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Draupadi of Mahabharat’s Story, from her Swayamvar to Heaven


The wife of the great Pandavas renowned alike for her loveliness and her granite will. Volcanic, she reduced her enemies to the ashes. But her story is a saga of suffering. This fiery princess bent on vengeance could be compassionate and generous, too.

It was early morning. Mother was already up and at her work. As usual, she chanted some slokas (short stanzas in Sanskrit, you can find them here) as she did her household duties.

After a few slokas in praise of the Lord, there was one, which began with the names of the sacred rivers of the land: the Ganga, the Godavari, the Brahmaputra, the Gomati and the Saraswati.

Mother chanted the sacred names of pure and virtuous women of olden days – Ahalya, Draupadi. Seetha, Thara, and Mandodari. Little Usha was awake. Having heard these slokas every morning she too had learned them by heart.

But merely singing the slokas along with Mother would not satisfy Usha. She was now of an age when children want to know everything.

She would ask so many questions. Where was the river Ganga born? Which sea did the river Godavari join?… And many more questions.

Today also little Usha asked a question.

“Mother, who was Draupadi?”

Mother caressed little Usha and said, “Draupadi was a Challenge to Archers. It was long long ago.

There was a kingdom called Panchala. Drupada was the king. For many years he had no children. So, to get children he performed ‘tapas’; that is, day and night he thought only of God and prayed to Him. God blessed him, and two children were born. The first was a son, called Dhrishtadyumna, and the second, a daughter called Draupadi.

Draupadi was as good as she was beautiful.

Beautiful Draupadi

When she grew up, she charmed everyone with her soft words and sweet conduct. Her father wanted her to marry the most heroic prince.

So Drupada arranged a “Swayamvara’. (That was a method by which a princess could herself choose her husband.) Invitations were sent out to kings and princes of all countries, far and near. The palace was bedecked with sparkling diamonds and other precious stones.

It was the Swayamvara of Draupadi, the princess of unequaled beauty; her wedding by her own choice. Naturally, kings and princes gathered in hundreds, each eager to marry the princess.

Now, how to find out who among them was the most heroic and valiant? ‘Let it be decided in this assembly,’ thought King Draupada and arranged a contest. At the center of the hall, a mechanical device was erected; on it was placed a revolving object in the shape of a fish. The reflection of this revolving fish could be seen in the water below.

A very heavy bow was kept nearby. Anyone who desired the hand of Draupadi in marriage had to lift that huge bow, bend it and tie the bowstring; then, looking at the reflection, he had to take aim with five arrows and bring down the revolving fish. Such a one would be a hero worthy of Draupadi’s hand.

Many of the assembled kings retreated, as soon as they heard of this contest. Of those who came forward to try their hand, some could not even lift the heavy bow. The hundreds of princes who had come to marry Draupadi were all beaten.

“Is there no hero here to wed my daughter?”, the worried Drupada asked.

Then stood up one who was seated among the Brahmins in that assembly. The whole gathering burst into laughter at this. A bow that had humbled so many princes and kings, would it bend in a Brahmin’s hands? A Brahmin could eat his fill at the royal banquet after the marriage, and be happy with the gifts and money. But why this mad adventure? Everyone thought it a big joke.

But look and behold!

The man walked boldly towards the bow and saluted it. And he lifted it easily as if it was light as a straw! He twanged the bow-string and aimed five arrows. Looking down at the water, he shot an arrow – and down came the revolving fish!

At once the bands struck. And Draupadi garlanded heroic princess. The firm one. A woman with an unbending will. She was greatly devoted to Lord Krishna. Usha, now read your lessons. In the night I shall tell you the story of Draupadi.”

Arjuna attending Draupadi Swayamvar and winning it

At night, the mother was eager to narrate the story, the daughter was eager to listen to it.

Who was the Brahmin?

In those days the royal house of Kurus was very famous in Bharata. Dhritarashtra and Pandu were two brothers of this royal line. Pandu had five sons – Yudhishthira, Bheema, Arjuna, Nakula, and Sahadeva. Yudhishthira was a very righteous person. Bheema was an expert fighter with the “Gada’, the mace. Arjuna was an excellent bow-man. All five were great heroes. They were known as the Pandavas. The one hundred sons of Dhritarashtra were known as the Kauravas; of these Duryodhana and Dusshasana were the eldest.

King Pandu passed away. The Kauravas wanted to kill the Pandavas and get the entire kingdom. When children go the wrong way, the father must advise them properly. But Dhritarashtra became a party to the injustice planned by his sons. So he ruined himself, and his sons were also destroyed.

Dhritarashtra himself once summoned the Pandavas and said, “Today is the festival of Lord Umamaheshwara in Varanavatha. You may go and attend it.”

In great joy, the Pandavas took their mother Kunthi also with them and went to Varanavatha.

But do you know what trick the Kauravas were playing? They had built a beautiful palace of Lac at Varanavatha. They had arranged that the palace should be set on fire at night when the Pandavas were asleep. The elder statesman Vidura came to know of this. He, therefore, got a tunnel dug from the palace. This he got done secretly. He also told the Pandavas of it. One night the Pandavas themselves set fire to the palace.

The mansion built of Lac burnt fiercely and was reduced to ashes. The Pandavas stepped into the secret tunnel and reached a forest. Crossing the forest they reached a town. In that town of Ekachakrapura, they lived in the disguise of Brahmins.

At this time they heard the news of Draupadi’s Swayamvara and went to the Panchala country.

In that assembly of kings, it was the great archer Arjuna who mastered the heavy bow.

Queen Of the Pandavas

The Pandavas returned home from the Swayamvara hall. With joy, they shouted to their mother, “Mother, we have brought a priceless gift.” Kunthi who was inside the house replied,

“Divide it equally among you.” A mother’s words must be obeyed. So Drupada was worried. Then the great sage Vyasa said the Draupadi was born to be the wife of the five Pandavas. He said the power of her goodness had brought the Pandavas alive from the burning palace. Drupada was satisfied.

The marriage took place with great splendor in the presence of Shri Krishna. Draupadi became the wife of the five Pandavas. Bhishma, the eldest of the royal family of the Kurus, and Drona, the royal teacher, were both very happy.

They told Dhritarashtra that the Pandavas were still alive by God’s grace; they advised him to give them half the kingdom. The Kauravas outwardly seemed to be glad.

The sons of Pandu now got their kingdom.

They made the city of Indraprastha their capital.

After some time they thought of performing the great Sacrifice (Yaga) of Rajasuya. A huge and wonderful hall was constructed. The beauty, grandeur, and decoration of the assembly hall for the Yaga made a visitor speechless with wonder.

Sri Krishna personally supervised the performance of the Rajasuya Sacrifice. The Kauravas have no mind to see the splendor of their cousins. Still, they also attended. Unfortunately, Duryodhana was put to shame there. In the new palace, he took a pond for a polished floor and fell into the water. Draupadi laughed at this.

The eyes of the Kaurava King grew red like fire.

Further on he saw the floor shining with high polish and thought it was a pond; so he lifted his clothing that it may not get wet. Again there were waves of laughter. Duryodhana burned with shame. And he vowed punishment.

The Great Stake

After a few days, Duryodhana sent an invitation to Yudhishthira to play dice. Yudhishthira was very fond of gambling. But he was no expert.

Shakuni, a supporter of the Kauravas, was a very experienced player. So what else could happen?

Yudhishthira went on losing. He offered his chariots, horses, and elephants as stakes and lost them; lost his royal treasures; offered all his servants as stakes and lost them; and lost his kingdom also. Finally, he and his four brothers became the slaves of the Kaurava King.

And yet again Shakuni said,

“This is the last game. If you win, all that you have lost so far, everything will be given back to you. Offer Draupadi as the stake. Win back your kingdom and all.”

Yudhishthira was drunk with the excitement of gambling. He did not pause to think about how wrong his action was. Like all gamblers, he only said, “Yes.” The dice were thrown. The Kauravas won.

Draupadi’s Only Shield – God’s Grace

Duryodhana burst into a wicked laugh. “Who’s there? Draupadi is now my servant. Drag her here,” he ordered. The Pandavas felt as if their hearts were stabbed. They bent their heads in shame. Yudhishthira now knew what an unjust action he was guilty of. But it was now too late and regret was of no use.

Draupadi was in her queenly apartment.

Duryodhana’s messenger went and told her,

“Yudhishthira has lost you in a game of dice, and Duryodhana has won. So now, you must serve in Dhritarashtra’s palace.” Draupadi was dazed. She said, “Can anyone offer his wife as a stake in any gamble?

Further, if Yudhishthira had lost himself earlier, then he had no right to offer me like a stake. Did King Yudhishthira first offer himself or me like a stake? Find out and come back.” The messenger returned to the court.

Hearing his words, Duryodhana was very angry.

“A servant woman should have a short tongue,” said Duryodhana. You go and drag her here by the hair,” he told Dusshasana. By nature this Dusshasana was wicked. And now he was ordered by his elder brother. So what could check his arrogance? He dragged Draupadi by her hair to the royal court. And Duryodhana taunted her,

“Yudhishthira lost everything. Finally, he staked you also. You are now my servant.” It was a crowded royal court. Many were elders in it – like Dhritarashtra, Bheeshma, Drona, Kripa, and Vidura. Draupadi looked at them all with eyes eager for help. But no one spoke.

All the elders were silent. The subjects were stunned. Her husbands sat with their heads bowed. “Where righteousness and justice do not exist, it ceases to be a court; it is a gang of robbers,” said Draupadi.

Dushasana grinned and uttered wicked words.

Bheema was like a volcano now. He thundered in anger, “I will burn the hands of Dusshasana.” The old sire Bheeshma advised Duryodhana and said, “Do not disgrace the royal family of the Kurus.”

But Duryodhana gave only a cruel laugh. And he ordered Dusshasana – “A servant need have no queenly robes. Snatch her saree.” Dusshasana should have respected Draupadi, his sister-in-law, like his mother. But the wicked fellow began to pull at her saree.

Draupadi’s weeping and wailing would have moved a stone to mercy. She begged all the elders to protect her. Tearfully she told them, “To be dishonored is to die. Please save me.” She turned to the five Pandavas and said, “My father had faith in the strength of your arms and gave me to you. In an open assembly, I am being dishonored, but you sit with folded arms. Are you not ashamed?”

Draupadi being disrobed by Dusshasana

But all her words were useless. She was the daughter of King Drupada; she was the wife of the Pandava heroes who defeated al other Kings and performed the great Rajasuya Sacrifice; an empress in truth. But when she was being insulted and dishonored in the open court, there was no one to protect and help her.

Draupadi wept and sobbed – “O Lord Krishna!

You are always kind to your worshippers. Please do not forsake me, whoever may do so. O Protector of the helpless! You are my one help!” She closed her eyes; her mind fixed on Lord Krishna.

O Wonder of wonders! Draupadi’s saree became endless. Dusshasana went on pulling her saree. The sarees rose in a heap. Dusshasana’s hands were tired.

‘Only After You Are Punished…’

Still, Duryodhana’s pride would not come down. “What if the saree has become endless?” he said, and patting his thighs, again taunted,

“You are a servant in my palace.” Insult after insult! Draupadi’s wrath raised its hood with a hiss and cried for revenge. She cursed him in anger: You will die with a broken thigh.” She shouted at Dusshasana: “Only after you get punished for this sin, I will tie up my hair. Not till then.”

The court trembled at her terrible oath. The earth shook. Comets filled the sky. There were ill omens on all sides. Bheema, who had the strength of a hundred elephants, had so far kept quiet because of his elder brother. Now his rage knew no bounds. And he thundered –

“I will beat this sinner Duryodhana’s thighs into pulp. And I vow to tear open Dusshasana’s breast and drink his blood.”

Bheeshma and Drona cautioned Dhritarashtra – “Why do you keep quiet even after listening to the wickedness of your sons? You have heard the curse of the pained heart of the very virtuous woman, Draupadi. It might mean the end of your line.”

Dhritarashtra was also afraid. He said to Draupadi, “You should not have been shamed thus.

You are indeed a good and righteous woman.

Ask me any boon.” Draupadi asked for the liberation of her husband. Dhritarashtra returned their kingdom also and tried to console them.

The Pandavas in the Forest

Draupadi and Pandavas in the Forest

The Kauravas were angry. They had won the kingdom by great cunning – but their father had given it back. How were they to get it once again? They decided that the only way was to play dice again. Another invitation was sent to Yudhishthira to come and play.

The party which was defeated would have to give up the whole Kingdom and remain in the forest for twelve years, and then for another year living somewhere incognito(that is, without being recognized by others.) If they were recognized by anybody during that period, then they had to repeat the twelve year’s stay in the forests and spend a year incognito. This was the condition of the match.

Yudhishthira was defeated again.

The Pandavas gave up their royal robes and put on clothes made of the bark of trees. Draupadi followed her husbands. In the palace, she had lived in luxury. But now, because of stones and thorns, at every step blood oozed from her feet.

So the forest life of the Pandavas began. Shri Krishna was the beloved God of Draupadi. He did not forget his devotees in the forest but visited them now and again. Many sages also visited the Pandavas now and then and guided them.

The Sun-God gave Yudhishthira a magic vessel. This vessel would not become empty until Draupadi’s, meal was over. So everyone would be fed very well. Draupadi would eat at the end. After that, the vessel could not be used on that day. Thus even amid the hardships and suffering of forest life, Draupadi had some peace.

‘We Are in the Jaws of Death’

Duryodhana took away the kingdom of the Pandavas and sent them to the forest. But still, he had only one thought day and night – how could the Pandavas be put to more trouble? Once the sage Durvasa went to him. Duryodhana treated him with great courtesy and hospitality. The sage was highly pleased. Then Duryodhana requested favor – that Durvasa with hundreds of his disciples should go to the forest and ask for the hospitality of the Pandavas. Durvasa agreed.

Accordingly, the sage with hundreds of Bramins went to the Pandavas. Yudhishthira greeted them respectfully and requested them to accept his hospitality. Durvasa Rishi agreed.

He went with his disciples to have his bath and offer worship before the meal. But Draupadi was in fear. She had also finished her meal. How could they feed and satisfy hundreds of hungry persons now? Durvasa Rishi was well known for his terrific anger. If he opened his eyes in rage, he would burn the victim to ashes. So now, Draupadi could turn only to Lord Krishna, she offered prayers in her mind – “O Krishna, only you, and no one else can protect us. Save us !” And behold, Krishna himself stood before her!

He said, “I am hungry. What will you give me?” Draupadi was overjoyed that Krishna had come in answer to her prayer. But her vessel was empty. What could she give? She said, “Krishna, we are in the jaws of death.” She told him of the visit of Durvasa with his disciples and her helplessness. Krishna said, “Bring your vessel; here.” Draupadi fetched the cleaned and bright vessel.

Somewhere inside the vessel, there was a small fragment of a vegetable. Krishna put it into his mouth. He said his hunger was satisfied.

Krishna saved Draupadi and Pandavasa from Durvasa Muni

The sage Durvasa and Brahmins were returning, after bathing in the river Yamuna. All of a sudden, everyone felt as if he had a sumptuous meal with many delicacies. Durvasa Rishi blessed the Pandavas. “Your righteousness will always protect you,” he said.

The Vile Jayadratha

But Draupadi’s troubles were not yet over.

Jayadratha was the king of Sindhudesha and was married to Dusshale, the daughter of Dhritarashtra. He too had gone to Draupadi’s Swayamvara and was unsuccessful. He could not get her by valor. He thought she could be attracted by riches. He cunningly waited for a time when Draupadi was alone.

Jayadratha forces Draupadi in his Chariot

He went to her, heaped before her a pile of costly jewels. Draupadi rejected everything. Jayadratha forced Draupadi into his chariot and sped away. The sages nearby ran to Bheema and Arjuna and informed them. They were greatly enraged and followed the chariot at once. With a single stroke, Bheema brought down the enemy. But Yudhishthira asked him not to kill Jayadratha. Bheema kicked Jayadratha and allowed him to run away.

Once again in Danger

By now twelve years which they had to spend in a forest was over. Next, the Pandavas had to spend a year incognito. How could five famous heroes, with a very beautiful wife, remain unknown for one full year anywhere?

Would the Kauravas keep quiet?

And it would be most difficult for Draupadi because she was a woman.

The Pandavas thought for long. And then they took a secret decision. Yudhishthira disguised himself as a pious Brahmin. He assumed the name of Kanga Bhatta and entered the palace of Virata, the King of the Matsya country.

Bheema joined service in the kitchen of Virata, taking the name of Valala. Arjuna, to be known as Brihannala, taught dancing to the princesses. Nakula joined the royal stables as a supervisor and Sahadeva began to look after the palace dairy.

Draupadi went to Queen Sudeshna and begged to be taken as one of her attendants.

The Queen was more than surprised at the great beauty of Draupadi. So she asked, “who are you?

Where you do you come from?”

“I am a wife to five Gandharas who are divine musicians. I am an expert at doing the hair. I shall stay with you for one year and then go away.” Queen Sudeshna was pleased and engaged her.

Draupadi, daughter of the powerful King Drupada, wife of the Pandavas who could conquer the whole world, she who sat on the throne as an empress and was accepted by Lord Krishna himself as his sister, was now a servant to Queen Sudeshna.

Yet she could at least see her husbands who were in the same palace, and this was a consolation. But trouble was ahead!

Keechaka Is Killed

Keechaka was Queen Sudeshna’s younger brother and a very strong man. Once he saw Draupadi. He was moved by her great beauty and asked his sister, “Who is this very beautiful woman?”

Sudeshna could make out the evil thoughts of her brother. She was afraid. She replied, “Brother, though she is a servant she is a very virtuous woman. She is the wife of five Gandharavas, it seems.”

Without the knowledge of the Queen, Keechaka begged Draupadi – “enough of this service. Come and be my queen.” Draupadi warned him – “Leave such evil thoughts or else you will be like a weak boy jumping into a folded river to cross it.” She ran away from him. But Keechaka followed her like an evil spirit.

Once he chased her. Draupadi ran away with fear. She entered the royal court.

There was King Virata. Kanka Bhatta and Valala were also there. Keechaka angrily pushed her and walked away. His eyes were burning with anger.

Draupadi was now like a cobra whose hood had been touched. She thundered, “You are all watching passively when a man pushes about a woman! Is this a King’s way?”

The cook Valala – Who was Bheema in disguise – was hissing in anger. He stared at a tree – as if he would wrench a branch and kill Keecaka with it. But Yudhishthira cleverly said, “Cook Valala, why do you eye that tree thus? It should not be felled now. There is still time.” He also consoled Draupadi and sent her back.

But Draupadi could not control her anger and agony. That night she went to bed and wept and wept. In the dead of the night, she quietly went to Bheema and said tauntingly – “While Keechaka tortures me, are you meditating with closed eyes?”

“I wanted to finish him,” Bheema said. “But brother Yudhishthira came in the way. Wait for a few days.” Draupadi was enraged and said,

“I came with some trust and confidence in you. With five heroes as my husbands, there is none to protect my honour. Yudhishthira is always bound by justice and morality. Arjuna is busy teaching dancing. Nakula and Sahadeva are not strong enough. After you took to cooking, your arms also have become weak. Alas, what could you do? You are not to blame. But it is not one or two insults I have suffered. I only cause trouble to you people, and I am a source of trouble. At least permit me to die.”

Pity welled up in Bheema’s heart at her condition “calm yourself,” he told her. “Make Keechaka come to the dancing hall I will finish his story.” The next day Keechaka came to the Queen’s apartment, and again he began to follow and tease Draupadi. But what a surprise! She seemed to favor him. “Come tonight to the dancing hall,” she told him.

Keechaka’s joy knew no bounds. He went that night to the dancing hall. Bheema pounced upon him. But Keechaka was also no ordinary man. He was a hero among heroes. There was a terrific fight. And Bheema killed him.

The next day there was a commotion in Virata Nagara. The city was full of rumors. Queen Sudeshna wept in sorrow. Keechaka’s brothers boiled with rage that because of her, their eldest brother had been killed. They determined to burn her along with Keechaka’s body and caught hold of her.

Bhima fights Keechaka and kills

How could one helpless woman resist so many wicked persons? Bheema went quietly to the cremation ground. He uprooted some trees, took them with him, and beat the wicked fellows to their death with those trees. Sudeshna called Draupadi and said to her with folded hands

“Enough harm has been done. Please go away.”

“There are just a few days more,” Draupadi said, “and then my husband will take me away.’

Thus the year was over. The Pandavas and Draupadi gave up their disguises and appeared in their true forms. King Virata was overjoyed. He celebrated the marriage of his daughter Uttara with Abhimanyu, the son of Arjuna and Subhadra.

‘Krishna, Let There Be War’

According to the conditions of the game of dice, the Kauravas had now to return half the kingdom of the Pandavas. Shri Krishna himself was to go to Duryodhana on their behalf. Yudhishthira repeatedly told Krishna –

“Please prevent a war. We are not worried if we do not get half of the kingdom. Five villages are enough for us. But let there be no war. Please prevent the death and injuries, the terrible loss, and all the sorrow and the suffering.”

Bheema, Arjuna, and Nakula also agreed with him. Only Sahadeva wanted war. Draupadi was in great pain, remembering all the trouble and insults she had to suffer ever since she married the Pandavas. She said

“Krishna, has any other woman suffered as I have? Did not that Dusshasana pull at my saree in the full court, before the Pandavas themselves? Did not those wicked fellows call me a slave? If you have any affection for me, be angry with those Kauravas. Don’t you forget my plait, with which Dusshasana dragged me. If the Pandavas will not fight with the Kauravas, then my old father, my brother and my sons the Up-Pandavas, and also Abhimanyu – these will fight with them. With a fire burning in my heart these thirteen years, I have waited for this day. How can my heart grow cool if I do not see Dusshasana’s arm cut off and rolling in the dust?

Krishna, don’t talk of peace, but decide on a war.”

Draupadi’s eyes seemed to dart fire. Krishna consoled her –

“You will see the wives of those who insulted you shedding tears. The time has come for the punishment of the Kauravas.”

So saying he left for the court of the Kauravas on his mission. But his negotiations failed.

A Vow Fulfilled

The war between the Pandavas and the Kauravas raged on the plains of the Kurukshetra. It lasted eighteen days. Blood flowed like a river.

Bheeshma, the patriarch, lay on a bed of arrows.

Drona died. Karna was killed by Arjuna. Nakula and Sahadeva killed Shakuni and his sons.

Bheema dragged Dusshasana from his chariot, beat him up with his mace and tore his chest open. That avenged the insults to Draupadi.

Duryodhana’s thigh was broken by Bheema with his big mace, and he fell.

Death of Duryodhana

Sorrow Follows Sorrow

Leaving Duryodhana with a broken thigh, the Pandavas returned to their camp. They thought that all Kauravas were dead and victory was theirs. But Draupadi’s cup of misery was not yet full.

Drona’s son Ashwatthama supported Duryodhana. He swore to kill the Pandavas and went into their camp during the night. He could not lay his hands on the Pandavas. He beheaded the Upa-Pandavas, the five sons of Draupadi.

The day dawned; Draupadi saw what had happened and her heart turned to ashes. She rolled on the ground in sorrow with tears streaming down her face.

Draupadi had lived long years of intense agony; at last, when happiness seemed near, she lost all her sons.

To Heaven

The war was over. Yudhishthira was now to be king. But he wanted to give up everything.

“I have killed my relations and become a sinner, and I do not wish to be king”, he said.

He would not listen to his brothers who spoke words of consolation. Then it was this heroic woman, Draupadi, who finally convinced Yudhishthira. She told him,

“This was a war fought for justice. The Kauravas brought destruction upon themselves because of their own unjust actions. It is now our duty to protect the people who are still alive, and rule over the land justly.”

Yudhishthira then agreed to ascend the throne. The Pandavas ruled over the land only for the good of the people. They also looked after Dhritarashtra and his wife Gandhari affectionately.

Some years later Shri Krishna left the world.

Meanwhile Dhritarashtra, Gandhari and Kunthi had all died. Krishna had been the soul of the Pandavas, and so the separation plunged the Pandavas in great sorrow. They crowned their grandson and left the capital. Draupadi, of course, followed them.

When they came near Mount Meru, Draupadi fell on the ground. Leaving the body there, she attained heaven. Likewise, all the Pandavas attained heaven.

Draupadi falls while going with Pandavas

Such Beauty! And Such Suffering!

Draupadi herself once said to Krishna –

“I am the daughter of King Drupada and sister to Dhristadyumna, I am your dear companion, King Pandu’s daughter-in-law and the crowned queen of the five Pandavas; I am also the mother of the heroic Upa Pandavas, and yet what insult have I had to bear!”

These words sum up her entire, pitiful story. A woman who had no equal in beauty and grandeur had always to tread the path of trouble and insult.

It is often said that a woman is weak and helpless. But when the Pandavas had lost their kingdom and Dhritarashtra granted her a boon, Draupadi got the kingdom back for her husbands.

When Yudhishthira lost her at dice, Draupadi boldly asked – “Did he lose himself first or me?

If he staked himself first and lost, had he authority over me?” No one in that full royal court, not even great scholars, could answer her.

Once provoked, Draupadi became the symbol of a woman’s strength and power. She rebuked the court –

“When Drona and Bheeshma and others also sit dumb like this, this is no court.”

She vowed that she would plait her hair only after Dusshasana was killed. She cursed Duryodhana and his brothers. When Keechaka teased her, Yudhishthira tried to pacify her. But she fanned the fire of Bheema’s anger and burnt Keechaka in it.

After twelve years of life in the forest and one year in disguise, Yudhishthira said, “Let there be no war which kills elders and relations and thousands of others. If Duryodhana gives just five villages, it is enough.” Even Bheema was soft. But Draupadi spoke words of file –

“If you people do no fight I will make my father, brother, Abhimanyu and the Upa-Pandavas fight with the Kauravas.”

She tied up her hair only after Dusshasana lay in blood.

But this fiery heroine was not without kindness and affection. She was insulted, taunted and driven to the forest by the sons of Dhritarashtra and Gandhari. When Dusshasana 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 Kunthi.

The Unforgettable Heroine

Usha’s mother came to the end of the story of Draupadi. Usha sat quiet, her mind still full of the story. Her mother said,

“Usha dear, it is not money or position that makes any one great.

No one in this world can escape troubles and difficulties. Draupadi was the queen of the five Pandavas. Subhadra was Krishna’s sister and the wife of Arjuna. Even they had to suffer so much.

One has to develop the strength to bear the trials of life. We should resolve firmly not to harm the good people, and not to bend before the wicked. Draupadi was of course a woman. But she became as famous as the heroic Pandavas because of such determination and her devotion to Krishna. Her personality was one of lighting and thunder. She had a resolve that would not cool off after thirteen long years of suffering, and also sympathy for Gandhari after all was over.

She is in no way less than Bheema or Arjuna in strength and spirit, valor and virtue. Is it not so?”

“Yes, mother. Listening to this story, I have so much sympathy for Draupadi and so much of admiration. I am filled with wonder for her remarkable personality. What a great story you have told me today, mother! I must remember this story and turn it over in my mind again.”

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