DRAUPADI – THE FIRE BRAND CENTRAL CHARACTER OF MAHABHARAT-1

 

Who was Draupadi? Apparently she was the daughter of Drupad, the king of Panchala. However, both Draupadi and her brother were born out of the fire of  Yajna performed by the King Drupad.

Since Draupadi had been born out of fire, everything about her was fiery including her beauty and temperament. Although not very fair complexioned, her face radiated a rare charm, power and strength that was difficult to explain and match. Whoever crossed her path, did not exist in this world and was killed. Examples are Duryodhan, Dushasan, Karn, Jayadrath and Keechak. In fact, keechak did not leave for more than one night after trying to molest her. Keechak was the Commander-in-Chief of the King Viraat of Matsya kingdom and the brother of her wife Sudesana. It is the kingdom of Viraat where Pandavas had spent their one year of Agyaat Vaas (living incognito), the last year of their exile to forest.

We have also seen her temper when Dushasan tried to disrobe her, when Jayadrath tried to abduct her and when Keechak tried to molest her. There are many more instances but my effort is to give you a flavour and not to write a history book.

Despite her fiery temperament, Draupadi was able to keep all her five husbands having different temperament, tastes and habits as also her mother-in-Law Kunti happy and satisfied? I shall come to that later.

 

Stories are often told of how Draupadi came to have five husbands. Explanations are needed for a culture desperate to explain such a discomforting practice. Let us have a look at following three explanations:

One story tells us that in her earlier birth, she worshipped Lord Shiva for a long time and in turn, Shiva told her to ask her for a boon.  She asked Shiva for a husband having 5 qualities-who was noble and strong, the best archer in the world, handsome and wise. Yet another story goes that she asked Shiva for a husband having 14 qualities. Since no single man could possess so many qualities, Shiva told her that in her next birth, she had to have five husbands instead of just one.

Shiva had warned her “Be careful what you wish for with all your heart- for you may get it!”

 

There is more to understand about Draupadi from what is not said about her. Ved Vyaas whispers her secret in hints and riddles.

One such angle is Draupadi’s sexuality. We tend to think that chastity and sexuality in women are mutually exclusive. However, sexuality is a reality, and in particular, it plays a very big role in Draupadi’s life. It was her boon and her curse. Why Draupadi had such insatiable sexuality? The explanation lies in the fact that she was born out of fire as stated by me at the outset and hence everything was fiery about her including her insatiable sexual desire.

 

Whatever may be the case – one thing is clear – that when she emerged as Draupadi, she had the karmic baggage of wanting to experience romance and love in its entirety.  Unavoidable spin-off of this situation was that she was irresistible to almost every man who beheld her.

Hence, she turned out to be one of the most sensual women in the epic. No other mortal woman matched the irresistible, carnal pull that she had, so much so that all men were drawn to her like moths to a flame. And she was not even aware of it.

 

Yet another story says that in her past life she was known as Nalayani (daughter of Nal and Damyanti) married to a sage Maudgalya. Her insatiable sexual appetite led him to curse her that in her next life she would have five husbands. This looks most logical to me.

 

I have given you three theories as to why Draupadi had five husbands. Depending upon your choice, pick any one you like. My personal vote goes in favour of the last story in which sage Maudgalya cursed her to have five husbands in her next birth. This looks most logical to me.

 

There are several instances in the epic which talk about her impossible sexual attractiveness. The first biggest hint is that she was born of fire as stated by me at the beginning, and fire is passion. She was born as a maiden who had already attained puberty. She exuded the intoxicating fragrance of the blue lotus for two miles around her. Her Swayamvar was the most attended event by smitten princes. Even when she was in the disguise of a maid during her exile period, Keechak became insane with desire for her. Jayadrath spotted her in the forest (when she was probably in her middle age) and was so consumed by desire that he even said that all other women looked like monkeys in comparison with this exquisite creature.

Apparently, even the blind Dhritarashtra could not help himself getting excited when she was dragged into court. One secret and subconscious reason that no one protested against her disrobing, could possibly be due to her unearthly sexual magnetism.

 

No one person could satisfy her insatiable sexual appetite. But since all her husbands had to wait for 4 years for their turn to be with Draupadi, they also used to be sex hungry. With her insatiable sexual appetite, Draupadi could satisfy their pent up sexual hunger and this was the reason how Draupadi could keep all her 5 husbands happy and satisfied.

 

I have given you three theories as to why Draupadi had five husbands. Depending upon your choice, pick any one you like. My personal vote goes in favour of the last story in which sage Maudgalya cursed her to have five husbands in her next birth. This looks most logical to me.

 

Now let us proceed further. Every brother had exclusive rights to Draupadi’s chamber for a year, and then had to wait for four years for his next turn. Why one whole year? Perhaps because it gave Draupadi enough time to bear a child for that husband without any issues of paternity. As we know from the epic, she did bear each of her husbands a son, five in all.

Before she moved to the next husband, Draupadi used to walk through the fire to regain her virginity and purity.

However Draupadi had a rule of her own for her husbands. She made it very clear to them that they cannot bring any other wife into her own palace. Thus all the Pandavas had other wives but these wives stayed with their parents and the Pandavas had to travel out of the city to visit them in the four years that Draupadi was intimate with the other brothers. The only exception was made for Krishna’s sister, Subhadra, who married Arjun.

In a dialogue with Krishna’s wife, Satyabhama, Draupadi explains how she serves her husbands and satisfies all their needs and makes herself indispensable, hence very loved. Draupadi comes across as a very practical woman who knows she has to work to ensure all her husbands love her and do not feel she favours any one of them. But in the final chapter of the epic, it is made clear that of all the husbands, she favoured Arjun the most – a crime for which she was sent to hell!

P.S. Dear readers, let me caution you that I am in no position to authenticate the story stated above. It has been compiled from so many sources that it is impossible to give all of them. Draupadi was the most mysterious character in Mahabharat and hence only one article will not suffice to do full justice to her. This is the first one and you may see ¾ more.

Let me also caution you that I am not here to write Mahabharat but stories hidden behind the events that took place in that epic which is not only the greatest ever but the most mysterious one as well. I am trying to unravel some of those hidden stories, no mean task for a person of my health and means. Hence I shall request you to let me have your feedback so that I could improve upon my effort.

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