Drishtadumnya announces the Draupadi Swayamvara
Dhrishtadyumna (Sanskrit: धृष्टद्युम्न, dhṛṣṭadyumna, lit. he who is courageous and splendorous), also known as Draupada (Sanskrit: द्रौपद, lit. son of Drupada), was the son of Drupada and brother of Draupadi and Shikhandi in the epic Mahabharata. He was the commander of the Pandava army during the Kurukshetra War. Dhrishtadyumna killed Drona, the royal guru, when he was meditating which was against the rules of engagement.
The king of Panchala, Drupada undertook a Putrakameshti yajna, a sacrifice to please the gods and obtain offspring by their blessing. Drupada desired a son who could kill Guru Dronacharya, who had humiliated Drupada in battle and taken half his kingdom.
With the help of two saints (Maharishis Yaja and Upayaja), Drupada undertook the sacrifice. After his wife made the sacrificial offerings, Dhrishtadyumna emerged from the fire, a fully grown powerful young and armed man, together with his sister Draupadi. He already had martial and religious knowledge. Despite being younger than them, Dhristadyumna is appointed as the heir over his two siblings due to his heavenly parents.
Even though he was the prophesied killer of Drona, he was accepted as a student by Drona, and he learned advanced military arts. When his sister Draupadi was won in an archery competition by a young Brahmin at her swayamvara, in front of all the princes and nobility, Dhrishtadyumna secretly followed the Brahmin and his sister, only to discover that the Brahmin was in fact Arjuna, one of the five Pandava brothers.
In the war
On the fifteenth day of battle, Drona is the supreme commander of the Kaurava army, and is laying waste to the Pandava forces. The Pandavas deduce that if they can trick Drona into believing Ashwatthama is dead, Drona will drop his weapons and become vulnerable. Krishna advices Yudhishthira to give credibility to the lie.
With Lord Krishna's plan a success, Drona laid down his arms and sat in meditation. Dhrishtadyumna took this opportunity, and beheaded him. After the killing of Drona, Dhristadyumna was attacked by Arjuna, who was a devoted student of Drona, but was defended by Draupadi and Krishna.
On the 18th night of the war, Ashwathama attacked the Pandava camp during the night, and killed Dhristadyumna. As Dhristadyumna begs for an honorable death, asking to die with a sword in his hand, Ashwathama ignores him, proceeding to beat and smother him to death.
In one of the many side-stories of the Mahabharatha, there is drama centered around the fact that Dhrishtadyumna, despite not being Drupada's eldest, is his heir. While Drupada and others give many reasons for this, it is implied that the real reason is because Dhristadyumna has a godly parent, and thus more coveted as a ruler since his rule would seem more blessed. Dhristadyumna somewhat internalizes this, looking down upon Satyajit's pacifism and Shikhandi's single-minded hatred of Bhisma. He makes a point out of never bowing to or respecting his siblings, never wanting to legitimize any claim to Panchal they might have.
However, during the war, Dhristadyumna changes. On the eve of the 10th day, Shikhandi reveals his past life to his brother. Horrified at Shikhandi's history, and now understanding his motivations, Dhristadyumna embraces his brother with new-found respect. After witnessing the massive carnage of the war, he begins empathizing with Satyajit's views and resolves to set things right with this reclusive brother.
Dhristadyumna is also juxtaposed with his older brother Satyajit. Handsome, a powerful warrior, and born of the gods, Dhristadyumna looks like he will be a great ruler compared to his quiet, baseborn, academic, and pacifist brother. But, at the end of the day, it is Dhristadyumna who lies dead and Satyajit who ascends the throne, ushering in a new era of peace and prosperity in Panchal.
- "Positive thinking: Dhrishtadyumna". DNA. December 7, 2012.
- K M Ganguly(1883-1896). The Mahabharatha Book 10: Sauptika Parva section 8 Ashwatthama killing Dhrishtadyumna ,October 2003
- Debroy, Bibek (June 2015). The Mahabharata, Volume 4. United Kingdom: Penguin Books.