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Draupadi (द्रौपदी)
Painting by Raja Ravi Varma
Consort Yudhishthira, Bhima, Arjuna, Nakula, Sahadeva .
Parents Drupada father, Prashati[1] mother
Siblings Dhristadyumna, Shikhandi
Children Prativindhya, Satanika, Sutasoma, Srutasena, Srutakarma

Draupadi (Sanskrit: द्रौपदी, draupadī, Sanskrit pronunciation: ) is described as the Tritagonist in the Hindu epic, Mahabharata.[2] According to the epic, she is the "fire born" daughter of Drupada, King of Panchala and also became the common wife of the five Pandavas.

Draupadi had five sons; one by each of the Pandavas: Prativindhya from Yudhishthira, Sutasoma from Bheema, Srutakarma from Arjuna, Satanika from Nakula, and Srutasena from Sahadeva.

Draupadi is considered as one of the Panch-Kanyas or Five Virgins.[3]


  • Etymology 1
  • Birth 2
  • Marriage with Pandavas 3
  • Living in Indraprastha 4
    • Duryodhana's insult 4.1
  • The game of dice 5
  • Living in Exile 6
    • Abduction by Jayadratha 6.1
    • Kichaka's death 6.2
  • Ashwathama 7
  • Death and to heaven 8
  • Analysis 9
    • Appearance and Character 9.1
    • Draupadi’s Secret 9.2
    • Friendship with Krishna 9.3
    • Children 9.4
    • Polyandry 9.5
    • Draupadi as a village god 9.6
  • In media and television 10
  • References 11
  • Sources 12
  • External links 13


Like other epic characters, Draupadi too is referred by multiple names in the Mahabharata. Her names are as follows:

  • She is referred to by names like Draupadi (daughter of Drupada).
  • Krishnaa (कृष्णा) - one who has dark complexion.
  • Panchali (पांचाली) - one from the land of Panchala.
  • Yajnaseni (याज्ञसेनी) - one born from a Yajna or fire-sacrifice.
  • Drupadakanya (द्रुपदकन्या) - the daughter of Drupada.
  • Sairandhri (सैरन्ध्री) - an expert maid (her assumed name during her second exile in which she worked as Virat kingdom's queen Sudeshna's hair-stylist).
  • Mahabharati (महाभारती) - great wife of the five descendents of Bharata. (Indian Novelist Chitra Chaturvedi referred to her as 'Mahabharati' in her book by the same name).[4]
  • Parshati (पर्षती) - the granddaughter of Prishata.
  • Nitayuvani (नित्ययुवनी) - one who never become old.
  • Malini (मालिनी) - a beautiful girl with a beautiful smile and eyes that could light up the world.
  • Yojanagandha (योजनगन्धा) - she whose fragrance can be felt for miles.


Raja Drupada begs Shiva to grant him a boon

King Drupada of Panchala had been defeated by the Pandava prince Arjuna on behalf of Drona, who subsequently took half his kingdom. To gain revenge on Drona, he performed a yajña to obtain a means of besting him. Draupadi emerged as a beautiful dark-skinned young woman together after her sibling Dhrishtadyumna from the sacrificial fire.[5] When she emerged from the fire, a heavenly voice said that she would bring about the destruction of the Kuru line.[6] Draupadi is described in the Mahabharata as a very beautiful women of that time.[7]

Vyasa telling the secret of birth of Draupadi to Draupada

Marriage with Pandavas

Arjuna wins Draupadi in her Swayamvara.

Drupada intended to wed his daughter to Arjuna. Upon hearing of the Pandavas' supposed death at Varnavata, he set up a Swayamvara contest for Draupadi and declared her as the prize of the victor in the contest.[8]

At the Swayamvara, almost all the assorted monarchs were unable to complete the challenge. Only Karna, the king of Anga was able to wield and string the bow but Draupadi refused him to take part in the competition, rejecting him for being a mere "suta-putra", the son of a charioteer. Later the Pandavas showed up incognito, Arjuna in disguise wins Draupadi's hand. In the aftermath the Pandavas revealed their survival, Draupadi marries all five Pandavas.

Living in Indraprastha

Drupadi and her attendants

With the Pandavas' survival revealed, a succession crisis was started. Upon the news of Yudhishthira's death, the title of crown prince had fallen to Duryodhana. Dhritrashtra invites the Pandavas to Hasthinapur and proposes that the kingdom be divided. The Pandavas are assigned the wasteland Khandavprastha, referred to as unreclaimed desert. Drupada becomes enraged at the perceived insult towards his daughter; at Yudhishthira's prodding, Draupadi pacifies her father despite her own misgivings. With the help of Krishna, Pandavas rebuilt Khandavprastha into Indraprastha. The crown jewel of the country was the main palace, built in a valley. It was filled with books, art, mounted creatures, and with Mayasura's sorcery, there were awe-inspiring illusions everywhere.[9] Yudhishthira performed the Rajasuya Yagna, the Pandavas gained lordship over many regions.[10]

Duryodhana's insult

Duryodhana falling into water

Indraprastha was built at the site of the Khandava forest. The pride of buildings was the "Palace of Illusions", and this was where Duryodhana and his entourage explored during Hastinapur's attending of the Rajasuya Yagna.

The moment Duryodhana entered the palace he encountered an atmosphere of mystery. The courtyard was divided in two parts. The surface of one part appeared to ripple like the surface of a lake. The surface of the other part appeared solid as granite flooring and when Duryodhana stepped on the apparently solid part of the courtyard, there was a splash and Duryodhana found himself waist deep in water, drenched from head to foot. When Draupadi and her maids saw this from the balcony they were amused. Duryodhana felt extremely insulted that Draupadi and her maids saw his embarrassing predicament. Draupadi joked "Andhasya Putra Andhaha" meaning "a blind man's (referring to Dhritrashtra) son is blind"[11]

In some versions of the Mahabharatha, Bhima, Arjuna, and the twin brothers alongside their retinues witness Duryodhana's fall and laughed with their servants. Some say the popular insult of a "blindman's son" is believed to be a later addition. Duryodhana felt insulted by the behaviours of the four Pandavas, stoking his hatred of them. [12]

The game of dice

The Ordeal of Draupadi, a painting by Warwick Goble, 1913
Draupadi is presented in a parcheesi game where Yudhishthira has gambled away all his material wealth.

This key incident is often considered to mark a definitive moment in the story of Mahabharata. It is one of the driving reasons that ultimately led to the Kurukshetra war.

Together with his maternal uncle Shakuni, Duryodhana conspired to call on the Pandavas to Hastinapur and win their kingdoms in a game of gambling. The plan's architect, Shakuni had a dice that would never disobey his will. The idea was that Shakuni would play against Yudhishthira and win at the gambling table. Before the game Bhishma was told to frame the rules as he was the oldest, wisest, and strongest of all men in that court. He ordered all women to go away from the court, when the game was played (except some maid, who occasionally brought refreshments to the people at the court). He told that the loser is the one who loses all of the wealth and one can stake only the wealth to which he has right. As the game proceeded, Yudhishthira lost everything one-by-one. Having lost all material wealth, he went on to put his brothers at stake, and lost them too. Ultimately he put himself at stake, and lost again. All the Pandavas were now the servants of the Kauravas. But for Duryodhana, the humiliation of the Pandavas was not complete. He prods Yudhishthira that he has not lost everything yet; Yudhishthira still has Draupadi with him and if he wishes he can win everything back by putting Draupadi at stake. Inebriated by the game, Yudhishthira, to the horror of everybody present, puts Draupadi up as a bet for the next round. Playing the next round, Shakuni wins. Draupadi was horrified after hearing that she was staked in the game and now is a slave for Duryodhana. Draupadi questions Yudhishthira's right on her as he had lost himself first and she was still the queen. She refuses to present herself in court. Duryodhana, angry with Draupadi's behaviour, commands his younger brother Dushasana to bring her into the court, forcefully if he must. Dushasana grabs her by the hair and brings her into the court, dragging her by the hair.[13]

Draupadi and Bhima, as depicted in yakshagana.

She is dragged to the court by the hair. Now in an emotional appeal to the elders present in the forum, Draupadi repeatedly questions the legality of the right of Yudhishthira to place her at stake.

In order to provoke the Pandavas further, Duryodhana bares and pats his thigh looking into Draupadi's eyes, implying that she should sit on his thigh. In rage Bhima vows in front of the entire assembly that he would break that thigh of Duryodhana, or accept being Duryodhana's slave for seven lifetimes. At this time Vikarna, a brother of Duryodhan asks the kings assembled in the court to answer the question of Draupadi. He gives his opinion that Draupadi is not won rightfully as Yudhishthira lost himself first before staking her. Besides Draupadi is the common wife of all Pandavas. Hearing these words, Karna gets angry and says that when Yudhishthira lost all his possession he also lost Draupadi as she includes his possession. Karna publicly called Draupadi a whore for being the wife of 5 men. As per Hindu scriptures, a women who have sexual relations with more than 3 men is called a whore.[14] Earlier Draupadi insulted Karna during her swaymavara, which created a deep wound in his mind, resulting in him retaliating gravely. Draupadi had been mentioned by Shakuni and approved as a stake by the Pandavas that is why she is rightfully won. Besides the gods have ordained a maximum of three husband for a woman but as Draupadi has many husbands and according to shastras of the age, she can be considered a characterless woman. Bringing her in a court of men is not an surprising act whether she be attired or naked. Duryodhana orders Dushasana to disrobe Draupadi.[15][16][17] Seeing her husbands' passivity, Draupadi prays to Krishna to protect her. A miracle occurs henceforward, which is popularly attributed to Krishna. As the Pandavas and the court looks away, Dushasana unwraps layers and layers of her sari. But as her sari keeps getting extended, everyone looks upon in awe, and Dushasana himself is forced to stop due to exhaustion. At this point, a furious Bhima vows to remove Dushasana's arm (that had held her hair) and to drink the blood from his chest, at the pain of not seeing his ancestors/entering heaven. This vow unsettles the entire court.Draupadi vows not to tie her hair until she has decorated it with the blood of Dushasana.

The only Kauravas who object to the disrobing of Draupadi in the court are Vikarna and Vidura. Vikarna appeals the assembly to answer the questions raised by Draupadi, but in vain. Vidura openly calls Duryodhana a snake and a demon, but after finding no support, even from his own brother, Vidura is helpless. Draupadi herself verbally eviscerates the entire court, threatening that once Drupada heard of his daughter's insult, he would tear Hastinapur to the ground. Just as she is about to curse the Kuru dynasty, she is interrupted by the queen mother Gandhari. Gandhari counsels Dhritarashtra to action. Also fearing retribution from Panchal, Dhritarashtra intervenes and grants Draupadi three boons. Draupadi in her first boon asks her husbands to be freed from bondage so her sons would not be called Dasas. In her second boon she asks for all the wealth Pandavas lost in the game of dice to be restored to them. When Dhritarashtra asks her to wish for the third boon she refuses by saying that it would be greedy to ask for more. Shakuni and Duryodhana later convince Dhritarashtra to invite Pandavas for a new game of dice, with modified rules. The loser here, would go for 12 years in exile and another one year of anonymity. Yudhishthira agrees and loses again. It was following the defeat in this new game that Pandavas were sent into exile for 13 years.

Living in Exile

Abduction by Jayadratha

Draupardi taken to forest by Simhika, who plans to kill her

While the Pandavas were in the Kamyaka forest, they often went hunting, leaving Draupadi alone. At this time Jayadratha, the son of Vriddhakshatra, the husband of Duryodhana’s sister Dussala, passed through Kamyaka forest on the way to Salwa Desa. There he saw Draupadi. Jayadratha then started beseeching her to go away with him and desert her husbands who had fallen upon bad times. Draupadi pointed out that it was wrong to desert one’s spouses when they were in difficulty and then gave him a rather long and deliberately delaying speech on exactly the sort of bad time her husbands would give him on their return. Failing with words, Jayadratha tried violence and forced her onto his chariot. Meanwhile, the Pandavas finished their hunt and on return they found their wife was abducted. Learning of their wife's abduction by Jayadratha they rushed to save her. On seeing the Pandavas coming after him, Jayadratha left Draupadi on the road and Draupadi was saved. The Pandavas caught Jayadratha after chasing him on the chariot. Yudhishthira urged Bhima to spare Jayadratha’s life for the sake of Dussala and Gandhari, much to the indignation of Draupadi. Pandavas decided to make Jayadratha humiliated. Pandavas brought Jayadratha back to their hermitage in chains and shaved his head at five places in order to publicly humiliate him and later he was freed.(Book 3: Vana Parva-Draupadi-harana Parva)

Kichaka's death

Draupadi in Virata's palace, by Raja Ravi Varma

While the Pandavas were leading their normal life in their own disguised form, one day Kichaka, the brother of Sudeshna, and the commander of king Virata’s forces, happened to see the Draupadi. He was filled with lust by looking at her. He asked her to marry him, but Draupadi refused him saying that she was already married to Gandharvas. She warned Kichaka that her husbands were very strong and that he would not be able to escape death at their hands. Later, he forced his sister, the queen, to help him win Draupadi. Sudeshana ordered Draupadi to fetch wine from Kichaka's house. Draupadi tried to dissuade the queen, but fails. When Draupadi went to get wine, Kichaka tried to molest her. Draupadi escaped and runs into the court of Virata. Kichaka kicked her in front of all the courtiers, including Yudhishthira. Fearful of losing his most powerful warrior, even Virat did not take any action. Bhima is present, and only a look from Yudhishthira prevents him from attacking Kichaka. Furious, Draupadi asked about the duties of a king and dharma. Draupadi then cursed Kichaka with death by her husband's hand. Laughing it off, Kichaka only doubted their whereabouts and asked those present where are the Ghandaravas were. Yudhishthira then told Sairandhri to go to the temple, as Kichaka would not do anything to her there (in some versions, he recommends she seeks refuge with the queen). With this, the king asked Kichaka to leave and praised Yudhishthira's reply as he himself could not think of anything.

Later that night, Arjuna consoled Draupadi, and with Bhima, they hatched a plan to kill Kichaka. Draupadi meets with Kichaka, pretending to actually love him and agreeing to marry him on the condition that none of his friends or brothers would know about their relationship. Kichaka accepted her condition. Draupadi asked Kichaka to come to the dancing hall at night. Bhima(in the guise of Draupadi), fights with Kichaka and kills him, with Arjuna playing the mridangam in order to mask the sounds of battle. (Book 4: Virata Parva, Kichaka-badha Parva)

Death of Kichaka


Ashwathama, in order to avenge his father's as well as other Kuru warriors' deceitful killing by the Pandavas, attacks their camp with his uncle Kripa and Kritavarma. Invoking Lord Shiva for this purpose, Ashwathama killed Dhrishtadyumna, Shikhandi, Upapandavas, and the remaining Pandava and Panchala army.[18][19][20] In the morning, Yudhishthira hears the news and asks Nakula to bring Draupadi from Matsya kingdom.[21] Draupadi vows that if the Pandavas don't kill Ashwathama, she will kill herself by fasting till death. Yudhishthira tries to console her, reminding her of Ashwatthama's immoral status. Draupadi then says she will be pacified if the Pandavas can bring her the jewel from Ashwatthama's head[22][23] The Pandavas find Ashwatthama at Vyasa's hut. Arjuna and Ashwatthama end up firing Brahmashirsha astra at each other. Vyasa intervenes and asks the two warriors to withdraw the destructive weapon. Not endowed with the knowledge to do so, Ashwatthama instead redirects the weapon to Uttara's womb, killing the Pandavas' only heir. Krishna curses him for this act; as part of his penance, Ashwathama gives his gem to the Pandavas and thus, Draupadi is pacified.[24]

Death and to heaven

Draupadi falls as the Pandavas proceed.

When her husbands retired from the world and went on their journey towards the Himalayas and Indra's heaven, she accompanied them, and was the first to fall on the journey. When Bhima asked Yudhishthira why Draupadi had fallen, Yudhishthira names Draupadi's partiality towards Arjuna as the reason.

On the remaining journey, the rest of the Pandavas all fall, with only Yudhishthira surviving. Once he reaches the gates of heaven, he questions his godly father, Dharma, why his noble brothers and wife had fallen, and states his desire to join them wherever they are. Eventually, he is taken to a palace where he sees his brothers and Draupadi. Draupadi is decked in garlands, "possessed of solar splendour". Sensing his puzzlement, Indra tells Yudhishthira that Draupadi was Sree incarnated, revealing the destiny of her birth.


Appearance and Character

Draupadi is often considered to be a manipulative, sensual lady which is expressive in the colloquial slang Panchali. But she is worshipped as an incarnation of both Kali and Sachi, the wife of Indra .

Draupadi’s Secret

The secret of Draupadi, though not mentioned in many versions, is considered to be an important episode in many folk renditions of Mahabharata. It is sometimes better known as the "Jambul episode". The hidden love of Draupadi for Karna is something that has been explored by many writers.[25]

According to a legend from Mahabharata, during the thirteenth year of the exile of the Pandavas, Draupadi saw a ripe jambul (rose apple), hanging from a tree. She plucked it. No sooner had she done this, Lord Krishna came from somewhere and stopped her from eating it. He informed her that the ripe fruit was supposed to be the fruit with which sage Amitra was supposed to break his twelve-year fast. Not finding the fruit at its place, the Pandavas could earn the wrath of the sage, resulting in more trouble.

Lord Krishna revealed a way to avoid this problem. In order for that to happen, each one of Pandavas must speak only the truth. Saying thus, he took them to the tree. He placed the fruit under the tree and told that each one of them should reveal all secrets about them without hiding anything and without any deceit. Then the fruit will go and cling to the tree on its own accord. One by one, the Pandavas and Draupadi reveal their truths, with the fruit moving up each time.[26]

At last, Draupadi professes her love for the Pandavas, and reveals her own faults in their situation. However, the fruit doesn't move, and Krishna surmises that she is hiding something. With great trepidation, Draupadi looked into the eyes of her husbands and laments that she wished that she had married Karna, saying that had she done so, she wouldn't have suffered such misery.

This was a shock to all the husbands, but none said anything.[27] The fruit went back on the branch of the tree and all was well. The Pandavas got the message that in spite of five brave husbands, they had failed their wife when she needed them the most.[25]

Friendship with Krishna

Krishna and Draupadi's friendship is quite unique and modern, according to experts. To her Krishna is a close confidant, protector and a lot of times, a guide. After the rise of Vaishnavism, this unique friendship has been tuned into that of a deity and devotee.


Draupadi had five sons one from her husbands. There names were Prativindhya (Yudhishthira's son), Sutasoma (Bheema's son), Shrutakarma (Arjuna's son), Satanika (Nakula's son), and Shrutasena (Sahadeva's son). Together they were called as Upapandavas. None of Draupadi's children survived the end of the epic.[20]


The marriage of Draupadi with five Pandava men, i.e., polyandry, was not regarded without censure by the society spoken of in the epic. The Indo-Aryan texts almost never mention or allow polyandry, although polygamy was common among men of higher social ranks. Her marriage to five men was controversial. However, when questioned by Kunti to give an example of polyandry, Yudhishthira cites Gautam-clan Jatila (married to seven Saptarishis) and Hiranyaksha's sister Pracheti (married to ten brothers).[28]

Draupadī's polyandrous marriage seems to have been a historic event; otherwise the author of the Mahābhārata, who is at his wit's end to justify it, would have quietly kept silence about it. ... The Mahābhārata proceeds to give several fantastic reasons in justification of Draupadī's marriage; only one of them may be given by way of illustration. Draupadī got five husbands in this life because in one of her previous existences she had five times uttered the prayer to God, 'Give me a husband' (Mbh 1:213). [See also Mbh 1:206:2,27; 1:210:29 for contemporary cultural responses to polyandry.][29]

In the Svargarohana Parva of Mahabharat, during their final journey to heaven, Draupadi and all Pandavas but Yudhishthira fall on their way. The reason for the fall of Draupadi is quoted by Yudhishthira as she being more doting towards Arjuna than the rest of the brothers. Scholars state this was probably more due to Yudhishthira's jealousy as the epic does not give any proof to this accusation by him.

Draupadi as a village god

The Draupadi Amman cult (or Draupadi cult) is a tradition that binds together a community of people in worshipping Draupadi Amman as a village goddess with unique rituals and mythologies. Fire walking or theemithi is a popular ritual enacted at Draupadi Amman temples.[30]

Reclining Draupadi's head - near Auroville.
Draupati Amman idol in Udappu, Sri Lanka

There are over 400 temples dedicated to Draupadi in the Indian states of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, and Karnataka.[31] In these communities, Draupadi is worshiped mainly by people of the Vanniyar caste.[32] There are a few processions and festivals which are conducted for about 3 weeks a year. The most famous festival is in the village Durgasamudram, Tirupati of Chittoor district.[33]

Added to the Above

Draupadi Amman Temple in Aalangudi near GuruSthalam is very Powerful and Ancient Temple located on the way to Kumbakonnam and also in Chennai located in Chindhadhiripet and Kilpauk with the name of Dharmaraja Thirukovil and temple in Dharmaraja Kothapalli it is near to Hosur, namely Draupadhiamman Thirukovil and they celebrating festival every year for Lord Draupathi Amman.

Now at Aalangudi process of reconstructing the temple started due to the huge damage in the walls of temple. People who are the devotees of Draupathi or trusting the information may reach the dharmagartha and sthabathi over there and kindly donate something for the reconstructions of the temple.

In media and television

In B.R.Chopra's Mahabharat, Draupadi was portrayed by Roopa Ganguly.

In 2013 Mahabharat TV Series, Draupadi was played by Pooja Sharma.

in Dharmakshetra (2014), Draupadi was played by Kashmira Irani


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  33. ^ "Drowpathi Sametha Dharmaraja Swamy Temple". Desibantu. Retrieved 13 June 2013. 


  • Eminent women in the Mahabharata by Vanamala Bhawalkar.
  • Marriage to the Pandavas
  • Mahabharata (1999) by Krishna Dharma
  • Mahabharata by VedaVyasa
  • tele-serial by late Shri Ramanand SagarShri Krishna
  • Karna Puran
  • Mrityunjay a Marathi novel.
  • Mahabharata of Krishna Dwaipayana Vyasa, English translation by Kisari Mohan Ganguli

External links

  • Draupadi, the Woman: Epitome of Feminity and Feminism by Madhuri Guin
  • The Kaurava race of Sri Lanka and the worship of Draupadi
  • Karaga Worship is all about Goddess Draupadi
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