A rather unique feature of the Bh\u0101rat\u012bya tradition is its acceptance of any and all kinds of relationships in relating to the Absolute. Examples of devotees relating to the Supreme as a mother, father, lover, master and so on abound, and this flexibility in relating to the Supreme in a manner of one\u2019s choosing finds its basis in the phenomenon of the avat\u0101ra. When an avat\u0101ra descends, an immediate corollary is the inter-personal relationships the avat\u0101ra will automatically share with those who happen to be the avat\u0101ra\u2019s kith and kin. Hence, a distant concept as the Supreme becomes a son, a daughter, a sibling, a lover, a husband, a wife, a mother, a father and so on organically. When the avat\u0101ra then begins to reveal his or her reality as the Supreme, the kith and kin begin to assimilate the divinity into their pre-existing relationship with the avat\u0101ra. For instance, Ya\u015boda continues to mother K\u1e5b\u1e63\u1e47a even after he has slain asuras. The cowherd boys of Gokula continued to treat K\u1e5b\u1e63\u1e47a as their dear friend even after they had borne witness to his amazing feat of subduing K\u0101li\u1e45ga the serpent. Thus the Supreme Being becomes a personal relation, with whom they share a special relationship. \u0905\u0917\u094d\u0930\u0947 \u0915\u0941\u0930\u0942\u0923\u093e\u092e\u0925 \u092a\u093e\u0923\u094d\u0921\u0935\u093e\u0928\u093e\u0902 \u0926\u0941\u0903\u0936\u093e\u0938\u0928\u0947\u0928\u093e\u0939\u0943\u0924\u0935\u0938\u094d\u0924\u094d\u0930\u0915\u0947\u0936\u093e\u0964 \u0915\u0943\u0937\u094d\u0923\u093e \u0924\u0926\u093e\u0915\u094d\u0930\u094b\u0936\u0926\u0928\u0928\u094d\u092f\u0928\u093e\u0925\u093e \u0917\u094b\u0935\u093f\u0928\u094d\u0926 \u0926\u093e\u092e\u094b\u0926\u0930 \u092e\u093e\u0927\u0935\u0947\u0924\u093f\u0965 agre kur\u016b\u1e47\u0101matha p\u0101\u1e47\u1e0dav\u0101n\u0101\u1e41 du\u1e25\u015b\u0101sanen\u0101h\u1e5btavastrake\u015b\u0101| k\u1e5b\u1e63\u1e47\u0101 tad\u0101kro\u015badananyan\u0101th\u0101 govinda d\u0101modara m\u0101dhaveti|| K\u1e5b\u1e63\u1e47\u0101 (Draupad\u012b), her robes and tresses tugged by Du\u1e25\u015b\u0101sana in the presence of the Kauravas and the P\u0101\u1e47\u1e0davas, called out, \u2018Govinda, D\u0101modara, M\u0101dhava\u2019, (accepting none else) as her guardian. One such endearing and unique relationship is the one shared by Draupad\u012b with K\u1e5b\u1e63\u1e47a. She looked upon the avat\u0101ra as her brother and friend. There is a local folklore in fact, that traces the origin of the tradition of rak\u1e63\u0101bandhan to Draupad\u012b\u2019s relationship with K\u1e5b\u1e63\u1e47a. It is believed that K\u1e5b\u1e63\u1e47a once suffered a cut in his hand that needed to be dressed. Draupad\u012b, legend has it, immediately tore off a piece of her upper garment to dress K\u1e5b\u1e63\u1e47a\u2019s wound with, which became the basis for the later day practice of a sister tying a rakhi around the wrist of a brother. There is no evidence of this in the Mahabh\u0101rata itself, however, the folklore does call attention to the tenderness of Draupad\u012b\u2019s and K\u1e5b\u1e63\u1e47a\u2019s mutual affection. K\u1e5b\u1e63\u1e47a happened to be the cousin of her husbands, and thus became a brother to Draupad\u012b through marriage. From the moment she entered the household of the P\u0101\u1e47\u1e0davas, an endearing love for K\u1e5b\u1e63\u1e47a was kindled in the heart of Draupad\u012b. It can be seen throughout the course of the Mah\u0101bh\u0101rata, how K\u1e5b\u1e63\u1e47a devised means of delivering Draupad\u012b from trouble. Perhaps the most moving examples are the incidents where K\u1e5b\u1e63\u1e47a saved Draupad\u012b from the wrath of Durv\u0101s\u0101, and the incident where he defended her honor in open court while she was being disrobed. Duryodhana was not satisfied with merely exiling the P\u0101\u1e47\u1e0davas. He was intent on annihilating them so that they could lay no claim to his throne in the future. In a bid to destroy them, he set sage Durv\u0101s\u0101 upon them, requesting the sage to accept their hospitality in the forest. Kr\u1e63\u1e47a had gifted Draupad\u012b an ak\u1e63ayap\u0101tra (an inexhaustible vessel) so that the Pa\u1e47\u1e0davas and she would never go hungry in the forest. The vessel afforded them as much food as they needed. However, the vessel only provided food until Draupad\u012b had had her fill and had scoured the vessel. As fate would have it, Durv\u0101s\u0101 arrived at the hermitage of the P\u0101\u1e47\u1e0dava\u2019s after Draupad\u012b had partaken of her meal and had cleansed the ak\u1e63ayap\u0101tra. To add to Draupad\u012b\u2019s misery, Durv\u0101s\u0101 had not arrived alone. He had arrived at her humble residence with all his disciples in tow. Draupad\u012b was in a fix now. If she turned away the sage and his disciples, she knew that she would be earning the ire of the sage. In desperation she closed her eyes and implored K\u1e5b\u1e63\u1e47a, her dear brother, heart of hearts to deliver her from the quandary. Within seconds K\u1e5b\u1e63\u1e47a arrived at her doorstep and teasingly asked to be fed. Draupad\u012b was left distressed. She responded that she had already partaken of her meal and had cleaned out the ak\u1e63ayap\u0101tra. K\u1e5b\u1e63\u1e47a still insisted that the vessel be brought to him. When Draupad\u012b handed him the vessel, K\u1e5b\u1e63\u1e47a fished out a small piece of food particle that stuck to a corner, much to Draupad\u012b\u2019s surprise. He ate the left-over and left soon after, leaving Draupad\u012b puzzled and rather disappointed. However, K\u1e5b\u1e63\u1e47a had averted the disaster that threatened Drapad\u012b, for Durv\u0101s\u0101 found suddenly that he and his disciples felt so full they could not even think of partaking of a single morsel, leave alone a meal! The sage left the forest along with his disciples, with not a single word. The second anecdote cited earlier is even more moving and is held up in the tradition as the ultimate representation of succor afforded to a devotee in distress. Yes, Draupad\u012b was a devotee; no doubt. What sweetened K\u1e5b\u1e63\u1e47a\u2019s heart further was that Draupad\u012b did not just look upon him as a distant Supreme, but rather a personal God whom she loved as her brother. She drew strength to her identity as the dear sister and friend of K\u1e5b\u1e63\u1e47a. Yudhi\u1e63\u1e6dhira lost his wealth, his brothers, himself and Draupad\u012b in a loaded game of dice. The vile Duryodhana ordered that Draupad\u012b be brought to court immediately. Du\u1e25\u015b\u0101sana hastened to the inner quarters of Draupad\u012b and demanded that she present herself in court. Draupad\u012b was taken aback by the hostility and aggression displayed, and politely expressed her inability to oblige as it was the time of her menstrual cycle1. Du\u1e25\u015b\u0101sana was in no mood to listen. 1 Women were discouraged from presenting themselves in court during this time. \u0924\u0924\u094b\u093d\u092c\u094d\u0930\u0935\u0940\u0924\u094d\u0924\u093e\u0902 \u092a\u094d\u0930\u0938\u092d\u0902 \u0928\u093f\u0917\u0943\u0939\u094d\u092f \u0915\u0943\u0937\u094d\u0923\u0947\u0937\u0941 \u0915\u0947\u0936\u0947\u0937\u0941 \u0924\u0926\u093e \u0938 \u0915\u0943\u0937\u094d\u0923\u093e\u092e\u094d\u0964 \u0915\u0943\u0937\u094d\u0923\u0902 \u091a \u091c\u093f\u0937\u094d\u0923\u0941\u0902 \u091a \u0939\u0930\u093f\u0902 \u0928\u0930\u0902 \u091a \u0924\u094d\u0930\u093e\u0923\u093e\u092f \u0935\u093f\u0915\u094d\u0930\u094b\u0936 \u0928\u092f\u093e\u092e\u093f \u0939\u093f \u0924\u094d\u0935\u093e\u092e\u094d\u0965 tato'brav\u012btt\u0101\u1e41 prasabha\u1e41 nig\u1e5bhya k\u1e5b\u1e63\u1e47e\u1e63u ke\u015be\u1e63u tad\u0101 sa k\u1e5b\u1e63\u1e47\u0101m| k\u1e5b\u1e63\u1e47a\u1e41 ca ji\u1e63\u1e47u\u1e41 ca hari\u1e41 nara\u1e41 ca tr\u0101\u1e47\u0101ya vikro\u015ba nay\u0101mi hi tv\u0101m|| He said to her, gripping her by her dark tresses forcefully, \u201ccall out to that mortal K\u1e5b\u1e63\u1e47a, (also called) Hari, (touted to be) ever victorious, to protect you. I shall indeed drag you forth.\u201d - Sabh\u0101parva With these words, Du\u1e25\u015b\u0101sana dragged Darupad\u012b through the streets to present her in court. The court, the Mah\u0101bh\u0101rata describes, was a mute witness to the egregious deed, thereby evincing that it had long lost its dh\u0101rmic sensibilities. The elders of the court like Drona, D\u1e5btar\u0101\u1e63\u1e6dra and Bh\u012b\u1e63ma were petrified by the heinousness of the act, but could bring themselves to say nothing to Duryodhana. Vidura alone spoke up against the lot, but left the court when he found that his words were not heeded. Draupad\u012b who grasped the magnitude of the situation, cast her angry eyes upon her husbands who sat there, enslaved by their own actions. Du\u1e25\u015b\u0101sana who observed her angry glances, laughed derisorily and called Draupad\u012b a slave, while Kar\u1e47a congratulated Du\u1e25\u015b\u0101sana for having dragged her forth. Draupad\u012b did not play a mute or weak victim, however. She turned around and asked the members of the court how they could play mute witnesses to an act as egregious as this. She did not seek succor from them, but rather demanded fairness and justice. She sought, \u201cwhen Yudhi\u1e63\u1e6dhira had lost himself in the game of dice, he was no longer an independent entity who had the right to pledge me. How then can I be claimed to have been won over in the game of dice? The just men of this court must address my query, and I shall accept any fair verdict arrived at.\u201d Such was the strength of Draupad\u012b\u2019s character, she did not feel the need to beg anyone\u2019s indulgence or to seek assistance. She stood up for herself and demanded that she be treated justly. In fact, such was the soundness of argument presented by her, the elders of the court began to debate the validity of Draupad\u012b\u2019s pledge in the game of dice. Vikar\u1e47a, a half-brother to Duryodhna, concluded that Draupad\u012b cannot be treated as a pledge won, for Yudhi\u1e63\u1e6dhira as stated by Draupad\u012b, had lost himself before pledging her. Kar\u1e47a who heard these words was livid, and shot down the argument of Vikar\u1e47a. He demanded that the P\u0101\u1e47\u1e0davas be stripped in court and humiliated. When Du\u1e25\u015b\u0101sana found that it was impossible to physically lay hands upon the P\u0101\u1e47\u1e0davas, he quickly turned his ire on Draupad\u012b. He placed his hands upon her robes and began tugging away at them. To his absolute consternation however, he found that robe after robe draped Draupad\u012b, even though he furiously endeavored to disrobe her. Exhausted, Du\u1e25\u015b\u0101sana finally gave up and collapsed to the floor. Absolute disbelief filled the court and cries of \u201cfie upon you, Du\u1e25\u015b\u0101sana\u201d rose to the skies. Draupad\u012b gathered herself and said boldly, \u201cthe dharma that has long been the preserve of this esteemed throne has been cast to the wind under the reign of the Kauravas. I cannot believe how I, the lawfully wedded wife of the mighty P\u0101\u1e47\u1e0davas, the sister of Dh\u1e5bi\u1e63\u1e6dhadyumna, and one beloved to V\u0101sudeva could be treated thus? I demand that my queries regarding whether or not I may indeed be treated as a pledge be addressed. I shall then respect the verdict of the esteemed court.\u201d This particular statement demonstrates the kind of faith Draupad\u012b had in herself, and in the men she deemed integral to her identity. Such was the strength evinced by her argument, Dh\u1e5btar\u0101\u1e63\u1e6dra returned the wealth Yudhi\u1e63\u1e6dhira lost and placated Drapad\u012b with boons so that she may be inclined to not curse his sons. This strength of character arose from her deep love for K\u1e5b\u1e63\u1e47a and in the faith she had in him; faith that K\u1e5b\u1e63\u1e47a had personally nurtured by rushing to her rescue every single time she needed it.