Draupadi’s name is enough to make heads turn. Be it Draupadi in Hindi shows or English fictionalized retellings, she continues to inspire creativity and devotion. Here, we’ll discuss Draupadi in some of her various facets.
The name Draupadi brings interesting reactions from people. As one of the central characters in Mahabharata, Draupadi inspires varied opinions based on the person’s perspective and understanding of life. She is fierce to some and vengeful according to others. She is oppressed or a feminist icon. Whether it is the portrayal of Draupadi in Hindi shows and movies or the analysis people take up in the name of literary perusal, there’s no dearth of opinions about her.
Draupadi is the daughter of King Draupada, the wife of the Pandavas, and the empress of Indraprastha. However, she is much more than the roles attributed to her. On this page, we’ll try to present the various facets of Draupadi and how she was destined to be a catalyst for reestablishing dharma at the end of Dvapara Yuga and the beginning of Kali Yuga.
Draupadi in Hindi TV Shows
Indian epics have been retold on small and large screens multiple times. Mahabharat by B.R. Chopra continues to be the most famous screen retelling aired on the DD channel (Doordarshan) from 1988 to 1990. The show is based on Vyasa’s Mahabharata with Roopa Ganguly as Draupadi. The actress received much acclaim for her heartfelt portrayal of such a prominent character. Ms. Ganguly was Draupadi in a Bengali show titled Draupadi aired in 1999.
Though the show was popular among the older generation, it managed to strike a chord with the next-gen with its recent rerun during the Covid lockdown. Mahabharat’s rerun ended with a 22.9-million viewership, proving that the popularity of the great epics has not diminished with time.
Sahara One aired Draupadi in Hindi from 2001 to 2002, based on the Odia novel Yagnaseni by Prathiba Ray. The show had Mrinal Kulkarni as the lead actress.
A more recent retelling of Mahabharata was aired on Star Plus in 2013-14 with Pooja Sharma as Draupadi. The setting and the show were considered extravagant by some, though it still managed to win many hearts. Pooja Sharma was nominated for Best Actress in a Lead Role at the Indian Telly Awards in 2014. This show also had a rerun during the Covid lockdown and was one of the most-watched Hindi series.
Other actresses like Anita Hassanandani, Kashmira Irani, Ishita Ganguly, and Pankhuri Awasthy played Draupadi in Hindi Mahabharata-based TV shows.
In each show, Draupadi retained some of her original essence while displaying new traits conceived by the directors and scriptwriters. The actresses, too, tried to add more flavor and distinctiveness to Draupadi’s character to establish their screen presence.
Indic Fact: Do you know you can chant Draupadi’s 108 names (Astottara Shatanamavali) to worship her? South India has many temples dedicated to Draupadi Amman, though they are relatively smaller and less popular.
Draupadi of Mahabharata
Draupadi of Mahabharata was born out of the yagna fire during a ceremony performed by King Draupada. She gets the name Yagnaseni from this incident. Draupadi’s name’s meaning is quite simple. It literally means daughter of Draupada. In ancient times, the prince and princesses (who later became kings and queens), were named to represent their parentage, ancestral lineage, and kingdom. Hence, Draupadi is also called Pancahali, the daughter of the Panchala kingdom ruled by King Draupada.
Even on the surface, Draupadi’s story is never simple. There are too many variables affecting her character arc, which are a source of inspiration for many writers. However, the core of who Draupadi is seems to be ignored for artistic purposes. While the humanized version of Draupadi in fiction gets much praise, her divine incarnation is left in the shadows.
Draupadi Character Analysis
Are you aware that Draupadi is an incarnation of Adi Para Shakti or Sri? She took birth as a human to guide five cursed celestial beings (born as Pandavas) to perform their destined tasks on Earth. Furthermore, have you wondered why she was born in the fire instead of being conceived as an embryo and entering the world through natural birth? What role does fire have in this divine process?
Fire, or Agni, is a symbol of purity and truth. Eons ago, Rishi Bhrugu, cursed Agni Deva that he would devour everything in his way for being indirectly responsible for the kidnap of the rishi’s wife. Agni Deva objects to the curse, but Brahma explains that his fire allows purity to pass through but burn vile things to ashes. Moreover, Agni Deva was self-born. He wasn’t created by anyone but his own yoga powers.
Now, by correlating the two, we can theorize that Draupadi, who is Adi Para Shakti herself, chose to enter the earth through another self-born and pure element of the universe. Given her powers and purity, she could easily pass through Agni Deva’s flames and step out of the yagna fire. Her twin brother, Dhrishtadyumna, also comes out through the same fire. He is a portion of Agni Deva’s essence. Some stories say Dhrishtadyumna is born from Agni Deva’s mind as he exhibits the qualities of a fierce warrior and a protector.
Draupadi has a dark complexion and is also called Krishnaa. She is often compared to a blue lotus – rare, ethereal, and mesmerizing. Her eyes were big and wide, resembling lotus blooms. Her hair was thick, lustrous, and curly. She was a curvy maiden with a slim waist and a perfect body in every way. Her natural fragrance was like that of a blue lotus and spread for up to more than three and a half kilometers. Everyone praised her beauty and said there wasn’t a living being that came close to her in appearance.
It’s no surprise that kings and princes from all corners attended her swayamwara to win her hand in marriage. The contest was purposefully conceived to prevent everyone except Arjuna to complete the task and marry Draupadi.
Draupadi’s Talents and Strengths
Draupadi possessed many talents. She was a perfect example of ‘beauty with brains’. Draupadi was respected for her intelligence and quick thinking. She was a great administrator and advisor. In fact, Draupadi was at the forefront of managing Indraprastha and Hastinapura (after the Kurukshetra War).
She was an archer and a skilled warrior. Her strategies were often successful, just like her political negotiations. That’s one reason why the Pandava brothers sought her advice on many matters. Despite having wives of their own, they gave Draupadi the utmost importance.
An interesting point to note is that learning in ancient times was different from what it is today. Princesses were also taught archery, sword fighting, horse riding, and other ‘manly’ skills. Princes had to learn cooking, housekeeping, hair braiding, makeup, weaving garlands, etc. That’s how Bheema was a great cook, and Rama could braid Sita’s hair when they were in Vanvas.
Many modern-day adaptations don’t show this aspect. Moreover, they tend to present an ‘empowered version’ by showing how princesses like Draupadi had to learn the skills in secret and fight for equal rights.
Another controversial aspect is Draupadi’s so-called love for Karna. Why would a woman (that too someone assertive and confident like Draupadi) insulted and called a prostitute by a man continue to love him? Something to think about, isn’t it?
Draupadi as Sairandhri
After spending twelve years in exile with her husbands and mother-in-law, the Draupadi had to take a new disguise for a year of Agnatvas. The Pandavas chose King Virata’s kingdom as a safe place and adopted different disguises based on their strengths. Draupadi dressed in a shabby single-cloth saree and called herself Sairandhri. She became Queen Sudesna’s primary maid and lived in the palace.
Draupadi was also called Malini, the weaver of garlands. She convinces Queen Sudesna to take her in by saying she worked for Satyabhama (Krishna’s wife), Draupadi, and other Kaurava ladies. In fact, she says Draupadi named her Malini.
As Sairandhri, Draupadi kept to the background and avoided interaction with others. She said she was married to five Ghandarvas who were currently on a quest but always protected her. It was during this one-year period that Sudesna’s brother Keechaka lusts after Draupadi. When no one comes to her aid in the kingdom, Bheema assures her of safety and kills Keechaka. This incident alerts the Kauravas as they know Keechaka could be killed only by someone equally strong like Bheema.
To Sum up
Draupadi is a fascinating character from Mahabharata. Various interpretations of Draupadi in Hindi TV shows and contemporary literature are a testament to her appeal across centuries. We could read everything written about her and still know only a fraction of who she is.
After all, Draupadi is Adi Para Shakti. We can only bow down to her divine presence and ask for her blessings.