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Draupadi from Mahabharat
Draupadi from Mahabharat has been considered as one of the most controversial heroine in Hindu mythology.
You might be wondering, why I chose to bring her here, in my writings. I hardly see anyone talking anything "good" about Draupadi. For those, who don't know her, read on. For those who know her, they can read purely on their wish and will.
Obviously, she is not my ideal. Well, you can choose to skip this topic, if you feel like. I for once, have always been intrigued by this particular lady - Draupadi. So, here I dedicate this hub of mine to her.
I remember, I had an argument with one of my friends, when we were discussing some politics and incidents of Mahabharatha. He was dead against Draupadi. He called her all bad names, and considered her to be an evil. I tried my best to prove my points, and gave him enough proofs to understand the typical mystery of Draupadi and her life. Obviously, he gave up after some time of making arguments with me, but still wasn't convinced that whatever I was telling was somewhere "right" according to his thoughts. In fact, many people think the same way, the way he does. I don't blame anyone. Here, I am presenting my facts and points about this all time controversial (more than any Bollywood actress), amazingly gorgeous, somehow fascinating and fearless heroine of Mahabharatha - The Draupadi, who was married to five brothers - Yudhishthira, Bheema, Arjuna, Nakula and Sahdeva.
History - Draupadi and Related Polyandry
In any era, no matter how much deeper we delve into the history of mankind, especially when it comes to the history of Hindu mythology - the idea of a woman having more than one husbands, looks quite derogatory, not to mention highly inadequate and wrong in all senses. But, what I admire in Draupadi was her ability to be herself, no matter what. She knew what she thought, she could fearlessly speak her mind, she refused to be over-shadowed by her husbands or by anyone else, no matter how much mighty he was.
Despite Draupadi being a polyandrous woman in Indian mythology, there have been instances of many other women, who had associations with more than one man. Take, for instance, her mother-in-law - Kunti, who was married to Pandu. Most of us know Mahabharatha from what we have seen on television. Four Gods (Surya, Vayu, Indra and Yama) came to Kunti and each gave her a child with one flick in air, just like magic. The mythology doesn't say that. It just says that she got four sons from four Gods.Kunti was not married to these Gods, but had association with them for getting children. This was not much highlighted in the story. There were only whispers, and the facts remained silent within the four walls of the palace.
Various other women who had more than one husbands were Marisha (married to ten pracheta brothers) and Jatila(wife of seven sages). Anyway, these were just some facts regarding polyandry in India.
The contest to marry Draupadi
Life of Draupadi
Lets come back to the main girl here - Draupadi. The association of Draupadi with her five husbands has always stirred imagination amongst us, which we may not even dare to think about. For instance, how would she manage with her husbands? Who was she most passionate to? Who did she find friendlier, or more attractive? For instance, Nakula was the most handsome, whereas Bheema was more compassionate. Sometime back, I read that a Telugu writer, Rajya Sabha MP Yarlagadda Lakshmi Prasad's fiction dared to explore the physical aspect of Draupadi's intimacy with her husbands.The novel was chosen for a Sahitya Akademi award. But, as usual this led to an outrage and controversies calling for the book to be banned.The RSS newspaper,Organiser,further proclaimed that the author had taken undue licence with Draupadi's character and was guilty of "semi porn and derision".
According to the mythology, the reasons behind Draupadi having five husbands had woven many stories. According to one story, she was a sage's wife in her past life and her insatiable sexual appetite got her the curse of getting married to five men in her next birth. Another story, which my mother told me long time back was that, in her past life she asked Lord Shiva to get a husband who was noble and strong, handsome and wise, and who must be skilled with the bow. Lord Shiva, said that all these qualities can not be accumulated in one human being, so he gave her five husbands - each with one trait.
According to folklore, each of her husbands had exclusive rights to Draupadi's chamber for a year, and then has to wait for another four years for the next turn. Why one whole year? May be, because it gave Draupadi enough time to bear a child for that husband without facing any paternity issues. Mythology says that she bore each of her husbands a son.
The most interesting part, however was the Draupadi's switch over from one husband to the next. Draupadi would walk through fire to regain her virginity and purity. This was really sarcastic, since such rules never got placed before polygamous husbands.
But, still Draupadi had a rule of her own for her husbands. She made it very clear to her husbands that they could not bring any other wife into the same house. Therefore, all the Pandavas had other wives, but these wives would stay with their parents and the Pandavas had to travel out of the city to visit their other wives in the four years that Draupadi would stay intimate with the other brothers.
The only exception was made for Krishna's sister, Subhadra, who got married to Arjuna.
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The strength of her character blew all the records when despite having five husbands; she was dragged into the court full of male courtiers and disrobed and humiliated in public. Despite, being so helpless in front of thousand spectators, she could fearlessly fight and raise her voice against the injustice, rather than suffering in self-pity, the way her husbands did.
According to the epic, she was given a chance to get married to a perfect husband, sent to her by Lord Krishna, in the form of Karna. But, she rejected him, because of his low caste and then ended up marrying Arjuna, who shared her with his brothers and failed to protect her, when she needed him the most.
Draupadi may remain to be one of the most controversial women in the history of epics and mythologies, because of the way her life went through the series of strangest and most outrageous events. Despite, having so much turmoil in her life, she continued to stand with her head held high. Even at an age, when women were not given much regard, she had an authority to govern her husbands at her will. She had the guts to be assertive to her will and could admonish her husbands, whenever they failed her. Draupadi is still worshipped as a goddess, worthy of sacrifice, at many places in India.
UPDATES (July 26th, 2010)
People are contemplating my knowledge about Mahabharatha and Draupadi to be limited to this hub only. Had I been even a bit shallow in my understanding and knowledge about the whole history and series of events, I'd have not even bothered myself to write this hub. Obviously, I can not write whole of Mahabharatha and its incidents here. My focus was on Drauapadi and her personality. To know more about the stories, histories and facts related to Draupadi and other people associated to her, please feel free to read some verses of Mahabharatha, if you can find it anywhere online. I found one particular website, where you can get as much information you want here http://www.mahabharataonline.com/