It was common for characters in the Mahabharata to be known by several names, and going by that pattern, there are several names of Draupadi by which she is addressed by various people. This page describes the most common names Draupadi is hailed by in the Mahabharata, and the meanings of those names.
Some people may find this concept of having several names to be a bit strange, but think about it — even nowadays, many people have a birth name and one or more nicknames. The only difference is that in the days of the Mahabharata, each name reflected a different aspect such as parentage & lineage, place of birth, qualities, achievements, and so on.
The Most Frequently Ascribed Names to Draupadi
This is the most common name by which she is known in the Mahabharata, but interestingly, this name is most often used when people speak of Draupadi in the third person. For example, when Ugrasrava Sauti and Rishi Vaishampayana speak of her, they usually refer to her as Draupadi. Even when Yudhishthira talks of Draupadi in the third person, he uses this name. Other characters in the Mahabharata also use this name when referring to Draupadi in the third person.
Quite literally, the Draupadi name meaning is, “the daughter of Drupada.”
Sometimes, people ask for the meaning of Draupadi in Hindi, or, if they are not grammatically correct, they may simply say, ‘Draupadi Hindi‘. In either case, the answer is the answer is the same: It means daughter of Drupada.
The name Krishna means: one who has a dark complexion.
In ancient India, having a dark complexion was considered to be very fortunate, therefore, Draupadi of Mahabharata is also known as Krishna.
However, this name of Draupadi is pronounced slightly differently than Sri Krishna’s name. In Draupadi’s case, Krishna, is pronounced as Krishnaa (ending with an elongated ‘a’).
It’s unfortunate that we cannot make this distinction in the Latin script without using diacritical marks. Had we used diacritical marks, we would have spelt this name of Draupadi as Krishnā. However, this requires a bit of a learning curve for readers which is why we have decided to not use diacritical marks.
Panchali means: The girl/woman from Panchala country.
This is yet one more of Draupadi’s names which she got because she was born in Panchala.
If written with diacritical marks, this name would be spelt Pānchāli (Paanchaali).
This name has two meanings.
- Draupadi’s father, Drupada, was also known as Yajnasena, so Yajnaseni is ‘the daughter of Yajnasena’.
- Yajnaseni also means: the one who was born from a yajna.
The second meaning comes from the fact that Draupadi did not have an ordinary human birth from a woman’s womb. She was born in a Yajna. Her father, King Drupada, wanted a son who could defeat his arch-enemy, Drona, in battle. He conducted a yajna (specific fire ceremony with certain procedures and chanting) with the help of a brahmin for this purpose. Drupadi, along with her twin brother Drishtadyumna, arose from the flames of this yajna.
When Draupadi and the five Pandavas were exiled, the rules of the exile were such that they had to stay disguised in the final year without being recognised by anyone. In this year all of them took on some form of disguise and stayed in King Virata’s kingdom.
Draupadi disguised herself as a hairdresser. A hairdresser was also known as sairindhri. Draupadi adopted the name of this profession as her own name in that year.
For a person to adopt the name of their profession was also a common practice in ancient India. It would be one of their many names.
Less Common Names Ascribed to Draupadi
The names we saw above are the most commonly used names for Draupadi. However, several other names are ascribed to her that are either used very rarely or used in folk versions of the Mahabharata and not the narrative composed by Veda Vyasa. Some such names are listed below.
Drupadakanya means: daughter of Drupada.
This name refers to her parentage and is the third name that refers to her father, the other two being: Draupadi and Yajnaseni.
Parshati comes from: grand-daughter of Prishata.
King Drupada’s father was called Prishata. So, being his grand-daughter, she got the name, Parshati. In my opinion, this name would be used very infrequently. Certain names are mostly used only in certain contexts. So, for example, if there was a discussion about King Drupada’s ancestors, and if Draupadi was also mentioned in that discussion, then, she might be referred to as Parshati, in that context.
Nityayuvani means: forever young.
Draupadi got this name because she had youthful looks that remained with her for the greater part of her life. If we think about it contextually, this name might be used when speaking about Draupadi’s beauty.
Mahabharati means: the great and virtuous wife of the descendants of King Bharata (the Pandavas’ ancestor).
King Bharata was a famous ancestor of the Pandavas who brought the entire region of Bharat under his benign control. He was not only strong and powerful but also a very benevolent and just king. In fact, another name for India is Bharata which comes from this king.
‘Maha’ is prepended to a word to make it superlative in some sense. Here ‘Maha’ is used to refer to Draupadi. So she got this name because she was the great and virtuous wife of the descendants of King Bharata.
Agnisuta means: daughter of the fire.
Similar to Yajnaseni, this name also refers to her birth from the fire.
Kalyani means: one who brings good fortune.
In India, traditionally, the daughter-in-law of a family was always given an appellation that welcomed her as someone who brought good fortune to the family. Draupadi was also known as Kalyani — the one who brought good fortune. However, in Draupadi’s case, she was considered fortunate for everyone she came into contact with (except those who mistreated her).
This name also has two meanings.
- Malini means: fragrant.
- Malini also means: the one who makes flower garlands.
Draupadi was called Malini because she had a beautiful fragrance. As to the second meaning, when Draupadi went disguised as a sairindhri to King Virata’s kingdom, she had to give some sort of a backstory about who she was and where she came from. So, she told Virata’s queen that she used to be employed by Draupadi and the latter often called her Malini because she made flower garlands. She also mentioned that she had lost her employment after Draupadi and the Pandavas went into exile.
Such is Draupadi’s story. Filled with adventure, rise, fall, and intrigue.
Panchavallabha means: beloved of her five (Pandava) husbands.
Draupadi got this name because all her five Pandava husbands loved her dearly.
Pandusharmila means: daughter-in-law of King Pandu.
King Pandu was the Pandavas’ father and Draupadi’s father-in-law. She got this name from her husbands’ ancestry. Draupadi had two names from her husbands’ ancestry. The first was Mahabharati and the second was Pandusharmila.
Spiritual Chants Based on Draupadi’s Name
Besides, what we’ve already described above, Draupadi has 108 names and an Ashtottara Nama where she is hailed with 108 names. She also has a beautiful Gayatri Mantra — Draupadi Gayatri Mantra — dedicated to her.