There is a popular notion that the Pandavas marry Draupadi to honour Kunti’s words because Kunti, by mistake, tells them to share what they have brought as alms. That story is certainly narrated in the Mahabharata, however, like all other Popular Beliefs Text Myths on Mahabharata, there is Alternative Narrative in the Text itself!
Some scholars and some feminists go to the extent of suggesting that Draupadi is a victim of that polyandrous marriage heaped upon her by Patriarchy. To some others, particularly to some Leftists and anti-Hindus, Draupadi's polyandrous marriage is an oft quoted reference or rather excuses denigrating Hinduism and the Ancient Indian Civilization and Culture.
Some artists too adapt the episode in their Art as an exercise in intellectual pretence to sham Patriarchy with a supposed social message. For example, Saoli Mitra in her famous play Naathavatii Anaathavat has transformed Draupadi into a petty sentimental and ever lamenting character. Saoli interprets on her choice-suited bits and pieces from Mahabharata-Text – an out-of-context interpretative strategy, and a failure to read the Text. In my opinion, it is these scholars, feminists, artists and Sabjaantaa Leftists who actually victimize Draupadi more in their attempt to depict her as the victimized.
The person involved here is Draupadi; what about her opinion on the matter? Can anybody cite a single reference that Draupadi ever laments on her polyandrous marriage?
Someone might definitely say here that Draupadis voice (lament) has been edited out by Patriarchy; so, how can such reference be cited? Well, if that is the issue, then, why hasn’t the Patriarchy edited out the whole matter of the polyandrous marriage?
Many Hindus have been in discomfort because of Draupadi's polyandrous marriage; and many would rather Out-Vyasa-Vyasa and interpret that Draupadi has been actually married to Yudhishthira or Arjuna. Needless to say, the Text is the Text, and we cannot go Beyond that. If one narrative causes discomfort to some pious soul, let him/her search for an Alternative Narrative within the Text itself.
In this article, as the very title indicates, I shall discuss that the Pandavas-Draupadi polyandrous marriage is in fact a consensual marriage with both personal and impersonal motives and purpose, other than having poetic and philosophic objectives. For that, my simple methodology is to read the Text.
Obviously, reading a Text is one thing, and Reading is another! When we read, we tend to form a Grand Narrative excluding Micro Narratives; however, when we Read, we can take the picture as a Whole and reconcile supposed Contradictions.
Let us therefore, straight to the Mahabharata-Text.
When the Pandavas and Kunti have been living at Ekacakra, Vyasa comes to them one day (his second visit), and informing them about Draupadi, further instructs them –
“Ye princes of Bharata's line, that damsel of celestial beauty hath been born in the line of Drupada. The faultless Krishna of Prishata's line hath been appointed to be the wife of you all (bhavataa). Ye mighty ones (mahaabalaa), go therefore, to the capital of the Panchalas and dwell ye there. There is no doubt that having obtained her as wife ye shall be very happy” (1.57.14-15)[i]
“The wife of you all” - it leaves us with no doubt that the polyandrous marriage is Vyasa’s brainchild, and the Pandavas already accede to that before going to Panchala.
Hiltebeitel notes that “bhavataa” is singular, but Vyasa “cryptically” addresses the Pandavas as “mahaabalaa” in plural (p 49). Considering the singular-plural ambiguity in English “you”, we may understand Vyasa’s words implying –
“Draupadi (will be known) as your wife Yudhishthira, but she will be married to all of you, Pandavas”.
Or, Vyasa, might be taking the Pandavas as “singular”, that is as one integrated Purusha. I have discussed elsewhere that the Pandavas are indeed “One” Pandava-Purusha.
“After Vyasa had gone away, those bulls among men, the Pandavas, saluted the Brahmana and bade him farewell, and proceeded (towards Panchala) with joyous hearts and with their mother walking before them. (KMG-Adi.172)” [ii]
Then the Pandavas obtain Dhaumya as their priest, and consider themselves ‘naathavantam ivaatmaanam’, and then “the Pandavas with their mother forming the sixth of the company, having obtained that Brahmana as their priest regarded their sovereignty and kingdom as already regained and the daughter of the Panchala king as already obtained in the Swayamavara.” (1.174.9-10) [iii]
It is clear by now that the Pandavas have accepted by then that all of them would have a common wife; and with this acceptance, they are going to Panchala to obtain Draupadi and Drupada’s friendship to regain their Kingdom.
Evidently, the Pandavas have been thinking more of Politics at this point; that is, the would-be marriage is contemplated more as a Political marriage. However, what is more Brain-Centric at this point would not remain so; and as we shall see, the Pandavas’ Heart and Instinct would come to play an overwhelming role in the marriage.
The Pandavas meet some Braahmanas on the way, and after that “on their way those heroes beheld the illustrious Dwaipayana - that Muni of pure soul, and perfectly sinless. And duly saluting the Rishi and saluted by him, after their conversation was over, commanded by him they proceeded to Drupada's abode.” (1.176.2-3) [iv]
Vyasa has not only been present in South Panchala before them, but also ‘commands’ them to go to the Svayamvara. His appearance again and again at this phase shows how eager he is to have Draupadi for the Pandavas, to see the polyandrous marriage.
Why Vyasa is so eager for that is a natural question to prop here; and I will address that in the second part of this article.
In Panchala, in the Svayamvara, all Kings are Kaama-struck on beholding Draupadi. The Pandavas are no exception – “And the sons of Pritha also …and the illustrious twin heroes, beholding Draupadi, were all likewise struck by the shafts of Kama –
tathaiva paarthaah prthubaahavas te; viirau yamau caiva mahaanubhaavau /
taam Draupadim prekshya tadaa sma sarve; kandarpabaanaabhihataa babhuuvuh // (1.178.12)
So, it is Kama, the Instinct that draws the Pandavas’ Personal Self to Draupadi. The already contemplated Political marriage has been Brain-Centric, but it no more remains so. In the Brain-Instinct polarity constructed by our civilization, we privilege Brain; however, Vyasa shows that Human Relation cannot evolve unless Instinct works in harmony with the Brain.
Let us note other things too –
1) Vyasa does not make any artificial “Victorian” divide between Prema and Kaama
2) Vyasa comments on the nature of visually dependant male-gaze; and this peculiarity of Male Psyche is a reality that cannot be tampered with by moral doses or Media and Facebook lamentations
Since all Pandavas are already decided to marry Draupadi, they feel no qualms feeling Kaama for her, and they are quite comfortable in that unison of Kaama.
Now, Arjuna too is included in that male-gaze and Kaama; and thus goes to wind the story created by some novelists and artists that Draupadi loves Arjuna without reciprocity. If, later, Arjuna appears indifferent to Draupadi at times, the reason is elsewhere; and we shall discuss that elsewhere.
After Arjuna ‘wins’ Draupadi, a fight ensues among the Kshatriyas with Arjuna and Bhima on one side and all others on the other. The brothers win that battle too and protect Drupada and Draupadi's honour. The dispute ends with Krishna's intervention.
Vyasa narrates, “Meanwhile Kunti seeing that her sons were late in returning from their eleemosynary round, was filled with anxiety. She began to think of various evils having overtaken her sons. At one time she thought that the sons of Dhritarashtra having recognised her sons had slain them. Next she feared that some cruel and strong Rakshasas endued with powers of deception had slain them. And she asked herself, 'Could the illustrious Vyasa himself (who had directed my sons to come to Panchala) have been guided by perverse intelligence?' Thus reflected Pritha in consequence of her affection for her offspring. Then in the stillness of the late afternoon, Jishnu, accompanied by a body of Brahmanas, entered the abode of the potter, like the cloud-covered sun appearing on a cloudy day.” (1.181.37-40)
Point to note: Kunti is never troubled with the ensuing polyandrous marriage; her concern is the safety of her sons.
And then, as Arjuna enters, Vyasa uses the simile of sun – “like the cloud-covered sun appearing on a cloudy day” (mahaty athaaparaahne tu ghanaih suurya ivaavrtah, 40a).
Since Kunti remembers Vyasa too, therefore, she must have been remembering too what Vyasa has earlier ordained for her sons. In other words, Kunti’s mind lightens up by her Surya-like son’s appearance not only because he has returned safe, but also surely with the anticipation that Arjuna has indeed succeeded in ‘winning’ Draupadi and thereby accomplishing the polyandrous marriage.
I cannot miss a sidelight here. Kunti’s soliloquy is one of the rarest kinds in the whole of Mahabharata. Kunti is the only character in Mahabharata who has been given three soliloquies – one here, one at the time of her first contact with Surya Deva while she was a Kanyaa, and another post-war. Vyasa also does not hesitate to show Kunti’s doubts about him; and in that doubt is Vyasa’s glorification of motherhood. Before Kunti’s maternal instinct, her reverence for even Vyasa becomes secondary.
Now, we are at a juncture of the narrative, where, in all probability, two different versions of Mahabharata have merged.
Before Arjuna returns, we have already been informed that Yudhishthira, Nakula and Sahadeva have left the Svayamvara Sabhaa as soon as Arjuna succeeds –
“And when the uproar was at its height, Yudhishthira, the foremost of all virtuous men, accompanied by those first of men the twins, hastily left the amphitheatre for returning to his temporary home.” (1.179.21) [v]
So, if Yudhishthira, Nakula and Sahadeva have already started for home, where are they? Have they returned? And if Yudhishthira, Nakula and Sahadeva have already returned, surely they have already narrated to Kunti, Arjuna’s feat and obtaining Draupadi. Then why would Vyasa say - “Meanwhile Kunti seeing that her sons were late … was filled with anxiety”? Would we then suppose that Yudhishthira and the twins kept mum?
“Then those illustrious sons of Pritha, on returning to the potter's abode, approached their mother. And those first of men represented Yajnaseni unto their mother as the alms they had obtained that day” (1.182.1) [vi]
A recension tries to provide a logical solution to reconcile the two narratives, by saying that Yudhishthira, Nakula and Sahadeva have not immediately returned to their home but gone to begging, and later they join Bhiima and Arjuna to return together –
praag eva sampravishteshu bhavanam bhraatrshu trishu (1,182.001d*1887_01)
amba bhiksheyam aaniitety aahatur bhiimaphalgunau (1,182.001d*1887_02)
This does not seem logical because here, “those illustrious sons of Prthaa" (paarthau) refers to Bhiima and Arjuna, though in the previous version, the focus is on Arjuna only – and the simile of sun is about him –
“Then in the stillness of the late afternoon, Jishnu, accompanied by a body of Brahmanas, entered the abode of the potter, like the cloud-covered sun appearing on a cloudy day.”
mahaty athaaparaahne tu ghanaih suurya ivaavrtah /
braahmanaih praavishat tatra jishnur brahmapuraskrtah // (1.181.40)
Let us follow the narrative trail again …
“Then those illustrious sons of Pritha, on returning to the potter's abode, approached their mother. And those first of men represented Yajnaseni unto their mother as the alms they had obtained that day. And Kunti who was there within the room and saw not her sons, replied, saying, 'Enjoy ye all (what ye have obtained).' The moment after, she beheld Krishna and then she said, 'Oh, what have I said?’” (1.182.1-2) [vii]
This is the most crucial part of the narrative that has popular acceptance (so much so that no one seems to even remember that the polyandrous marriage is Vyasa’s brainchild), and that has given us our age old belief that Draupadi's marital destiny is cemented by Kunti’s mistaken utterance.
The power of this narrative to popular imagination is unmistakable. We have all elements of family drama here – mother, mother’s command over sons, sons love for their mother, the entrance of a new woman in the household, (mistaken) utterances bringing upheaval in the family life, the ensuing mother-in-law and daughter-in-law relation (shaas bahu kaa kisyaa) – and all centering the august institution of marriage. Nothing charms the popular psyche more – as our T.V serials would testify.
The problem arises when we try to interpret Mahabharata through our contemporary experiences. No doubt, the human Heart and Instinct have remained constant, but social customs and Value-System have much evolved and changed. In short, family dramas over human relations may have remained same over ages, but our (the onlooker’s) Reaction must be cautious when we are reading ancient Itihasa.
Going by the narrative, we cannot but feel sorry for becharaa Bhima. He is not famed for his sense of humour; and this one time he tries to stir some humour by presenting Draupadi as “alm”, backfires miserably!
Back to Kunti … she is then troubled (though, let us remember from the first version of the narrative that Kunti has already agreed to Vyasa’s proposal of the polyandrous marriage), and “anxious from fear of sin, and reflecting how every one could be extricated from the situation, she took the cheerful Yajnaseni by the hand …” (1.182.3)
Let us note, Draupadi is ‘cheerful’ - yaajnaseniim paramapratiitaam. Niilakantha does not comment on this, however, Haridaas Siddhaantavaagish comments “upayuktapatilaabhaadtyantapriitaam”, that is, happy at obtaining worthy husband.
Now, we can take Draupadi's cheerfulness in two ways –
1) She is so happy at that time that she completely misses the “alm” drama and its implication
2) She is well aware what is going on, and does not have the least discomfort at the unfolding prospect of a polyandrous marriage because she too has already accepted it
As I would discuss now, the first probability does not hold ground.
Kunti then approaches Yudhishthira (that shows that Yudhishthira has already been present there), confesses her “alm”-interpretation-mistake, and says –
“The daughter of king Yajnasena upon being represented to me by thy younger brothers as the alms they had obtained, from ignorance, O king, I said what was proper, viz., 'Enjoy ye all what hath been obtained. O thou bull of the Kuru race, tell me how my speech may not become untrue; how sin may not touch the daughter of the king of Panchala, and how also she may not become uneasy.'”
Yudhishthira proposes that since Arjuna has won Draupadi, he should wed her –
tvayaa jitaa Pandava yaajnasenii; tvayaa ca toshishyati raajaputrii /
prajvaalyataam huuyataam caapi vahnir; grhaana paanim vidhivat tvam asyaah // (1.182.7)
Is Yudhishthira proposing Draupadi's monogamous marriage with Arjuna? Or, is he placing Arjuna first in the order, like he consented to Bhima's live-together with Hirimbaa?
Arjuna’s reply is interesting –
“O king, do not make me a participator in sin. Thy behest is not conformable to virtue. That is the path followed by the sinful. Thou shouldst wed first, then the strong-armed Bhima of inconceivable feats, then myself, then Nakula, and last of all, Sahadeva endued with great activity.” (1.182.8-9)
Is Arjuna proposing only Yudhishthira’s marriage with Draupadi, or is he stating the order of the marriage as per seniority?
Earlier to this, when Bhima married Hidimbaa and had a son, Arjuna had no objection regarding seniority matters. But that was not a typical Vedic marriage endorsed by Vedic rites. The next part of the narrative makes clear that Arjuna is actually speaking for the polyandrous marriage with seniority-concerns.
Arjuna tells Yudhishthira – “All of us are obedient to thee. O, command us as thou likest” (tad bruuhi sarve sma vashe sthitaas te, 1.182.10c).”
“Hearing these words of Jishnu, so full of respect and affection, the Pandavas all cast their eyes upon the princess of Panchala. And the princess of Panchala also looked at them all.”
jishnor vacanam aajnaaya bhaktisnehasamanvitam (01,182.011*1888_01)
drshtim niveshayaam aasuh paancaalyaam paandunandanaah (01,182.011*1888_02)
te drshtvaa tatra tishthantiim sarve krshnaam yashasviniim (1.182.11a)
As we can see, Draupadi has been listening to these brotherly conversations. Interestingly, the narrative of the Pandavas’ first casting their eyes on Draupadi is only found in a recension; whereas, Draupadi looking at them all is the universal narrative. I would say that the poet of this recension perhaps felt that he should not show signs of “first interest” in Draupadi, and that is why interpolated two verses. Surely, this poet belongs to an age when the Value-System of the society has undergone sea-change, and woman’s coyness in matters of expressing love-interest is the accepted societal norm.
From what we see above, it is evident here that Draupadi does not have the least anxiety to an impending polyandrous marriage. She has known this, and she has accepted this. In fact, her Eye Contact with all the brothers indicates that she has already accepted them as her husbands. Needless to mention, Eye Contact is the direct expression of the Mind.
Such a prospect would no doubt be problematic for the Patriarchy because Draupadi would not fit in their puppet model of ‘woman’. Let the soul of Patriarchy rest in peace, Draupadi is certainly not the woman to oblige them. And one thing is sure – this Patriarchy does not have the courage to make Eye Contact with Draupadi. (For some idea on the power of Draupadi's Eyes, see – “Mahabharata: Draupadi, Body Language, Eyes, and Vyasa’s Poetry”).
Coming back to the narrative, “And casting their glances on the illustrious Krishna, those princes looked at one another. And taking their seats, they began to think of Draupadi alone. Indeed, after those princes of immeasurable energy had looked at Draupadi, the God of Desire invaded their hearts and continued to crush their senses. As the lavishing beauty of Panchali who had been ordained by the Creator himself, was superior to that of all other women on earth, it could captivate the heart of every creature.” (1.182.11c-13)
It is Kama again! The free expression of Kama is a pointer to me that this part of Mahabharata belongs to its Original Core. (RgVeda hails Kaama as the first-born) And now, the Instinct evolves to Hrdaya (Heart) - samprekshyaanyonyam aasiinaa hrdayais taam adhaarayan.
It is evident again that the Pandavas have accepted their polyandrous marriage with Draupadi, and thus they have no discomfort in free expression of their Instinct. And the relation already shows the potentiality to be “all-round” and Mature. First, it was a mere matter of the Brain – Political marriage, then Kama-Instinct entered it, and now H?daya wakes up to integrate all the dimensions.
When Draupadi hears that all the brothers want to marry her, she looks at them all - te drshtvaa tatra tishthantiim sarve krshnaam yashasviniim (1.182.11a). That she too wants the marriage and has explicit admiration for all the brothers, is further suggested by the immediate word about the Pandavas - ‘amitaujasaam’, implying, Draupadi looks at them all with equal admiration and fascination.
The word ‘ojasaam’ connotes – “to increase, have vital power, bodily strength, vigour, energy, ability, power, vitality (the principle of vital warmth and action throughout the body)” (Monier Williams). So, the import and significance of Vyasa’s use of the word here cannot be overlooked.
The word ‘ojasaam’ relates primarily to the Body – the Physical Existence expressing the Inner Dimension of Power; in other words, Draupadi looks at the body of the Pandavas. Had she thought that she had been married to Arjuna alone, she could not have looked at the body of all the Pandavas with equal admiration. Thus goes to wind any chance of Victorian Puritanism.
Draupadi is neither coy, nor pretentious. She does not consider herself married to Arjuna alone; nor is she reluctant to a polyandrous marriage. Since, it has been her Svayamvaraam and she has the freedom to choose a husband, she would have stated so, had she any objection to the polyandrous marriage.
After Arjuna’s feat with archery, Draupadi has already been considered married to Arjuna. She has cherished the moment; and now she has no problem to accept all the brothers as her husbands. In all probability, and given Vyasa's pre-presence in Panchala, Draupadi has already known and consented to the polyandrous marriage. We can stretch our imagination that perhaps Vyasa had met her and disclosed to her his intention and purpose. Given the political complexity and Kuru-Panchala rivalry, it is hard to believe that Vyasa would leave matters entirely to chance!
As we can see, the later poet fails to comprehend and accept the situation; and sets upon himself a moral duty to defend the Pandavas too – and so, he conveniently puts the entire matter on God’s shoulder - vidhaatraa ca pracoditaah.
My God! God has always been the perpetual Escape-Route. This God, at least, has not evolved!
At this point, Vyasa’s primary role in the marriage is confirmed when we see that now Yudhishthira recollects the earlier words of Krshnadvaipaayana (dvaipaayanavacah krtsnam samsmaran vai nararshabha, 14c), realizes the mental state of his brothers about Draupadi from their Body Language (aakaarabhaavajnah), and declares: “The auspicious Draupadi shall be the common wife of us all” (sarveshaam Draupadi bhaaryaa bhavishyati hi nah shubhaa, 1.182.15c).
Perhaps, wise Yudhishthira, despite Vyasa’s role, has been waiting to see the real and actual involvement of his brothers’ Heart and Personal Self. Though he has earlier acceded to the Political marriage, he would not have sanctioned it, unless his and his brothers’ Hearts were in unison over the matter.
In view of above, it is clear that the narrative of Kunti’s mistaken utterance is redundant, and certainly, it is not the cause of the polyandrous marriage.
That Kunti certainly has played an important role in approving the polyandrous marriage, must have been a matter of grave concern to later poets. Perhaps, unable to solve the crisis (-‘Oh How could a woman and particularly a mother consent to a polyandrous marriage of her sons!’ –), and to ‘save’ a mother from committing such ‘sin’, later poets of (I would say post-800 BCE, because Aitareya Brahmana speaks against polyandrous marriage) Dharmashaastrik age (when polyandry has become prohibited), invented the story of Kunti’s utterance by mistake – ‘Share among you whatever you have brought as alms- bhunkteti sametya sarve (CE-1.182.2).’
Nowhere do we find in Mahabharata that Draupadi ever laments her polyandrous marriage; on the contrary, I have found two clear evidences that the polyandrous marriage has been consensual.
In Adi Parvan, when Duryodhana is thinking of creating dissension among Pandavas, Karna says unequivocally –
“It is impossible to create disunion amongst them. They can never be disunited who have all taken to a common wife. Nor can we succeed in estranging Krishna from the Pandavas by any spies of ours.
She chose them as her lords when they were in adversity. Will she abandon them now that they are in prosperity? Besides women always like to have many husbands, Krishna hath obtained her wish. She can never be estranged from the Pandavas
parasparena bhedash ca naadhaatum teshu shakyate /
ekasyaam ye rataah patnyaam na bhidyante parasparam //
na caapi krshnaa shakyeta tebhyo bhedayitum paraih /
paridyuunaan vrtavatii kim utaadya mrjaavatah //
iipsitash ca gunah striinaam ekasyaa bahubhartrtaa /
tam ca praaptavatii krshnaa na saa bhedayitum sukham // (1.194.6-8)
Karna indeed knows that Draupadi's polyandrous marriage has been consensual.
Karna’s saying – “Besides women always like to have many husbands” (iipsitash ca gunah striinaam ekasyaa bahubhartrtaa) – may be frowned upon by some as the voice of Patriarchy; however, I would say, at this point, it is Karna’s balanced assessment of Female Psyche. (Karna himself is not monogamous; so, we can definitely expect that magnanimity from Karna at this point)
If man has polygamous inclination, woman too has polyandrous inclination. This “poly”-matter is a great leveler, and the truth it points to is that: despite gender difference, man and woman is Human Being. Male Psyche or Female Psyche – whatever we speak of – is ultimately under the umbrella of Human Psyche.
This same Karna would however, confirm his Patriarchal bent of mind, when, in Dice-Game Sabhaa, he would call Draupadi a Whore for having five husbands. It is the simultaneous nobleness and meanness, the higher and the lower, that defines Karna's character and makes him so fascinating.
Now, Draupadi, in wanting and accepting a polyandrous marriage, actually declares her right to gender equality contextual to the time she lives in.
In Vana Parvan, on the eve of her abduction by Jayadratha, Draupadi herself sets the matter straight when she tells Jayadratha’s envoy Kotika –
“I am the daughter of king Drupada, and people know me by the name of Krishna, and I have accepted as my husbands, five persons (saaham vrne panca janaan patitve) of whom you may have heard while they were living at Kahandavaprastha. Those noble persons, viz., Yudhishthira, Bhimasena, Arjuna, and the two sons of Maadrii”
apatyam asmi drupadasya raajnah; krshneti maam shaibya vidur manushyaah /
saaham vrne panca janaan patitve; ye khaandavaprasthagataah shrutaas te //
yudhishthiro bhiimasenaarjunau ca; maadryaash ca putrau purushapraviirau / (3.250.5-6c)
No further evidence is necessary than – “I have accepted as my husbands, five persons” (saaham vrne panca janaan patitve), implying her Active, nay Proactive role in the polyandrous marriage.
If in this part of the article, I have discussed mostly on the personal dimensions of the polyandrous marriage, in the next part, I will discuss why Vyasa wants the polyandrous marriage, and what other impersonal reasons motivate Kunti, Pandavas and Draupadi to accept it. I will also discuss the philosophic message in the polyandrous marriage.
I cannot end this part without saying another important thing. Human Heart is not a piece of bread that can be divided equally into five parts. Well, if examined with microscope, we will find that even the five parts of the bread divided so are not exactly equal.
Draupadi consents to the polyandrous marriage; but her Heart is no piece of bread. Human Social Relation may be polyandrous or polygamous, but the Heart cannot be entirely impartial, and is bound to have preferential hierarchy. Thus, though Draupadi consents to the polyandrous marriage by choice, and has equal admiration and respect for her five husbands, she can never forget the valiant youth who performed a superhuman feat to win her; she can never forget that dark-complexioned man defending her and her father’s honour just after winning her.
Draupadi consents to the polyandrous marriage, cherishes that marriage and lives in that unique relation. But in her Heart she is monogamous to the extent that Arjuna comes before all, and then all the rest. This is the Existential Reality for her. All the Pandavas know that. But a unique relation that it is, the love of the brothers grows for Draupadi the more they realize that Draupadi loves Arjuna the most.
During their last journey, when Draupadi falls first, Yudhishthira marks that partiality for Arjuna as Draupadi's ‘flaw’. But in that ‘flaw’ is glorification of Draupadi's Heart. To have won Draupadi's Heart so exclusively is Arjuna’s greater achievement than to have split hearts of opponents in the Kurukshetra War.
(To be continued …)
1. Hiltebeitel, Alf. Rethinking the Mahabharata: A Reader's Guide to the
Education ofthe Dharma King. The University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 2001
[i] drupadasya kule jaataa kanyaa saa devaruupinii /
nirdishtaa bhavataam patnii krshnaa paarshaty aninditaa //
Panchalanagaram tasmaat pravishadhvam mahaabalaah /
sukhinas taam anupraapya bhavishyatha na samshayah // (1.57.14-15)
[ii] bhagavati vyaase paandavaa hrshtamaanasaah (*1710_01)
te pratasthuh puraskrtya maataram purusharshabhaah /
samair udanmukhair maargair yathoddishtam paramtapaah // (1.158.1)
[iii] te tadaashamsire labdhaam shriyam raajyam ca paandavaah /
tam braahmanam puraskrtya paancaalyaash ca svayamvaram //
maatrshashthaas tu te tena gurunaa samgataas tadaa /
naathavantam ivaatmaanam menire bharatarshabhaah // (1.174.9-10)
[iv] tatas te tam mahaatmaanam shuddhaatmaanam akalmasham /
dadrshuh paandavaa raajan pathi dvaipaayanam tadaa //
tasmai yathaavat satkaaram krtvaa tena ca saantvitaah /
kathaante caabhyanujnaataah prayayur drupadakshayam // (1.176.2-3)
[v] tasmims tu shabde mahati pravrtte; yudhishthiro dharmabhrtaam varishthah
aavaasam evopajagaama shiighram; saardham yamaabhyaam purushottamaabhyaam //
[vi] gatvaa tu taam bhaargavakarmashaalaam; paarthau prthaam praapya
taam yaajnaseniim paramapratiitau; bhikshety athaavedayataam naraagryau //
[vii] gatvaa tu taam bhaargavakarmashaalaam; paarthau prthaam praapya
taam yaajnaseniim paramapratiitau; bhikshety athaavedayataam naraagryau //
kutiigataa saa tv anavekshya putraan; uvaaca bhunkteti sametya sarve /
pashcaat tu kuntii prasamiikshya kanyaam; kashtam mayaa bhaashitam ity uvaaca //
[viii] samprekshyaanyonyam aasiinaa hrdayais taam adhaarayan //
teshaam hi Draupadim drshtvaa sarveshaam amitaujasaam /
sampramathyendriyagraamam praaduraasiin manobhavah //
kaamyam ruupam hi paancaalyaa vidhaatraa vihitam svayam /
te manyamaanaah kaunteyaah sarvabhuutamanoharaam (01,182.013b*1889_01)
cakamuh sattvasampannaa vidhaatraa ca pracoditaah (01,182.013b*1889_02)
babhuuvaadhikam anyaabhyah sarvabhuutamanoharam // (1.182.11c-13)