Role-Models in the Sanskrit Epic, Journal of the American Oriental Society, Vol. 109, No. 1 (Jan. - Mar, 1989)
- Draupadi, is often aggressive and outspoken. In one episode, in [Mahabharata] she throws her would-be assailant, Kicika, the brother-in-law of King Virata, to the ground and then proceeds violently to castigate one of her husbands, Bhimasena, for his failure to protect her virtue.
- Draupadi, like Sita, makes her ﬁrst appearance in the epic at an assembly at which the heroes (or hero) have demonstrated their physical prowess. The contest and the wedding delineates the character of the hero more than that of the heroine.
- Draupadi’s wedding contest... when the Pandavas, disguised as [[w:Brahmin|brahmans hiding from their cousin Duryodhana, are living in a brahman’s house at Ekacakra. One day a brahman visits them and tells them of the pending “self-choice” of Drupada‘s daughter. Questioned by the Pandavas about the unusual birth of both Draupadi and her brother, the brahman proceeds to tell the history of Drupada’s family and that king’s enmity with the sage Drona. Upon hearing this story and the events surrounding the birth of Draupadi and her brother from the sacriﬁcial ﬁre, the Pandava brothers....decide to go to the court of Drupada and to participate in his daughter’s “self-choice.” The events that follow, the contest, [are] the winning of the princess, and her polyandrous marriage to the brothers.
- Description of Draupadi at her birth from the sacriﬁcial ﬁre in Mahabharata:... the princess from Panchala rose up from the middle of the sacriﬁcial ﬁre. She was beautiful and enchanting; she had a lovely body and a waist the shape of the sacriﬁcial altar. She was dark, had eyes like lotus leaves, and dark, wavy hair, She was a goddesswho had taken on a human form. Her scent, like that of a blue lotus, perfumed the air for the distance of a mile. She possessed the most beautiful ﬁgure; none was her equal on earth.
- Draupadi appears in the arena for her “self-choice"... Immediately after her marriage, she is fond of her new “brahman” husbands: she is depicted as patiently serving them and dutifully sleeping at their feet.
- During the famous, yet fateful, dicing match between Yudhisthira and Duryodhana, the impact of the dicing episode is somewhat dissipated at its conclusion. The Pandavas are set free, rather than remaining slaves of their cousins, the events not only set in motion the action of the remainder of the epic, but establish important information for the audience about the characters of the epic and their interrelationships
- From the outset of the Mahabharata the physical appearance of Draupadi is known than the majority of Indian epic heroines.
- Draupadi, how do you behave with these respected Pandavas, young heroes similar to the world guardians? How do they remain under your inﬂuence and why do they never become angry, beautiful woman? You, of lovely countenance, always have control (influence) over all those Pandavas, who have their eyes (glances) ﬁxed on your face; tell me this truthfully! Was it a religious vow, austerities, ablutions, mantras, or magical herbs, the power of secret spells, or the power of roots, or repetition of sacred words, or offerings or drugs? Tell me, lady of Panchala, the lucky secret that brings you [matrimonial] good fortune.
- Draupadi denies employment of any such devices to retain the devotion of her husbands, but rather attributes their love to her exemplary behavior.
- I avoid excessive mirth [arrogance] or excessive vexation and anger and am always, Satya, engaged in serving my husbands.
- Draupadi replying to Satyabhama
- Dressed in only one garment, which had its ends (tied) low“) and menstruating, she entered the assembly. The woman from Panchala went before her father-in-law (Dhritarastra).
- Draupadi begs not to be brought before the assembly in her condition. Angered, she looks over to her husbands who sit in front of the gathered nobles and watch her humiliation: The loss of the kingdom, wealth, or the most valuable jewels, did not cause the pain that was caused by the infuriated glare of that tormented Krsna.
- He (Dhristadhyumna) has a sister, Draupadi. She has a beautiful body and a slender waist. Her scent, like that of a blue lotus, perfumed the air for the distance of a mile.
- Yudhisthira, in his frenzied desire to win back the kingdom, has staked her as his last possession. In his anxiety, he describes her as a handsome and perfect wife, that her value might be worth his opponent’s stake.
- She is not too short, nor is she too large; nor is she too dark nor is her complexion red. She has eyes reddened from passion. I will stake her—whose eyes and fragrance are like autumnal lotuses. Attached to modesty, she is, in beauty, equal to Sri, the goddess of beauty. Were a man to desire a woman, she would be like this one, on account of her kindness; she would be like this one, on account of her beautiful ﬁgure; she would be like this one, on account of her perfect character. She is the last to sleep and ﬁrst to awaken. She knows everything, down to the jobs both completed and not yet done by the cowherds and shepherds. Like the jasmine ﬂower, the mallikﬁ, is she; with her perspiring face she appears similar to a lotus. She has red eyes, long hair, a waist as slender as the sacriﬁcial altar, and a body with no excessive hair.
- The question whether Draupadi has been legitimately won over is debated by the kings. Karna, insisting that she has been, orders Duhsasana to strip her garment from her body: Then, king, Duhsasana forcibly took hold of Draupadi’s garment and began to take it off. But, lord of men, just as Draupadi’s garment was being pulled off, other garments, one following the other, of the same type appeared! All those kings, observing that miracle on earth, let forth a loud, terrifying sound of “hala hala.”
- Keep in mind these words of mine. you Ksatriyas who inhabit the earth, what I say has never before been said, and none will say it again. If I do not carry out my vow, lords of the earth, then let me not obtain the worlds of all our grandfathers-ill, if, in battle, do not violently split open the chest and drink the blood of this low-born sinner, this most despicable among the Bharatas!
- Bhima takes vow striking to avenge the humiliation faced by Draupadi
- Draupadi addresses the kings, demanding to know how they, who are supposedly learned in the ways of proper conduct, could allow her to be so humiliated.
- How is it that the wife of Pandus, the sister of Parsata [Dhrstadyumna], the friend of Vasudeva Krsna, could be brought before the assembly of kings? Tell me whether or not I, King Dharma’s wife, born of equal station, am a slave. Then I will do as commanded, Kauravas!
- Draupadi questions the assembled kings
- Bhisma demands that Yudhisthira himself answer the question [of Draupadi], and the assembly becomes quiet in anticipation of his answer. Yudhisthira remains silent but finally Dhrtarastra, who has observed evil omens portending the downfall of the Kauravas, gives Draupadi a boon, as she is the most distinguished of his daughters-in-law and devoted to dharma.
- The staking of Draupadi is meant to bring ﬁnal and utter ruin to the Pandavas. And as she is displayed in front of the assembly, the brothers are humbled. From the outset Draupadi has realized that her husbands will take no stand in her defense. Her embarrassment at being dragged before a public assembly quickly turns into rage—a rage directed not only against her husbands but against all those gathered at the dicing match. For her presence is more than just a ﬁnal and utter humiliation of the Pandava princes. More poignantly, it proves to be a humiliation for all the men present. The episode is ironic.
- During the scene the beautiful Draupadi is possessed also of quick wit and a clever tongue. Her ability at debate is soon demonstrated, and at the conclusion of the episode, we realize that her wit has saved her husbands from impending slavery. Draupadi’s resentment at having been so insulted by her husbands’ relatives does not die easily. Her desire forrevenge is strong, and she rarely is able to pass up an opportunity to complain to her husbands, particularly Yudhisthira, about her ill-treatment and her ill-luck at having such a lot for husbands. To some extent, one can attribute the ﬁnal war to Draupadi’s continual harping on the insult she received in the assembly and her husbands’ failure to avenge it. Draupadi, whose indignation at her treatment has only intensiﬁed, complains bitterly to the Vrsni hero [Krishna].
- Madhusudana, out of affection I will tell you, who are the lord of creatures divine and mortal, my troubles. Krsna, why was a woman like me, wife of the Parthas, your friend, 0 lord, and sister of Dhrstadyumna, dragged into the assembly? Menstruating, tormented and trembling, with blood ﬂowing, and wearing but one garment, I was dragged into the assembly of the Kurus. In the assembly, in the middle of the kings, those evil-minded descendants of Dhrtarastra looked upon me, still menstruating, and laughed. While the Pandavas, Panchalas, and Vrsnis were still alive, those Kauravas, Madhusudana, desired to enjoy me like a serving wench. Krsna, am I not according to law the daughter-in~law of both Bhisma and Dhrtarastra? I was forced to become a slave. I blame only these strong Pandavas, men held to be the best in battle, who watched their lawful and illustrious wife being tormented. A curse onBhimasena’s strength, a curse on the archer Partha’s; both of them stood by while vile men insulted me.
- Draupadi's indignation
- She continues, at length, to despair about her ill treatment at the hands of the Kurus and to revile her husbands, who having done so much for others, had done nothing to avenge her. Finally she says:
- I have no husbands, no sons, no brothers, no father, no relatives, not even you, Madhusudana. As if free from all grief, you all stood by while vile men insulted me.
- Draupadi's final accusation.
- Krsna takes it upon himself to assure the indignant Draupadi that the Kauravas will be punished for her ill-treatment.
- She [Draupadi] is depicted not only as having suffered great insult, but faithfully following her husbands into exile and enduring the hardships of the forest. It is from these scenes, and not from her life in the palace, that we learn of the real character of Draupadi.
- Draupadi praises her own attitude towards Kunti, and yet, it seems, implies that her relationship with her mother-in-law is not the ideal one stressed, and that her exemplary behavior has called for great sacriﬁces on her part. Furthermore, she subtly chides her husbands once again for their lack of understanding of household matters and their inability to control the treasury.
- Her character is further developed by the epic poet in two other important episodes. Both involve, like the dicing match, sexual assaults on the princess. The ﬁrst is found at Aranyakaparvan. Here, Draupadi, left by the Pandavas at the ashram of the sage Trnabindu in the Kamyaka forest, is espied by Jayadratha, the king of the Sindhus. He falls madly in love with the beautiful princess, and sends a messenger to discover who she is. Upon the messenger‘s return the lovesick king confesses:
- I tell you honestly, great armed man, having seen her, all other women look like female monkeys!
- Jayadratha on seeing Draupadi
- The messenger informs Jayadratha that she is Draupadi, wife of the Pandavas, and advises him to leave well enough alone. But the lovesick king refuses the good counsel and goes to the hermitage of Trnabindu to meet her. He propositions her; Draupadi, alone and insulted, is enraged at such a suggestion and in the expectation of her husbands' imminent return, reviles the king and swears revenge. But Jayadratha does not think that the strength of the Pandavas is as great as she has suggested and grabbed her where her upper garment was. She pushed him away. His body repulsed by her, that evil man fell to the ground like a tree with its roots cut.
- But the princess Krsna [Draupadi], though prostrating herself in front of (the priest) Dhaumya, was immediately seized again, repeatedly let forth sobs, and was dragged up into the chariot. The princess’ serving woman is left behind and informs the Pandavas on their return of her abduction. The brothers set out in pursuit of Jayadratha and Draupadi. A battle ensues in which the Pandavas soundly defeat the forces of Jayadratha, who, seeing the devastation, releases Draupadi and ﬂees from the scene.
- There is yet another important episode in which Draupadi suffers a sexual assault. This occurs during the last year of their exile, the Pandavas and Draupadi go to the court of Virata and assuming various disguises dwell there for a year. Yudhisthira poses as a brahmin who is skilled in dicing, Arjuna as a eunuch who will teach singing and dancing, Bhima as a cook, Nakula as a groom and Sahadeva as a cowherd.
- Our beloved wife, who is dearer to us than our own lives, must be protected like a mother and worshipped like an elder sister. What kind of work can Krsna, the daughter of Drupada, do? She knows nothing (not even) how to do the work of women. Our illustrious princess is young and delicate. How is it possible that our devoted wife, this noble lady, work? She is a beautiful young woman, who, from the time she was born, has known only these garlands, perfumes, ornaments, and various costumes.
- Draupadi solves the problem by saying that she will assume the guise of ahairdresser for the wife of Virata and convinces her husbands that Queen Sudesna will protect her. The Pandava brothers and Draupadi then take up residence at the court of Virata. While there Kicaka, brother of Queen Sudesna, espies Draupadi and is smitten by her beauty. Kicaka propositions her, but she quickly rejects him. Kicaka, even more infatuated by the luckless princess, enlists the queen’s aid to help him win her. Sudesna, despite the protestations of Draupadi, sends her to Kicaka‘s chamber with some liquor. Draupadi, upset at being sent into what she correctly perceives is a compromising situation, prays to Surya, the sun god:
- As I have never claimed another man but the Pandavas, by this truth, let me not fall under Kicaka‘s power when I arrive there.
- Draupadi addressing the sun god
- The raksasa sent by Surya pushes Kicaka senseless to the ﬂoor. Bhima becomes enraged seeing Draupadi so treated, but is prevented by Yudhisthira from taking any action.
- How do (my) strong and illustrious (husbands), like eunuchs, endure me——their dear and faithful wife being assaulted by the son of a suta? Where is the anger, virility, and courage of those who do not wish to defend a wife being assaulted by a wicked man.
- Draupadi reacts to the inaction of her husbands.
- I am the virtuous wife of men who are all too lenient in this respect. Among those whose leader is a gambler...here, anyone might abuse (kick) them.
- Draupadi further laments as king Virata also refuses to interfere and instead sends Draupadi to Queen Sudeshna.
- What shall I do? Where will I go? How may I achieve my goal?
- Draupadi reflects in her chamber as she thought of Bhima.
- No one but Bhima will carry out today that which is dear to my heart.
- Draupadi thinks about Bhima to take revenge and approaches him in middle of the night to intervene.
- On account of that gambler [Yudhishtira], I am a cleaning woman for Sudesna... wandering around the king’s palace in the guise of aSairandhri woman.
- How can you, Partha [Bhima], slayer of enemies think me happy, overcome by hundreds of troubles on account of Yudhisthira.
- He [Bhima] swears to defend her. He devises a plan: Draupadi is to arrange an assignation with the love-sick prince, but Bhima, disguised as a woman, will meet Kicaka in her place. The plan is carried out, and in an unusual and amusing, if somewhat grisly, confrontation, Bhima meets and ﬁnally kills Kicaka.
- The dicing match, the lament to Vasudeva Krsna, the conversation with Satyabhama, the abduction by Jayadratha, and the episode in Virata’s court, all depict Draupadi as an aggressive and dynamic character. In these episodes she is effectively contrasted with her cautious and ineffectual husband Yudhisthira and his subservient, although less passive, younger brothers Bhimasena and Arjuna.
- The aggressive behavior of Draupadi can be seen as a powerful defense mechanism, a means by which she can express feelings of rejection and depression that have developed out of her frustrations at the inability or unwillingness of her husbands to act in her defense.
Living by Their Own Norms Unique Powers of the Panchkanyas
Pradip Bhattacharya in: Living by Their Own Norms Unique Powers of the Panchkanyas, manushi-india.org
- Draupadi had hoped to find her missing mother in her mother-in-law, she is tragically deceived, as Kunti thrusts her into a polyandrous marriage that exposes her to salacious gossip reaching a horrendous climax in Karna declaring her a whore whose being clothed or naked is immaterial.
- Draupadi’s motherlessness seems to be carried forward into her own lack of maternal feelings. Her five sons are not even nurtured by her. She sends them to Panchala and follows her husbands into exile to ensure that the wounds of injustice and insult inflicted upon them and herself remain ever fresh.
- The South Indian Draupadi cult specifically states that her sons were not products of coitus but were born from drops of blood that fell when, in her terrifying Kali form, her nails pierced Bhima’s hand. Draupadi is a sterile Shri, like Jyeshtha or Alakshmi. Her solitariness as a kanya is stressed explicitly after the war when Yudhishthira tells Gandhari that the Panchalas are exterminated, leaving only a kanya as their remainder: pancalah subhrisham kshinah kanyamatra vasheshitah.
- Draupadi finds her five husbands discarding her repeatedly. Each takes at least one more wife. She never has Arjuna for herself, as he marries Ulupi, Chitrangada and has Subhadra as his favourite. Yudhishthira pledges her like chattel at dice. Finally, they leave her to die alone on the mountainside at the mercy of wild beasts, like a pauper, utterly rikta, drained in every sense.
- Draupadi has five husbands—but she has none—
She had five sons—and was never a mother...
The Pandavas have given Draupadi...
No joy, no sense of victory
No honour as wife
No respect as mother —
Only the status of a Queen...
But they have all gone
And I’m left with a lifeless jewel
And an empty crown...
my baffled motherhood
Wrings its hands and strives to
- Draupadi is used first by Drupada to take revenge on Drona by securing the alliance of the Pandavas, and then by Kunti and the Pandavas to win their kingdom thrice over (through marriage; in the first dice game; and as their incessant goad on the path to victory). Unknown to her, even sakha Krishna throws her in as the ultimate temptation in Karna’s way, assuring him that Draupadi will come to him in the sixth part of the day, shashthe catam tatha kale draupadyupagamisyati.
- Kunti urges Karna to enjoy (bhunkshva) Yudhishthira’s Shri (another name for Draupadi) that was acquired by Arjuna. Here is an unmistakable harking back to Kunti’s command to her sons to enjoy (bhunkteti) what they had brought together when Bhima and Arjuna had announced their arrival with Draupadi as alms. No wonder Draupadi laments that she has none to call her own, when even her sakha unhesitatingly uses her as bait!
- Draupadi made the unforgivable ‘mistake’ of publicly refusing to accept Karna as a suitor and of laughing at Duryodhana (as he laments to his father Dhritarashtra) when he made a fool of himself in Indraprastha’s magical palace, capping this with refusing to obey Duryodhana’s summons to appear in the dice-game assembly unless her question was answered. She had to be taught a lesson.
- During the forest exile Draupadi prides herself on her fame as a sati exceeding that of any ruler. Krishna crushes her pride by creating an unseasonal mango that she craves for and has Arjuna pluck for her. Krishna warns that this is the only food of a terrible ascetic, whose anger will turn all of them into ashes, and that only if they confess their secret desires will the mango be refixed to its branch. The mango almost touches the tree as the brothers state what obsesses each of them, but falls down when Draupadi states that revenge is her sole desire. Arjuna threatens to kill her, and then she has to confess that having Karna as her sixth husband has been her secret wish. Bhima—her invariable rescuer—upbraids her unmercifully for her evil nature.
- There is a feature that sets Draupadi quite apart from her fellow kanyas. Between the 12th and 15th centuries she became the central figure in a number of bardic epics. Draupadi is the only kanya to whom a living cult is dedicated, with temples dotting the Gingee-Pondicherry area of Tamil Nadu and street plays held annually celebrating her greatness.
- Draupadi has always been the goddess of the common people. A recent parallel would be the way Meera’s bhajans are sung by the marginalized and lower castes in Rajasthan. The Dropadai Amman Festivals are quite well known and there are night-long dramas (theru-koothu) on the Mahabharata. The political leaders knew this socialeality, so they did not dare to say anything against her or burn the Mahabharata or write nastily about her.
- For the marginalized would have protested in a big way...Even after becoming legends, it is Draupadi who remains a threat to the political animal and so he will not touch even the fringe of her pallu [The loose end of a sari], as he knows what happened when Duhshasana rose to disrobe Draupadi!
- No, a revengeful woman cannot win...Draupadi is too dramatic to be a role model for the weak and the exploited. Women cannot identify with Draupadi, with all her five husbands, and with Lord Krishna for a personal friend. With her unconventional lifestyle and thirst for vengeance, Draupadi inspires awe.
- Draupadi is also the only kanya to have become a symbol of the oppressed and grossly humiliated Indian nation. While watching a night long street play in the Draupadi Amman Festival, the great Tamil poet Subramanya Bharathi was struck by the powerful appeal she had for common folk and penned an epyllion, Draupadi Sapatham (“Draupadi’s Vow”) depicting her as the wronged princess, the nation-in-shackles, a symbol of perfect surrender to the Divine and the representative of womanhood subjugated for millennia.
- The epithet kanya is applied to these women is because they were not engendered in the usual way “but were created from various elements which compose the universe thereby establishing that their sanctity and chastity is not bound by physical bodies...Ahalya, Sita, Draupadi, Tara and Mandodari are the epitome of chastity and purity but were punished for no fault of theirs. Given the precarious situations they were in, these women still came out unscathed and set examples of being ideal women.
- Mahari dance tradition in which the Oriya verse goes:
Pancha bhuta khiti op tejo maruta Byomo
Pancha sati nirjyasa gyani bodho Gomyo
Ahalya Draupadi Kunti Tara Mandodari totha Pancha kanya...
- Five elements, earth, water, fire, wind, ether are in essence the five satis. This the wise know Ahalya, Draupadi, Kunti, Tara and Mandodari - Five virgins...Ahalya personifies water, Draupadi represents fire, Kunti symbolises mother earth, Tara personifies wind and Mandodari ether. Draupadi’s personality personifies fire, while Sita (whom she incongruously includes in the group instead of Kunti) is the daughter of the earth.
- Ahalya for her forbearance is likened to the freshness and active nature of the wind; Tara (all the three women of that name, that is, Harishchandra’s queen, Vali’s wife and Brihaspati’s wife who is Chandra’s beloved) is associated with space and has the quality of intelligence, compassion and large-heartedness; Mandodari with the element of water, turbulent on the surface yet deep and silent in her spiritual quest.