Get Empowered by Draupadi

Draupadi represents one of the truly empowered female characters in Mahabharata, who knew her mind, was strong, assertive, logical, had immense self-respect and was committed; the characteristics which are mirrored in many women leaders in boardrooms of today and should inspire a multitude of women. One can safely say that Draupadi has the potential to inspire many women and also men of today and tomorrow. 

The assertive and logical character of Draupadi was very much evident in the Sabha Parva of Mahabharata when Yudhishthira, the eldest of the Pandava brothers, after losing every material possession in a game of dice did put his younger brothers at stake one by one and lost them one by one to Duryodhana. Then he put himself at stake and lost himself to Duryodhana. All the brothers became slaves of Duryodhana. Then in a fit of utter desperation, and urged by Duryodhana, Yudhishthira staked Draupadi, the common wife of the five brothers. 

Logical and Assertive 

When Yudhishthira lost that game of dice too to the evil Shakuni, and thereby lost Draupadi to Duryodhana, Duryodhana then sent his charioteer Pratikamin to bring Draupadi to the court. On hearing of the shameful incident from Pratikamin, Draupadi questioned Yudhishthira’s right to put her on stake as he had lost himself first and became a slave while she was still the queen. That incident amply displayed Draupadi’s razor sharp logic which women and men could and should display to succeed in challenging situations in work and personal life.

When Dushasana dragged her to the court by her hair and when Draupadi was subjected to deeply insulting comments from Duryodhana and Karna then also Draupadi was not at all subjugated and never once pleaded to her tormentors to let her go. She appealed to the elders present at the august gathering to intervene and stop her humiliation while repeatedly questioning the right of Yudhishthira to place her at stake. She also questioned by what rule of Dharma a wife became her husband’s property, a question which attacked the roots of the patriarchal society.

 This kind of bold assertiveness in the face of extreme adversity should be inspiring for women of all ages, which can help them to keep steadfast in their resolve and also to get their rights even amidst stiff opposition.

Committed Lady 

But despite the fact that Yudhishthira staked her in a game of dice and despite the fact that none of the Pandava brothers could save her from humiliation (it was Krishna who saved her from getting disrobed) when Dhritarashtra intervened (at last!) and granted Draupadi a wish, Draupadi asked for freeing of Yudhishthira from the bondage of slavery. 

When granted a second wish by the blind king, she asked for the freedom of the Pandavas along with their weapons. That amply showed her unwavering love and commitment towards her husbands, and commitment is an important sign of a good leader. By showing such steadfast commitment towards their team members despite their flaws, today’s managers and business leaders could motivate their team to deliver its best. 

Draupadi was not bound to go into exile with her five husbands but she chose the hardships of forest life along with her husbands for 12 long years, which again showed her strength of character and mental resilience. Today’s corporate leaders(both women and men) can take inspiration from Draupadi by standing with their team and guiding the team members in adverse circumstances. This in turn can help their companies to resolve crisis situations in a better way.

Decisive Action 

Then her nuanced decision to spare Jayadratha because he was married to Duryodhana’s sister Dussala despite the fact that he tried to forcibly abduct her showed us that we must not let our emotions and rage take a hasty decision which can harm our relationships. This decision of Draupadi can be used as an inspiration in our day-to-day work culture too where long-term professional relationships matter more than settling scores.

However, Mahabharata also showed Draupadi planning with Bhima to kill the evil Kichaka. Corporate leaders also, like Draupadi, should not be hesitant in taking some extremely harsh and seemingly cruel step/s if no other options are available to resolve some extreme circumstance or for the greater good.

Man Management 

Draupadi was married to five brothers and of course that entailed complex personal relationships with her spouses. But the way Draupadi managed her five husbands without bruising any of their male egos and without breeding any jealousy or animosity between the five Pandavas because of her is another commendable lesson in man management. 

Today’s corporate leaders (both women and men) can take inspiration from Draupadi to optimally handle their team members, many of whom could be temperamental and egoist too, and thereby bring out the best in them.

Thinking Beyond Convention 

Draupadi’s comfortability in polyandry despite the fact that it was socially scorned even during the days of liberal sexuality in Mahabharata’s time (as evidenced by Karna’s insulting remark to Draupadi in Sabha Parba) amply showed that Draupadi was less bothered by conventional social sanctions and was largely guided by her own conscience. That was another sign of true empowerment. Corporate leaders and managers thinking of innovating could be inspired by Draupadi to think beyond the set conventions to chart their own path or to carve their own niche.

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