You are the owner of your actions: Example of Draupadi Vastraharan


Almost everyone in India knows about Draupadi Vastraharan. Besides, everyone knows who committed the crime i.e. Dusshasana. But do you know who instigated this barbarous thought? It was Karna. Don’t believe me? Here is an excerpt from Mahabharata, Sabha Parva, and Dyuta Parva. 213:

“It has been ordained by the gods that a woman should have only one husband. However, she submits to many and it is therefore certain that she is a courtesan. It is my view that there is nothing surprising in her being brought into the sabha in a single garment, or even she is naked…Strip away the garments from the Pandavas and Droupadi”

But, how does posterity remember this incident? On whom lies the onus of this action? Who carries the burden of this sin? It is of course Dusshasana. Not that Karna is not to be held to account. However, Dusshasana owns it.

Off late, it has been a trend to push the buck of one’s actions on someone else. It may give them temporary reprieve from the consequences of your actions. It may rally a few sympathizers and some intellectual and systemic cover fire. However, in the long run, their actions will come back to bite them. Remember Dusshasana’s fate? He may have flourished with his brother(s) for some time. But, eventually, he had to face the wrath of Bheema, the claws of justice.


It is true that the perpetrators own their heinous crimes. Equally responsible, however, are leaders and the people in power, who let the crime happen. Along with Dusshasana, the head of the state, Dhritarashtra was equally responsible for Draupadi Vastraharan. Similarly, in a modern nation-state, if the state cannot enforce its monopoly on violence, it is responsible for the anarchy that follows. As Chanakya says in Arthashastra:

“It is the power of punishment alone, when exercised impartially in proportion to the guilt, and irrespective of whether the person punished is the King’s son or an enemy, that protects this world and the next.” {Arthashastra 3.1.42}

Also read: Was Draupadi Vastraharan in Mahabharata ‘enough’ for Kurukshetra war?

P.C. By Vintage prints

Prasad Kulkarni is a Data and Analytics professional. At work, he analyses historical data and ponders over historical events otherwise.

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