The Mahabharata never ceases to amaze me. Every time I read or watch a version of this epic; the story, the unforgettable characters and the enormity of the plot still manages to awe me. Draupadi is one of the most memorable characters in Mahabharata. She is a woman born of fire. She loved Arjuna but had to marry all the five Pandavas for the five wishes she had asked of Lord Shiva in her past life. Even though Krishna himself had blessed this unique alliance, she had to bear the brunt of the society and relatives who questioned her virtue and called her cursed.
There were so many incidents where she was humiliated and asked to prove her piety. The infamous gambling event between the Pandavas and Kauravas was one of them. The Pandavas lost everything in the gamble- their titles, lands, themselves and even their wife. She was publicly disgraced in the royal court by the Kaurava’s attempt to disrobe her calling her a slave, not the treasured daughter-in-law that she was. She called upon Krishna, prayed him to save her from the greatest humiliation. He saved her modesty through his miraculous powers. The cloth on her body that the Kaurava kept pulling never seemed to end.
The Pandavas then went into exile for 14 years, but the fire of vengeance just fueled on. Then there was the war for ‘Dharma’- the epic war of good against evil, the war for justice and establishment of righteousness- The Mahabharata.
“Draupadi is the most complex and controversial female character in Hindu literature. On one hand, she could be womanly, compassionate and generous and on the other, she could wreak havoc on those who did her wrong. If the Mahabharata is an intricately woven saga of hatred and love, bloodshed and noble thoughts, courage and cowardice, beauty and gentleness, victory and defeat, then Draupadi is its shining jewel, casting the shadow of her towering personality over the epic poem and the all-destroying war it describes.”
A single post is very tiny an attempt to explore the vastness of the character that Draupadi was. Read Odia author Prativa Ray’s ‘Yagyaseni’ (The One who rose from fire), translated to English version is available, or Chitra Devakaruni Banerjee’s ‘The Palace of Illusions’ to know Draupadi’s perspective of the entire tale.