Our culture and festivals are intricately interwoven with the stories and teachings of the Mahabharata, one of the most important and revered ancient Indian epics. This epic not only provides insights into our cultural heritage but also offers moral and ethical guidance through its narratives. Many festivals and practices are influenced by the characters, events, and teachings found within the Mahabharata.
Draupadi’s Symbolic Tie of Protection to Lord Krishna
Rakshabandhan in Mahabharata involves a significant incident between Lord Krishna and Draupadi, the wife of the Pandavas. While the Rakshabandhan festival as we know it today might not have been explicitly mentioned in the Mahabharata, the essence of protection and bond between siblings is reflected in this tale.
According to the Mahabharata, Draupadi, the queen of the Pandavas, was once in a dire situation. Duryodhana, one of the Kaurava princes and the chief antagonist in the epic, was humiliated during a visit to the Pandavas’ palace. Filled with anger and humiliation, Duryodhana devised a plan to take revenge.
Duryodhana manipulated his uncle, Shakuni, to invite the Pandavas for a game of dice (gambling). Shakuni was known for his deceitful tactics and was determined to ensure the downfall of the Pandavas. In the game of dice, the Pandavas began to lose heavily to the Kauravas due to the unfair manipulation of the dice.
As the game progressed, the Pandavas eventually lost their kingdom, wealth, and even themselves in the gamble. The Kauravas, led by Duryodhana, humiliated the Pandavas further by forcing them into exile for thirteen years, which included one year of living incognito.
Draupadi, deeply distressed by the dire circumstances, was humiliated by the Kauravas in the assembly. Duryodhana ordered his brother Dushasana to disrobe Draupadi in front of everyone. Draupadi cried out to the gods, including Lord Krishna, for help. In her moment of despair, Lord Krishna intervened.
Krishna, who had a special connection with Draupadi, protected her honor. The Mahabharata narrates how Krishna miraculously made Draupadi’s clothing never-ending, preventing Dushasana from being able to strip her. Krishna’s divine intervention saved Draupadi’s dignity.
Draupadi, recognizing Krishna’s help, tied a piece of her torn sari around Krishna’s wrist as a token of gratitude. Krishna, touched by her gesture, promised to protect her whenever she needed help. This gesture of Draupadi tying a protective thread around Krishna’s wrist is often seen as an early form of Rakshabandhan, where a sister ties a rakhi (a protective thread) around her brother’s wrist as a symbol of love and protection.
What can we Learn?
Although Rakshabandhan as a festival might have evolved over time, the story of Draupadi and Lord Krishna in the Mahabharata highlights the essence of the bond between a brother and sister, the idea of protection, and the importance of standing up for one another in times of adversity.
Draupadi’s unwavering faith and trust in Lord Krishna’s intervention reflect the loyalty and trust that should exist between siblings. Siblings should be able to rely on each other and trust that they will come to each other’s aid when needed.