The heroine of Mahabharatha, hence was called Mahabharathi, by whom the epic meets its climax.
Who was She?
The only Pathivratha with many temples, unlike Sita who is accompanied by her consort, Draupadi stands alone with her husbands of second in priority in her temples.
She was one of the Pancha Maha Pathivratas or Pancha Kanyas (Five most chaste and one of the most eligible spinsters) of the mythical era.
Though her biological parents were Agni and Swaha, she was adopted by Drupad, King of Panchala, which is why her name was changed from Agni Jyotsna to Draupadi, the sages called her Yajna Seni as she was born from the sacrificial fire. (Also called as Panchali, Drupada Kanya).
She was a fully grown woman, dressed in the best of Silk, unusually rare jewelry. A dark complexioned maiden, so dark, that when her hair brushed over her face, the black raven like hair, looked golden brown, so dark was her complexion.
Voluptuous with a slender waist. She had a naturally aromatic odor that could be sensed a ‘yojana’ away (a measurement for distance). It is also said that she never aged (Nitya Yuvani/ Nitayuvani). Instances of Her co-wives & the brides of her sons’ were jealous of her beauty that never deteriorated, are being mentioned.
All these qualities made her most desirable by the kings of kings. Many bribed the other to drop themselves from being present at the contest of winning her hand.
Some argue that Kunti knew what Arjuna had brought to her, yet behaved as if she was unaware and in fact scared that Draupadi’s incomparable beauty might bring differences amongst the five brothers. Also to keep them united, this worked as a plan.
Mantra: Ahalya Draupadi Sita, Tara Mandodari tatha.
What made her special out of the five? She brought about a revolutionary change by going against all the rules of a Pathivrata.
(A Pathivrata: A chaste woman, who never back-answers her husband, always respects and politely binds herself to his expectations and violates self for her husband’s satisfaction, lets her husband control her and subdues her emotions and body to meet his needs).
Draupadi in that case stood out exceptional. She was considered manipulative and demanding. When the request of marrying all the five brothers was made, she demanded to remain the rightful queen of the throne, no matter how many more wives they married in future.
She decided to stay as wife with each brother a year and a mother to the rest four, during which the remaining four shouldn’t dare look at her. And by the end of that year, she piled up firewood to build a sacrificial pyre, stayed in it until she turned virgin again and become the wife of another brother among the five. Hence was called Nitya Kanya.
When Draupadi was disrobed, humiliated in public, she boldly questioned and insulted her husbands in public too asking, “How much of a man were each?”, also “Who gave the permission to Yudhistra to gamble her, when she belonged to four others?”.
When Gandhari is informed about Draupadi’s disrobing by her sons, knowing that she might curse the entire Kuru clan, Gandhari rushes to the spot at that very instant and begs Draupadi not to curse her sons, instead she agrees on granting two boons. Draupadi could have asked for: the return of Kingdom that’s lost, the lavish, the cattle, the properties, even Hasthinapura itself. But she asks for Pandava’s weapons and freedom from slavery.
Another folklore says: Draupadi so enraged when sent on exile, it was noon when Lord Krishna arrived to convince them all with his condolences. She was serving food with anger in her eyes & a smile on her lips, while serving food to each of her husbands, she takes a look at Krishna, he signs ‘NO’ by waiving his head, the next one again she looks at Krishna, he says ‘NO’, Bheema who observed this takes Krishna aside and asks about what happened back there. Krishna then says, Draupadi was KALI herself and wanted to kill at least one of the five (and Krishna tried to stop her from taking one of their lives) for the public humiliation & incapability to protect Her as every husband should, She had five husbands, but none worth to live or to be forgiven, who didn’t even try to save her.
But as time passed, she was worried about her husbands who went to sleep hungry, also about the saints who stopped by, the unexpected guests and relatives who arrived home. With inadequate commodities to serve them food, she selflessly decided to perform penance to Lord Surya for the “Akshaya Paatra”.
She unbound her hair, to remind her husbands, of their inability to protect their own wife.
Though many tried to covet her, she turned to Bheem, as she knew that he alone of the rest loved her the most.
When the EXILE came to an end, the Pandavas requested Krishna to talk to Kauravas and convince them to settle things without waging war. Whereas Draupadi called Krishna aside and asked him to keep in mind about her unbound hair & thirst for blood. If failed to initiate war among the two groups, She said I have an army of my own for which I need no man and was ready to pounce up on Her prey.
Krishna warned her, that if there would be war, she would lose all her children. She instead says avenging those who insulted her was more important than anything else.
She boldly argues with Kunti that as a mother, Kunti could or should never be proud of her sons. As the mistakes were on both parties. She also boldly throws acquisitions and questions at her husbands, that, if they couldn’t protect a woman of their own, how would they run a Kingdom so vast.
During exile, her intentions to avenge, boiled her acids in the stomach, she then ran into forests in lightning speed and ate Bisons and Elephants that she found in the jungle.
Once when Yudhistra & Draupadi were fast asleep, early in the morning before Sunrise, Yudhistra felt the presence of another man in their chamber, who then observed 9 lakh divine beings were at her feet head-long (prostration), worshiping her.
Even when she was disrobed, she decides not to cry, as she felt that she was no wimp, or haven’t committed a mistake to cry. She instead says that crying would make her weak and she wasn’t a low born to be scared and beg for mercy.
By the end of Mahabharatha, it is said that Yudhistra enters Heaven to see Draupadi welcoming him and others at the door as she was Swarga Laxmi herself.
Madurai Meenakshi dictates the citizen or her country to build a temple for Draupadi, when the curse of Kannagi kept burning Madurai to ashes. By building a Shrine to Draupadi, daughter of Agni to bring an end up on the wrath of Kannagi’s curse.
When She follows Her husbands to Himalayas, on the way to Shambal, trying to attain Moksha. A demon who falls for Her beauty tries to capture & enslave Her, She then cuts a slit on her hand, out of which were born, the Vahni Kula Kshatriyas, who protected their mother. She guides them to move & settle further South, where the clan spread the fame of Draupadi. Though there are many shrines of Draupadi like Madurai, Sowcarpet – Chennai, Bangalore, Andhra Pradesh, Singapore, Srilanka, her temples are always addressed as Dharmaraja temples. Only a few temples directly address to her.
The history is still not known. The residents report that the eldest in the village remember the Idol being worshiped in a house with a tiled roof, where disputes were solved, judged and even punished in her presence.
The sanctum which has now been improved by every individual’s contribution. Draupadi in every Shrine holds a Lotus bud representing Virginity (A virgin every other day), but here in KONDAL, she holds a Parrot, which cannot be seen in any other temple of Draupadi.
She is also said to Bless her devotees by appearing in their dreams of those whom She is pleased.
KONDAL – SRI DRAUPADI AMMAN
The nearest airport would be Trichy (Thiruchchirapalli) Airport and Pondichery (Puduchery) Airport (from there you go to Mayiladuthurai by any one of the means of commute – Taxi/ Train/ Bus). You also can reach Mayiladuthurai (also called as Mayavaram or Mayuram) by trains. Buses are many from Chennai and Bangalore to Mayiladuthurai.
Once you reach Mayiladuthurai, Hotels are in plenty for all classes, make a choose based on your budget. FYI – few hotels can be booked online as well.
To reach (Nidur) KONDAL, you have to head to the OLD bus depot, there are two bus depots adjacent to each other (of just about 100 mts). Reach the old bus depot, ask for buses that go via Nidur, get down at KONDAL stop. Ask for Draupadi Amman Temple, the villagers will guide you to the Shrine that’s just beside the main road, about 100 mts from Bus stop of KONDAL.
You also can hire a taxi or an auto-riksha from Mayiladuthurai. Though there are autos and taxi services in adequate numbers, its efficient to reach KONDAL by bus.
Remember, KONDAL is a village (ku-gramam). You won’t get anything there. Not even food/ restaurants. You have to buy flowers and other stuff for Goddess Draupadi at Mayiladuthirai itself. Please make your own arrangements while going to KONDAL.
Most importantly, the local language is TAMIL and the villagers know of no other language. You may want to take someone along with you who knows the language.
NOTE: Draupadi amman temple @KONDAL will be opened on TUESDAY & FRIDAY only. But, if you reach any other day, you may call the Pujari (number available in the temple) and request him to come and perform Pooja.
May you all be BLESSED by HER grace!!
PS: Some of the photographs/ pictures are taken over from Web randomly and I do not own them.