Draupadi was the daughter of Panchala king Drupada. Drupada's son Drashtadumna and daughter Draupadi were born of sacrificial fire performed by king Drupada for obtaining a son who would defeat Drona in battle. When in Gurukula for study Drupada was insulted by Drona. After he became the king of Panchala he wished he had a son who defeated Drona in battle. On the advice of holy ones he organised a great yajna for obtaining such son. During the final offerings to the sacrificial fire there rose from it a young prince and a young princess. The priests Yaja and Upayaja performing the yajna announced that the queen would beget a son and a daughter. The son would kill Drona whereas the daughter would set the stage and lead the course of time to the climax when Drashtadumna would do what he was required to.
When grown to marriageable age Drupada organised his daughter's 'svayamvara'. Meanwhile Duryodhana had attempted at Pandavas' life conspiring to burn them live in the lac palace. Pandavas, able to somehow escape it, thought it better to live in disguise for sometime and to watch what Duryodhana did next to eliminate them. Disguised as Brahmins they lived at a Brahmin's house and went for alms every day in disguise. When Draupadi 'svayambara' was held, the Brahmin, at whose house the Pandavas had been living, also went there in hope of alms. He asked Pandavas also to accompany. Numerous kings and princes including Kauravas and Krishna with other Vrishni princes assembled at 'svayamvara'. One who claimed Draupadi's hand had to shoot the eye of a bird from across the spokes of a moving wheel without looking at it but only at its reflection in a bowl blow filled with oil. Duryodhana missed his target and was laughed at by none else but Draupadi herself. Karna was not allowed by her to participate due to his doubtful birth. Finally Arjuna, disguised as Brahmin shot the target and won Draupadi's hand. When they reached home, their mother Kunti, hearing them reach commanded them from inside the house to share amongst themselves equally whatever they had obtained during the day. She never knew that it was a bride but mother's command was obeyed and Draupadi was the shared wife of all five Pandavas.
It was now no more a secret that Pandavas were alive. Hence, they returned to Hastinapura and after sometime under a compromise they were given a part of state where they could establish their own new kingdom. It was Indraprashtha, the present day Delhi. Under the garb of relationship they were invited to Hastinapura where Yudhishthara was challenged by Duryodhana for a game of dice. Duryodhana's maternal uncle Shakuni was master of tricks in dice casting. For Duryodhana he threw dice. Yudhishthara lost all, his state, property, themselves and staked finally and lost even their wife Draupadi. Sore at heart due to his insult during her 'svayamvara' Duryodhana ordered that Draupadi was brought before the court. When messengers returned without her, Duryodhana sent his younger brother Dushashana to drag her by force and Dushashana did it.
For giving prominence to her theme the artist Vidyadevi has quite simplified her canvas. Slightly deviating from Madhubani style of fully covering the canvas she has given prominence to cardinal factors of the theme. Vidura's protest has been powerfully portrayed. Draupadi's loose hair gets as much prominence. Krishna's traditional affinity with Kadamba tree has not escaped artist's notice. She portrayed him couched on a tree and releasing a superficial saree which Dushashana goes on pulling. All figures have wide open eyes save Draupadi who is meditating on Krishna. Three figures, obviously those of Duryodhana, Shakuni and Dushashana, have their noses styled like the beak of a crow, the most crooked of all birds and even other animals. This depicts artist's vision of their evil crooked nature.
This description by Prof. P.C. Jain and Dr Daljeet. Prof. Jain specializes on the aesthetics of ancient Indian literature. Dr Daljeet is the chief curator of the Visual Arts Gallery at the National Museum of India, New Delhi. They have both collaborated on numerous books on Indian art and culture.
Of Related Interest:
Draupadi (Paperback Comic Book)
The Disrobing of Draupadi (Doll)