Draupadi, an ikon of a true Indian woman
Draupadi, the daughter of King Drupada, appears from the yagnyaagni as a full grown, in the bloom of her youth. One can observe that it is always Paramaatma who takes birth and avataaras (“Paritraanaaya sadhunam …”). However, always Yoga-Maaya (or Shakti) never takes birth, she just appears. It is the same case with Sita devi, Rukmini devi, Draupadi, Maatulungi etc. The following piece of story of draupadi shows the boundaries of following Dharma. May be none can be better!
Ashwatthaama, the chiranjeevi, does a daaruna krutyam after the Mahaabhaaratam. Unusual to his nature, He, without even little daya, beheads the sleeping babies of draupadi — the upa-paandavas. Draupadi realizes what happened. All her 10 sons, who were little baalakas, who were sleeping, who never did any kind of harm to Ashwatthaama and who cannot even react to the harm committed to them were lying in a pool of blood. Draupadi breaks down to tears and weeps in great sorrow. Arjuna very sad himself, consoles Her and says it does not look nice for a Veera maata to cry like this. He says that He will immediately avenge the act and kill Ashwatthaama. On killing him, she can take bath standing on his head. Immediately Lord Krishna and Arjuna set out on their Hanumadhdhvaja ratham to catch the fleeing Ashwatthaama.
Seeing that Arjuna is closing by his ratham and that his horses are a little exhausted, Aswaththaama sees Brahmaastra as the only way to save himself. Though not knowing the way of retrieving the astra, he immediately uses Brahmaastra on Arjuna, after stopping the ratham, doing aachamanam and purifying himself. Lord Krishna orders Arjuna to use Brahmaastra to counter Ashwatthaama’s. Arjuna also purifies himself, does achamanam, does a pradakshina to the Almighty and uses Brahmaastra. The two astras, one like Agni and the other like sun, fight each other and in no time the worlds start to burn under the influence of the astras. Krishna, the protector of the worlds, immediately orders Arjuna to take back both Astras, as only a Brahmachaari can take back a Brahmaastra!
Arjuna takes back both the Brahmaastras, showing clearly what a perfect Brahmachaari he was. Arjuna, who was the friend of the Askalita Brahmachaari Lord Krishna, obviously knows the shastras and the ways to maintain his Brahmacharyam, though married. Arjuna ties Ahswaththaama and takes him to Draupadi, like a Yagnya pashu is taken to the Yagnya shaala. The acts of Draupadi in this following episode make even Krishna praise Krishnaa (Draupadi) for her Dharma.
On seeing the killer of all her sons being brought by Arjuna, Draupadi, of the beauty of her nature out of compassion, does a namaskar to him and says as per the Vedas in the absence of the Guru, Guru-putra takes his place, so she is doing a namaskaar to Drona! It was unbearable for her having him brought being bound and she said: “Release him, for he is a brahmana, our Aacharya. Do not make his mother, Drona’s wife, cry the way I do in my chastity shedding tears constantly in distress over a lost child”. Yudhishtira, Arjuna, Nakula, Sahadeva, Saatyaki, Krishna and other queens supported the statements of Paanchaali as they were in accord with the principles of Sanaatana Dharma, of justice, merciful, without duplicity and glorious in equity. Krishna, amazed by the Dharmya vartana of Draupadi, praises her very much. However, Bhima also raised a valid point that a person who by nature has daya is a brahmana, is Ashwatthaama, who mercilessly killed the baalakas, worth being called one? Saying “surely death is the only punishment for such a person”, Bhima proceeds to kill Ashwatthaama, but the Lord, with His chaturbhuja’s stops Bhima and says the following with a smile:
“The Guru-putra, a braahmana must not be killed – this both is by Me, certainly prescribed to be carried out abiding by the rules.” However, Arjuna has to keep to the truth as promised while pacifying his wife, and also act to the satisfaction of Bhima and Himself (by punishing the bad). So they remove the divya mani on the head of Ashwatthaama and remove his hair, as, for a veera, tonsuring is equivalent to killing him.
Morals in the story:
The Dhramya vartana of Draupadi is well portrayed in the story. This shows us that, even at the time of great stress, sorrow, difficulty, one never must deviate from the path of truth, Dharma.
Even though Ashwatthaama was great, in his momentary anger he committed an unpardonable crime. One must be very careful and need to think what is right and what is wrong before acting. This is what the pandavas do in the later part of the story, with the help of Krishna. They, though Kshattriyas, were not overwhelmed by revenge. They acted according to the words of Krishna, who is Dharma in human form.
The importance given to keeping up one’s word is protrayed well. Arjuna promises Draupadi to kill Ashwatthaama, but according to Dharma is must not be killed. So they do an equivalent act of killing.
The importance of cleanliness is also displayed. Both Ashwatthaama and Arjuna purify themselves, do aachamanam before chanting the mantras for Brahmaastra. They do this even when they were in such a great press for time.
The power of Brahmacharyam is well shown through this story. Arjuna, who knew the Shatras, was a brahmachaari and hence could not only take back his, but Ashwatthaama’s astra too.
The heart of a mother is well exposed when Draupadi comments “Do not make his mother, Drona’s wife, cry the way I do in my chastity shedding tears constantly in distress over a lost child“. She knows the pain of loosing children, so did not want another mother to experience it!
Message to present society:
Being Kshatriyas, people with lot of Shauryam, Paandavas thought so much (analyzing what is Dharmam, what is adharmam) before avenging their son’s death. Now-a-days even films show people mercilessly killing each other in the name of revenge.