Written by S Nagarajan

Research Article No. 1689; Dated 4 March 2015.


Memory:Queen Draupadi of Mahabharata and Emperor Napoleon of France

Emperor Napoleon had an excellent memory. He memorized the rosters of his units and used to call the soldiers by name. It is estimated more than one lakh soldiers were in his army. Baron Meneval, Napoleon’s secretary, wrote in his memoirs that his memory had been described as ‘astonishing’. Various biographers describe his memory as ‘very retentive’, ‘near photographic, ‘prodigious’, and ‘phenomenal’.

Cyrus had a memory so prodigious that he knew by heart the names of all the officers and soldiers of his armies. Emperor Otho, the successor to Galba had learned the names of all the soldiers of his army. He used to call everyone by his proper name.


Similarly Mithridates , the famous king and emperor Adrianius knew by heart the names of all their soldiers. Themistocles was able to remember thirty thousand citizens of Athens by name. Xerxes was reputed to be able to recall the names of the one lakh soldiers in his armies. We believe all these statements without raising any question.


Let us compare these interesting facts with the photographic memory of Queen Draupadi of Mahabharata. She revealed her very rare qualities to the Queen Sathyabama, the wife of Lord Krishna in an intimate chat. She informed Sathyabama that one lakh sixty thousand Brahmanas (priestly class) were daily fed in the palace of Yudhishthira. He also had a hundred thousand well-dressed serving maids with bracelets on arms and golden ornaments on necks, and decked with costly garlands. They were all skilled in singing and dancing. Draupadi knew the names and features of all those girls, as also what they are and what they were, and what they did not.

Yudhishthira had also a hundred thousand maid-servants. These servants daily used to feed guests, with plates of gold in their hands. And while Yudhishthira lived in Indraprastha a hundred thousand horses and a hundred thousand elephants used to follow in his train. These were the possessions of Yudhishthira while he ruled the earth. It was Draupadi, however, who regulated their number and framed the rules to be observed in respect of them; and it was she who had to listen to all complaints about them. Indeed she knew everything about what the maid-servants of the palace and other classes of attendants, even the cow-herds and the shepherds of the royal establishment, did or did not! We are astonished with the statements of Draupadi.


When we compare these statistics with that of Napoleon and other kings we are compelled to admire how sharp was her intellect and memory!While we are ready to believe historians like Pliny, the same way we have to believe the statements of the great Queen Draupadi also. This astonishing memory is one of her qualities only. The women of the world should learn more about Draupadi and should follow her footsteps by developing rare skills.

Note:  The original Sanskrit slokas of Mahabharata were translated by sri Ganguly in 1873-1886. The English version has been taken from public domain and for authenticity sake used here. Readers could download the full Mahabharata from net.

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