Drupada then asked Yudhishtira, addressing him as he would a Brahmin, “Are we to take you as Kshatriyas, Brahmins or Devas roaming the earth disguised as Brahmins?”
Yudhishtira replied, “Be happy that your desire has been fulfilled. We are Kshatriyas. We are the sons of Pandu. I am Yudhishtira. The one who won your daughter is Arjuna. This is Bhima. The twins are Nakula and Sahadeva. Our mother Kunti is in the inner apartments with Draupadi. Your daughter, like a lotus, has just been transferred from one lake to another."
Hearing these words, Drupada became so joyous that he became choked with emotion and couldn’t speak for a while.
He then asked Yudhishtira how the Pandavas escaped from the fire that took place in their abode at Varanavata.
Yudhishtira narrated their experience.
Drupada became angry and censored Dritarashtra for his role in the affair. He assured Yudhishtira of his support to the Pandavas, vowing to restore the throne to Yudhishtira.
Drupada then told Yudhishtira, “Let Arjuna perform the rites and take the hand of Draupada today, which is an auspicious day.”
Yudhishtira replied, ”O, king! I also have to marry her.”
Drupada said,”If it pleases you, you may take the hand of my daughter. Or, you ask any of your brothers to marry her.”
Yudhishtira replied, “O, king! Your daughter will be the common wife of all the five of us. It has been so ordained by my mother. Your daughter was won by Arjuna, but we follow a rule of conduct that we enjoy equally whatever is obtained by any of us. We can’t abandon this rule. Draupadi will have to be the wedded wife of all the five of us.”
Drupada said, “O, scion of the Kuru race, the practice of one man having several wives is prevalent. But one woman marrying many men is something unheard of. You cannot commit a sin prohibited both by practice and by the Vedas.”
Yudhishtira replied, ”O, monarch! Morality is subtle. My heart will never accept something sinful. My mother commanded us to do this and my heart also accepted it. This is in conformity with virtue. You need not have any misgivings about this.”
Drupada said, “O, son of Kunti. Let this matter be discussed among your mother Kunti, my son Drishtadyumna and yourself. Let me know of the outcome of your deliberation by tomorrow.”
When the three of them were discussing this issue, Vyasa came to that place in the course of his wanderings.
The great sage was received warmly and everyone paid obeisance to him.
Drupada asked Vyasa, “O, illustrious sage, please tell me whether one woman can marry five men without committing a sin?”
Vyasa replied, “This is opposed to the practice and to the Vedas. It has become obsolete. However, before I give my opinion, I would like to know what each of you think about this.”
Drupada who spoke first, said, “Nowhere have I seen many men having one wife. I think this is sinful. The wise should never commit a sin. Therefore, I cannot make up my mind to accept this proposal.”
Dhrishtadyumna who spoke next, said, “Oh, great sage, how can the elder brother approach the wife of his younger brother? It is true that morality is subtle and we may not be able to say whether this is in conformity with morality. But I feel we can’t do this with a clear conscience. I cannot say that Draupadi can become the common wife of five brothers.”
It was Yudhishthira who spoke next. He said, “My tongue never utters an untruth, and my heart never inclines towards what is sinful. Therefore, when my heart accepts something, it can’t be sinful. I have heard that it has been mentioned in the puranas that a woman by name Jatila, the foremost of all virtuous women belonging to the race of Gotama, had married seven Rishis.
“In another instance, the daughter of an ascetic married ten brothers, all having the same name Prachetas. It is said that obeying the superiors is ever meritorious. Among all superiors, mother is the foremost. Since our mother commanded us all to enjoy Draupadi as we do anything obtained as alms, I consider this proposal virtuous.”
Finally, Kunti said “As the virtuous Yudhishtira said, this act is virtuous since otherwise my word would become untrue.”
Vyasa said, “Drupada, what Yudhishtira said is in conformity with virtue. This is an eternal virtue. I won’t talk about it in front of all these people, but I will tell you why this practice is acceptable.”
Vyasa then took Drupada aside to tell him how this practice was virtuous. Vyasa told Drupada that the Pandavas were five Indras born into the world due to a curse of Lord Siva and that Draupadi was also a celestial woman. That was why she was born in a sacrificial fire, he said.
Vyasa revealed that it was Lord Siva’s dictum that the celestial woman would be the common wife of the five Indras, when they were born in the world as human beings.
Vyasa also granted a divine vision to Drupada that enabled him to see the Pandavas and Draupadi in their celestial forms.
After seeing the five Pandavas and Draupadi in their celestial forms, Drupada was convinced about the virtue of Draupadi becoming the common wife of the Pandavas.