Draupadi was the daughter of king Drupada of Panchala. She is also known as Panchali (the one from Panchala) and Mahabhaartii (great wife of the five descendents of Bharata) amongst other names. She was the shared wife of the Pandava brothers; Yudhisthira, Bhima, Arjuna, Nakula and Sahadeva, however, they also had other wives. She had five sons, one by each husband. She is the sister of Dhristadyumna.
The king held a competition for his daughter's hand. He wanted Arjuna for a son-in-law and so decreed that the princes vying for Draupadi's hand had to string Pinaka shoot five arrows at the eye of a revolving fish, while looking only at its reflection in a bowl. Drupada was confident that only Arjuna could accomplish this task.
Arjuna won the contest and took her to the Pandava's home, whilst in secret exile, saying he had brought alms. His mother, Kunti, told hi to share it between his brothers. Thus, Draupadi was wife of all the Pandava brothers at once.
When Krishna visited the family, he explained to Draupadi that her unique position as the wife of five brothers resulted from a certain incident in her previous birth. She was born as Nalayani (daughter of Nala and Damayanti). She had, in that lifetime, prayed to Shiva to grant her a husband with fourteen desired qualities. Shiva, pleased with her devotion, told her that no man possessed all fourteen qualities. But she was resolute in her wish. Then Shiva grants her wish saying that she would get the same in her next birth with five husbands.
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