From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

Draupadī literally means ‘daughter of Drupada’.

Draupadi, also known as Kṛṣṇā[1] and Pāñcāli[2] was the chief queen of the five Pāṇḍava princes. In a way, she was the root-cause of the fratricidal war of Kurukṣetra.

Along with her brother Dhṛṣtadyumna, she was also born from the sacrificial fire of Drupada, the king of Pāñcāla. Since she was a damsel of an extraordinary beauty, Drupada arranged for her svayamvara with very high stakes. He planned to wed her daughter to the one who can pierce the matsyayantra. Arjuna succeeded in the feat and was garlanded by her.

All the five Pāṇḍava princes were in disguise as forest hermits. As they announced to their mother Kuntī that they have brought extremely precious alms, Kunti who was busy inside the hut, commanded them to ‘share it equally!’ When she actually saw the girl, she realized her mistake. But it was too late!

Draupadī was then married to all the five brothers. The sage Nārada came to the rescue of the brothers and stipulated that she should live with each of them for one year by turns. If any of the other brother saw her during that period, he should go on a pilgrimage for one year as a penance.

In the first gambling match with the Kauravas, Yudhiṣṭhira, the eldest of the Pāṇḍavas, lost his all wealth and belongings including Draupadī. Though she was humiliated, she was rescued by the divine intervention of Śrī Kṛṣṇa. The Pāṇḍavas regained their possessions but Yudhiṣṭhira lost them again in a second round match. After this they were forced to exile for thirteen years.

After the end of exile period, the Pāṇḍavas wanted to compromise with the Kauravas. But Draupadī appealed to Śrī Kṛṣṇa to bring about the destruction of the Kauravas through war. Śrī Kṛṣṇa did so. Her anger subsided when Duśśāsana and Duryodhana were killed in the battle.

When Yudhiṣṭhira was crowned as the monarch, Draupadī became the queen. During the final journey of the Pāṇḍavas to heaven,[3] Draupadī was the first to collapse. Yudhiṣṭhira reasoned it to be Draupadi's more love towards Arjuna compared to others, though she was expected to love all the five husbands equally.

Draupadī has been considered as an aspect of the Mother-goddess and worshiped by the folk-cults of South India. There are numerous shrines dedicated to her in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. An annual ritual festival known as ‘Karaga’ is celebrated there. The shrines also contain the icons of Dharmarāja (or Yudhiṣṭhira) as her consort.

Iconographically, she is shown as a beautiful lady with three eyes and two arms. Her right hand holds a lotus. The figure is bent in three places (tribhaṅga).


  1. Draupadi was also called Kṛṣṇā since she was of dark complexion. Kṛṣṇa means dark.
  2. She was called as Pāñcāli because she was the daughter of the king of the country of Pāñcāla.
  3. It is also known as ‘mahā-prasthāna’.
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore