The Pandavas reached the city of Kampilya. They stayed in the house of a potter and were daily going around for alms. They heard in the city about the preparation for the Swayamvar of Draupadi. A huge hall was erected for the purpose and all kings of far and near kingdom, had been invited. On the top of a pole one fish was made, which was constantly revolving. The pole was fixed in the centre of the hall. There was kept a vessel full of water. Watching the reflection of the fish with five arrows the eye of the fish had to be pierced. It was hoped that if Pandavas were alive then Arjuna would certainly come to this contest, as he was not one to let go off such a challenge. Everyone was eagerly waiting for the day.
On the day appointed all the kings who had assembled were seated with due honour on the thrones put in the hall. The stage where the bow was placed Dhristadhyumna came escorting his sister Draupadi. Draupadi, resplendent in the dress of a bride was holding the "Varmala" the garland to be worn by the winner by her hand. Draupadi,it was proclaimed by the heavens, was to be the cause of destruction of the Kshatriyas on the earth.
Sacred mantras were chanted by the brahmins and the ceremony started. Dhristadhyumna announced that, anyone piercing the eye of the fish with one of the five arrows, just by seeing the rotating fish, reflecting in the water kept in a vessel was to be declared the winner and Draupadi would put the Varmala around his neck. Everyone was eager to win her.
One by one all the mighty kings renowned for their valor tried and failed. Some were not able to string the bow even, whereas some missed the mark very nearly. Duryodhana failed, Jarasandha, Sishupal etc. all failed. Then Karna started towards the bow. Everyone watched with bated breath. Karna stringed the bow and intently looking in the water at the eye of the fish took aim. At that moment Draupadiís voice was heard. She declared that she would never marry a Suta-Putra, Burning with shame and insult, he came back to his seat.
Krishna along with his brother Balarama and other princes had also come to witness the ceremony. But they had decided not to participate in it.
Their eyes were eagerly searching for the Pandavas. They spotted the Pandavas sitting among the brahmins. When all the kings failed to shoot at the eye of the fish, Arjuna, with the permission of Yudhisthira, came to the stage and took the bow in his hands. In no time he took aim and shot the arrow, which pierced the eye of the fish, and the fish came down on the floor. A big chaos was made. All the kings united together tried to prevent Arjuna from taking Draupadi. They were all defeated. Finally Draupadi garlanded Arjuna chosing him as her husband.
The most disappointed person in the whole drama was Drupada. He had hoped that Arjuna would be there to win the contest and Drupadiís hand. The unknown brahmin was a big surprise. He asked his son Dhristadhymna to follow the brahmin to ascertain his true identity. In the meantime, the Pandavas had reached their place of stay with Draupadai. Yudhisthira told Kunti that they had brought "Bhiksha" (alms) Kunti asked them to divide it amongst themselves. When Kunti realised that the Pandavas had meant Draupadi by "Bhiksha" great consternation ensued. The Pandavas were dumb struck. They said that Arjuna won Draupadi, but the words of the mother were more sacred than all the scriptures to them. They decided that Draupadi would be common wife to all five of them. Such an assuagement was not entirely prohibited by the scriptures.
In the meantime Krishna, Balaram and Dhristadhymna reached there. All of them were happy to meet the Pandavas. It was the first meeting between Krishna and Pandavas, though they were cousins. They sat there talking for a longtime. In the meantime emissaries and brahmins sent by Drupada came there, He wanted the wedding to be solemnized in the palace with due pomp and grandeur. All went to the palace.
When Drupada heard about Draupadi being married to all five Pandavas, he was very upset and he thought this very much against the dharma. Arguments of Yudhisthira etc. could not convince him. At that time sage Vyasa came there. Vyasa was the embodiment of dharma and righteousness. His opinion was sought on the ticklish issue of Draupadiís marriage to all five Pandavas. He said that though shastras sanctioned such marriage in rare cases and there were precedents in the past, in the case of Draupadi it was according to the Dharma. She had in her previous birth obtained a boon from lord Shiva that she would get five husbands in her present life. It was a secret not known to anyone. Lord Shivaís boon cannot be against the dharma. So it was held lawful by Vyasa that Draupadi should marry all the five Pandava brothers.
On an auspicious day, Vyasa solemnized the marriage. The Pandavas spent sometime very happily in Drupadaís palace.