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DRAUPADI & KARNA – The Forbidden Love?

We know Mahabharata is one of the greatest scriptures of Hindu mythology but it is also the longest poem ever written containing about 100,000 verses. It is the depiction of the rivalry between the two sects of the Kuru dynasty- the Pandavas and the Kauravas. But why did this battle had to happen? Legend has it that In Every Age of Man (Yugs), when the human race had foregone its virtues and given in to desire and greed, the Gods bring in havoc and pave way for a new age of Man. Mahabharata symbolizes the end of Dwapar yug and the start of Kali yug.

But one aspect of this epic poem has long been discussed that is : Did Draupadi secretly love Karna?

Draupadi as we all know was the wife of the Pandavas and Karna, belonged to the enemy clan as he was basically the right hand of Duryodhana. Draupadi never lived a normal woman’s life. Firstly, she was an unwanted princess borne out of fire to king Drupad. Karna, who was ironically born to Kunti, the mother of the Pandavas  before she was to married Pandu, was given up by her because of the disgrace she would have faced and instead was taken in by a chariot driver, Adhiratha. Upon hearing Karna’s story, Draupadi felt sympathetic towards him and was bonded to him due to the fact that both of them were unwanted at the time of their births. Then came the fateful day of her swayamwar, where both Karna and Arjuna showed up to win her. Her heart was stuck to Karna but King wanted her to choose Arjuna. So when it was Karna’s turn to complete the task, Draupadi shunned him away owing to his lowly caste and ultimately she was won by Arjuna who had come in disguise.

DRAUPADI & KARNA - The Forbidden Love?

When Draupadi arrived with the five Pandavas to meet Kunti, they informed her that Arjuna had won a prize at a competition, to which Kunti says, “Share the prize”. Unlike any other woman of her time, she had five husbands yet in the need of the hour, none could save her dignity. We are talking about the great episode of “Cheer-Haran” when Yudishthara lost the game of dice to Shakuni, the uncle of Duryodhana and thereby lost everything that he owned – his empire, his brothers, himself as well as his wife Draupadi. After this, the Pandavas alongwith Draupadi were sent to a 13 year exile and during this period came one instance where Draupadi had to confess her feelings about karna in front of her husbands.

Draupadi had unplucked a fruit which was supposed to be eaten by a sage after completing his 12 yearlong fast , but could only put it back if she was devoid of any secrets. So, left with no choice , Draupadi revealed her true feelings to her husbands, that she had secretly loved Karna and if she had married him she would not have been gambled away and publicly humiliated.

DRAUPADI & KARNA - The Forbidden Love?

All these are just speculations and debates as no one would ever know what exactly transpired in Draupadi’s heart. This might just be an attempt to create an alternative history to add an extra tinge of spice to the historic saga.

Anuja Gusain
Anuja Gusain
Senior Consultant @ KPMG India | MBA-IIM C | Digital & Product



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