Since we are all glued to the Mahabharata telecast in the confines of our homes these days, a relationship worth exploring is that of Draupadi and Krishna – the virtuous and brave princess of Panchaal and the all-pervasive Supreme Lord himself. Throughout the Mahabharata, they may not have shared the stage too often, but whenever they did, Krishna and Draupadi conversations offered us a peek into their undeniable chemistry. Let’s place their relationship under the lens to understand whether Krishna Draupadi friendship was just that or something more.
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Draupadi and Krishna – A Multi-Layered Bond
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Draupadi and Krishna epitomise the notion that ‘a man and a woman can be just friends’. Many scholars having been amazed by the depth of their relationship have often suggested that there was more to Krishna Draupadi friendship than met the eye. Numerous theories even claim that Draupadi hoped to marry Krishna!
While that would have certainly added a dramatic twist to the epic, Draupadi and Krishna only ached to teach us about true devotional service and a transcendental companionship. So, did Draupadi love Krishna? Well, in a way, yes. They shared a love that was honest and real, without the romance trope.
‘Sakha’ and ‘Sakhi’, as they liked to call each other is an archaic term for what we today know as the famous ‘friend zone’.
Draupadi – The Extraordinary Princess
Draupadi was a fine young woman in the Mahabharata, born to King Drupada of Panchaal. Her birth was far from ordinary, spiritually as well as literally, for she was considered to have been born to pose as a catalyst in future events. She has divinely ordained the responsibility for the establishment of Dharma. Quite a terrifying pressure for a princess.
Rather than a womb, she descended from flaming sacrificial fire.
As the famous story goes, King Drupada had miserably lost half his kingdom to Arjuna who fought the king on behalf of Dronacharya, his guru. To exact revenge on Dronacharya, King Drupada performed a yajna to further his lineage to kill Dronacharya from which first appeared his son Dhrishtadyumna and then the princess Panchali.
Krishna, on the other hand, was a distant cousin to the Pandavas and the Kauravas. He projected to be a neutral party, even though he was an ally of the Pandavas and a dear friend to Draupadi.
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Krishna Draupadi Friendship
It is believed that once when Draupadi was visiting Dwarka – the magnificent and opulent residence of the Lord himself, a touching incident allowed her to gain Krishna’s mercy. Krishna was cutting up some fruits and an unfortunate slip caused his finger to start gushing blood. A terrified Draupadi immediately rushed to Krishna, tore a rag from her saree and wrapped it around Krishna’s wound to stop the blood. Krishna was charmed and touched by her endearing actions. He went on to ask her what she would like in return for the same. A faithful devotee with unconditional love for her friend said that she would only like him to be in her life forever. Thus, Krishna Draupadi friendship took form.
Krishna was invested in Draupadi’s swayamvar
When did Draupadi meet Krishna? The foundation of this friendship can be traced back to Draupadi’s swayamvar, where the two came face-to-face for the first time.
The swayamvar was rigged in essence. King Drupada had made sure that the challenge could only be overcome by Arjuna for he considered him the most suitable for his daughter. Krishna had hoped for the same, being Arjuna’s best friend, and in this case, also the perfect wingman.
It is debatable whether Arjuna proved to be a good husband to Draupadi, but he was certainly a brave and true man. We are not sure of Draupadi’s further interactions with Krishna beyond this point since their relationship has never been at the forefront until a significant incident that disrobed her off her dignity and became pivotal to the epic battle of Mahabharta.
Draupadi and Krishna’s bond shines through a dangerous gamble
One of Draupadi’s husbands, Yudhisthir, while playing a game of dice, in his stupor bet Draupadi after he had already lost everything else. The game had already been designed to make him lose, and thus, Draupadi had been played away to the Kauravas.
Evil Duhsasana, having zero respect for his sister-in-law, dragged her into the court by her hair. Drona, Bhisma and other elder and respected gentlemen were also present at the scene. Draupadi did cry out for help but nobody came to her rescue. It was said that she was only wearing a single cloth as a sari that demurely covered most of her body.
However, Duhsasana began disrobing her and that court did not lack spectators. He began pulling on her garment and while she used her strength to make him stop and screamed for help, Draupadi was all alone. Where was Krishna during Draupadi Vastraharan? As an incarnation of the Supreme Lord himself, Krishna was omnipresent.
Soon, Draupadi realised there was only one hope for her – to seek help from her Sakha, Lord Krishna. She immediately started praying to him, asking for his mercy. The Supreme Lord instantly graced the scene. As he appeared, without saying or doing anything, Draupadi’s saree continued to be unravelled but with no end in sight. As Duhsasana kept pulling and tugging at the infinite fabric, Draupadi too was surprised at what she was witnessing. Her saree kept flowing and flowing, leaving everybody in the court spellbound.
The answer to ‘where was Krishna during Draupadi Vastraharan?’ becomes abundantly clear – not only was he there but Krishna also saved Draupadi from a lifetime of embarrassment.
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Why did Krishna help Draupadi?
As the Lord, Krishna was inclined to help those in genuine need for divine intervention. But in this case, the answer to ‘why did Krishna help Draupadi?’ is a little more deep-seated.
This episode has been weaved to a previous occasion where the Sakha and Sakhi exchanged loving discourse. For that, we have to revisit that time in Dwarka when Draupadi tore a piece of her saree to stop Krishna’s bleeding. Perhaps from then, Krishna Draupadi friendship became a prominent theme in the Lord’s life.
‘An eye for an eye’ has here been replaced with ‘a piece of cloth for infinite cloth!’.
Therefore, it can be attributed that not only did Draupadi and Krishna share a deep friendship and love, but he also felt responsible for her.
Draupadi is also among Krishna’s greatest devotees
Normally, one views this incident as a symbol of Krishna Draupadi friendship, where the Lord came through for her as a companion in adversity. However, there is another aspect to their relationship. It has been claimed that not only did Draupadi consider Krishna her friend and confidante, she was also a great devotee of the Supreme Lord.
Draupadi had always been mesmerised by Lord Krishna’s qualities and worshipped him out of love and servitude. Like the famous Mirabai, Draupadi was also perhaps a Krishna bhakt, which is why he was the first and the only person she remembered at the gravest moment of her life.
This certainly adds another layer to Draupadi and Krishna relationship. Perhaps, the two were more than just friends.
Were Krishna and Draupadi in love? Perhaps, yes. But rather than a conventional love, theirs was a love that draws an enchanted devotee to their Lord and the one that the Lord reciprocates as a protector. Not only does this reveal Krishna’s potency as a friend, but it also points towards his loyalty to his followers. It shows us that when life tests us which it tends to do a lot, we must simply surrender wholeheartedly and our God will come to our rescue, just the way that he did for Draupadi.
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Krishna helped Draupadi more than once
Another incident has been recorded when her Sakha saved Draupadi from immense embarrassment. Back when the Pandavas had been exiled to the forest, sage Durvasa Muni decided to visit the brothers, along with his disciples.
The Pandavas had been using a vessel called the Akshay Patra which rapidly produced food and only came to a halt when Draupadi had finished eating from it. Duryodhana wanted to disgrace the Pandavas, and thus, encouraged Durvasa Muni to visit them after Draupadi had eaten her meal. This would ensure that the Pandavas would have no food to offer to the sage and his disciples and it would create a shameful situation.
As the sage and his disciples visited the Pandavas, the brothers grew extremely anxious for they knew they had no food to offer to them. Durvasa and the disciples went away to bathe in the river and a tensed Draupadi prayed to her Lord to find a solution. As usual, Krishna appeared and had already understood her ordeal.
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Krishna said that he was famished and he asked Draupadi to give him something to eat. When she said that she had nothing to offer, he requested her to bring the Akshay Patra vessel to him. Draupadi’s leftovers that had been stuck to the vessel caught his eye and he ate a single grain of rice that was left. Krishna said that he was completely satiated from that piece of rice and could not eat anything more.
Since he is the Supreme Lord of the Universe, his satiation meant that everybody in the universe must also be completely full! All of a sudden, Durvasa Muni and his disciples felt extremely full and lost their appetite completely. They took their bath and left quietly to avoid any embarrassment for they were too content to stop and eat.
Thus, the Lord saved Draupadi and Pandavas from what could have been a mortifying moment or perhaps even a dramatic curse.
Thus, it is evident from the above two anecdotes that Draupadi and Krishna did share a significant bond, even if it was rarely depicted in the telling of this tale. Their love might not have been a sizzling romance but it was indeed mysteriously beautiful. Friendly dalliances are tremendously underrated but Draupadi and Krishna remind us how truly wonderful they actually can be.