Draupadi is one of the central character of Vyasa Muni’s Mahabaratha. How does this heroine become venerated as a Goddess. Well, in Hinduism, no-one forces you venerate any God or Goddess. It is your choice. Some time back a cinema star gave birth to a baby girl. The internet media was flooded with images and messages about 1 baby among the millions that were born. It was cyber epidemic giving the impression that many lives were pinned on that birth. Why? Because the mother is the subject of idol worship in wasted minds!
Draupadi was bold even in adversity. Her husband Yudhisthira succumbed to gambling weakness. He staked and lost himself. Thereafter he stakes Draupadi. Draupadi demands to know if it is possible for Yudhisthira to stake her when he has no standing as his own self belong to the Kauravas. Basically, he did not retain the right to wage her in the gambling. Duryodhana, the winner, insists, Draupadi is his and he pleases to disrobe her. This was a great insult to her honour. Even Bhima was quiet and earns the wrath of karma.
“Sri Krishna…you give pleasure to the senses. You have always removed all of my miseries. Oh beautiful Lord among men, please. I have no one. I have nothing. You are my brother, you are my dearest friend. I have always been able to depend on you. This is my greatest moment of need and I have no other shelter. Please help me.” With this prayer on her lips she lifted her arms and gave up the fight. She closed her eyes and thought of her dear most friend.. There was no end to the disrobing with Lord Krishna coming to her assistance. The Lord considered Draupadi as his sakhi-friend and sister. This event in which Draupadi loosens her coifed hair and vows not to knot it again until she was washed in Duryodhana’s blood, turns her from a strong will woman into a vengeful Goddess.
Draupadi is described to be a divinely beautiful woman with shiny black locks, a compelling complexion and lotus petal eyes. Mahabaratha 1.169.44-46: eye-ravishing Panchali, black-and-smiling-eyed…Dark-skinned Panchali, Lotus-eyed lady, Wavy-haired Panchali, Hair like dark blue clouds, Shining coppery carved nails, Soft eye-lashes, Swelling breasts and Shapely thighs…Blue lotus fragrance for a full krosha flowed from her body…She is known to be very chaste and virtous wife. She was born of the fire of her regal personality equally filled with spark and flame. She was a warrior princess. It is her anger that destroys the sinful Kauravas dynasty. As daughter of Drupada, she is Draupadi. As princess of Panchala, she was called Panchali. As Krishna, she was the dark complexioned beauty. Prashati indicated her being the grand-daughter of Prishata. Sairandhri is her reference to the maid-servant of Queen of Virata. In her youth, she is Nitayauvani. Yajnaseni is a reference to being born out of fire and the overseerof fire sacrifice and fire walking ritual.
Queen Kunti mandates that the Pandava brothers share everything they have. Indeed it was Arjuna that had won the awayamvara target shooting. Panchami refers to her being the wife of the Pandava brothers. In her previous birth, Draupadi desires fourteen qualities and Lord Siva grants her this boon. Thus she marries Yudhithira for his wisdom of dharma; Bhima for his strength; Arjuna for his courage and jnanal Nakula and Sahadeva for their love.The reason that Vyasa Muni gives is Draupadi’s prayer utterances to God five times ‘ God, Give me a husband: Mahabaratha 1.213. It is said that, in taking turns to live live with each of the five husbands, she had the boon to be a virgin every year by walking through the fire to regain her purity. Thus she gets to be called the eternal kanya. In any event, handling five men is symbolic of her strength as a woman. The conceptions are to be seen as symbolic also. Dur to their karma phala, none of her children survive the Krukshetra battle except for Arjun’s grandson Parikshit.
Draupadi is called one of the Pancha Maha Kanyas. She had five heroic and powerful sons: Prativindhya from Dharmaraja, Srutasoma from Bhima, Srutakirti from Arjuna, Satanika from Nakula, and Strutakarman from Sahadeva. She bore much suffering. With patience, courage, and hard-work, she made sure her enemies were annihilated. Along with other female personalities, she is a role model of patience, virtue and bravery.
PURANAS: Draupadi is described as radiant and graceful as if she had descended from the city of Gods. As per The Garuda Purana Draupadi is the incarnation of Bharati-Devi, The Consort of Lord Vayu. As per Narada and Vayu Puranas, Draupadi was composite Avatar of Goddesses Shyamala (wife of Dharma), Bharati (Wife of Vayu), Sachi (wife of Indra), Usha (wife of Ashwinis) and hence married their earthly counterparts in the form of the five Pandavas. Enraged at a jest by Parvati, Shyamala, Sachi and Usha, Brahma cursed them to human birth. Parvati thought of the solution wherein they will be born as one woman, Draupadi and hence share the earthly body for a smaller period of time. They requested Bharati to be with them in their human birth. Draupadi's characteristic fight against injustice reflects Parvati or her Shakti, Kali inhabiting Draupadi's mortal flesh at times. At other times, Draupadi was docile and even waited to be rescued (as in case of Jayadratha and Jatasura) showing the qualities of other goddesses like Sachi and Usha. Other times, she showed astuteness in hiding their true identity and asking Vayu putra Bhima to kill the evil Keechaka like Goddess Bharati would.
INCARNATIONS: Draupadi was also avatar of Goddess Shree or Wealth who was joint wife to Five Pandavas. She was to be born several times for imprisoning the Indras. First time was as Vedavati who cursed Ravana (who is another goddess Avatar Swaha, wife to Agni). She then came again as Maya-Sita especially to take revenge from Ravana while Agni hid the real Sita. Third one was partial either Damyanti (whose husband Nala was equivalent to Dharma, Vayu, Indra just like the Pandavas) and her daughter Nalayani. She married Sage Mudgala. The fifth avatar was Draupadi herself. So we find in Draupadi, a composite avatar of Kali, Parvati, Sachi, Shyamala, Usha, Bharati, Shree, Swaha, the eight goddesses.
Goddess Draupadi is also venerated as Draupadi Ammam. This rural deity has unique rituals that binds the society together. Draupadi Amman is the Goddess of Fortune. The Draupadi cult plays a pivotal role in bhakti. Here Draupadi, irrespective of Mahabaratha accounts, is raised to a Goddess platform. Villiputtur’s Tamil version of the Mahabaratha, describes Draupadi as ‘She who must be obeyed. The South Indian cult sculpts her holding a closed lotus but symbolising virginity as opposed to the open lotus of fertility. She is also in control of the parrot which is the vehicle of Kamadeva, the God of desire. Her Tamil milieu links her with Goddess Minakshi of Madurai and Goddess Kamachi of Kanchipuram. Draupadi bhakti is far removed from some of the Mahabaratha shortcomings as the essence in spiritualism is to transcend to see the Truth. That is your own Truth in which one exercises the burden of choice of the personal God or Goddess. Hari Om
Yogi Ananda Saraswati