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?

  • BORI is not a religious authority to determine what constitutes scripture or not. Suppose if BORI stated that the Bhagavad Gita is a later-day interpolation inserted into the Mahabharata, would you be eager to believe that ? From whatever experience has been obtained, it seems that a certain bias works behind determining what constitutes interpolation or not. For example -Madhvas consider verses in Puranas that defame Adi Shankara to be valid while Advaitins will disagree. Research has always been invisible agendas of the researchers & its patrons.
    – অনু
    Commented Nov 4, 2022 at 13:15

3 Answers 3


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? Commented Feb 20, 2017 at 22:32
  • FYI, question has been updated. Commented Feb 20, 2017 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. Commented Feb 20, 2017 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. Commented Feb 20, 2017 at 22:56
  • Ok. You should add all this explanation to your answer. Commented Feb 20, 2017 at 23:02

Unlike what has been stated in the other answer, according to Madhvacharya’s Mahabharata Tatparya Nirnaya, it is Draupadi who saved herself. There appears to be no intervention from Krishna.

3.6 Draupadī’s Infinite Garments

The other interesting aspect of this episode in the epic is the magical appearance of infinite garments to save Draupadī’s modesty and honour. While most purāṇic retellings of the episode imply or explicitly mention Kṛṣṇa rescuing Draupadī by providing an infinite number of garments that appear as Duḥśāsana attempts to disrobe her, the epic itself merely states that Draupadī prayed to Kṛṣṇa, and that an infinite number of garments appeared, without mentioning a causal link between the two statements. The critical edition of the epic and several scholarly works treat the elaborate prayer to Kṛṣṇa and Kṛṣṇa’s personal presence in the court to rescue Draupadī as later interpolations to promote devotional movements. According to Alf Hiltebeitel, the passage in the epic reads as though cosmic justice saved Draupadī from humiliation, as opposed to the presence of a personal God. Both Franklin Edgerton and Alf Hiltebeitel provide compelling reasons to accept the kind of textual reconstruction presented in the critical edition of the Mahābhārata.

What is interesting for our purposes is that Madhva too appears to agree with these scholars. He mentions that Draupadī prayed to Kṛṣṇa as everyone should in times of trouble, but the manifestation of infinite garments is not presented as a consequence of this prayer.

In this case too, Madhva appears to defer to Draupadī’s rank as an elevated deity, which gives her the power to defend herself against such violence.

All these episodes reveal a great deal about Madhva’s portrayals of Draupadī. He presents her as the incarnation of the deity of learning, who is unparalleled in her scholarship, and who can save herself from affronts by the power of her own virtue.

The above excerpt is taken from:

Of Deities and Demons: Madhva’s Doctrine of Hierarchy in the Mahābhāratatātparyanirṇaya by Anusha Sudindra Rao


It was dharma who saved Draupadi from humiliation. But who is dharma here. The dharma here is not god or entity.

If you read the Mahabharata and especially that chapter properly you will realize the question was never about disrobing of draupadi. The question was whether draupadi was rightfully lost by Yudhistir in gambling. She repeatedly asks the sabha viz court to give that decision and every time she gets silence from elders and pandavas. Only vocal are kauravas and Karna. Draupadi had no problem removing her upper garment if she was deemed indeed lost as any slave would do since that would her new dharma. She argues repeatedly that she is not lost and hence cannot be treated as slave. Vikarna who is youngest of kaurava argues in favor of draupadi and provides his argument why she is not slave. Karna tries to downplay that argument by giving example that a Kshatriya woman is married to only one man while draupadi clearly doesn't follow that rule. So, This question raised by her remains in question without resolution till the end. In haste Dushashana tries to disrobe her and thats when rules of universe feel disturbed. Since this is dwapara yuga where rule of law is still upheld by universe i.e. dharma exists in universe, It comes to save her. So, instead of a guy coming and adding layers of garment around her, it is simply an appearance of new layer of garment everytime old layer is removed. Its like when you are tried to peel onion layers that old layer repeats everytime you remove it. Since her status was in limbo state she couldn't be treated one way or other so universe provided argument for that by preventing her disrobing.

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