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
A Revolting DRAUPADI
Out of the five Pativratas, She had a career and was a working woman. During exile, the Pandavas request Draupadi to stay hidden in a cave (during Agyaathavasam – identity unrevealed). She disagrees saying She had fed them for 12 years with the Akshaya Patra and She never liked to depend on Her husbands. She instead says, “I feed myself with my earning until I’m the queen of your throne, and what are husbands for, who can’t protect?”.
She works as a hair dresser for the queen of Virata and names herself Sairandhri. When all her husbands remained scared that the palace men might try to covet their wife, Draupadi, the most beautiful woman.
The only Pativrata who had an army of her own led by POTHU/ POTHI. Sahadev, who knew about Draupadi, who had an ability to raise an army, requests her for help during war. She simply rejects saying “I think I married men, men don’t beg women for help!”. The insulted man walks out with a decision to kill at least one more than his capability.
She demanded respect by force. She curses Gathotkach who forgot to pay respects to the queen. When the society questions about her friendship with Krishna, many disagreed friendships amongst opposite sex, they also place an option in front of both saying a relationship of brother and sister if they chose to address themselves, their relationship could be accepted, anything but friendship. She instead proudly says He was the only friend She had. But, when the gossips cooled down among the people, She then addresses Him as a brother.
When Her husbands along with Krishna were bathing in a pond, in Indraprastha, each Pandava leaves the pond for lunch, wondering why Krishna hasn’t left yet!. Draupadi walks towards the pond and tears the pallu of Her saree and throws it at Krishna, He then wears it as a Loin-cloth and comes out. It is then the rest understand that Krishna hesitated to come out naked. When Krishna slays Sishupala’s head, the Sudarsana disc returns to Krishna and when it does, unaligned hand of Krishna was hurt by his disc. Draupadi tears Her saree and nurses Krishna’s hand. Then Krishna saves Draupadi’s pride by offering Her a saree a thousand times what She offered Him. The act where Draupadi nurses Krishna by tying a silk cloth on Krishna’s hand is called Raksha Bandhan. He was obliged to protect Draupadi as His sister.
The love story of Karna & Draupadi – A story during exile/ vanavaasa says Draupadi desires Karna, knowing which enraged Arjuna tried to beat Her up and kill Her. Krishna rushes to the scene and says, “once you know the reason behind it, you would respect Her more and understand Her greatness. Though many tried to explain the reason behind it, like, as some say She felt had it She married Karna, She would have led a decent and a more respectful life and he would have protected Her better than the Pandavas did.
Draupadi reveals that She liked Karna even after She was married to the Five Pandavas which enraged Arjuna and he tried to kill Her. Krishna then explains that, She felt Karna alone had all the Five Qualities Pandavas individually possessed. She felt She wouldn’t have undergone all the miseries, as Karna knew how to protect and respect his wife. Learning this, the Pandavas remained silent in shame. Karna later felt sorry for the comments he passed on Draupadi in Duryodhana’s court during Her disrobement. In fact, it is said that they (Karna & Draupadi) had great respect for each other in the latter part of Mahabharat, but never revealed or spoke to each other.
When Pandavas decided to take revenge on Aswarthama who killed their five sons when asleep. She reminds Her husbands not to kill him, as he was the son of their Guru and since the war was now over. he should be punished and not killed. She reminds them of Dharma, even when Her sons were found dead beside Her She thought of Dharma. She asks Krishna to punish instead.
When She is with one of the husbands for a year, the remaining four never attempted to gaze at Her. She orders the rest to treat Her as their mother.
Draupadi’s maids were scared to death of Draupadi’s rage. If something went wrong with the grooming techniques, She would punish them severely, sometimes even a death sentence. She was way to conscious about Her hair, beauty and appearance.
When the queens of Mahabharata were restricted to the vicinity of palace courtyards, bedroom chambers and entertainment courts, Draupadi, forced Her husbands to hang down a swing in Her garden where She can have a view of the streets heading to the palace and groom Herself to swing all day long behaving like an unmarried princess.
Though Draupadi was emotionally shattered by Her husbands, who married ‘N’ number of women, especially Arjuna, She tried to convince the princesses whom Arjuna married by force, to offer sexual pleasures to Her husband. She also had a strict rule that no other wives of the Pandavas except Herself would stay in the palace. And even if they had to see someone, they had to travel miles away.
Finally, about the misconception of Draupadi laughing at Duryodhana, who fell in to the waters, at Indraprastha. Mahabharata never speaks of Draupadi laughing at Duryodhana. It was Bheema and Nakul who commented, “A blind prince of a blind king”, “Like father like son (blind)”, but it never spoke of Draupadi insulting him as She is known for following “Athithi Dharma” and Her impeccable hospitality. Although She once laughed at Bheesma, when in his death bed. Krishna asks Bheesma to bless the Pandavas and their families and also enlighten them about Dharma, Draupadi burst out with laughter, which enraged the Pandavas. Bheesma felt bad and asks Her if his agony was funny or had She no heart to laugh at his misery?. She in turn puts the question asking, “What happened to the person who is ready to preach Dharma, during her disrobing event?, shutting his eyes trying to dodge himself from the situation. If he could have followed Dharma on the day when a woman cried for help, mercilessly insulted in front of thousands. He could have stopped it as a minister with all his rights, to the least could have quit his job at the Kauravas and have punished them as a grandfather should, for which none could have stopped him. He also knew She was a powerful woman, a daughter-in-law- of the Kuru clan, the Prestige always relies on the daughter-in-law of the family. He also knew She could turn the Kuru clan to ashes, but She made Her mind to never use Her powers, at least as a token of gratefulness, he should have stood beside Her”.
The entire crowd gathered around Bheesma remained silent. Bheesma then apologized to Her, and explained after having been fed on Dhuryodhan’s food for years, his body was filled with sin and now when he bled continuously on the arrow bed, and that he was now cleansed. Although it is said that after his brief apologetic confession, She felt She could never forgive him.
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.
Other famous places nearby are: Kumbakonam, Tanjavur, Karaikal, Thiruchchirapalli (Trichy)
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.