DRAUPADI is regarded as one of the Pancha-maha-pativrata-s of yore, the other four being AHALYA, SITA, TARA, and MANDODARI.
DRAUPADI the daughter of DRUPADA was also called PANCHALI being the princess of PANCHALA desa. She along with her brother DHRISTHADWMNA emerged from the sacrificial altar. More than her parentage she was better known as the wife of the PANDAVA-S. True, as it were, she was the wife of all the five brothers, Pancba PANDAVA-S. She is regarded as one of the Pancha-maha-pativrata-s of yore, the other four being AHALYA, SITA, TARA, and MANDODARI.
SITA and RUKMINI as we saw in the earlier Issues are Goddess Lakshmi’s amsa-s, where as DRAUPADI,AHALYA, NALAYANI, SAVITRI and others are some of the mythological characters in the HINDU pantheon. DRAUPADI in particular, as we said earlier, is an important character, around whom the KURUKSHETRA war is woven. While so many intertwined reasons and causes might be pointed out for the outbreak of that great Dburmu
Yuddham (righteous war), on hindsight one can say that it was DRAUPADI’S Sapatba (vow) that triggered off the Battle Royal.
If CLEOPATRA’S face could launch a thousand ships, it was the charm and beauty Of DRAUPADI as depicted by SVAMI DESIKA (Pancbali gatrasbobba …) and above all the pride and arrogance exhibited by her in the MAYA smm that provoked the abashed and disconcerted DURYODHANA the germane cousin of PANDAVAS. He being an embodiment of ego was overpowered by mortification and anger that he took upon himself the odious duty to defile and defame DRAUPADI at the first given opportunity. As if to aid and abet his burning desire the vile and wicked SAKUNI (his maternal uncle) prompted and instigated him to reciprocate by inviting PANDAVA-s to a game of dice. The virtuous and upright PANDAVA-s represented by YUDHISTHIRA were unaware of the perfidious intentions of the KAURAVA-s fell a prey for their guile and deceit. As he lost game after game he went on pledging all their wealth and property and succumbed to pawn each one of
his brothers and himself including DRAUPADI and lost everything.
She knew only total surrender to SRI KRISHNA
would save her and she threw up both her hands invoking Him.
Grabbing the opportunity DURYODHANA orders that DRAUPADI be brought into the court. DUSSASANA, his brother dragged DRAUPADI into the courtroom filled with all the grand-sires like BHISHMA, DRONA, KRIPA and DHRITRASTRA in addition to her demoralized husbands. They were mere helpless observers of the atrocities of DURYODHANA and his retinue. DRAUPADI having grasped the intensity of the situation asked YUDHISTHIRA whether he first lost her as a bet or himself :
“Kim nu purvam parajaisheer atmanam mam nu bharata”.
If YUDHISTHIRA lost his own freedom did he have the right to gamble with DRAUPADI as the stake? VIDURA answers that
question by stating that DRAUPADI was not conquered, because YUDHISTHIRA having lost himself to SAKUNI he had no legal right on DRAUPADI to stake her. She puts up a brave fight to begin with, appealing to them and even warning them of the dire consequences.It had no impact. All of them were tongue-tied though they knew that the malfeasant SAKUNI had beguiled and cheated YUDHISTHIRA. All his brothers who are otherwise mighty warriors were dumb out of respect for their elder brother. DUSSASANA under the instructions of his brother DURYODHANA continued unabated to harass her and ultimately performed the debased act of disrobing her.
It was a repugnant scene where a woman who was compelled to be clothed in a single piece of cloth was being stripped in the presence of ravish and lustful men, was unable to protect her modesty any longer and get out of the clutches of the lecherous DUSSASANA. She knew only total surrender to SRI KRISHNA would save her and she threw up both her hands invoking Him and supplicated to the Lord thus:
rakshamaam saranaagataum ”
This was a fitting finale to the loathsome drama of obloquy enacted by KAURAVA-s when SRI KRISHNA came to protect the modesty of a helpless woman, reiterating the message that He is the Jaranagata-vatsah who is ever in attendance to the needy that beseech Him. PILLAI LOKACHARYA states in aTamil quotation that SRI KRISHNA Himself says that He forgives the PANDAVA-s only to protect DRAUPADI’s mangalyam. Equally important is the vow she takes at this juncture that lays the foundation for the KURUKSHETRA war. She vows that her
unbridled hair by which she was dragged by DUSSASANA would remain so until BHIMA knots it with his hands smeared with the blood of DUSSASANA. This and other vows signal that the war was inevitable and SRI KRISHNA maneuvers the rest, which is well known history.
In yet another situation, DURVASA MAHARSHI comes with his sishya-s during an afternoon for food when PANDAVA-s were in Aranyavasa. That day DRAUPADI had exhausted all the food given by the akshaya- patra, but had to respect the atitbi particularly a maharishi. Once again she prays to the Lord about her helplessness. Predictably, SRI KRISHNA
comes to her rescue by partaking a small portion of the food still sticking to the vessel, making DURVASAS and his disciples satiated with food. This not only highlights SRI KRISHNA’S Saulabhyam but also DRAUPADI’S ardent bhakti towards the Lord. These and many other incidents personify DRAUPADI as a fervent devotee who could allure and entice the Lord to come to her rescue when she needs Him.
Source: P. Jagannivas, Nrushimapriya 2004 Edition