Contrary to popular belief, seems like it wasn't Kṛṣṇa who rescued Draupadī when she was being disrobed by Duḥśāsana. This is what Bibek Debroy writes in the introduction to his translation based on the BORI critical edition of the Mahābhārata:

In similar vein, in popular renderings, when Droupadi is being disrobed, she prays to Krishna. Krishna provides the never-ending stream of garments that stump Duhshasana. The critical edition has excised the prayer to Krishna. The never-ending stream of garments is given as an extraordinary event. However, there is no intervention from Krishna.

I tend to agree with the above because as I point out in this answer to Krishna's role in the game of dice, Kṛṣṇa neither acknowledges nor takes credit for coming to Draupadī's rescue.

If it's not Kṛṣṇa, then who's it that really saved Draupadī that day?


Now if you believe that it was really Kṛṣṇa that saved Draupadī that day, then why did BORI decide to edit out Draupadī's prayer from its critical edition? Why did they think it was an interpolation in the original text?


Krishna saved Draupadi. First of all, just so people know what we're talking about, here is the description of Krishna saving Draupadi form being disrobed in this chapter of the Sabha Parva of the Mahabharata:

When the attire of Draupadi was being thus dragged, the thought of Hari, (And she herself cried aloud, saying), 'O Govinda, O thou who dwellest in Dwaraka, O Krishna, O thou who art fond of cow-herdesses (of Vrindavana). O Kesava, seest thou not that the Kauravas are humiliating me. O Lord, O husband of Lakshmi, O Lord of Vraja (Vrindavana), O destroyer of all afflictions, O Janarddana, rescue me who am sinking in the Kaurava Ocean. O Krishna, O Krishna, O thou great yogin, thou soul of the universe, Thou creator of all things, O Govinda, save me who am distressed,--who am losing my senses in the midst of the Kurus.' Thus did that afflicted lady resplendent still in her beauty, O king covering her face cried aloud, thinking of Krishna, of Hari, of the lord of the three worlds. Hearing the words of Draupadi, Krishna was deeply moved. And leaving his seat, the benevolent one from compassion, arrived there on foot. And while Yajnaseni was crying aloud to Krishna, also called Vishnu and Hari and Nara for protection, the illustrious Dharma, remaining unseen, covered her with excellent clothes of many hues. And, O monarch as the attire of Draupadi was being dragged, after one was taken off, another of the same kind, appeared covering her. And thus did it continue till many clothes were seen. And, O exalted on, owing to the protection of Dharma, hundreds upon hundreds of robes of many hues came off Draupadi's person. And there arose then a deep uproar of many many voices. And the kings present in that assembly beholding that most extraordinary of all sights in the world, began to applaud Draupadi and censure the son of Dhritarashtra.

Second of all, Draupadi recalls the incident in this chapter of the Udyoga Parva of the Mahabharata.

O Kesava, the sons of Pandu, the Panchalas, and the Vrishnis being all alive, exposed to the gaze of the assembly I was treated as a slave by those sinful wretches. And when the Pandavas beholding it all sat silent without giving way to wrath, in my heart I called upon thee. O Govinda, saying,--Save me, O save me!

On top of that, Kunti mentions the incident in this chapter of the Srimad Bhagavatam:

My dear Kṛṣṇa, Your Lordship has protected us from a poisoned cake, from a great fire, from cannibals, from the vicious assembly, from sufferings during our exile in the forest and from the battle where great generals fought. And now You have saved us from the weapon of Aśvatthāmā. I wish that all those calamities would happen again and again so that we could see You again and again, for seeing You means that we will no longer see repeated births and deaths.

Finally, Madhvacharya describes the incident in this chapter of his Mahabharata Tatparya Nirnaya, one of the oldest commentaries on the Mahabharata:

When dushyAsana started disrobing her, draupadi started to remember kRushNa in a very special manner. At that time, another saree which was divine, very delicate and glowing like gold appeared on her body. As and when dushyAsana started snatching the sarees, a new saree appeared. Sinful dushyAsana could never reach the end. He was exhausted and sunk down in the assembly hall. When the pile of sarees started to grow like mountain, ignorant duryOdhana who was furious said “why are you delaying, take her to our house”.

So I don't think there's any reason to doubt the story.

  • I'm not really surprised what Bhagavata says about this, also Madhvacharya's Tatparya Nirnaya especially if it's based on the Southern Recension of the Mahabharata. Do you know if Krishna himself admitted saving Draupadi? Also, how do you explain BORI removing Draupadi's prayer from the latest CE? Feb 20 '17 at 22:32
  • FYI, question has been updated. Feb 20 '17 at 22:40
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    Did BORI just remove it from its latest critical edition, or was it never included in the BORI critical edition? I think the latter. I am not of the view that anything rejected by Indologists must be an interpolation; they're often deluded. But in any case, I think part of the reason Indologists may consider the passage an interpolation is that it refers to Krishna as the lover of the Gopis. And this runs counter to the theory of some Indologists that Krishna prince of Mathura and cousin of the Pandavas is a different person from the boy named Krishna who delighted the Gopis of Vrindavan. Feb 20 '17 at 22:54
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    Some Indologists think that these two Krishnas were later combined. But I think the solution to this dilemma is simple: the boy who delighted the Gopis in Vrindavan is the same mighty-armed son of Vasudeva who guided the Pandavas to victory, and theories to the contrary are simply wrong, as shown by this passage and countless other scriptural passages. Feb 20 '17 at 22:56
  • Ok. You should add all this explanation to your answer. Feb 20 '17 at 23:02

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