Two Great Queens

We speak about liberated women. Ancient India had a fair share of them. My favorite is Meera. She was a princess and she loved Krishna. She was married and she was dearly loved by her husband. Meera was devoted to Krishna, while her in-laws family Deity, was ‘Mother’. Meera’s husband built a Krishna Temple for her worship. When Meera wanted to spend time with spiritually inclined people, (Who her princely in-laws considered ‘below’ their standard) she did so, much to the consternation of her famly.

She knew in her heart of hearts that she was committing no wrong. I believe, that a liberated woman is one who does, what she believes in, with no intention of hurting other people. A liberated woman knows her rights and her strength. A liberated woman loves, and is not only kind to others, but also to herself.

Draupadi was also a woman of substance. She plays a major role in the Mahabharata To read about the story of the Mahabharata, in a nutshell, click here. Draupadi was born of a holy fire, when her father Drupada performed a Yajna (Sacrifice). Draupadi was beautiful and virtuous. She was devoted to Krishna. Krishna lovingly called her ‘sakhi’ (friend).

Draupadi married the Pandavas and became the queen of Hastinapura. Later in life, due to difficult circumstances, Draupadi, became a maid servant to an Empress. But her faith in Krishna remained unchanged. Once, Krishna’s finger was hurt and it started to bleed. While Krishna’s wives ran to look for a bandage, Draupadi tore a piece of her valuable saree, to use as a bandage for Krishna’s finger.

In exchange for that piece of cloth Krishna miraculously produced yards and yards of cloth, to conceal Draupadi’s body, when she was being disrobed, by the Kauravas, after the Pandavas lost Draupadi in a game of dice.

Allow me to explain to you, how the above came to pass. Though the Mahabharata narrates many lives woven into one another, the predominant story is of 2 brothers and their families. Dhritrashtra and Pandu were brothers. Pandu had 5 sons who are popularly known as Pandavas. Dhriraashtra had 100 sons.They were called the Kauravas. Pandu died and the Pandavas and Kauravas were brought up together. The Kauravas were always jealous of the Pandavas. Kaurava’s maternal uncle Shakuni played a crucial role in the story of the Mahabhaarata. The Pandavas performed a great sacrifice (Yajna) which made Duryodhana, the chief of the Kauravas jealous and greedy. 

Shakuni invited the Pandavas for a game of dice and cheated in the game. The Pandavas lost all their possessions including Draupadi, their wife. The Kauravas wanted to humiliate the Pandavas and hence dragged Draupadi to the main hall and tried to disrobe her in public. She implored to Krishna who she affectionately called ‘Sakha'(friend). Krishna came to her rescue and miraculously kept Draupadi clothed, despite the fact that the Kauravas kept pulling at her saree. Draupadi’s faith in Krishna never wavered even though she went through very difficult times.

Draupadi led such a harmonious married life, that Krishna’s wife Satyabhaama, asked her for advice on how to keep her husband happy. When the Kauravas ‘won’ her in a game of dice and she was rudely dragged to the open court Draupadi defiantly asked Bhishma and her elders how she could be staked by her husband Yudhishtra when the latter had already lost his independence, and therefore became a ‘slave’?

Draupadi insisted on war, in order to be avenged of all the humiliation, she had suffered in the hands of the Kauravas. Draupadi’s five sons were killed by Ashwatthaama. Yet she spared the latter’s life because he was the son of the Pandava’s guru. Draupadi ruled for 36 years, after which she renounced worldly life and walked away to the Himalayas, when her grandson Parikshit was crowned as king.