In my earlier 2 posts, I had told you about 3 reasons why Draupadi had 5 husbands. Just now I have come across a fourth reason during my voyage of discovery. But for that, we must know who was Draupadi.
WHO WAS DRAUPADI?
The above picture explains how Draupadi was born out of fire and hence with a fiery temperament.
While normally Draupadi is considered the daughter of King Drupad of Panchal, she and her brother Drishtadumna were born out of the fire of a Yajna performed by Drupad and hence both had fiery temperaments. This fiery heroine Draupadi was not without kindness and affection. She was insulted, taunted and driven to the forest by the sons of Dhritarashtra and Gandhari. When, Dushasan pulled at her saree, Dhritarashtra and Gandhari would not help her. But after the war of Mahabharata, Draupadi looked after Gandhari with respect and affection; she treated her in the same way as she treated Kunti. She had a resolve that would not cool off after thirteen long years of suffering, and also sympathy for Gandhari after all was over.
Now let us see of what Draupadi was composed of as also another reason why she had 5 husbands.
However, according to Narad Purana and Vayu Purana, Draupadi was the composite avatar of Goddesses Shyamala (wife of Dharma), Bharati (wife of Vayu), Sachi (wife of Indra), Usha (wife of Ashwins) and Parvati (wife of Shiva) and hence married their earthly counterparts in the form of 5 Pandavas.
From the above, you will find fourth and another reason for Draupadi having five Pandavas as her husbands. Whether this is right or wrong, I don’t know. However it looks more complicated but not illogical as well. You have four reasons now. Take your pick and I shall be glad if you enlighten me as well by sharing your knowledge.
DID DRAUPADI LOVE KARNA ALSO?
A very difficult question indeed but if a question is raised, I must try to find an answer. Many believe that in fact Draupadi was in love with Karna but during her Swayamvar, Krishna signalled to her not to accept him. Hence she declined to accept Karna on the ground that he was a Soot Putra and belonged to a lower caste.
Renowned alike for her loveliness, she reduced her enemies to ashes. This fiery princess bent on vengeance could be compassionate and generous, too. Draupadi had developed the strength to bear the trials of life. She had resolved firmly not to harm the good people, but not to bend before the wicked. Draupadi was a woman, but she became as famous as the heroic Pandavas because of such determination.
Personality of Draupadi was one of lightning and thunder. This unforgettable heroine was in no way less than Bheem or Arjun in strength and spirit, valour and virtue. Her story is a saga of suffering and disgrace but she took everything in her stride and vanquished each one of the perpetrators of her humiliation and agony. Those who had to bear the brunt of her vengeance were Duryodhan, Dushasan, Jayadrath and Keechak. Karna was also her victim since he had called her a prostitute when she was brought to the Hastinapur court by Dushasan for being disrobed at the prompting of Duryodhan. This is exactly what Karna had said:
“A woman who is married to 5 men is not a wife but a whore. A whore has no honour. Even if she was brought here naked, it would not matter. Elders like Bhishma and the King are quiet, then why do you, Oh Vikarna, raise objections? Sit down and don’t speak on Dharma which you don’t know about”
Apart from the above five, even Bhishma, Dronacharya and Kripacharya had to die since instead of stopping that heinous act of the attempt to disrobe Draupadi publicly, all three watched silently although anyone of them was powerful enough to stop Dushasan. It is indeed intriguing why they made no such attempt.
According to a legend from Mahabharat, during the thirteenth year of the exile of the Pandavas, Draupadi saw a ripe Jambul (roseapple) fruit hanging from a tree. She plucked it to have it. No sooner had she done this, Krishna came from somewhere and stopped her from eating it. According to Krishna, the ripe fruit was the one with which a sage was supposed to break his twelve-year fast. Not finding the fruit at its place, could earn the wrath of the sage, resulting in more trouble for the Pandavas and her. Hence Draupadi begged of Krishna to help her out of this crisis. Krishna, then said that the fruit could be put back at its original place, only by someone who holds no secrets. Draupadi had no option but to confess her guilt. Draupadi walked up to her husbands and confessed to them, that though she was a chaste woman and loved all the five husbands, earlier there was someone else that she longed for. She always had loved and respected Karna, the arch-enemy of the Pandavas.
This incident had dual purpose. One was that everyone has secrets, which they keep to themselves. Some of them are not revealed out of fear of antagonising one’s loved ones and the fear of losing them if the secret is out. Sometimes it is not revealed as it would upset the apple cart. This was a shock to all her husbands, but none said anything she had honestly confessed the truth. Having confessed, she went and put the fruit back on the branch of the tree and all was well. The significance of a confession is well brought out by the fact that it only does well and seldom any harm.
The hidden love of Draupadi for Karna is something that has been explored by many writers. Some have even justified the romance, in the sense that the powerful and the dynamic character of Draupadi could find her match only in Karna and not in the five brothers, who were ‘incomplete’ without one another. It is said that even Karna had regretted his behaviour during the disrobing of Draupadi in the Kuru court after she was wagered and lost in the dice-game, and the behaviour was more to avenge his insult during her Swayamvar.
While there is no concrete evidence to support this theory, but according many scholars, Draupadi had developed a feeling that had she been married to Karna, Dushasan and Duryodhan could not have attempted to disrobe her since he was a complete warrior having all the qualities that Pandavas collectively possessed. The undercurrent of an unexpressed romance between Draupadi and Karna has always been suspected in the entire Mahabharat. However this only developed after her marriage with Pandavas and hence nothing could be done to undo whatever already had taken place.
This also raises another pertinent question – had Draupadi married Karna, would Mahabharata have happened? I have no answer to this. You have to find your own answer and come back to me with the logic for the same.
The second purpose is that through this myth, the Pandavas also got the message that in spite of five brave husbands, they had failed their wife when she needed them the most. When Draupadi was being disrobed after she was lost in the dice-game, none of her ‘brave’ husbands could come to her rescue.
This apart, Yudhishthir had no authority to wager her in the dice game for the following 3 reasons:
- Draupadi was not a commodity who could be wagered even by her husband. This shows the dirty side of patriarchal society prevailing at that time.
- Draupadi had 4 other husbands and without their consent, Yudhishthir had no authority to wager her.
- Yudhishthir had lost everything in the dice game including his empire which too belonged to all the 5 brothers jointly and hence, he had no business to wager Draupadi against all principles.
But still Draupadi kept all her husbands happy, she did not love all five husbands equally and that she loved and longed for Arjun more amongst all the brothers. However, it is believed that Arjun had never reciprocated the emotion as he was more in love with Subhadra (Krishna’s sister) than anybody else. However, I do not find any evidence of this narrative anywhere. Fact is that Arjun had a wanderlust and during his travels, he had three more marriages.
To be continued in DRAUPADI – 4
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 third one and you may see 2 or 3 more. Please bear with me.
Let me also caution you that I am here not 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 and among all the characters of Mahabharat, Draupadi was the most mysterious one. I am trying to unravel some of these hidden mysteries, 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.