The Pandavas as described by Draupadi in Mahabharata

The Pandavas as described by Draupadi in Mahabharata

Book III (Vana Parva) of the Epic Mahabharata:

Having lost everything in the gamble (dice game) at Hastinapura, the five reputed sons of Pandu (the Pandavas) were banished from their kingdom Indraprastha to forest for 12 years (vanavasa). The names of the Pandavas, from the eldest to the youngest, are: Yudhisthira, Bhima/Bheema,  Arjuna, Nakula and Sahadeva. In this parva or book III, Draupadi is addressed by two other names, namely, Krishna (read Krishnaa meaning ‘Black’) and Yajnaseni (read Yaajnasenee). She is referred to as a lady of flawless form with large eyes and handsome teeth, the lady of beautiful tresses and the ornament of womankind.


The first forest the Pandavas went to live in, after their exile, was the forest of Kamyaka. After dwelling there for sometime, one day, the five brothers went all out in search of game for feeding the Brahmanas in their company. Their common wife Draupadi was left alone in the hermitage. This was done with the permission of the great ascetic Trinavindu and the rishi Dhaumya.

It so happened, on that very day, Jayadratha, the son of Vriddhakshatra and the king of Sindhu, Sauvira and other countries, was passing through that neighbourhood accompanied by numerous princes and their army. He was on   way to the kingdom of Salwa with a view to matrimony. Fatigued, the party halted for rest at a secluded place in the Kamyaka woods. During the period of their temporary stop, they saw Draupadi standing at the threshold of the hermitage. On seeing her, Jayadratha was smitten with love and asked prince Kotika of his entourage to go and find out her whereabouts.

When Kotika met Draupadi, she was standing leaning on a branch of a Kadamba tree (an Indian flowering tree). Kotika met her, conversed respectfully with her and gathered all her important personal details such as her relations and her race and family, and reported the same to Jayadratha who then went to the solitary hermitage ‘like a wolf entering the den of a lion’ and proposed to Draupadi to become his queen. On hearing these unsolicited and outrageous words of Jayadratha, Draupadi became furious and her colour turned crimson. Not only did she oppose Jayadratha vehemently, but also reproached him in bad words and called him a fool.

Jayadratha retaliated by seizing Krishna by her upper garments. She pushed him and he fell on the ground. The sinful wretch Jayadratha then forcibly dragged her to his waiting chariot and fled with his followers. Almost immediately after this incident, the five brothers returned to the hermitage. They were apprised of what has happened by Draupadi’s maid. On hearing, all of them quickly set out to rescue her. They followed and caught up with Jayadratha’s chariot because he had not gone far. They called him out to stop. On seeing the valiant sons of Pandu pursuing him, Jayadratha lost his heart and enquired from the resplendent Yajnaseni, who was seated on his car, about her husbands in the following words:

“Those five great warriors, O Krishna, that are coming, are, I believe, your husbands. As you know the sons of Pandu well, do describe them one by one to us, pointing out which of them rides which car!”

When Draupadi saw her five great warrior-husbands coming after them, her fear vanished and she regained confidence.  What follows now is her account of her five husbands to Jayadratha.

The Descriptions

Draupadi described her husband Yudhisthira, the son of Dharma, as a king who had correct knowledge of the morality of his own acts, a king who had always  successful men as his followers. He was possessed of a complexion of pure gold,  a prominent nose, large eyes and a slender build. He was the master of spear and the foremost of the Kuru (ancestor of Pandu and Dhritarshtra) race. That virtuous prince of men granted life to even a foe who surrendered. She ordered Jayadratha, ‘O fool, throwing down your arms and joining hands, run to him for your good, to seek his protection.’

The other person ‘you see with long arms and tall as the Sala (teak) tree, seated on his chariot is my husband Vikrodara.’ He was master of mace and his achievements were superhuman. Therefore, he was known on earth by Bhima (read as Bheema). He was in the habit of biting his lips, and contracting his forehead so as to bring the two eye-brows together. His car was drawn by plumpy, strong and well-trained steeds of the noblest breed. They that offended him never lived. He never forgot a foe. On some pretext or other, he wrecked his vengeance. He was not pacified even after he had wrecked a vengeance.

Draupadi calls her husband Arjuna as Dhananjaya. He is the foremost of bowmen, adorned with intelligence and fame. His senses are under his complete control and he has reverence for the old. He does not abandon virtue even in lust, fear or anger. He never commits a cruel act. He possesses the energy of fire and is capable of withstanding every foe. Draupadi, here, refers to Arjuna as the son of Kunti and calls him ‘the grinder of enemies’.

Draupadi refers to her husband Nakula as ‘that other youth’ who is possessed of great prowess. Nakula was versed in every aspect of morality and profit, and always dispelled the fears of the frightened. He was gifted with high wisdom and was considered the most handsome person in the world. Because of Nakula’s unflinching devotion to all his brothers, he was regarded as dearer to them than their own lives and was protected by them all. Nakula had Sahadeva for his second. (Nakula and Sahadeva were twin Ashwini brothers.) He possessed exceeding lightness of hand, was adept in sword-fight and made dexterous passes while fighting. ‘You, foolish man, shall witness today his performances on the field of battle, like unto those of Indra (the god of gods) amid the ranks of Daityas (demons).’

Draupadi’s husband Sahadeva was the favourite and the youngest born of the Pandavas. He was that hero who was skilled in weapons and was possessed of intelligence and wisdom, and always tried to do what was agreeable to the son of Dharma. She described him as heroic, intelligent, wise and ever wrathful. There was not another man equal to him in intelligence or in eloquence amid assemblies of the wise. Dearer to Kunti than her own soul, he was always mindful of the duties of Kshatriyas, and would walk into fire or sacrifice his own life than speak anything against religion or morals.

Thus Draupadi described to Jayadratha the prowess of the sons of Pandu.

~ BY DR. SACHIDANAND  DAS , PhD (Science, 1981), BSc (Gold Medalist,   Loyola College, Chennai, 1964), BSc (English, Sanskrit, Mathematics, Chemistry, 1964), SERC Senior Visiting Fellow, London (1984-86), CSci (Institute of Physics, London, 1985), Distinguished Leadership Award and Advisor (RBI, USA), Certificate From World Pranic Healing Foundation, Inc (1999), FUWAI(1999), Franklin Templeton Man of The Match Award (2015). (Nom.) Member of New York Academy of Sciences (1995) and Man of the Year by RBI (1997).


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  • Errata: In the text, read ‘Yudhisthira’ as ‘Yudhishthira’ and ‘Vikrodara’ as ‘Vrikodara’.
    Inconvenience is regretted.

  • Sir, The Pandavas left in search of game, in order to feed Brahmanas. That means even the Brahmanas ate meat during that period?

    Pleas clarify.

  • Yes meat eating including beef eating was not a taboo starting from the Vedic times. But and naturally, every Brahmin was not eating flesh.