Draupadi's Pride Crushed

Note: Draupadi had an other name called 'Krishna'. Do not get confused with this.

This story in *Kashiram Das’ Bengali Mahabharata does not occur in the Sanskrit recensions or the original Vyasa Mahabharata. It is placed between the Savitri and the Dharma-Baka episodes in the Vana Parva. It is also found in the Tamil version of the epic. Both must be drawing upon a common source that has not yet been found. Very interesting light is thrown on meanings the narrator wishes to convey by using different names of Krishna and Draupadi at different stages of the narrative. Readers are invited to mull over these and draw their conclusions.

Following the recital of the Savitri-Satyavan story, Yudhishthira tells Krishna that they ought to leave Kamyaka forest as the Kauravas may disturb them here repeatedly and the period of incognito exile is approaching. Krishna approves and accompanies the Pandavas. Towards the end of the second day they reach the delightful Kamya Lake, a renowned “tirtha”. Krishna asks them to rest and purify themselves in this best of “tirthas” by bathing and making offerings to the manes. Three nights they spend there happily. On the fourth morning Yajnaseni muses, “In the three worlds I am the only sati, husband-dedicated, accompanying my husbands in forests, grieving in their grief. Repeatedly the munis praise me. Surely I can count my life successful. What greater fame than mine can the ruler of all the world lay claim to?” Thus did Yajnaseni glorify herself. Knower-of-secrets, chakra-wielder Narayana knew and thought to crush her pride.

They came upon a lovely ashram with many trees laden with fruits. Fate made them tired of travelling and they decided to rest in that spot, delightful as heaven itself. Suddenly Krishna’s eyes fell upon a mango, unseasonal, dangling from a branch. “See this amazing sight,” she said to Arjuna. “If you feel kindly towards me, please pluck this mango for me.” Hearing this, Dhananjaya shot a divine arrow and brought that mango to Krishna. As she held the mango happily in her hand, Devaki’s son appeared and said, sadly, “What is this you have done Partha? Truly, a grievous misdeed has been done today. How can I blame you? It is fate’s decree and you have to suffer for your past deeds. Such decisions are taken by those whose time is up. Even pundits lose their discrimination and commit errors. Surely, I fear you will be destroyed, otherwise why should such an evil intent seize you?’

Hearing Krishna’s words king Yudhishthira most anxiously said, “Speak, valiant Yadu, what is it that one such as you is fearful? It is no small matter, son of Devaki. This unseasonal fruit is the cause of misfortune. Whose is this forest? Who is that great one and how powerful? How shall we save ourselves today in this forest? Pray save us, for your words are infallible as the thunderbolt.”

Shri Krishna said, “The muni’s name is Sandipan and this garden is his. Gods and demons tremble at his name. His speech is infallible like the thunderbolt. No siddha and rishi in the three worlds can compare to Sandipan in ascesis. For ages he lives in this forest and rarely goes elsewhere. At dawn he leaves to perform ascesis, fasting the whole day. See how his ascesis fructifies in a miracle. Every day a single mango ripens on this tree. When the muni returns in the evening, in great satisfaction he plucks the mango from the tree and eats it. Thus he has passed a long time. Such a mango has Partha plucked for Draupadi. This misfortune is the result of their past faulty karma. Returning from his penance to the ashram and not finding the mango, the muni will turn all into a heap of ashes. I can see no way out. Alas, Partha, alas! What have you done!”

With folded hands king Yudhishthira, deeply agitated, said to Govinda, “All the good and ill of Pandavas is yours. None can save the Pandavas. It is no secret, Devaki’s son. If you wish, save us, or do what you will. Who can kill one sheltered by you? What you cannot do others had better not even think upon. We five are under your protection. Speak, Narayana, how shall we be saved?”

Hearing Dharma’s words, Shri’s spouse said, “If the tree appears just as it was when the mango was on it, then all can be saved, O king.”

Yudhishthira said, “In these three worlds, he who nourishes all their beings, at whose behest creation and destruction happen, why should he bother to fix a mango to the branch?”

Govinda said, “There is a remedy whereby the mango can be re-fixed to the branch and everyone will be saved. You can do this if you wish-- it is nothing much, if you speak the truth, abjuring deception, Dharma-king.”

Yudhishthira said, “Whatever you command, Krishna. If it is within my power, let the remedy be applied. Who desires death instead? Command us and we shall do it with all our heart and soul.”

Govinda said, “It is nothing much, O King. Everyone will be saved. Listen, great king, Drupada’s daughter and you five must say before me what is it that rises every moment in you. If you speak discarding deception, then will the mango be re-fixed.”

All undertook to do so. First spoke Dharma’s son. “Hear, wish-fulfilling Chintamani, ever I think on Narayana. Should I regain past prosperity, Narayana, day and night I would perform Brahmin-feeding yajna. Other than this I have no desire and all the time this is what I hold in my mind and heart.”

The unseasonal mango rose upwards to some height, astonishing and delighting everyone.

Then said Vrikodara, “Hear my words, Krishnachandra! This is what I think day and night: with blows of my mace I’ll slay the hundred Kauravas; riving open wicked Duhshasana’s breast with my nails, I’ll fill my stomach with his blood. Krishna’s tresses will I tie up with these hands. That wicked Kuru, mightily intoxicated with pride, lifted his garment to show Draupadi his naked thigh. That I’ll shatter in battle with my mace. This is what I hold in my heart day and night.”

When Bhima had spoken, the mango rose further upward.

Aruna said, “This rises in my mind, that when we five brothers came to the forest I strewed dust in both hands in all directions. With weapons as numerous cutting down the wicked Kshatriyas, will I slay valiant Karna with a divine arrow. Bhimasena will kill the hundred brothers—thinking on all this I pass the time. Hear my mind’s words, Narayana.”

Then the mango rose further upwards.

Nakula said, “Hear Krishna what I think of. When the ruler of Dharma will be king again, I will be the crown prince as before. I will introduce the ruling community to the Dharma-raja, will examine and report to him the kingdom’s good and ill.”

Then the mango roses further upwards.

Sahadeva said, “Ever I think that returning to the kingdom when Yudhishthira will sit on the throne I will fan him with a chowry, will find out about all citizens and will ever be engaged in feeding Brahmins. All sorrows will I forget in looking after our mother. This treasured wish have I declared frankly.”

Thereupon the mango rose further upwards, almost touching the branch.

Then, slowly, softly, spoke Yajnaseni: “This is what I think of day and night: all those wicked persons who have pained me so much, at the hands of Bhima and Arjuna they all shall be slain. All their women will weep in sorrow and I, delighted, will secretly mock them. Celebrating a great yajna as before, I will happily look after all friends and relatives.”

As gifted Krishna said this, the mango dropped to the ground again.

Terrified, Yudhishthira then said, “Why did the mango fall down? Tell us Yadu hero!”

Govinda said, “O King, what shall I say! Drupada’s daughter ruined everything. She spoke all false words. For that reason, son of Dharma, the mango fell down.”

Anxiously the five brothers said with hands folded, “Find a way out, do something Krishna so that the mango rises up!”

Govinda said, “Krishna! Speak the truth and surely the mango will be fixed to the tree.”

The lord of Dharma said to Krishna, “Why do you destroy the world, gifted one? Discarding deception speak before Govinda. The lives of all will be saved if the mango re-fixes to the tree.”

Though the son of Dharma spoke thus, the lady remained silent, saying nothing. Seeing this, bow-wielding Partha became furious and strung a divine arrow to kill Draupadi. Arjuna said, “Quickly speak truthful words, otherwise with this sharp arrow I’ll slice off your head.”

When mighty Partha spoke thus, then gifted Krishna, laying aside shame, spoke. Draupadi said, “Lord, what shall I say! You know the spoken and unspoken thoughts of all. When heroic Karna came in the yajna, seeing him I mused that were he Kunti’s son then with him I would have six husbands. That is what came to my mind now.”

When she said this, the mango shot up that very moment and was on the branch of the tree as previously. Acknowledging this a miracle, all were delighted. Saved, Yudhishthira remained silent. Heroic Vrikodara roared, “Is this your conduct, evil-minded Krishna? In a family the sati serves one husband. You, specially, have five husbands. Yet you secretly desire the charioteer’s son and are called husband-devoted sati in society? You have disclosed your ugly nature. In public you are renowned as supremely chaste. At length, woman’s true character is exposed. Untrustworthy, destructive, wicked-minded are you! What made you turn to such evil ways? As long as your mind and heart favor the enemy, who can trust you?” Saying this, lifting his mace, in mighty fury Bhima rushed with unbounded force to slay Draupadi.

With a slight smile, Lord Jagannatha swiftly seized Bhima’s hands. Then, smilingly he said to Bhimasena, “Without cause do you slander Draupadi, for Draupadi is not evil-minded. I will tell you the reason for this. I know everything about everyone. Without cause do you slander Draupadi, Partha. Among women, there is no one like her. Krishna spoke what she did feared. The cause of this is secret and it is not proper to reveal all now. After the king has returned to his kingdom and has sat on his throne, then will I specially reveal all to everyone. None can say that on this earth there is a woman, a sati, as dedicated to her husband, as Krishna.”

Hearing this response from Krishna’s mouth, heroic Vrikodara sat down, restrained; jewel among kings, Yudhishthira, counted it most surprising; ashamed, downcast remained Yajnaseni. Krishna’s irresistible Maya, who can comprehend? Just to shatter Krishna's pride he did so much delusion and false deception.