After Krishna's efforts to avert the Kurukshetra war fail, as one final attempt, he tries to win Karna over to the Pandava side, but in doing so, does Krishna suggest that Draupadi would accept Karna as her sixth husband?

Ganguli translates this verse as:

15 rājanyā rājakanyāś cāpy ānayantv abhiṣecanam
      ṣaṣṭhe ca tvāṃ tathā kāle draupady upagamiṣyati

Let queens and princesses bring golden and silver and earthen jars (full of water) and delicious herbs and all kinds of seeds and gems, and creepers, for thy installation. During the sixth period, Draupadi also will come to thee (as a wife).

An alternate translation from here is:

हिरण्मयांश्च ते कुम्भान् राजतान् पार्थिवांस्तथा।
ओषध्यः सर्वबीजानि सर्वरत्नानि वीरुधः।।१४।।

राजन्या राजकन्याश्चाप्यानयन्त्वाभिषेचनम्॥१५॥
षष्ठे त्वां च तथा काले द्रौपद्युपगमिष्यति।

Golden water pots as also silver and earthen ones (filled with water) and medicinal herbs and all sorts of seeds and gems, let the wives of kings and daughters of kings bring for your anointment (in the kingship). During the sixth period Draupadi too will come to you as to a husband.

What does "sixth period" in the above mean? And in what sense did Krishna say "will come to you" in the second line or verse?

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    The Pandavas had an arrangement where they would each have conjugal time with Draupadi for a certain period of time. Krishna was suggesting the addition of a sixth period to that arrangement. Jul 6 '16 at 3:27
  • @KeshavSrinivasan That's a plausible explanation but it doesn't fit well with the first part of the verse which is talking about Karna's coronation in particular. Jul 6 '16 at 4:18
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    @sv. Why it is not in accordance with first verse? As they made that agreement and since Draupadi married Pancha Pandavas first, Krishna said he would be allotted sixth position.
    – The Destroyer
    Jul 6 '16 at 4:41
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    @sv. What doesn't fit well? Krishna is saying that Karna will become the king and he will get to marry Draupadi, and a sixth conjugal period will be added to the other five. Jul 6 '16 at 4:43
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    @TheDestroyer Yes, that's what part of your answer says. Also, that's the whole point of Krishna trying to persuade Karna to leave Duryodhana (he was counting heavily on Karna to win the war for him) and join the Pandavas as their elder brother and take the throne. Jul 6 '16 at 5:19

The translation doesn't fit into the narrative. Before that sentence and after it, the whole narration is about coronation. To talk about Draupadi's marriage with Karna in between that topic is absurd. It would have been either before or after the coronation topic. Even the first part of that verse talks about queens and princesses bringing various items for coronation. So, how can that be followed suddenly by marriage?

The best translation I have heard by one Telugu scholar is this, which fits in with rest of the narration:

Sixth period means sixth part of the day, dusk (1.dawn, 2.morning, 3.noon, 4.afternoon, 5.evening, 6.dusk, 7.night). And dusk is considered the most auspicious time for activities like coronation. (perhaps that is the reason why Modi, being knowledgeable in such matters, took his oath as PM during that period of the day) So, Krishna was merely mentioning that Draupadi along with other queens and princesses would come to Karna's coronation. Moreover, Krishna very well knows the reason behind her having five husbands (Lord Shiva's boon etc.). He also knows how much she loathed Karna. So Krishna suggesting that Draupadi would marry Karna is an absurd notion.


Sixth period means after five Pandavas. This is how Bibek Debroy translates this verse (which is taken from BORI critical version).

हिरण्मयांश्च ते कुम्भान्राजतान्पार्थिवांस्तथा |
ओषध्यः सर्वबीजानि सर्वरत्नानि वीरुधः ||१४||

राजन्या राजकन्याश्चाप्यानयन्त्वभिषेचनम् |
षष्ठे च त्वां तथा काले द्रौपद्युपगमिष्यति ||१५||

The kings and princes who have gathered together in the cause of the Pandavas and all the Andhakas and Vrishnis will grasp your feet. The kings, the wives of kings and the daughters of kings will bring gold, silver and earthen vessels, herbs, all kinds of seeds, all kinds of gems and creepers for your anointment1 At the sixth point in time,2 Droupadi will have intercourse with you.

Footnotes say
1 As King.
2 After the five Pandavas.

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    Well 'upagamishyati' literally means 'comes near'. I don't understand how Bibek Debroy translates it to 'have intercourse with'. Is he a reliable source? May 13 '17 at 5:52
  • @user1952500 one of the meanings of उपगम् = "to approach (a woman sexually)". In this context, his translation is correct. Check here.
    – The Destroyer
    May 13 '17 at 5:56
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    While that is true, the interpretation of context should be left to the reader and should not be done by the translator. Upagama also means to approach respectfully and many other things. For example, if I say that a devotee respectfully approaches the Devi, one should not think that the devotee approaches with sexual intent. May 13 '17 at 5:58
  • That said, I agree that the intent is the same. I don't agree with the translator adding the intent. It should be deduced by the reader. May 13 '17 at 5:59
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    Yes, but the question is about the correct meaning and Ganguli's translation does a good job. I have not read any work which translates this word into intercourse, but probably I am missing a whole world of subtext and double meanings out there. May 13 '17 at 7:12

In trying to win Karna over to the Pandava side, did Krishna suggest that Draupadi would accept him as her sixth husband?

Yes, here is what the famous medieval commentator Kumarila Bhatta said:

The unlawful intercourse of the five Pandavas with a common wife has been very well explained by Vyasa himself: "Draupadi appeared, in full bloom of youth, out of the sacrificial altar, and as such she is Lakshmi herself [meaning just opulent; not actually Vishnu's wife, Lakshmi], consequently, she does not become tainted by her intercourse with many owners." To the same effect, we have also the following: "The Brahmarishi pointed out her wonderfully beautiful form to be superhuman, inasmuch as the great souled beautiful one (Draupadi) became younger day by day." All this tends to show that she was not an ordinary human being; and hence she has been spoken of as 'superhuman' (and as such her actions are not to be judged by the ordinary standard of human proprieties). It is for this very same reason that Krishna himself promised to Karna that Draupadi would go to him on the sixth day (after having been with the Pandavas for 5 days). If it were not on account of the superhuman character of the woman, how could such an authoritative person as Krishna himself have promised such a transgression?

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