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Duryodhana falls into water
Duryodhana falling in an indoor water body

There is an often attributed incident to Draupadi, where she is said to have called Duryodhan a “blind man’s son” after he mistook an artificial pond in their palace at Indraprastha for a crystal floor and slipped into the water. This narrative has been promoted by TV serials, abridged versions, and retellings of the epic. The dialogue that’s popularly used is “Andhe ka putra bhi andha!” It means: a blind man’s son is also blind.

But is this incident really mentioned in the Mahabharata? The short answer is NO — it is not mentioned anywhere in the Unabridged Mahabharata. In the rest of the article, I will describe (with quotes) everything that happened in the Pandava’s palace at Indraprastha, the day after the Rajasuya Yagna, when Duryodhan fell into the indoor pond of water.

I’ll begin with a little background.

The Pandavas established Indraprastha as the capital city of their Kingdom after Dritarashtra gave them the Khandavprastha region, of the ancestral kingdom, as their share. The first goal of the Pandavas was to bring well-being and prosperity to the citizens of the kingdom. After succeeding in this goal, Yudhishthira expressed the desire to perform the Rajasuya Yagna and become the emperor of Bharat. Subsequently, the four Pandavas (Bhima, Arjuna, Nakula, and Sahadev) set out in the four directions, brought all the surrounding kingdoms under their sway, and returned to Indraprastha with large tributes.

Sometime after this, Yudhishthira invited all the kings, who had accepted him as the emperor, and relatives/well-wishers to the final Rajasuya Yagna where he would be crowned as the emperor of Bharat. After the yagna was complete, all the kings returned to their respective kingdoms. However, Duryodhana and Sakuni stayed back to inspect the Pandavas’ magnificent palace.

The day after the yagna, Duryodhan and Sakuni walked around the palace and marveled at the extraordinary designs of the kind they had never seen before in Hastinapur. As we will see in the passage below, Duryodhan bumbled a lot in the palace. He mistook the crystal floor to be an indoor pond and he mistook an indoor pond for a crystal floor. As a result, he fell into the water and got himself wet. When the Pandava brothers saw his bumbling, they laughed aloud. Even the menials laughed at Duryodhan.

The passage where the Pandavas laughed at Duryodhan

Unfortunately, Duryodhan’s misery had no bounds because he went on to be further confounded in the palace. He mistook doors for walls and walls for doors, as seen in the passage below. After several such moments, he took leave from the Pandavas and returned to Hastinapur with his uncle, Shakuni.

Duryodhan leaves for Hastinpur after a few more embarrassing incidents.

As we can see, Draupadi was not even in the picture, so there was no question of her insulting Duryodhan and King Dhritarashtra.

Another important point to note (as we will see in future posts) is that Draupadi did not insult the Kuru elders even when she was disrobed after the game of dice, so it’s really far-fetched to assume that she would have uttered unkind words to uncle, Dhritarashtra, and brother-in-law, Duryodhan, in her own palace.

Now, I’ll jump ahead to another passage. Later, when Duryodhan reached his palace, he recounted the incident to his father, Dhritarashtra. In this talk, he mentioned that Draupadi had laughed at him.

See the passage below.

The passage where Duryodhan narrates, to Dritharashtra, how he was insulted.

As we can see in the passage above, the only thing Duryodhana mentioned to his father was that Draupadi and other servants laughed at him. There was no mention of Draupadi calling him a blind man’s son.

This incident of Draupadi telling Duryodhana: “Andhe ka putra bhi andha,” is purely a figment of certain people’s imagination that has been repeated without verification.

The reason why I consider this piece of information important is because the Mahabharata is an epic about the subtle dharma. In certain instances, the subtle dharma is clearly elucidated by Vyasa Muni and, in other instances, it is left to the reader to introspect and decipher the subtle dharma. In this spiritual exercise, the actions, words, and dilemmas of the characters in the Mahabharata become pointers to the subtle dharma (that is described as being beyond human logic and morality). These are small factoids that the reader considers to understand what the subtle dharma might mean. When we twist these seemingly small details, we obscure the subtle dharma that Vyasa-Muni wanted to describe, thus reducing the Mahabharata from being the fifth Veda into being a mere story of the rivalry between cousins.

After Draupadi’s swayamvar, she (cheerfully) went with Arjuna and Bhima to the potter’s house where the Pandavas were staying in disguise.

The next day, King Drupada (Draupadi’s father), sent his priest to the potter’s house to invite them for a feast at his palace.

Till this point, the king did not know their identity. He had a strong feeling, based on his son, Dhrishtadyumna’s, secret observations, that the youth who had fulfilled the difficult challenge, was none other than Arjuna, but he still wasn’t certain. After Kunti, Draupadi, and the Pandavas arrived at his palace, Drupada asked Yudhishthira about their identity. Yudhishthira, knew that King Drupada cherished the desire to marry his daughter Draupadi to Arjuna. He finally revealed their true identity to King Drupada in his palace.

King Drupada was not only relieved that his daughter was about to be married into a noble and virtuous family, but he was also overjoyed and exuberant that his desire for obtaining Arjuna as his son-in-law was fulfilled. He suggested that Arjuna and Draupadi perform the marriage rites immediately since it was an auspicious day. Till this point, King Drupada was unaware of what had transpired at the potter’s house between Kunti, Draupadi, and the five Pandavas, and about the proposal that she marry all five brothers.

It was only when he suggested the marriage rites, that Yudhishthira said, he too would have to marry Draupadi. This took the king by surprise. He (possibly) did not register the implication of what Yudhishthira had just said, so he suggested that instead of Arjuna marrying Draupadi, Yudhishthira, being the eldest brother, may marry her. However, Yudhishthira clarified that all five brothers would have to marry Draupadi.

This proposal made King Drupada very uneasy. He was put into a dilemma, because he was unsure of the morality of one woman marrying five men and, he did not want his daughter to enter into a morally questionable alliance.

It was during this critical and delicate situation that Ved Vyasa came to the palace. Everyone immediately stopped the discussion to welcome and worship the great rishi. After honouring the sage, the king approached him with his doubts regarding the proposed marriage.

Quoting from the unabridged Mahabaharata, below.

Ved Vyasa replied that the practice of one woman having many husbands had become obsolete because it was opposed to the Vedas and present-day customs, but, that didn’t mean it was sinful. However, before giving further explanations, he asked everyone assembled there to share their opinion.

What follows are the opinions of King Drupada, his son, Drishtadyumna, Yudhishthira, and Kunti. Finally, after hearing them, Ved Vyasa presents his own views about the marriage.

King Drupada’s Opinion

Drupada went by social precedence as well as the Vedas. He wasn’t aware of any precedence where one woman had taken many husbands, and because this practice was opposed to the Vedas, he was not in favour of the proposal. Quoting the exact passage below.

Drishtadyumna’s Opinion

Drishtadyumna believed that an elder brother of good conscience would never approach his younger brother’s wife. He agreed that the ways of morality were subtle and he also confessed that the subtlety was beyond his understanding, and therefore, he could not agree to this proposal with a clear conscience. Quoting the exact passage below.

Yudhishthira’s Opinion

Yudhishthira took a different approach to the dilemma. He was aware of two precedences where a (virtuous) woman had many husbands. But along with precedence, he also gave importance to his inner feeling. He believed that his purity and truthfulness made his disposition such that he would not incline toward a sinful act. If an act was sinful, his heart would instinctively reject it, and because his heart approved of this marriage, it was not immoral.

He went on to cite the two precedences. The first example was from the Puranas, where a virtuous maiden called Jatila (of the Gotama race) had married seven rishis. In the second example, he cited the case of an ascetic’s daughter who had married ten brothers who were also exalted ascetics themselves.

Finally, he went on to say that because his mother (whom he considered the foremost among superiors) had said so, the marriage couldn’t be immoral.

Quoting the exact passage below.

Kunti’s Opinion

Kunti regarded her eldest son Yudhishthira (who was born of her union with Dharmaraja himself) as an authority on dharma. Therefore, since he approved of the marriage, she did not believe it to be incorrect. However, she did put forth her concern about her speech becoming untrue and having to face the consequences of that.

Ved Vyasa’s Answer to Everyone

Ved Vyasa first addressed Kunti to ease her conscience. He remarked that even the (genuine) concern she had of saving herself from the consequences of untruth showed how pure she was, and this itself was eternal virtue.

He went on to agree with Yudhishthira’s reasoning, however, he did not want King Drupada to simply take his word on the matter and agree to the marriage. He wanted to reveal to King Drupada, the subtle and celestial forces that acted behind the material world. Therefore, he took King Drupada to a room, where they would be alone, and revealed the celestial form of Draupadi and the Pandavas. Click here to read the story that describes how Drupadi was the Goddess Adi Para Shakti herself and the five Pandavas were five Indras.

I am quoting Ved Vyasa’s words below.

After saying this, Ved Vyasa took the King to a separate room and explained to him that Draupadi was actually the Goddess Adi Para Shakti herself, and the five Pandavas were five Indra. He went on to describe how their marriage was ordained by Lord Shiva himself. Not only did Ved Vyasa explain all this, but he also granted the king, divine sight, through which he could see his daughter and the five Pandavas in their celestial form.

King Drupada’s dilemma was resolved after seeing Drupadi and the five Pandavas in their celestial form and understanding that Lord Shiva himself had ordained this marriage. If Lord Shiva had ordained it then it was beyond simple moral law and he had no objection.

You can read the detailed story of the celestial form of Draupadi and the five Pandavas by clicking here.

Some Additional Thoughts

I like this particular interaction between Ved Vyasa and the others because in dealing with the issue of Draupadi’s marriage, it also points to the larger issue of social norms, the Vedas, and morality. Vyasa muni shows us how Divine forces act behind the scenes to influence human life, and because we are not aware of these forces, we cannot judge morality based solely on logic, precedence, and even the Vedas. However, that doesn’t mean we can totally disregard morality. I’ll leave you with three quotes by the Auroville Mother (Sri Aurobindo’s spiritual partner) on this topic.

The (Auroville) Mother

You can break the moral rules only when you observe the Divine Law.

The Mother, May 1966

You have no right to dispense with morality unless you submit yourself to a law that is higher and much more rigorous than any moral law.

The Mother, 28th May 1947

Moral laws have only a very relative value from the point of view of Truth. Besides, they vary considerably according to country, climate and period. Discussions are generally sterile and without productive value. If each one makes a personal effort of perfect sincerity, uprightness and good-will, the best conditions for the work will be realised.

The Mother, August 1966

Image of Kunti apologizing in front of Draupadi, and her son, Yudhishthira

After the swayamvara, Druapadi, Arjuna, and Bhima walked to the potter’s house where the Pandavas and their mother, Kunti, were staying disguised as brahmanas.

Upon entering the cottage, Arjuna did not tell his mother about what had transpired at the swayamvara. He did not tell her that he had fulfilled the challenge designed by King Drupada and that Draupadi had chosen him as her husband. He did not tell his mother that he had returned home accompanied by Draupadi (also known as Yajnaseni) herself.

He simply told his mother, perhaps as he had been doing every day after they started staying at the potter’s house, that he had bought home alms. Here are the exact words used in the unabridged Mahabharata.

We don’t know why Arjuna said “alms” instead of Draupadi. It’s possible he wanted to surprise his mother, but that’s just my extrapolation. However, what we do know is what Kunti said next and how she responded when she realized she had made a mistake.

Kunti, without seeing Arjuna, simply said: “Enjoy ye all.” A moment after that, Kunti saw Draupadi (also known as Krishna) and she immediately realized her mistake and exclaimed, “Oh, what have I said?” Quoting the exact passage below.


Upon realizing her mistake, she took Draupadi gently by her hand and went to her eldest son Yudhishthira, who was well-known for his wisdom and knowledge of dharma, to ask him for a solution. Presenting a passage from the Mahabharata.

The passage above clearly shows that the Pandavas did not marry Draupadi simply because their mother said so. In fact, Kunti, herself, confessed that she had uttered those words out of ignorance. She wanted to find a solution that fulfilled three criteria:

  1. Her speech should not become untrue.
  2. Draupadi should remain without sin (as a result of the solution).
  3. Draupadi should not be uncomfortable with the solution.

Modern readers might be surprised about Kunti’s concern for her speech not becoming untrue. We might think all she had to do was take back her words, but it’s not as simple as it sounds. In those times, words, once spoken, had a certain power. They could not be recalled or gone back upon with the same ease with which we do so in modern times.

We have to understand the mindset of people who followed the dharma during those times. They gave a lot of importance to truth and purity of speech. Words were not uttered frivolously, and a noble person would think a hundred times before uttering even half a lie. Thoughts and words were treated with reverence. From that perspective, it is not very difficult to understand why Kunti was concerned about her words becoming untrue. However, she did not want Draupadi to bear the consequence of the mistake she’d made out of ignorance. She made that very clear when she said that Draupadi should remain without sin and should not be uncomfortable with the solution.

So, Kunti’s response upon realizing her mistake was to explore a solution that was correct and in accordance with the dharma. In those times, when faced with a dilemma, people of a noble disposition tried to find a solution that was aligned with the dharma and also correctly balanced all the issues involved.