or woman power has been given great important in Indian culture.
While the Adi Shakti, the Primordial One, has been portrayed as the
Sacred Feminine, who gives birth to the whole world from her womb, both
Indian mythology and Indian history chronicle the existence of powerful
women, who have been responsible both for great victory as well as the
great downfall of mighty rulers and their legions. The Shrestha Naaris,
the five most virtuous women featuring in the great Indian epics, the
Ramayana and the Mahabharata, have veritably shaped the psyche of the
modern Indian woman. They have been portrayed as powerful characters;
forces to reckon with. While they seemed to be submissive and docile at
times, a deeper analysis into their lives and times reveals that they
were the true force behind these legends. In this article, we discuss
the lives of the two most popular epic figures, Sita and Draupadi - two
women, who were responsible for the very existence of the two great
Sita and Draupadi
Sita was the central female character in the Ramayana, while Draupadi
was her counterpart in the Mahabharata. Though these two women have
been portrayed to be very different from each other, the fact remains
that the two great epics actually revolved around these two very
It is said that the world's most violent wars have been fought for one
reason - to attain the love of a woman. This is true of Sita and
Draupadi, who were, in fact, responsible for the great battles waged in
both the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. They were, indirectly, the cause
of the very existence of these two epics.
Let us now look into the lives of these two powerful legends.
The Story of Devi Sita
Devi Sita, also spelled as Seeta, was the consort of Rama, an avatar of
Sri Maha Vishnu. Considered to be an avatar or incarnation of Sri Maha
Lakshmi, she is revered as the very essence of Indian womanhood; a
veritable standard for the highest of womanly virtues for all Hindu
women. The story of Devi Sita portrays her undying devotion,
dedication, self-sacrifice, courage and virtuosity.
Sita was the daughter of Bhoomi Devi or Mother Earth. Literally
meaning, "furrow", Sita was found by her foster father, Janaka, while
he was ploughing the ground as part of a yagna or sacrificial ritual.
Interestingly, Sita is also a Vedic goddess, mentioned in the Rig Veda.
Here, she is portrayed here, as an Earth Goddess, who blesses the land
with fertile soil and a rich growth of crops. This goddess was hence
also associated with fertility. The Kaushika Sutra and the
Paraskara Sutra often refer to her as the wife of Parjanya (a deity
associated with the rains) and also Indra.
Sita's Childhood and Youth
Sita was adopted by Janaka, the King of Mithila and his wife, Sunayana.
Hence, she is also referred to as Janaki and Mythili. Janaka was known
by another name, Videha, as he had the ability to transcend body
consciousness. Hence, Sita was also called Vaidehi, the daughter of
She spent her entire childhood and youth in the palace of Janaka, as
Princess Sita. When she came of marriageable age, she fell in love with
Rama, the Prince of Ayodhya and eventually married him in an elaborate
The Sita Swayamvara - the Actual
Precursor the Ramayana
Janaka announced the Swayamvara of his daughter Sita and invited the
greatest rulers from all over India to attend the function. According
to the rules of the Swayamvara, a gigantic bow of Shiva would be placed
in the center of the mandap. The person who successfully lifted and
strung the bow would be able to win the hand of Sita and marry her.
Sita had chanced upon Rama prior to the Swayamvara and both had
instantly fallen in love with each other. Rama was one of the invitees
of the Swayamvara and was hopeful of winning her hand in marriage. As
the Swayamvara proceeded, several kings and princes came forward to
string the bow, but none could even lift it. Sita kept praying that
Rama would be successful in this Swayamvara and would marry her.
The mighty Ravana, the Demon King of Lanka, fell in love with Sita, the
moment he set eyes on her. He was already wedded to the stunningly
beautiful Mandodari and yet, desired Sita beyond measure. He was
supremely confident of his strength and was sure that he would be the
one to wed Sita.
When his turn came to try his hand at the bow, Ravana arrogantly
stepped towards it, bragging that he would be able to lift his with his
left little finger. Proceeding to lift the bow, he was stunned to note
that it would not budge from its place. He then tried lifting it with
one hand and then two. He then applied all his strength at the bow, but
it refused to budge an inch. Finally, humiliated, he had to return to
his seat. Ravana, however, swore that he would make Sita his own,
Rama entered the arena next. Humbly, he touched the bow, put it to his
eyes and prayed to Shiva for his grace. Lifting the huge bow in one
easy movement, he effortlessly strung it, creating a resounding twang
as he checked the tension of the string.
A joyous Sita placed the Varamala (garland) around Rama's neck and they
married each other in a grand wedding ceremony.
The Exile and Sita's Abduction
Soon after their wedding, Rama's stepmother commanded him to go on
Vanvaas (exile) for a period of 14 years. Sita, who was raised in the
luxuries of the palace, uncomplainingly accompanied her husband on this
long Vanvaas, along with Rama's brother, Lakshmana. Spending some time
in the forests of Dandaka, they then moved on to Panchavati. Sita
willingly endured the difficult life in the forest and was happy to be
with her husband at all times.
In the meantime, Ravana, sensing the opportunity that the Vanvaas
presented to him, decided to abduct Sita and take her with him. He
asked his uncle, Mareecha, to help him out in this mission.
Accordingly, Mareecha turned himself into an attractive golden deer and
presented himself before Rama's hut.
Amazed by the magnificent deer and wanting it for herself, Sita asked
Rama to go after it and capture it. Rama warned her against going after
the deer, but Sita would not heed his advice. Finally, Rama gave in to
her wish and chased the deer deep into the forest. Mareecha imitated
Rama's voice, asking Lakshmana to come help him capture the deer.
Though not willing to leave Sita alone in the hermitage, Lakshmana was
forced to join Rama. Drawing a line (for protection) on the ground with
his arrow, Lakshmana requested her not to stay indoors and refrain from
Ravana disguised himself as a Brahmin mendicant and requested Sita for
alms. He noticed the Lakshmana-rekha (the line) and told Sita that he
would accept the alms only if she crossed the line and gave it to him.
Once she was close enough to him, he lifted the ground she was standing
on and placing her on the chariot, drove speedily towards Lanka.
Jayatu, the vulture-king, tried to stop Ravana from abducting Sita. He
valiantly fought the demon king, but Ravana chopped off his wings and
he fell to the ground. When Rama found Jayatu in a critically wounded
state, he took him on his lap and enquired as to what had transpired
there and where Sita was. Jatayu told him about Sita's abduction,
before breathing his last.
Rama was furious and vowed that he would rescue his beloved wife and
bring her back at any cost.
Sita was taken to Lanka and held prisoner by Ravana for a whole year.
Though Ravana repeatedly proposed to her, Sita maintained her chastity.
In the meantime, Rama sent Hanuman to seek Sita and to assure her that
he would be coming soon to rescue her. Sita gave Hanuman her Chudamani
(jewellery) and requested him to give it to her husband. Hanuman was
caught by the Lankan army and was about to be executed, but managed to
escape cleverly. He also burnt down much of Lanka before heading back
to his Lord.
Rama's Battle against Ravana
HANUMAN AND THE VANAR SENA BUILD A BRIDGE
OF ROCKS ACROSS THE SEA TO LANKA
With the help of Hanuman and the rest of the Vanarasena (army of
monkeys), Rama built a bridge all the way to Lanka, where he fought
Ravana in a long battle, in order to rescue Sita. Eventually winning
the war, Rama rescued Sita and decided to take her home to Ayodhya.
Rama, however, was concerned about public opinion about his wife having
lived on another man's territory for so long. He hence asked her to
undertake an Agnipariksha (trial by fire) in order to prove her
innocence to the rest of the world. Sita meekly submitted to Rama's
requirement and entered the fire, coming out unscathed by it, thus
proving her chastity.
Rama's Pattabhishekha (Coronation)
and Sita's Second Exile
Back in Ayodhya with Sita by his side, Rama was crowned as King in an
elaborate Pattabhishikha ceremony. Though Rama was completely loyal to
Sita and never looked at another woman, it soon became evident to him
that some people in Ayodhya could still not accept the fact that Sita
had been held in Ravana's abode for so long. As a ruler, therefore,
Rama was looked down upon, because he had accepted his wife, in spite
of knowing she had lived at some other man's place.
Accordingly, Rama decided that, in order to maintain his own dignity as
a ruler, he would have to drive out Sita yet again. By this time, Sita
was already pregnant. Rama was well aware of this fact and yet, he
decided that she would have to endure a second exile. Only this time,
he asked Lakshmana to leave her in the forest, at the hermitage of sage
Valmiki. Sita, who had no clue about Rama's plans, was shocked and hurt
when Lakshmana dropped her off at the hermitage. In due course of time,
Sita gave birth to twin boys, Lava and Kusha. Though a single mother,
Sita raised them well, to become intelligent, bright and valiant young
Sita Returns to Bhoomi Devi
A few years later, Rama coincidentally met Lava and Kusha in the
forest, when they ably captured the horse he had sent out during his
Ashwamedha Yagna. When he asked them who their father was, they recited
the entire tale of Rama, thereby making him realize that they were his
Rama invited Sita to his court and back into his life. Sita, however,
handed over the twins to him and sought final refuge in the willing
arms of her mother, Bhoomi Devi. Having been deeply wounded and
humiliated time and again by Rama, she was not willing to live with him
anymore and requested her mother to accept her. Instantly, the earth
split open and Bhoomi Devi appeared from it. Holding her daughter's
hand, she took her away to a much better place, for all time. Thus,
Sita separated from her husband for good.
Understanding Sita in the Ramayana
Devi Sita is often wrongly portrayed as being an "abala naari" - a
helpless woman who is forever meek and submissive. From an extremely
feminist perspective, Sita serves as an example of female subservience,
who completely endorses male supremacy and gives in to his every whim
and fancy, even if it were to wound her permanently. Feminists argue
that this attitude of a woman actually encourages domestic violence and
subjugation of women in India.
In truth, however, she reflects the attitude of the modern Indian
woman, who is smart, capable and knows her mind. Though she appears
docile, there are some powerful speeches she made during the Ramayana.
The following are some of them:
Sita speaks out for the first time
in Chitrakuta, when she reminds Rama of his promise to her that he
would never hurt anyone without provocation.
- The second time, Sita speaks
powerfully to Ravana when he comes to her in the guise of the Brahmin.
She looks at him for some time and tells him that he does not look like
- When Hanuman locates Sita at Lanka,
he offers to take her back to Rama. He proposes that Sita should ride
on his back. But Sita refuses his offer, saying that she did not want
to run away life a thief and would be pleased only if Rama fought
Ravana like a true warrior, vanquished him and personally took her back
Sita as the Essence of the Modern
- Sita was ever graceful and soft and
lacked the aggression displayed by Draupadi in the Mahabharata.
However, she showed immense mental strength and the strength of
character, even under the most excruciating circumstances she faced
during her lifetime.
- Though unhappy in her life, she
never tried to portray herself as the victim. When her husband suffered
difficult times, she stood by him unflinchingly. She willingly
sacrificed all the luxuries of the palace and decided to join her
husband during his Vanvaas.
- Sita had great powers of persuasion
as well. Though Rama was not initially willing to follow and capture
Mareecha, Sita was strong enough in her desire and saw to it that her
husband conceded to her desire.
- While at the Ashok Van with Ravana,
Sita showed amazing strength of moral character. She never let the
demon king anywhere near her. In fact, he was well aware of this fact
even when he tried to abduct her. Ravana knew that he would never be
able to touch her without her express permission and hence, he never
actually touched her - he lifted the entire earth under her feet
- Sita was well aware of her own
strength and that is precisely why she agreed to the Agni Pariksha. She
could have refused to entire the fire, but had full faith in her own
mental and moral strength. She eventually came out the winner.
- She continued to remain strong
while at Valmiki's ashram (hermitage) and raised two boys as a single
mother. She never once let them feel the absence of their father and
nurtured them into wise, valiant young boys.
- Lastly, she revealed her true free
spirit when she made the decision of separating from her husband, after
leaving her sons in his care. Though deeply hurt, she was graceful to
leave with her dignity intact, with her head held high.
Considering the above facts, Sita's story is indeed inspiring and a
fine example for the emerging modern Indian woman.
The Tale of Draupadi
Draupadi, also commonly referred to as Krishna Draupadi, was the
daughter of Drupada, the King of Panchala. Hence, she is also called
Panchali. In the Mahabharata, she is the central female character, who
is also the wife of the five Pandavas. At the end of the war,
Yudhisthira, the eldest of the five brothers became the King of
Indraprashtha. At that point of time, she automatically became the
queen of the region. An exceptionally beautiful and virtuous woman,
Draupadi was also very strong-willed.
Having fallen for her charms, Duryodhana, the eldest of the Kauravas,
wanted to marry Draupadi. But she was firm in her stand that she would
forever remain with the Pandavas. Her rejection of Duryodhana and her
public humiliation at the hands of the Kauravas was what actually
triggered the very battle of Kurukshetra.
Here is the story of Draupadi...
Birth of Draupadi
THE BIRTH OF SITA
FROM THE BOOK
DRAUPADI - THE MOST AMAZING CHARACTER OF THE MAHABHARATA
Drupada had been defeated by the Pandava prince, Arjuna, who had fought
on behalf of his teacher, Drona Acharya. In order to wreak revenge on
Drona, Drupada decided to perform a Yagna, whereby he would attain
powers to destroy him. Draupadi emerged from this fire, along with her
brother, Dhristadyumna. She was a beautiful, olive-skinned young woman
and hence, she got the name Krishna. Since she was Drupada's daughter,
she was also called Draupadi.
THE SWAYAMVARA OF DRAUPADI
FROM THE BOOK
DRAUPADI - THE DUSKY FIREBRAND
Draupadi was already a youthful woman when she manifested from the
fire. Hence, Drupada started thinking in terms of giving her away in
marriage. He conducted an elaborate Swayamvara ceremony, whereby the
suitors would have to vie with each other to win her hand.
The participants at the Swayamvara were presented with a revolving
target overhead. They had to look down at its reflection in a bowl of
water and hit it with an arrow. Drupada had wanted Arjuna to win this
competition. Draupadi had also fallen in love with the young prince and
was praying that he would be able to accomplish the task. Arjuna, who
was then in exile, came there with his other 4 brothers, Yudhisthira,
Bhima, Nakula and Sahadeva, disguised as Brahmins. He succeeded in this
task and won Draupadi's hand in marriage.
Karna at the Swayamvara
Karna, the eldest son of Kunti, who abandoned him at birth; also a
close friend of Duryodhan, was also a suitor for Draupadi at her
swayamvara. As he was ready to set aim on the revolving target,
however, on a gesture from Krishna, Drupada restrained him from
shooting the arrow, referring to him as a soota-putra (son of a
charioteer). He said that he would not consent to give his daughter's
hand in marriage to someone of a lower caste. Karna had been found and
adopted by a charioteer and his wife. This insult by Drupada enraged
Karna to the extent of taking revenge on Draupadi much later, during
the game of dice.
There is a version that states that Draupadi and Karna were very much
in love with each other. They wanted to marry each other, but Krishna
had opposed this relationship right from the beginning. He had told
Draupadi that this was not destined, and hence, would not happen.
Draupadi had moved away from Karna at Krishna's insistence. It is
believed that this further enraged and insulted Karna, who swore that
he would avenge this rejection by Draupadi.
Draupadi Weds the Pandavas
Returning home with his bride, he asked his mother Kunti to come and
take a look at what he had brought home with him. Kunti, not being
present in the room at the time, absently asked him to share what he
had brought, with his brothers. Though Draupadi was shocked by this,
she realized that they had to obey their mother's order and hence, she
accepted all the five brothers as her husbands.
Krishna later explained to Draupadi that she had earned her five
husbands as the result of a boon she had received in a previous birth.
In that birth, she was born as Nalayini and had prayed to Shiva to
grant her a husband with the five most desirable qualities in a man.
Shiva told her that since it would be difficult to find all these
qualities in a single man, he would bless her with five husbands in her
next birth. Shiva also blessed her that irrespective of the fact that
she would have five husbands, she would retain her virginity till the
end of her life.
This is how she got her five husbands - Yudhisthira (the Righteous
One), Bhima (the Powerful One), Arjuna (the Valiant One), Nakula (the
Handsome One) and Sahadeva (the Loving One).
Draupadi Insults Duryodhana
The Pandavas built Indraprastha, the Palace of Illusions, at a site in
the Khandava forest. Once they settled in, the Pandavas invited
Duryodhana to come and visit their palace. Accordingly, Duryodhana came
with his whole entourage. The main courtyard of the palace was divided
in two parts. While one part appeared like the surface of a rippling
lake, the surface of the other part appeared like solid granite
An unsuspecting Duryodhana stepped onto the seemingly solid part of
this courtyard. There was an immediate splash and Duryodhana found
himself waist deep in water, drenched from head to foot. Draupadi,
amused by this incident, laughed out loud and exclaimed, "The son of a
blind man also turned blind!" This enraged Duryodhana, who vowed to
himself that he would take revenge for this incident - that he would
make the Pandavas fall at his feet and beg for mercy.
The Game of Dice
The Game of Dice marks a definitive moment of history in the
Mahabharata epic. It is one of the most important instances leading to
the great Mahabharata war. Indraprastha came under the sovereignty of
King Dhritarashtra (father of Duryodhana). Duryodhana was always
jealous of his cousins and kept trying to create trouble for them, even
trying to kill them on several occasions.
Duryodhana's equally evil uncle, Shakuni, came up with the idea of the
Game of Dice to defeat the Pandavas at the gambling game and thereby,
snatch all their possessions from them, including their kingdom.
Shakuni was very skilled in winning by unfair means and he conspired
with Duryodhana to form a winning plot to defeat his cousins.
THE GAME OF DICE
FROM THE BOOK
DRAUPADI - THE MOST AMAZING CHARACTER OF THE MAHABHARATA
As the game proceeded, Yudhishthira started losing all his wealth.
Eventually, he wagered his kingdom and lost that too. He then went on
to put his brothers at stake and lost them all, one by one. Finally, he
put himself at stake and lost that bid too. Now, the Pandavas had all
become the Dasas (servants) of the Kauravas. Shakuni did not stop
there. He asked Yudhisthira to place his last wager - Draupadi. He also
told him that if he won this hand, he could recover everything in one
go, including Draupadi.
To the horror of everyone present in the Sabha of great dignitaries,
Yudhisthira agreed and placed Draupadi at stake. Both Bhishma and Drona
raised their voice against this move, reminding him that a woman could
not be put at stake, even if she were the gambler's own wife.
Yudhisthira chose to ignore this warning and continued to play the next
round. Yudhisthira lost yet again and this time, Duryodhana ordered his
younger brother, Dushasana, to forcefully bring her from her quarters
and present her before the forum. Accordingly, Dushasana dragged her by
the hair and brought her to the Sabha.
Draupadi, clad in just one layer of attire, was deeply humiliated by
this incident and appealed to all the elders in the family to stop this
adharma from taking place in such a forum. Draupadi also demanded an
answer from her husbands, especially from Yudhisthira, asking him how
he could probably think of her as a mere commodity and what right he
had to wager her, when he himself had become a mere Dasa of the
Kauravas. She then begged her other husbands to come forward to protect
her dignity, but none came forward to help her. They all merely hung
their heads in shame. Karna, who had been waiting to insult Draupadi in
public, called her a Veshya (prostitute), saying that the one living
with five husbands could only be considered a fallen woman.
The arrogant Duryodhana then ordered Dushasana to disrobe Draupadi.
Dusshana proceeded to pull out her sari. Draupadi, knowing by now that
no one else would come to protect her, prayed to Krishna for his grace.
She closed her eyes, raised her folded hands well above her head and
surrendered completely to his grace. The Sabha was then witness to a
miracle. As Dusshasana continued to unwrap layers and layers of
clothing off her person, her sari kept getting extended in an unending
stream of fabric, till an exhausted Dushasana fell to the ground.
Krishna had indeed manifested and protected his Sakhi, Draupadi's,
An enraged Draupadi takes a shapat (vow) that she would leave her long
hair open till such a time that Bhima would kill Duryodhana and bathe
her hair in that blood. Bhima then angrily vowed that he would not rest
till he tore open Dushasana's chest and drank his blood. Duryodhana,
wanting to provoke the Pandavas further, looked at Draupadi and patted
his thigh, indicated that she should come and sit on it. In a rage,
Bhima took a vow in front of the entire Sabha that he would one day
break that very thigh of Duryodhana in battle.
Dhritarashtra, realizing the seriousness of the situation, intervened
to prevent things from getting worse. He told Draupadi that he would
grant any wish she asked for. Draupadi immediately asked that her
husbands become free of their bondage. Dhritarashtra granted the same
and also ordered that all of the Pandavas' wealth and assets be
restored to them.
Shakuni and Duryodhana later joined hands to convince Dhritarashtra to
invite the Pandavas for yet another game of dice; this time, with
different rules. The loser of this game would have to go on exile for
12 years and then endure another year of anonymity. Yudhisthira, at
Dhritarashtra's invitation, played this game and lost it again, thus
resulting in the exile and the agyaatavasa (living in anonymity).
Jayadratha's Defeat at Draupadi's
During the exile, the Pandavas were in the Kamyaka forest. They usually
went hunting, leaving Draupadi in the care of their priest, Dhaumya.
Jayadratha, the son of Vriddhakshatra, the husband of Duryodhana's
sister Dussala, was passing through the same forest, while on the way
to Salwa Desa. He chanced upon Draupadi and fell in love with her.
Jayadratha requested her to desert her husbands and go away with him.
He claimed her that her spouses were not worth it, as they had not
stood by her in her time of need. Draupadi refused, saying that it
would not be correct to desert one's spouse just like that. But
Jayadratha would not budge and tried to force her into going with him.
Draupadi tried to fight back, but was overpowered and got taken in his
Meanwhile the Pandavas returned, to find out what had just happened.
Yudhisthira and his brothers climbed onto their chariots and gave chase
to Jayadratha. Jayadratha joined forces with several armies and waged
against the Pandavas. But the five brothers defeated all the armies in
no time. Jayadratha fled in fear, leaving Draupadi behind in all this
confusion. Yudhisthira asked Bhima to spare Jayadratha's life, as he
after all, Dushala's husband. Though not too pleased with his decision,
both Bhima and Draupadi acquiesced to it. Bhima and Arjuna brought
Jayadratha to their hermitage, where he was chained and declared the
slave of the Pandavas. They shaved his head in five places and then let
him walk free.
In this episode too, Draupadi was indirectly responsible for the battle
fought by her husbands against the formidable armies posted by
Keechaka is Slain
KEECHAKA STALKS DRAUPADI
FROM THE BOOK
DDRAUPADI - THE DUSKY FIREBRAND
During the Pandavas' agyatavasa, Keechaka, brother of Sudeshana, also
the commander of King Virata's forces, happened to see Draupadi.
Falling in love with her, he asked her to marry him. Draupadi refused
his advances, saying that she was already married to "Gandharvas".
Since they were living in anonymity, she did not want to reveal her
husbands' true identities. She also warned Keechaka that her husbands
were very strong and that he would not be able to escape death, if he
ignited their fury.
Later, Keechaka tried to molest Draupadi, but she escaped and ran into
Virata's court. The King refused to take action against his commander
and Keechaka kicked her in front of all the courtiers including
Yudhisthira who was also present in the court at that time. Draupadi
then promised Keechaka that her husbands would surely kill him. Later
that night, the Pandavas together hatched a plot to slay Keechaka.
As per the plan, Draupadi agreed to be with him, on the condition that
none of his friends or brothers should know about their relationship.
Keechaka was overjoyed and readily accepted her condition. Draupadi
asked Keechaka to come to the dancing hall at night. Bhima, in the
of Draupadi, fought Jayadratha and finally killed him. Draupadi was
hence also responsible, in a sense, for Jayadratha's death.
Draupadi's Relationship with Krishna
Draupadi's most unique quality was that Lord Krishna himself,
considered her his Sakhi and sister. Krishna, hence, always protected
her and kept her from trouble. Once, when the Pandavas were in exile,
Durvasa Muni, the sage known for his temper, suddenly dropped in along
with several of his disciples. Unfortunately, the Pandavas had just
eaten and there was no more food left. Afraid of Durvasa's anger,
Draupadi prayed to Krishna. When he appeared, Draupadi took the last
grain of rice sticking to the pot and asked Krishna to eat half for
himself and half for the whole world. When Durvasa and his disciples
arrived, they felt really full, like they had had a feast. They wanted
nothing more to eat, and so, left after a visit.
Draupadi is one of the best examples of bhakti and surrender. She had
been graced by his divine presence all her life and was constantly
supported by him in everything she ever did.
Draupadi in Other Ancient Texts
According to the Garuda Purana, Draupadi is the incarnation of Bharati
Devi, The Consort of Lord Vayu (the God of Wind). The Narada Purana and
Vayu Purana describe Draupadi as the combined avatara of Goddesses
Shyamala (wife of Dharma), Bharati (Wife of Vayu), Shachi (wife of
Indra), Usha (wife of Ashwins), and Parvati (wife of Shiva). They state
that she hence married all of their earthly counterparts - the Pancha
Pandavas - in her avatara as Draupadi. According to the texts, these
heavenly wives were cursed by Brahma to take human birth. Parvati came
up with the idea whereby they all would be born as just one woman,
Draupadi. Draupadi's aura, her divine qualities, her fiery nature, her
need to establish justice at any cost and her strength of moral
character is reflected in her entire personality, throughout her life
span. Some other texts also extol her as the combined power of the
eight most powerful Goddesses, namely, Kali, Parvati, Shachi, Shyamala,
Usha, Bharati, Shree, and Swaha.
In spite of being fiery, Draupadi also had a compassionate side to her.
She encouraged everyone to face life with the inner strength that she
did. After the death of Abhimanyu, she consoled his young widow,
Uttara, reminding her of the actual cause for which Abhimanyu had given
up his life. She encouraged Uttara to gather all her strength for the
sake of their yet unborn child. After the war, Draupadi also looked
after Gandhari, even though Gandhari's sons had wronged her and her
entire family in more ways than one.
Draupadi - the Epitome of Modern
Because of her virtuosity, Draupadi is considered as one of the
Panchakanyas, one of the five Sreshtha naaris (most virtuous women).
She is, even today, held in very high esteem and is considered as a
veritable torchbearer among the modern generation of Indian women.
When her husbands decided to renounce the material world and head
towards the Himalayas, she accompanied them without the slightest
thought or regret. Having reached Heaven, she sat there, filled with
spellbinding aura and splendour.
Draupadi was the Goddess Shree herself, born in this world to endure
her Karma, to spread joy among everybody she came into contact with
and, most importantly, to educate women about their own strength lying
within; to demand and attain justice as and when necessary.
Sita and Draupadi - a Comparative
Trying to draw a parallel between Sita and Draupadi, one can find both
similarities and differences in their personalities and their lives.
Here is a comparative study of both these personalities:
- Both Sita and Draupadi were very
beautiful and immensely strong women,
being the central female characters of the epics, Ramayana and
- Both these women are considered as
- Sita belonged to the Treta Yuga,
while Draupadi manifested in the
- Neither of these women were born
the "usual way". While Sita was found
in a furrow, Draupadi was born from the fire. Maybe that is why Sita
was more enduring in her approach to life, while Draupadi exhibited
- Both were adopted by Kings and both
women were raised as princesses.
- While Sita is always portrayed as
being soft and submissive, Draupadi
is always shown as more aggressive and temperamental.
- Both Sita and Draupadi had fallen
in love with their suitors and both
had swayamvaras. They were also married off at the age of 14.
- Both these naaris went on exile
with their husbands.
- Both Sita and Draupadi were desired
and kidnapped by other men and were
eventually responsible for their downfall.
- Both brought on terrible battles
and were the very cause of the epics,
the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. Both of them also became the reasons
for the ultimate fall of great dynasties, the Pulastya Vansha (for
Sita) and the Kuru Vansha (for Draupadi).
- Both Sita and Draupadi went through
immense trials and troubles in
their lives, but also came out unscathed and stronger at the end.
- Finally, both Sita and Draupadi are
believed to be incarnations of
In spite of the apparent differences between Sita and Draupadi, the
fact remains that both these women constitute the very essence of Naari
Shakti or woman power. Through their life stories, they set an example
as to how a woman should live and carry herself in society. Though
these powerful women come from bygone epochs, their lives are the
living examples, leading the way for the future of modern Indian women.