Draupadi is the most prominent female character in the Mahabharata. Her given name at birth is Krishnaa, but since she is the daughter of Drupada she is called Draupadi. She is also known as Panchali – or the ‘daughter of Panchala’.
Draupadi is often considered the primary reason for the destruction of the Kuru dynasty. She takes birth as a grown young woman in a sacrifice performed by Drupada, in which the king asks for a ‘weapon’ with which the Kurus can be defeated.
In this post, we will answer the question: At what age did Draupadi die?
Assuming Draupadi was sixteen when she got married to the Pandavas, she would have been around eighty years old at the time of her death. Depending on assumptions one makes about the length of each interlude between significant events, Draupadi’s age would have been between seventy five and eighty five when she died.
Read on to discover more about how old Draupadi was when she died.
(For answers to all Draupadi-related questions, see Draupadi: 46 Questions about the Mahabharata Heroine Answered.)
Paucity of Information
The process of estimating the age of any given character at different times in the Mahabharata is fraught with subjective bias. This is because the ages of characters are seldom explicitly mentioned anywhere in the text.
But we can make reasonable-seeming assumptions and construct timelines that are not too outrageous. Here we will attempt one for Draupadi.
(Suggested: How old was Bhishma? A Mahabharata Timeline.)
We know that Draupadi is born to Drupada in a sacrifice that the king conducts soon after his loss to the Pandavas. This happens a short while after the Kuru princes’ graduation ceremony.
How many years may have passed before Drupada is rewarded with Draupadi and Dhrishtadyumna? Let us say one year.
We also know that Draupadi steps out of the sacrificial fire as a fully formed young woman. Let us assume that she is fifteen years old at this point.
Just for reference, at this point in the story, Yudhishthir will be nineteen, Bhima eighteen, Arjuna seventeen, Nakula and Sahadeva sixteen.
Note: It is not certain whether Nakula and Sahadeva are twins or if there is a year’s gap between them. Some sections of the story claim the former and some claim the latter. Here we will assume they are twins.
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We will make the assumption here that Drupada waits for a year after receiving Draupadi before he calls for her swayamvara. This seems to be a reasonable view, given the amount of planning and preparation required to organise an event of this sort.
This will place Draupadi’s age at her swayamvara at sixteen.
(Suggested: Why did Draupadi marry five Pandavas?)
Queen of Indraprastha
After her marriage to the Pandavas, a number of events significant events occur before Draupadi becomes queen of Indraprastha.
- The Pandavas are invited back to Hastinapur. Bhishma decides to give them a city to rule – at Khandavaprastha.
- Arjuna goes on a twelve-year exile.
- Draupadi gives birth – at the end of the first year after Arjuna’s return – to their son, Shrutakarma. She is twenty nine.
- The Khandava forest is burned to the ground, and Maya is commissioned to build for Yudhishthir a great hall.
- The Pandavas go on an expedition of conquest to win the world for Yudhishthir.
- Yudhishthir performs the Rajasuya and becomes the emperor. Draupadi becomes empress.
Assuming that the burning of the Khandava and the expedition take two years in total, Draupadi is thirty one years old when she sits next to Yudhishthir at the Rajasuya.
And further assuming that the dice game happens that same year, we can place Draupadi’s age during her disrobing at thirty one years.
The Exile Years
We know that the exile is thirteen years long – twelve years of living in the forest and one year of living incognito at Virata’s court.
By the end of the Virata Parva, therefore, Draupadi is forty four years old.
Incidentally, this means that when she was working as a Sairandhri under Queen Sudeshna in Matsya, Draupadi is well past her physical prime. She is very much middle-aged. But she still manages to attract the attention of Kichaka.
(Suggested Post: Mahabharata Episode 29: Kichaka is Killed.)
The Kurukshetra War
After the marriage of Uttara and Abhimanyu, the Pandavas and Kauravas respectively spend a certain amount of time gathering resources and allies to fight one another.
There is also a lengthy process of peace talks that happen between the two parties – at the end of which Krishna tries one last time to speak sense into Duryodhana before giving up.
We will assume that all this takes a year. This means that at the beginning of the war, Draupadi is forty five years old.
This also means that Krishna’s promise to Karna – that Draupadi will bear him sons – is not a realistic one. At forty five years old, Draupadi is well past her safe childbearing years. Even if she agrees to become Karna’s wife, therefore, she would not have been able to bring forth his sons.
(Suggested: Why did Krishna offer Draupadi to Karna?)
After the Kurukshetra war ends, Yudhishthir rules for a period of thirty six years before giving up the throne and setting out on a ‘final journey’. Draupadi is therefore eighty one years old at this point.
Then, the Pandavas and Draupadi circumnavigate the subcontinent before arriving at the foothills of Mount Sumeru. Let us assume that this final tour around the country takes them one year.
Therefore, at the time of their final ascent of the mountain, Draupadi is eighty two years old.
Sticking to the same age difference established at the beginning of the post, Yudhishthir is eighty six at this point, Bhima eighty five, Arjuna eighty four, Nakula and Sahadeva eighty three.
(Suggested: 9 Mahabharata Stories From the Swargarohana Parva.)
The above is a fairly sensible timeline of events that make up Draupadi’s life. Of course, you may have some quarrels on the assumptions I have made at various points. Please feel free to change the numbers as you see fit and watch how the final answers change.
But taking this as a good working theory, we can see now that the Pandavas – at the time of their final walk up the mountain – are all old.
Unless you believe that they magically stopped aging in their youth, we have to imagine them as senile, weak, hobbling men with white hair and emaciated bodies.
Draupadi is the first of the six to fall to her death – at age eighty two. One by one, all her husbands die immediately afterward with the exception of Yudhishthir – who is granted direct entry into heaven.
If you liked this post, you may find these interesting also:
- Draupadi: 46 Questions about the Mahabharata Heroine Answered
- Arjuna: 51 Questions about the Mahabharata Hero Answered
- Karna: 41 Questions about the Mahabharata Hero Answered
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