Sunday, 20 November 2016

Was Draupadi Forced To Marry The Pandavas?

In the epic Mahabharatha, Draupadi married the 5 Pandavas. Many believe this to be an isolated case of a woman marrying many men. In other words, there are many who believe that polyandry was not common in Mahabharatha times. This belief leads them to believe that Yuddhistira forced Draupadi to marry him and his 4 other brothers. The modern belief of always treating women as victims further makes people want to believe that Draupadi was a victim of "patriarchy" and that the 5 Pandavas forcefully married Draupadi against her wish, and then raped her. But this is very far from the truth. In reality, Draupadi was very willing for the marriage with the 5 Pandavas. She was not married against her wish. The post will show how she was sexually attracted to the 5 Pandavas, and wanted to marry them.

The story that we have been hearing since childhood is that Arjuna won Draupadi in her Swayamvara and brought her to his hut. When he reached his hut, Kunti was not facing him, and therefore could not see him or Draupadi. So, as a prank, he said that he has brought home alms (he called Draupadi alms). Without seeing what the "alms" actually were, she ordered the 5 Pandavas to split it among themselves. Then, as the story goes, the 5 Pandavas, who were always obedient to their mother decided to split Draupadi among themselves by all 5 marrying her. In this post, I will show how this story is a later interpolation in the epic to justify Draupadi marrying 5 men, when Indian society got more closed minded to polyandry.
All textual evidence provided in this post is from the Mahabharatha, translated into English, by Kisari Mohan Ganguly. This 18-parva long epic can be accessed by the link below:
Now this story of the 5 Pandavas marrying Draupadi on Kunti's words spoken by mistake, is really silly and an attempt to hide the fact that the 5 Pandavas were attracted to Draupadi and that Draupadi was attracted to the 5 Pandavas. Draupadi was not married to the 5 Pandavas against her will, and this story of the 5 Pandavas marrying Draupadi because of Kunti’s order is likely a later interpolation in the epic when society got more closed minded to polyandry.
I will start this answer by stating how polyandry was prevalent during the Mahabharatha times. After Arjuna wins the Swaymavara and the 5 Pandavas marry Draupadi reaches Karna and Duryodhana, they try to find ways to destroy the Pandavas. Duryodhana suggests to use Draupadi to create differences among the Pandavas (by generating jealousy among the brothers). Karna says that plan will be a failure. Here is an excerpt from his speech to Duryodhana:
It is impossible to create disunion amongst them. They can never be disunited who have all taken to a common wife. Nor can we succeed in estranging Krishna from the Pandavas by any spies of ours. She chose them as her lords when they were in adversity. Will she abandon them now that they are in prosperity? Besides women always like to have many husbands, Krishna hath obtained her wish. She can never be estranged from the Pandavas. The king of Panchala is honest and virtuous; he is not avaricious. Even if we offer him our whole kingdom he will not abandon the Pandavas.
From Karna's speech, it is clear that polyandry was common back then in Mahabharatha times. Also, if you look at Karna’s conversation with Duryodhana, none of them mention how Draupadi was split among the Pandavas by Kunti’s order. If she was actually split among the Pandavas, Karna would have definitely mentioned it out of frustration. Instead he says “She chose them as her lords when they were in adversity”, and “Krishna hath obtained her wish”, thus suggesting she wasn’t forced by Kunti to marry the Pandavas., but instead, married the Pandavas by her own will. This further supports my claim that Kunti asking the Pandavas to all marry Draupadi is a later interpolation... Also, after the Swayamvara, the Pandavas stayed in Panchala with Draupadi for about a year, before going to Indraprastha. At that time, the Pandavas were devoid of wealth and power and hence, if Drupada found any injustice being done to his daughter, he would have terminated the marriage and made the Pandavas captive. But he didn't do that. It suggests that Draupadi was living a happily married life with the Pandavas. Below is a quote from Adi Parva that describes the type of relationship Draupadi had with the Pandavas:

"Vaisampayana said, 'The Pandavas, having established such a rule, continued to reside there. By the prowess of their arms they brought many kings under their sway. And Krishna became obedient unto all the five sons of Pritha, those lions among men, of immeasurable energy. Like the river Saraswati decked with elephants, which again take pleasure in that stream, Draupadi took great delight in her five heroic husbands and they too took delight in her. And in consequence of the illustrious Pandavas being exceedingly virtuous in their practice, the whole race of Kurus, free from sin, and happy, grew in prosperity.
So now that I have addressed the prevalence of polyandry back then, I will proceed to explain what happened when Arjuna brought Draupadi into the hut, after winning the Swayamvara. After bringing Draupadi into the hut, the 5 Pandavas looked at her beauty in a manner full of desire. Likewise Draupadi did the same, thus inflaming the desire in the 5 Pandavas. Yuddhistira, seeing that all 5 Pandavas were attracted to Draupadi, decided that they all will marry Draupadi:
"Vaisampayana continued, 'Hearing these words of Jishnu, so full of respect and affection, the Pandavas all cast their eyes upon the princess of Panchala. And the princess of Panchala also looked at them all. And casting their glances on the illustrious Krishna, those princes looked at one another. And taking their seats, they began to think of Draupadi alone. Indeed, after those princes of immeasurable energy had looked at Draupadi, the God of Desire invaded their hearts and continued to crush all their senses. As the lavishing beauty of Panchali who had been modelled by the Creator himself, was superior to that of all other women on earth, it could captivate the heart of every creature. And Yudhishthira, the son of Kunti, beholding his younger brothers, understood what was passing in their minds. And that bull among men immediately recollected the words of Krishna-Dwaipayana.And the king, then, from fear of a division amongst the brothers, addressing all of them, said, 'The auspicious Draupadi shall be the common wife of us all.'
"Vaisampayana continued, 'The sons of Pandu, then, hearing those words of their eldest brother, began to revolve them in their minds in great cheerfulness.
The Pandavas were already attracted to Draupadi in the Swayamvara (even before they came back to the hut). Below is text from the Swayamvara sections that describe how the 5 Pandavas were all attracted to Draupadi:

Biting their nether lips in wrath, the other heroes there--sons and grandsons of kings--with their eyes and hearts and thoughts set on Krishna, looked with expanded eyes on Draupadi alone without noticing the Pandavas. And the sons of Pritha also, of mighty arms, and the illustrious twin heroes, beholding Draupadi, were all likewise struck by the shafts of Kama.
So, this was not the first time the Pandavas looked at Draupadi with desire. Then why did Vyasa bother to repeat that the Pandavas were attracted to Draupadi? The answer lies in an analysis of the text I posted above, from Section CLXLIII of Adi Parva. As you can see from that text above, the Pandavas looked at Draupadi with desire. Then, Draupadi looked back at them in such a way that inflamed their desire for her, and when the 5 Pandavas sat down, they were all only thinking of her. This was something unique that Vyasa had not noticed earlier, in the Swayamvara. He only noticed it after Draupadi came to the hut with Arjuna and looked at all the Pandavas very closely.
From that text, it is evident that Draupadi also looked at the Pandavas with desire. When a man looks at a beautiful woman, he would get attracted to her. But if she reciprocates (which would be evident by her body language), the man’s desire would increase drastically. That is exactly what happened here. After the Pandavas looked at her with desire, she looked at them with desire (thus reciprocating), and that inflamed the Pandavas’ desire for Draupadi such that they were all thinking of her only even after sitting along on their seats…
Then, Yuddhistira, who was a good reader of body language, noticed the feeling of his brothers, and decided it would be wise for them 5 to marry Draupadi. Now one can say that he didn’t care for Draupadi’s wish and forced his opinion on her. But that is incorrect. As I stated earlier, Yuddhistira was a good reader of body language and would have realized Draupadi’s desire for him and his brothers, which is not a hard task for any man… Yuddhistira was not Bhima. He could read Draupadi’s body language and, unlike Bhima, he was not one to be easily manipulated by her, as he knew her underlying desires behind her actions. One good example that shows this is the reaction of Bhima and Yuddhistira when Kichaka kicks Draupadi in the court of Virata:
And both Yudhishthira and Bhimasena who were seated there, beheld with wrathful eyes that outrage on Krishna by Kichaka. And desirous of compassing the destruction of the wicked Kichaka, the illustrious Bhima gnashed his teeth in rage. And his forehead was covered with sweat, and terrible wrinkles appeared thereon. And a smoky exhalation shot forth from his eyes, and his eye-lashes stood on end. And that slayer of hostile heroes pressed his forehead with his hands. And impelled by rage, he was on the point of starting up with speed. Thereat king Yudhishthira, apprehensive of discovery, squeezed his thumbs and commanded Bhima to forbear. And Bhima who then looked like an infuriate elephant eyeing a large tree, was thus forbidden by his elder brother. And the latter said, 'Lookest thou, O cook, for trees for fuel. If thou art in need of faggots, then go out and fell trees.'
[So as you can see, Bhima loses his cool seeing Draupadi kicked by Kichaka, and even tries to go and kill him right there and then. Yuddhistira, gets initially angry, but soon realizes that this is all a performance by Draupadi and calms himself down (this will be more clear in text below so keep reading...)]
Then, Draupadi pulls off a great acting performance, to evoke sympathy (for her) in the people at the assembly:
And the weeping Draupadi of fair hips, approaching the entrance of the court, and seeing her melancholy lords, desirous yet of keeping up the disguise duty-bound by their pledge, with eyes burning in fire, spoke these words unto the king of the Matsyas, 'Alas, the son of a Suta hath kicked today the proud and beloved wife of those whose foe can never sleep in peace even if four kingdoms intervene between him and them. Alas, the son of a Suta hath kicked today the proud and beloved wife of those truthful personages, who are devoted to Brahmanas and who always give away without asking any thing in gift. Alas! the son of a Suta hath kicked today the proud and beloved wife of those, the sounds of whose kettle-drums and the twangs of whose bow-strings are ceaselessly heard. Alas, the son of a Suta hath kicked today the proud and beloved wife of those who are possessed of abundant energy and might, and who are liberal in gifts and proud of their dignity. Alas, the son of a Suta hath kicked today the proud and beloved wife of those who, if they had not been fettered by the ties of duty, could destroy this entire world. Where, alas, are those mighty warriors today who, though living in disguise, have always granted protection unto those that solicit it? Oh, why do those heroes today, endued as they are with strength and possessed of immeasurable energy, quietly suffer, like eunuchs, their dear and chaste wife to be thus insulted by a Suta's son? Oh, where is that wrath of theirs, that prowess, and that energy, when they quietly bear their wife to be thus insulted by a wicked wretch? What can I (a weak woman) do when Virata, deficient in virtue, coolly suffereth my innocent self to be thus wronged by a wretch? Thou dost not, O king, act like a king towards this Kichaka. Thy behaviour is like that of a robber, and doth not shine in a court. That I should thus be insulted in thy very presence, O Matsya, is highly improper. Oh, let all the courtiers here look at this violence of Kichaka. Kichaka is ignorant of duty and morality, and Matsya also is equally so. These courtiers also that wait upon such a king are destitute of virtue.'
[Note how she portrays herself as a weak woman being insulted by powerful Kichaka. This works to evoke sympathy in the men in the assembly. Also, note how Vyasa cannot resist from mentioning her beauty. He addresses Draupadi as "weeping Draupadi of fair hips". Draupadi uses her tears along with her beauty to increase the compassion for her in Yuddhistira and the people of the assembly].
Yuddhistira realizes this is an acting performance by Draupadi and does not get manipulated by her words, and instead tells Draupadi to go to Sudeshna’s apartments:
Sairindhrithou art ignorant of the timeliness of things, and it is for this that thou weepest as an actress, besides interrupting the play of dice in Matsya's court. Retire, O Sairindhri; the Gandharvas will do what is agreeable to thee. And they will surely display thy woe and take the life of him that hath wronged thee.' "Vaisampayana continued, 'And having said this, the fair-hipped Krishna with dishevelled hair and eyes red in anger, ran towards the apartments of Sudhesna.
[Note how Yuddhistira realizes Draupadi's intent behind her body language and addresses her as an "actress". He is not manipulated by Draupadi's words as, unlike others, he is a deep reader of Draupadi's body language. Also note how Vyasa does not forget to mention Draupadi’s beauty. He mentions her as "fair-hipped" and one with "dishevelled hair". Like the others in the assembly, he too was a man, and such beauty along with the tears would generate compassion in his mind (and in the minds of those males present in the assembly) for Draupadi. Draupadi used her beauty along with her words to try to manipulate those males in the assembly, and it did work to some extent:
Then the courtiers, having learnt every thing, applauded Krishna, and they all exclaimed, 'Well done!' 'Well done!' and censured Kichaka. And the courtiers said, 'That person who owneth this large-eyed lady having every limb of hers endued with beauty for his wife, possesseth what is of exceeding value and hath no occasion to indulge in any grief. Surely, such a damsel of transcendent beautyand limbs perfectly faultless is rare among men. Indeed, it seems to us that she is a goddess.'
Just note how these males applaud Draupadi and don’t forget to mention her beauty. It is this beauty along with her words and tears that is evoking compassion and sympathy for her in the minds of those males. Just to re-iterate, Yuddhistira realizes that this is an acting performance by Draupadi and does not get manipulated by her words. If this was Bhima, he would have been angered and would have killed Kichaka and his supporters on the spot. Draupadi gets pissed off as Yuddhistira doesn’t get manipulated by her words, and so she then goes to Bhima and manipulates him to kill Kichaka for her].
So, just to re-iterate, Yuddhistira was a good reader of body language. He would have realized that Draupadi was also attracted to the Pandavas and therefore would have announced that the 5 Pandavas should marry Draupadi. So no injustice was done to Draupadi. Furthermore, after this decision of Yuddhistira, Draupadi is described as being “cheerful”:
Then the kind-hearted Kunti addressing the daughter of Drupada said, 'O amiable one, take thou first a portion from this and devote it to the gods and give it away to Brahmanas, and feed those that desire to eat and give unto those who have become our guests. Divide the rest into two halves. Give one of these unto Bhima, O amiable one, for this strong youth of fair complexion--equal unto a king of elephants--this hero always eateth much. And divide the other half into six parts, four for these youths, one for myself, and one for thee.' Then the princess hearing those instructive words of her mother-in-law cheerfully did all that she had been directed to do. And those heroes then all ate of the food prepared by Krishna.
[If Draupadi was angry with the decision that she will marry the 5 Pandavas, she would not have been cheerful at all. She would have been angry. The fact that she is mentioned as being cheerful, further supports my claim that she was attracted to, and wanted to marry the 5 Pandavas]
So Draupadi marrying the Pandavas was no insult to her, but instead, it was her wish come true!

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