Draupadi’s prayers

“Head of the Bharata clan!” said Draupadi, “If it is true you have decided to grant me a boon, I would ask for the redemption from slavery of this rich Yudhishtira, who is the knower of all dharma.  Let not ignorant boys call my bosom one Prativindhya, the son of a slave. It is never proper to call one who is born as a prince, bread up as a prince and accepted by kings, as the son of a slave.”

“Auspicious one!” said Dhrutharashtra, “As per your desire, Yudhishtira is redeemed from all bondage this very moment. Kalyani!  Ask for another boon. For, my heart is palpitating to give you a second boon also. For one of your stature, it is not fit to confine oneself to the grant of just one boon.”

“Maharaja!” said Draupadi, “Let Bhima, Arjuna,  Nakula and Sahadeva get out of their bondage and become free with their bows and chariots.”

“So it will be Draupadi!” said Dhrutharashtra, “Ask for another boon also. For, by granting just two boons is not tantamount to honouring you fully.  Great follower of dharma as you are, you are the greatest among all my daughters-in-law. Hence, ask for a third boon too.”

“Niggardliness” said Draupadi, “Knocks the bottom out of dharma and destroys it. Great One! It is not proper for me to ask for a third boon. Hence I cannot ask for it Maharaja! The reason is that a Vaisya may ask for one boon. A Kshatriya may ask for three. A Brahmin may ask for a hundred boons according to elderly dictum. More than anything, my husbands who have been cleared of the great sin of bondage are capable of acquiring the best of things they want from their personal efforts and good deeds.”

The Pandavas had no idea whatever that they would or should be redeemed from bondage through Draupadi. But the redemption came through her. Was Draupadi a slave or not? Was it right on the part of Dharmaraja to stake Draupadi after losing himself? Direct answers to these puzzling questions may not be found but the fact that she could ask in her own right that the bondage her husbands suffered from should be removed amounts to an implicit admission on the part of Dhrutharashtra that Draupadi never became a slave and she was staked after Dharmaraja lost even the right to stake.

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