Mahabharata: Draupadi Birth Mystery Decoded

Rational Explanation of Her Birth from Sacrificial Fire

In some previous articles, I have attempted to search and find rational explanation behind the Mythical Narrative of Pandavas’ and Karna’s birth.

I don’t believe that Hindu Sanatana Dharma has been superstitious to believe in the God-Father Myth of Pandavas’ and Karna; or that Sanatana Dharma has been an “Opium” production machinery to propagate illogical and irrational ideas to exploit men in the name of Religion.

My conclusions are as follows:

Regarding birth of Pandavas, I offer two plausible theories – leaving it for the readers to take which suit their inclination. Mine, at present, is to take the later version of the two.

Theory-1: Fathers of Pandavas are:

a) Yudhishthira: A Vashishthas Gotra Brahmana of Vyaghrapada sub-Gotra – surely some relative of Vyasa / or, Dhaumya, the ‘priest’ of the Pandavas (Dhaumya is also Vyaghrapada Vashishthas)
b) Bhima: Kimdama Rshi (this Kimdama was a Brahmin belonging to Naga ethnic group)
c) Arjuna: A Vashishthas Gotra Brahmana Rshi belonging to Indra sub-Gotra of Vashishthas / or, Pandu himself (I prefer the latter one – that is, Arjuna was Pandu’s biological son)
d) Nakula-Sahadeva: Dhaumya … again.
(See - Karna's Father Found and The Mystery of the Pandava ‘God-Fathers’)

Theory-2: Fathers of Pandavas are:

All Pandavas are Pandu’s biological son. Let us remember that one Jain version of Mahabharata first propagated this thought. Also some Folk Mahabharata (particularly of Gadval Himalayas in Uttarakhanda) believes in this. I have reached this conclusion based on internal evidences of Mahabharata (See - Pandava Birth-Mystery Reconsidered: Vidura’s Nephews, Pandu’s Biological Sons)

As I said, my present inclination is to believe in my Theory-2.

Karna’s father, I believe, was Durvasa (NOT the Durvasa of ancient lore, but a contemporary Durvasa, a Brahmin of Magadhan origin. That explains to me why Jarasandha, the greatest emperor of the time preferred Karna, and despite being defeated by him in wrestling duel, gifted him a portion of Anga-Rajya). There is another possibility: this Brahmin’s name was not Durvasa, but he was popularly regarded as Durvasa because of his temperament and nature like the legendary Durvasa. My present inclination is to believe in this latter version of my theory.

That said, in this article, I will venture to query Draupadi's birth mystery – the Itihasa behind the Mythical Narrative that she was born from Yajna or Sacrificial Fire Altar.

1. Why Draupadi cannot be ‘literally’ born from Yajna or Fire

The obvious answer to this is quite evident to our Common Sense, and therefore, does not need explanation. My eight year old daughter watching Draupadi's birth in Mahabharata on Star Plus asked me, “how is this possible?” The problem is: many grown-ups suffering from Self-Delusion that they are Religious, never ask this question. By a peculiar logic – sort of Willing Suspension of Disbelief – they never ask, how, the Mahabharatan age could all of a sudden be an age when everything (read supernatural mumbo-jumbos) is possible!

The preceding age – the Vedic age – and even the Upanishadik age (preceding, contemporary and later) never speak of Birth-Myths or Physical Immortality etc.; in fact, the Rshis pray for 100 years of life, not more. Then, how could the Mahabharatan age explode all of a sudden when Supernatural Birth Myth, Physical Immortality etc are possible?

No Human Being can ever be born without biological process; therefore, Draupadi could not be born from Yajna-Agni (Sacrificial Fire). Yes, birth without Sex is possible nowadays, thanks to cloning technology etc and other technology … but even as yet, no human birth is possible without a Mother’s womb … natural or surrogate. Those who believe that Ancient Bharatvarsha had cloning technology etc or that test-tube baby was born in “Pot” (Drona-Kalasa) as in Drona-Acarya’s birth etc… with all due respect, that is simply child’s babble to me. Our country and nation has enough glory to feed the world for a lifetime; we need not to invent ideas like – Sab Vyaade Achhe (‘Everything is in Vedas’)

Again, birth as grown-up is impossible. Animals have that privilege, not Human Beings.

So, it is plain and simple that a fully grown Draupadi could not have been born from Yajna (Sacrifice) or Agni. That instigates the questions: why the Mythical Narrative then? Was Vyasa lying? Who was Draupadi's father? Who was her mother?

It is not that we do not have rational statements in parallel literature. However, there is a tendency to overlook them.

For example, Bhagavat Purana indeed gives a rational statement about Draupadi's birth:

drupadad Draupadi tasya dhrshtadyumnadayah sutah dhrshtadyumnad dhrshtaketur
bharmyah Panchalka ime
(SB 9.22.3)

“From Maharaja Drupada, Draupadi was born. Maharaja Drupada also had many sons, headed by Dhristadyumna. From Dhristadyumna came a son named Dhrshtaketu. All these personalities are known as descendants of Bharmyashva or as the dynasty of Panchal.”

Let us read the line again - “From Maharaja Drupada, Draupadi was born.” Plain enough! If Draupadi was born from Drupada’s seed (implied, but clear), she could not have been born from Yajna-Agni.

I will not discuss here parallel literature on Mahabharata-narrative, so let us back to Mahabharata, and to Mahabharatan Draupadi in particular.

2. Draupadi's Birth as Narrated in Mahabharata

Let us first read from Classical Mahabharata Text in both Sanskrit and KMG’s English translation.

“And there arose, after this from the centre of the sacrificial platform, a daughter also, called Panchali, who, blest with great good fortune, was exceedingly handsome. Her eyes were black, and large as lotus-petals, her complexion was dark, and her locks were blue and curly. Her nails were beautifully convex, and bright as burnished copper; her eye-brows were fair, and bosom was deep. Indeed, she resembled the veritable daughter of a celestial born among men. Her body gave out fragrance like that of a blue lotus, perceivable from a distance of full two miles. Her beauty was such that she had no equal on earth. Like a celestial herself, she could be desired (in marriage) by a celestial, a Danava, or a: Yaksha. When this girl of fair hips was born an incorporeal voice said, 'This dark-complexioned girl will be the first of all women, and she will be the cause of the destruction of many Kshatriyas. This slender-waisted one will, in time, accomplish the purpose of the gods, and along with her many a danger will overtake the Kauravas.” (KMG trans., Adi Parvan -169)


These Shlokas, as we can recognize, are now very popular courtesy the ‘new’ Mahabharata of Star Plus. Often when Draupadi enters the scene, these Shlokas, beautifully sung and presented, play in the background.

Two chapters after that, we have the same version in Svayamvara Parvan of Adi Parvan:
"Vaisampayana said, …The illustrious Yajnasena, otherwise called Drupada, had a daughter risen from the centre of the sacrificial altar. Of eyes like lotus-petals and of faultless features endued with youth and intelligence, she is extremely beautiful. And the slender-waisted Draupadi of every feature perfectly faultless, and whose body emitteth a fragrance like unto that of the blue lotus for two full miles around, is the sister of the strong-armed Dhrishtadyumna gifted with great prowess--the (would-be) slayer of Drona--who was born with natural mail and sword and bow and arrows from the blazing fire, himself like unto the second Fire. And that daughter of Yajnasena will select a husband from among the invited princes.(KMG trans., Adi Parvan -186)


What we note here is that – according to this narrative:

  1. Draupadi was born a grown-up
  2. She was born from “Vedi” of Yajna - vedi.madhyaat.samutthitaa
  3. She was not born directly from Fire – but she sprung from the centre of the Fire-Altar - vedi.madhyaat.samutthitaa. It is interesting that Mahabharata does not inform us whether Draupadi was born when the fire was still ablaze, or when the fire had extinguished on the completion of the Yajna.

Anyway, if taken literally, that means Draupadi had a Supernatural birth – and indeed, most people have believed in that literal Supernatural and Mythical Narrative for hundreds of years.

Now, the question is: do Vedi and Yajna and Agni have only literal meaning in our Ancient Texts, or do they have Metaphoric Significance too?

Before coming to that, let us see how Mahabharata itself offers us rational narrative of Draupadi's birth. In this context, I would reiterate what I have stated elsewhere – in fact, it is a saying on which I hold no copyright. Every reader who reads the actual Mahabharata-Text without depending on Interpretations (scholarly, religious or otherwise) will no doubt say the same thing.

What is that thing?

It is that Mahabharata has no Absolute Grand Narrative – it is always Multiple Alternative Narratives – and it is our choice that we prefer and privilege one narrative over another. Of course that Choice is often under the spell of a dominant Power-System so that open-minded approach to Mahabharata is often obscured. Our consent to a Choice is thus often Manufactured Consent. Now, interestingly, this Psychological Dependency goes entirely against what Krishna teaches in Gita. Ironically, most people who worship Krishna as God, do not actually try to realize and actualize what Krishna teaches.

I suggest, it is time we throw away all Interpretations to the wind, or if we do not intend to be so cruel, let us take Interpretative Readings of Mahabharata only as a subsidiary help, but not more. By Interpretative Reading, I include my own writings on Mahabharata too.

Moddaa kathaa – the best approach to Mahabharata is firsthand approach. And for that, we must first free ourselves from our own Programmed Brain – a programming that makes many of us think that Belief in Supernatural is the criteria of one’s religiousmindedness!

3. Draupadi's “Normal” Childhood

The myth that Draupadi was born of Agni as a grown-up is contradicted by many references in the Mahabharata where Draupadi is said to have a normal childhood.

For example, it is mentioned in Adi-Parva (1.157.14) Draupadi was born in Drupada’s dynasty –

01,157.014a drupadasya kule jata kanya sa devaruupinii
01,157.014c nirdishta bhavatam patnii krshna parshaty anindita

If Draupadi was born from Yajna-Agni or Vedi, how could the poet say - drupadasya kule jata kanya? Born in dynasty - kule jata – applies only if Draupadi is normally born in Drupada’s dynasty.

A similar reference is found in Vana-Parva (3.280.32) -

03,028.032a drupadasya kule jatam snusham pandor mahatmanah
03,028.032b*0097_01 Dhristadyumnasya bhaginiim viirapatniim anuvratam
03,028.032c mam te vanagatam drshtva kasman manyur na vardhate

Again - drupadasya kule jatam

Some might argue that Draupadi born from Yajna would still make her drupadasya kule jatam - because the Yajna was after all performed by Drupada.

Fine. Then what about the following references?

In Vana-Parva, Draupadi tells about herself that she and her brothers had a natural childhood – and this is conclusive proof from Mahabharata-Text that Draupadi had a normal birth and childhood -
“My father formerly kept a learned Brahmana with him. O bull of the Bharata race, he said all this unto my father. Indeed, these instructions as to duty, uttered by Vrihaspati himself, were first taught to my brothers. It was from them that I heard these afterwards while in my father's house. And, O Yudhishthira, while at intervals of business, I went out (of the inner apartments) and sat on the lap of my father, that learned Brahmana used to recite unto me these truths, sweetly consoling me therewith!”

03,033.055a evam samsthitika siddhir iyam lokasya bharata
03,033.055c citra siddhigatih prokta kalavasthavibhagatah
03,033.056a Brahmanam me pita puurvam vasayam asa pan?itam
03,033.056c so 'sma artham imam praha pitre me bharatarshabha
03,033.057a niitim brhaspatiproktam bhrat?n me 'grahayat pura
03,033.057c tesham samkathyam ashrausham aham etat tada grhe
03,033.058a sa mam rajan karmavatiim agatam aha santvayan
03,033.058c shushruushamanam asiinam pitur anke yudhishthira

If Draupadi could sit on her father’s lap (pitur anke), she, certainly, could not have been born a grown-up!

Once, when Krishna refers to Draupadi-putras as child, he says:
“Your father and your uterine brothers proffer them a kingdom and territories; but the boys find no joy in the house of Drupada, or in that of their maternal uncles.

03,180.024a rajyena rashtraish ca nimantryamanah; pitra ca krshne tava sodaraish ca
03,180.024c na Yajnasenasya na matulanam; grheshu bala ratim apnuvanti

The word ‘sodar’ suggests same womb. Vyasa could not have used that word (and that too in none other than Krishna’s voice!) had Draupadi been born otherwise.

Krishna’s words clearly indicate that Draupadi had a normal birth in mother’s womb, and all her brothers were born normally too in the same womb – including Dhristadyumna.

4. Mythical Narrative vs. Rational Narrative

So, we have both Mythical Narrative and Rational narrative in Mahabharata-Text about Draupadi's birth.

When that is so, it is better to go with the rational one. Isn’t it?

It’s time, therefore –

  1. To throw away the Mythical Narrative to the wind, or leave it for the so-called believers who believe that believing in Supernatural and superstition is akin to “faith” in Dharma! Needless to say, “Belief” and “Faith” are NOT the same thing, just as Religion and Dharma are not same. So, those who think that Sanatana Dharma and Hindu Institutionalized Religion are same … let them think so … I certainly don’t think or believe in that absurdity
  2. To search for the hidden meaning behind the Mythical Narrative – because a poet does not lie – Vyasa did not lie, surely.

I prefer to go with the second alternative – that is –

1) We cannot throw Mythical Narrative to the wind just because it does not suit logic or rationality – because Kavya functions in a realm of higher rationality that is far beyond the scope of parochial brain-centric logic and rationality

2) We must, therefore, search for its hidden meaning without taking it literally. In this way alone we can have it both ways; that is, we can accept the Supernatural and Mythical Narratives as part and parcel of the greater Reality of Kavya without taking them literally.

We must remember that Mahabharata is not only Itihasa, but Itihasa-Purana-Kavya – that is, it is literature – and therefore, Metaphors abound.

I suggest, the right way to swim in these streams of Metaphors is to have a survival technique that needs –
1) Our very Common Sense and Experience of everyday life – that our Rshis called Pratyaksha
2) Some knowledge of Ancient Literature of Bharatvarsha where we come across the same Metaphors

So, here, let us begin our search to find the metaphoric significance of three CLUE-WORDS that are associated with Draupadi's birth –

  1. Vedi
  2. Yajna (Sacrifice)
  3. Agni (Fire)

5. Yajna and Vedi and Agni – Metaphors for Sexual Intercourse and Female and Sex

i) Vedi

Vedi with relation to Yajna (Sacrifice) means “an elevated (or according to some excavated) piece of ground serving for a sacrificial altar (generally strewed with Kusha grass, and having receptacles for the sacrificial fire.” (Monier-Williams)

That is the meaning literally taken while considering Draupadi's birth.

Now, metaphorically, Vedi is often compared to Female Waist (Monier-Williams); that is, Vedi is Female Waist. This is significant for our rational search, because we find the much needed Female in Vedi. To put it bluntly: when Vyasa says Vedi, he might be actually referring to a woman; hiding that and revealing that by a unique sense of humour to remain simultaneously faithful to Itihasa and Kavya.

Now, we must also remember that Vedi has other connotations like - a wise man, teacher, Pan?it, knowledge, science and also represents Sarasvatii (Monier-Williams). These connotations can also play in this game of Metaphors – let us not forget – because here we get real person of flesh and blood, and through Sarasvatii we get Draupadi's own Archetype. (See - Fall of Draupadi and the Pandavas: Upanishadic Significance)

Now, there is another significant meaning.

Vedi is associated with Vedikaa because Vedikaakrama connotes “on the construction of fire-altars.” (Monier-Williams)

However, most significant for us is the fact that Vedikaa also means “BED” – as in Vatsyayana’s Kamasuutra (1.4.4 - tasya shiro-bhage kuurca-sthanam vedikaa ca …)

My point: given the fact that Vedi is associated with Kama, and Agni/Fire is a frequent metaphor for sexual energy –
Draupadi as “vedi.madhyaat.samutthitaa” might well mean that Draupadi was born in BED, implying she was born of natural Sexual Intercourse.

Last but not the least; Vedi is a natural metaphor for Female Genital Organ or Yoni, not only by resemblance but also by import.

A mantra of Brhadaranyaka Upanishad gives us the significance of Vedi most prominently:
Her loins (Vedi) are the altar; her body-hairs, the strewing-grass; her skin, the Soma-press; her labia, the fire in the middle. The one who practises sexual intercourse knowing this gains as great a world as the one who offers the Vajapeya sacrifice, and takes the merit of the women to himself. However, the one who practices sexual intercourse without knowing this, the women take his merit to themselves.”

tasya vedir upasthah |
lomani barhish |
carmadhi shavane |
samiddho madhyatas tau mushkau |
sa yavan ha vai vajapeyena yajamanasya loko bhavati tavan asya loko bhavati |
ya evam vidvan adhopahasam caraty asam striinam sukrtam vrnkte |
atha ya idam avidvan adhopahasam caraty asya striyah sukrtam vnjate
|| BrhUp_6,4.3


LET US SEE – how the Rshi of Brhadaranyaka Upanishad actually helps us in understanding the hidden meaning behind Draupadi's Mythical Birth.

VEDI = WOMAN’s LOINS = FIRE-ALTAR (and we also have VEDI = BED; and we shall soon see that Yoni is also Fire-altar)

What else do we want?

Draupadi as “vedi.madhyaat.samutthitaa” simply means: Draupadi was born in BED through normal and natural SEXUAL INTERCOURSE!

If this conclusion, at this point, seems stretched or strained – and appears that I am in a hurry to make my theory pass thus, let us check the metaphoric significances of Yajna (Sacrifice) and Agni from RgVeda.

ii) Yajna (Sacrifice), Agni and Yoni

Examples abound in RgVeda about the metaphoric relation of Yajna, Agni and Sexual Intercourse; so, here, I will cite only a few.

In ‘Hindu’ philosophy, in recognition and extension of the idea that Feminine Sexuality is Multiple Layered, ancient Sanskrit words for Male and Female Genital Organs are also Multiple Layered.

The word for Female Genital is Yoni – often translated in English as Vagina. However, in RgVeda, the word Yoni also means "the womb, uterus, vulva, female organs of generation; place of birth, source, origin, spring, fountain; place of rest, repository..." (Monier-Williams).

The Multiple Layered Meanings of Yoni shows how the Ancient Rshis viewed Sex and Sexuality – Sexual Act, Nature, Dharmik Rituals, and Spirituality – all are connected. For example, in RV-1.15.4, Yoni is conceived as a place of Sacrifice, and in RV-1.104.1 as Sacrificial Altar.

Draupadi born from Sacrificial Altar is therefore, Draupadi born from Yoni!

In RgVeda, Sexual Intercourse is an act of Sacrifice – Yajna; Semen is the Ghrta (libation) in the Agni of Yoni.

Let us see the translation of one particular Rk (keeping in Mind that Sanskrit cannot be faithfully translated into English) –

“Agni has come from OUT, goes towards Yoni, and then goes IN abounding in grease, being fond of and desiring Yoni, and also being desired by Yoni, standing firmly and remains and continues in that condition and action, having a wide approach or access; and then it shines brightly in pleasure, soars high in purity and sublimity, moving into Yoni and back again and again, like the two pieces of wood used in kindling fire renewing with every force, and are purified in the waters anew with every force (my trans.).” (RV- 3.5.7)

RV_03.005.07.1{25} a yonimagnirghrtavantamasthat prthupraganamushantamushanah
RV_03.005.07.2{25} diidyanah shucirrshvah pavakah punah-punarmatara navyasii kah

Is this a description of Sexual Intercourse? YES and NO.

See the beauty of RgVedic Lyric. The meaning of the Rk is at least at two levels. If Yoni is taken as meaning ‘Vagina,’ then it is a description of Sex, and if Yoni is taken as meaning ‘Sacrificial Altar,’ then it is the description of Vedic Ritual.

This is similar to the Brhadaranyaka Upanishad mantra (6.4.3) I have cited above.

Similarly, we have in Shatapath Brahmana (7:5:1:38):

“The fire-pan is the belly, the mortar the womb;--the fire-pan is above, and the mortar below; for the belly is above, and the womb below. The pestle is the sisna; it is round-like, for the sisna is round-like. He places it to the right (south of the mortar), for the male lies on the right side of the female. And what food there is for the consecrated animal, that is the dûrvâ-brick. The left (north) side of that (Agni or altar) is more raised,--that Agni is an animal, and hence the left side of the belly of a well-filled beast is more raised (than the right side).”

udaramukha | yoniruluukhalamuttarokha bhavatyadharamuluukhalamuttaram
hyudaramadhara yonih shishnam
musalam tadvrttamiva bhavati vrttamiva hi shishnam
taddakshinata upadadhati dakshinato vai vrsha yoshamupashete yadu pashoh
samskrtasyannam tadduurveshtaka tasya va etasyottaro 'rdha udahitataro bhavati
pashuresha yadagnistasmatpashoh suhitasyottarah kukshirunnatataro bhavati

Shatapath Brahmana (11:6:2:10) further states in explaining the significance of Agnihotra:

“They enter woman, and make her lap their offering-fire, her womb the fuel,--for that (womb) is called the bearer, because by it Pragâpati bore creatures,--and the seed their pure libation: they satiate woman; and, verily, for him who, knowing this, approaches his mate, the Agnihotra comes to be offered. The son who is born therefrom is the renascent world: this is the Agnihotra, Yâgnavalkya, there is nothing higher than this.' Thus he spoke; and Yâgnavalkya granted him a boon. He said, 'Let mine be the (privilege of) asking questions of thee when I list, Yâgnavalkya!' Thenceforth Ganaka was a Brahman.”

te striyamavishatah tasya upasthamevahavaniiyam kurvate dharakam samidham dharaka
ha vai namaishaitaya ha vai prajapatih praja dharayam cakara reta eva shukramahutim
te striyam tarpayatah sa ya evam vidvanmithunamupaityagnihotramevasya hutam
bhavati yastatah putro jayate sa lokah pratyutthayyetadagnihotram Yajnavalkya natah
paramastiiti hovaca tasmai ha Yajnavalkyo varam dadau sa hovaca kamaprashna eva me
tvayi Yajnavalkyasaditi tato brahma janaka asa

Simply put: if Vyasa says that Draupadi is born from Yajna, that can well mean she was born from a natural and normal sexual intercourse propelled by fire-like sexual energy! And Drupada performed that intercourse in Dharmika spirit of Yajna – as described in the Brhadaranyaka Upanishad mantra mentioned above.

iii) Agni – Metaphor for Kama, Sexuality, Sexual Liberty and Sexual Intercourse

In Mahabharata too, Agni suggests Sexual Liberty or ‘Free Sex’. Gautama describes Uttarakuru as a region where Woman enjoys Sexual Liberty (yatra striyah kamacarash caranti, 13.105.26a), where Man and Woman have no envy (in Gender Relation) (yatra cershya nasti nariinaranam, 26c), and where there are many born of Agni-Yoni (yatragniyaunash ca vasanti, 25c).

Now, these people born of Agni-Yoni certainly do not mean they were born from Yajna as in Draupadi's Mythical Birth; on the contrary, we should take this as suggestive of how Draupadi actually took birth.

Again, Mahishmatii, the Rashtra that Sahadeva conquered during Digvijaya is hailed as a land of Sexual Liberty. Agni gave boon to the women of Mahishmatii to be unbound without facing hostility of elephant-like males, so that they wander about as Svairinii cherished, wished, and desired (evam agnir varam pradat striinam aprativarane / svairinyas tatra naryo hi yatheshtam pracaranty uta, 2.28.24).

Mahishmatii had a well-established tradition of pre-marital and extra-marital sex. In Kunti-Bhoja’s kingdom Kunti languished for having sex with Suurya (Durvasa or a Brahmin named or known as Durvasa) while she was Kanya, but here in Mahishmatii, the Kanyas are free – and enjoy Sexual Liberty. Unity in Diversity – Bharatvarsha has always been like that.

We get an idea here why Draupadi is hailed as Agni or Agni-born. Her polyandrous marriage has that element of Sexual Liberty that Agni suggests. Besides, her nature is also Agni-like.

Teja is a word frequently associated with Agni, and Vyasa, in Dhrtarashtra’s voice, says that Draupadi is Teja’s Self (Yajnasenasya duhita teja eva tu kevalam, 3.228.9c).

In Shatapath Brahmana (3:4:3:4), Agni is regarded as the causer of Sexual Union:

“By means of Agni (fire) they enveloped (the body) with a skin. Now, Agni being the causer of sexual union, the progenitor, they thereby obtained offspring. They turned in their fingers more tightly and drew their zone tighter, whereby they produced offspring for themselves. And in like manner does he (the sacrificer) thereby obtain offspring.”

te 'gninaiva tvaca vipalyangayanta | agnirvai mithunasya karta prajanayita
tatprajamupayantsamtaramanguliirancanta samtaram mekhalam
tatprajamatmannakurvata tatho evaisha etatprajamevopaiti

Further, the next passage (3:4:3:5) reads:

“By means of Agni he envelops himself with a skin. Now, Agni being the causer of sexual union, the progenitor, he thereby obtains offspring. He turns in his fingers more tightly and draws his zone tighter, whereby he produces offspring for himself.”

so 'gninaiva tvacam vipalyangayate | agnirvai mithunasya karta prajanayita
tatprajamupaiti samtaramanguliiracate samtaram mekhalam tatprajamatmankurute

Well, if we read on, we also get the idea why Draupadi's Mythical Birth from Yajna-Agni is also the explanation of her Goddess-status:

Shatapath Brahmana 10:4:3:9:

“Death spake unto the gods, 'Surely, on this wise all men will become immortal, and what share will then be mine?' They spake, 'Henceforward no one shall be immortal with the body: only when thou shalt have taken that (body) as thy share, he who is to become immortal either through knowledge, or through holy work, shall become immortal after separating from the body.' Now when they said, 'either through knowledge or through holy work,' it is this fire-altar that is the knowledge, and this fire-altar that is the holy work.”

sa mrtyurdevanabraviit itthameva sarve manushya amrta bhavishyantyatha ko
mahyam bhago bhavishyatiiti te hocurnato'parah kashcana saha
shariirenamrto'sadyadaiva tvametam bhagam harasa atha vyavrtya
shariirenamrto'sadyo'mrto'sadvidyaya va karmana veti yadvai tadabruvanvidyaya va
karmana vetyesha haiva sa vidya yadagniretadu haiva tatkarma yadagnih


Shatapath Brahmana (10:4:3:10):
“And they who so know this, or they who do this holy work, come to life again when they have died, and, coming to life, they come to immortal life. But they who do not know this, or do not do this holy work, come to life again when they die, and they become the food of him (Death) time after time.”

te ya evametadviduh ye vaitatkarma kurvate mrtva punah sambhavanti te
sambhavanta evamrtatvamabhisambhavantyatha ya evam na vidurye vaitatkarma na
kurvate mrtva punah sambhavanti ta etasyaivannam punah-punarbhavanti

Shatapath Brahmana (10:4:3:11):
“But when he builds the fire-altar, he thereby gains Agni, Pragâpati, the Year, Death, the Ender, whom the gods gained; it is him he lays downy even as the gods thus laid him down.”

sa yadagnim cinute etameva tadantakam mrtyum samvatsaram prajapatimagnimapnoti
yam deva apnuvannetamupadhatte yathaivainamado deva upadadhata

iv) Why Draupadi-Krshna is Agni-born: Another Vedic Significance

There is indeed another very important significance why Draupadi-Krshna is Agni-born, and let us not miss it because it links with Draupadi's name and complexion.

We know, Draupadi's other name is Krshnaa.

Krishna or Krshnaa connotes Black. And Draupadi was Black in complexion (actually Shyamo – akin to, but not exactly Krishna – but often taken synonymously). Is that all?

In RgVeda, Agni’s path is Krishna-Black (e.g. RV-1.58.4; 1.140.4, 9; 2.4.6; 4.7.9; 6.6.1, 10.4). Krishna is the Path that Agni travels through the Forest, for example–

“Excited by the wind, and roaring loudly, Agni penetrates easily with his flames and diffusive (intensity) among the timber; when, undecaying and fiercely-blazing Agni, you rush rapidly like a bull amongst the forest trees, your path is blackened.

vi vatajuuto ataseshu tishthate vrtha juhuubhih srnya tuvishvanih
trshu yadagne vanino vrshayase Krishnam ta ema rushaduurme ajara (1.58.4)”

If the effect of Agni is Black, it is to destroy Black forces (RV-1.140.5).’
“Dispelling on their way the horror of black gloom, making a glorious show these flames of his fly forth – “Agni flies (goes and rises) at his pleasure, ruining and scattering the Power of the monstrous, horrifying, pretentious and artificial phantom or design, by a treat of force to purify …” (tr. Author)

The monstrous etc phantom or design is akin to Maya and is Black-Power (Krishnamabhvam), and Agni destroys it by Force – that the Rshi expresses by the word ‘karikratah’ – a word that has the same √kr as in Krishna – therefore implying, that benign Krishna-aspect of Agni destroys malign Krishna-aspect of Maya.

This explains, why Draupadi's name is Krshnaa – she was born to destroy corrupt Kshatriyas – and the poet Vyasa found in her name Krshnaa the opportunity to re-create her Birth-Myth.

So, when Vyasa says that Draupadi-Krshnaa is vedi.madhyaat.samutthitaa – he indeed tells us the truth. Krshnaa is the effect of Agni, and Draupadi-Krshnaa is indeed conceived after Drupada’s Sex-Yajna with the purpose of creating Kuru-destroying offspring.

In another Rk of RgVeda (6.16. 13) – significantly composed by Rshi Vashishthas (and Vyasa was a Vashishthas), Agni is associated with Lotus:
“Agni, Atharvan brought thee forth, by rubbing, from the lotus-flower.”

We know, Vyasa often compares Draupadi with Lotus. Her Shrii-aspect is also related to Lotus.

In narrating Draupadi's Mythical and Supernatural Birth, all the while Vyasa has been telling us the Truth! Given Draupadi's fiery-nature and name Krshnaa (we cannot be sure whether her name Krshnaa followed her nature and character, or whether her nature and character became scripted according to her name Krshnaa!), what other Supernatural Birth Myth would have suited her better?

Vyasa, being the greatest of poets, knew better!

I suggest, the Supernatural Birth Myth of Vyasa’s son Shuka has the same significance.

This is how Shuka was born:

“One day Vyasa was ‘employed in rubbing his sticks for making a fire. While thus engaged he beheld the Apsara Ghritachi, who, in consequence of her energy, was then possessed of great beauty.”

12,311.001c araniim tv atha samgrhya mamanthagnicikiirshaya
12,311.002a atha ruupam param rajan bibhratiim svena tejasa
12,311.002c ghrtaciim namapsarasam apashyad bhagavan rshih

Seeing Ghrtacii, Vyasa ejaculates spontaneously – his semen falls on the fire, and Shuka is born.

Now, RgVeda 1.140.3 states, Agni’s parents – the two fire-sticks (matara) – dwelling and lying together (sakshita), moves in darkness quickly (Krishnaprutau vevije), and hastens to the birth of the baby-Agni - Krishnaprutau vevije asya sakshita ubha tarete abhi matara shishum

As we can understand now (hopefully), the Aranii Kashtha or Fire-Sticks is the Metaphor for Vyasa’s Sexual Intercourse with some unknown woman who was Shuka’s actual biological mother. The same Metaphor for Agni – Sexual Liberty – is also at work here because Vyasa never had any “legally” married wife though he had four sons – Shuka, Vidura, Dhrtarashtra and Pandu.

6. The WHY of the Mythical Narrative of Draupadi's Birth

Well, to answer the WHY is simply to say – Politics Politics and Politics; that is, Draupadi's Supernatural birth, like all other Supernatural births in Mahabharata, was a Political GamePolitical Propaganda, to be precise.

The Kuru-Rashtra was the strongest enemy of the Panchals. We can think the matter in this way –

1) What Kuru-Rashtra thinks today Panchal thinks tomorrow! (Echoing Gokhle’s words – “What Bengal thinks today, India thinks tomorrow”)

2) If Kuru comes, can Panchal be far behind? (Echoing Shelley’s words – “If winter comes, can spring be far behind?”)

Now, the Kuru-Rashtra had already been adept in the Game of Political Propaganda of Supernatural Myths and Birth-Myths like –

i) Bhiishma was Immortal subject to his own wish – Ichha-Mrtyu – and that he was River Ganga’s biological son
ii) Drona was born without mother from the fallen seed of his father Bharadvaja in a Drona-kalasa – the pot meant for keeping Soma-Rasa
iii) Ashvatthama was Immortal
iv) Krpa-Acharya was also Immortal, and he was born without mother from the fallen seed of his father Rshi Gautama on grass
v) Duryodhana etc were also born from a lump of flesh that Gandhari bore in her womb for 4 years

Poor Drupada! To counter these powerful Myths constantly harped by Kuru propaganda machinery (read – some Brahmins, ascetics, astrologers etc), Drupada too needed some powerful Myths – even unique ones – because he had the vengeful project to kill Bhiishma and Drona.

Drupada was lucky to gain Political Vyasa and Vasudeva-Krishna’s help in this matter – so that he got five sons-in-law who also had God-Fathers!

Needless to say, the Pandava God-Father motive sprung from similar necessities – to counter the Kuru Propaganda Machinery.

What wonder then that Drupada, in his urge to be equal to Kuru-Rashtra in both military strength and machinery strength would venture to create and propagate unique Myths – that his son Dhristadyumna destined to kill Drona is born of Yajna; and his daughter Draupadi destined to be Pandava-wife and destroyer of Kshatriyas would also be born full-grown from the same Vedi of that Yajna?

7. What did Drupada do? How did he make Draupadi's birth from Yajna-Vedi-Agni possible?

We find a prominent answer to this in Kautilya’s Arthashastra.

In Arthashastra (Book XIII, "Strategic Means to Capture a Fortress", Chapter I.  Sowing the Seeds of Dissension), Kautilya says:

“WHEN the conqueror is desirous of seizing an enemy's village, he should infuse enthusiastic spirit among his own men and frighten his enemy's people by giving publicity to his power of omniscience and close association with gods. Proclamation of his omniscience is as follows:--rejection of his chief officers when their secret, domestic and other private affairs are known; revealing the names of traitors after receiving information from spies specially employed to find out such men; pointing out the impolitic aspect of any course of action suggested to him; and pretensions to the knowledge of foreign affairs by means of his power to read omens and signs invisible to others when information about foreign affairs is just received through a domestic pigeon which has brought a sealed letter. Proclamation of his association with gods is as follows:--Holding conversation with, and worshipping, the spies who pretend to be the gods of fire or altar when through a tunnel they come to stand in the midst of fire, altar, or in the interior of a hollow image.”

Let us read the last line again:

“Holding conversation with, and worshipping, the spies who pretend to be the gods of fire or altar when through a tunnel they come to stand in the midst of fire, altar, or in the interior of a hollow image.”

Now, let us imagine the scene.

Dhristadyumna and Draupadi had already been born (whether in Drupada’s legal wife’s womb or in some unknown woman/women’s womb is uncertain), but they were brought up secretly. When they were adolescent, Drupada now decided to present them before the world with all Supernatural paraphernalia, pomp and grandeur.

Drupada declared to perform a grand Yajna to gain children. A tunnel was already dug from a secret place of the palace or some other place to the Yajna-Vedi. Amidst huge gathering of people (the same mass-sheep who is ever ready to believe what they see or are Shown by their Shepherd-Ruler Class – as usual!) and chanting of mantras by aligned Rshis, Dhristadyumna and Draupadi pass through that tunnel and wait under the Yajna-Vedi for the opportune moment to appear.

And then … well, what else to explain?

I am aware that this narrative of Dhristadyumna and Draupadi's birth would appear very demoralizing for some of my fellow country-men who believe that Belief in absurd stories is akin to be a pious religious fellow or “follower” of True HinduismSanatana Dharma.

God – their God – be with them; or let them say – as one reader, reading my article on Pandava God-Father mystery wrote to me:

“I soon realized, however, that your article is filled with numerous inaccuracies resulting from reaching wrongful conclusions due to questionable research. In fact, depending on your motives for writing such fiction, you are either a half-educated ignoramus (no disrespect intended) or, simply, a sacrilegious heretic (again, no disrespect intended).”

Let all peace be to pious souls who believe in absurd hotchpotch. I prefer to be on the rational side – because I believe that rational approach to life is the greatest glory of Hinduism (in the sense of both Dharma and Culture) and our Sanatana Dharma; otherwise, the great Upanishadik Rshis could not have said that Anna (Food) and Prana (Life, Life-Force, Breath) are the two Highest Gods.

Materialistic philosophy? Marxism? Fuh! No other philosophy is more Materialistic than Vedas and Upanishads – and that alone is the secret of their Spiritual Power.

Our great Rshis realized (long before Marx’s much-vaunted Materialism) that to be truly Spiritual and Dharmika is to attain the Material Balance first. Dharma has no meaning unless it is balanced with Artha and Kama – the two most Material things of Life. It is through this Balance of Dharma-Artha-Kama that Moksha is attainable in this very Life.

For the pious believers of absurd hotchpotch, let me say: Read the Literature of Ancient Bharatvarsha first in original instead of nourishing sulk and anger against me. Then do come to argue with me.

OK … enough of my sulk. There is another dimension to Draupadi’s Mythical and Supernatural Birth that I must point out at this time, though not going into details in this article.

We know, two brother Rshis – Yaja and Upayaja – performed Drupada’s Yajna. Now, they were Kashyapas. We also know, Vyasa – the political Vyasa, so to say, was instrumental in propagating Draupadi's Mythical Birth narrative. And of course, there was Krishna too – who never for a single time says that Draupadi is Yajna-born, but has tacit approval for that Political Propaganda.

What I want to say is: I find here a Vashishthas-Kashyapa-Bhrgu alliance as opposed to the Kuru-Angiras led by two of the foremost Angira-Gotras – Bharadvaja (represented by Drona), and Gautama (represented by Krpa).

To clarify: the Kuru-Panchal war was as much a Kshatriya-Kshatriya war as much Brahmana-Brahmana war. And that war was all-out. If the Kshatriyas fought with weapons, the Brahmanas aided them with Propaganda Machinery.


That said, and hoping (is it hoping against hope?) that my message is clear, let me end with some other clear statements –

1) I have not discussed here Draupadi's character; that is beyond the scope of this article. I will discuss Draupadi's character in some other article.
2) That Draupadi actively participated in her father’s Political Machinery does not demean her character in the least.
3) The same applies to all great characters of Mahabharata – like Bhiishma, Drona, Vyasa, Krishna etc – all of whom had their political participation in the Political Propaganda of Supernatural and Mythical Narratives. Mahabharata is basically a political narrative – let’s not forget that.
4) Vyasa’s Mahabharata is ‘Vedan Pancaman’ (1.57.74) or Fifth Veda – so it bears all the imagery and metaphoric significances found in Vedas. But Vyasa takes them one step (or multiple steps) ahead because he is also narrating Itihasa. He uses them and also re-creates them. Like true historian, Vyasa records whatever he has seen and experienced in his own times including his own political role – and that includes Supernatural Birth Myth as part of Political Propaganda – as part of the Game of Politics.

Vyasa’s greatness lies not only in his composing MahaKavya Mahabharata, but also in his telling the Truth by challenging us to find the Truth piercing through his filters of poetic license of Supernatural narratives.

Vyasa’s Mahabharata is primarily Itihasa – therefore, it represents the realities of the time; however, written in Kavya mode, the Supernatural and Mythical Narratives are both allegorical/metaphorical as well as representation of the Political Being.

God does not need miracles to prove that He/She is God; that proof is self-evident in the very Miracle called Creation. In fact, Human Beings are so negligible in the entire scheme of Creation that God does not need anything to prove to them at all. When some Human Beings think and insist that God proves His/Her existence through Miracles, it is actually their Self-Delusion of Self-Importance gone berserk if not there is hidden motive to exploit others through such propagation.

Human Beings seek Power, and often miraculous power to Rule and exploit other Human Beings. That desire – in a peculiar spell of Illusion and Delusion, projects Supernatural and miraculous power on some Human Beings – all for self-justification of that desire.

Another reason behind such Belief in Supernatural is a childish competitive motive. “If Christians say that Christ had a miraculous birth, well, Hinduism, to prove that Hinduism is superior to Christianity must outrun the Christians in sheer quantity of Supernatural and Mythical Narratives!”

Who will tell these people that the glory of Hinduism and the Ancient Civilization of Bharatvarsha lies in its rationalistic, pragmatic and realistic outlook and attitude to Life that found the true meaning of Life and its fulfillment through the Balance of Material and Spiritual? Who will tell these people that greatness of a Human Being does not lie in his/her gift of Supernatural Power, but in his/her capacity of Self-Evolution through Human Power?

Draupadi is unparalleled – she has no second – because she was a Human Being, born as a Human Being – and yet she achieved the status of Goddess through her Dharma and Karma.


More by :  Indrajit Bandyopadhyay

Top | Hinduism

Views: 5661      Comments: 14

Comment What a nuisance article. How dumb and free you are you should have done some research before putting this nonsense. I didn't even had the patience to read. Draupadi wasn't any ordinary woman. Long way to go... Very stupid thinking.

Shruti Malik
11-Nov-2022 04:41 AM

Comment kunti was mentally prepared and had nerve of steel. She manipulates her dad, sacked the general, banished him away. The unnamed general was karna's biological dad.She did not gave a damn and floated away karna. Later she knew from spies that he got adopted. Pandu was INFERTILE not IMPOTANT. He wanted his own progency and wanted his child to be king and not Dhitrashtra. kunti manipulates Pandu and niyoga happened. It was assisted reproduction treatment . She begots 3 sons through different men.

Simantini Sinha
10-Feb-2020 14:40 PM

Comment kunti was highly ambitious, calculative, manipulative and does not like to compromise. She knew she was adopted princess and always wanted to be Queen. She was a leader, a ruler type. She manipulates her way. Using people for her own benefits was normal for her. Use and throw when unwanted was her concept. 12, she pleased sage Durvasa and granted a boon that whomsoever she craved for can have a,son. 14 she used the general and tests the sage blessings and was impregnated with karna.

Simantini Sinha
10-Feb-2020 14:29 PM

Comment Spare the Gods impregnated stories and let's come down to earth. karna's biological dad was the handsome, beautiful,courageous general of kuntibhoj. kunti was 14 . She manipulates the general and it happened. She does not like to compromise. She tricked her dad, framed up the general ,sacked and banished him away. But before going the unnamed dad of karna gave her his special armour for his unborn son. pregnancy kept secret and floated the infant immediately . Out of sight, out of mind.

Simantini SinhaU
10-Feb-2020 14:18 PM

Comment I totally agree with this description . I mean , this is how the ancient texts were meant to be interpreted , those were basically literature and thus are bound to have metaphors and double entendres as u mentioned above , but sadly peeps most of em just don't want to believe in the reality behind the literature when u explain it to them and refer to you as being disrespectful towards the religion for some god forsaken reason idk , keep up the good work man (or woman idk) , really appreciate it.

07-Feb-2020 14:38 PM

Comment MR . Indrajit Bandoyopadhyay,at first you read the Gita summery and then you describe the OUR EPIC MAHABHARATA( religion) character Draupadi ok ..... Gita never talk about body and sex.....after that yours all confusion will be gone.
Draupadi is not only a historical character but also be described her only through our religion(Sanatan Dharma).You are not supposed to describe your literary.


07-Apr-2016 16:18 PM

Comment Hi,Mr.Indrajit Bandoyopadhyay,
Mahabharata & Ramayana is our HOLY BOOKs, all Indian knows it very well..it`s no matter who believes or not in our religion ..
Religion not a simple matter of joke . A matured brain , age and a Education is necessary to understand. Sometime only common sense does not enough to understand the origin of Universe .
>The Big Bang theory is the prevailing cosmological model for the universe from the earliest known periods through its subsequent large-scale evolution. The model accounts for the fact that the universe expanded from a very high density and high temperature state.
>Physical cosmology is the study of the largest-scale structures and dynamics of the Universe and is concerned with fundamental questions about its origin, structure, evolution, and ultimate fate. For most of human history, it was a branch of metaphysics and religion.
>The origin of life is a scientific problem which is not yet solved.
NOW the topic is about human body : Biology informs
Almost 99% of the mass of the human body is made up of six elements: oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, calcium, and phosphorus. Only about 0.85% is composed of another five elements: potassium, sulfur, sodium, chlorine, and magnesium.
Then the Q. What is difference between dead and alive human body; when we can say a body is alive? while there is a SOUL inside it. Now the Q. is where does the sole come from? THE SUPREME POWER that Mean God. Whole universe could not be created without supreme power of God.
>Now THE Gita informs that whole nature is compared with a Women body and THE GOD (Bidhata Purush) always involves in creativity of organism and life. Aaccording to Gita, human body made by this nature ,( soil, water ,Air and Heat.) & after dead all components dissolve in the nature, nothing left. Cause WHOLE NATURE IS A LABORATORY OF THE GOD.
>In the topic, adult Draupadi was born from fire.. ..it is possible because in ancient age, the first women and Man might be matured ..
In the Mahabharata age, may be science most power full.
In modern age, Scientists have developed an artificial womb that allows embryos to grow outside a woman's body .
please check the following website :

Yajna or Fire: Fire works as Draupadi's mother and Draupada work as her father: Draupada added blood before Dhristadyumna's birth in the Yajna or Fire . Blood carry GENE(DNA) and as a consequence, Drapada`s Gene or heredity come to Drapudi that mean "kula jata kona "That refers Draupodi is Draupoda's daughter. Before marriage all sons and daughters are not matured for his/her parents. That's why we some time verbally and emotionally state we sit on father’s lap .
Yajnaseni : Here Yajna mean sacrificial fire, Yoni means Vagina that mean "Agni yoni"( fire vagina) here Agni (fire)
not a human ..where whole Yajna (Agni) work like a mother then Vadi refer that Agni Vadi (fire waist) that's all.
all four VEDAs refer Nature pray (Prakriti Puja) Sun, Fire, river, Soil, And tree, this way Religion comes .
Dharma is a way or technique to carry a religion.

Apala Mitra.

31-Mar-2016 13:51 PM

Comment mahabharat is in poetic form and in poems poet uses some supernatural elements as per to signifies the character or things even today also.I agree with the page.No doubt there was science at that time but here mentioned things are also not wrong.

24-Dec-2015 09:29 AM

Comment This is a nice attempt to convey the rational ideas behind the indian mythology.People very often cease to think beyond the barriers of baseless beliefs! Draupadi was indeed epitome of feminity. She achieved the fame and glory by the essence of her pure character and innate intelligence. She is referred to as a goddess, because of her virtues alone. KRISHNA also didn't posses any supernatural character. He was an outstand because of his rational concept of DHARMA which the people of those times didn't seem to have. It was his sheer intelligence and flawless behavior which made him stand out and led to him becoming a GOD!!

04-Jul-2015 11:29 AM

Comment Mr. Srikant Mehta, Draupadi's work on earth to insult adharmis and destroy them. Draupadi already knew that Duryodhana is an adharmi so she insulted him. To kill Duryodhana, she provoked her husbands to kill him. If she didn't provoke them, they would not show their talents to Duryodhana and kill him in the war. Or they would not become more famous now. However, Draupadi's insult would have been one of the reasons for the mahabharata war. But if Draupadi was not born, her husbands would have been slave for Duryodhana for eternal life. So she saved her husbands from Duryodhana by the boons asked from Dhirtarastra.

Draupadi's curse would always be true to become. So Draupadi is only the woman brave in the Mahabharata.

A.V.Lokesh Kumar
12-Apr-2015 23:11 PM

Comment Well, Draupadi is born of her father, that means, some of Drupada's physical appearance can be given to Draupadi in the Yajna.

A.V.Lokesh Kumar
12-Apr-2015 23:01 PM

Comment @ A. V. Lokesh Kumar
pl clarify the last part of your comment -
"It can be also possible by getting possibilites like her father in the fire"
... I don't get it ...

10-Apr-2015 13:05 PM

Comment Mr.Indrajit Bandoyopadhyay, You say Draupadi was born by her father, It can be also possible by getting possibilites like her father in the fire.

A. V. Lokesh Kumar
07-Apr-2015 05:23 AM

Comment Well, most of the supernatural incidents mention in those scriptures are actually a mythological symbols. We must have heard a famous proverb in Hindi "Aaag lagana". Means provoking people for fight. We all know that Draupadi was one of the biggest reasons behind the Mahabharata war. She insulted Duryodhana by calling him "Son of blind is also a blind". Which was led to a game of dice and then Mahabharata war . If we watch B.R Chopra Mahabharata she continue to provoke Pandavas for the revenge of her insult. Just like fire destroyed whole thing she was responsible for the destruction of Kuru Dynasty. We must have heard in TV serials and some movies if a women provoke her husband against her Mother in law and other family members. They often said "Isnay ghar mai Agg Lagai hai"/ Means she created the tension in family . That is why they relate the Draupadi Character to fire / Agni and made a myth that she was born through a fire. It was actually a symbol that portray her character

Same goes in Hanuman eat a sun myth .We all know that eating a sun can never be possible . Hanuman was actually a very intelligent student in solar science . He know many things regarding son. So one day his teacher called him "You eat the sun" Means you have a great knowledge about solar Science . So it became a myth that he ate the sun.

Srikant Mehta
03-Nov-2014 08:13 AM

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