Beautiful,brave and controversial,the heroine of the Mahabharat continues to fascinate ...
The idea of one woman having many husbands makes most men feel inadequate,not least her husbands.Little wonder then Draupadi is one of the most popular and controversial heroines of Hindu mythology.A woman who knows her mind, speaks her mind,refuses to be cowered by her husbands, asserts her will and admonishes them when they fail her. She is, in many parts of India, a goddess, worthy of sacrifice.
But Draupadi is not the only polyandrous woman in Indian mythology.Her mother-in-law,Kunti,knew many men: four gods (Surya,Yama,Vayu and Indra) besides her husband, Pandu. But unlike Draupadi, her association with the gods was not public knowledge. It was whispered in corridors, not announced in courts. And they did not really count as they were not husbands, just child providers. The scriptures refer to other women who had many husbands: Marisha, who married the ten pracheta brothers and Jatila,who was the wife of seven sages.
In early societies with high infant mortality rates and short lifespans,polygamy was preferred to polyandry. When a man had many wives,the family could have more children than when a woman had many husbands. This is one of the reasons why women were usually kept away in seclusion and safety, a practice that eventually led to the throttling of women rights. But polygamy had benefits too - sharing a wife assured sharing of property and no division of the land.
Full report here Crest