Story of Jayadratha kidnapping Draupadi, the wife of Pandavas, is found in the Vana Parva of the Mahabharata. Jayadratha was the king of Sindhu. He attended the swayamvara (marriage ceremony) of Draupadi but did not succeed in marrying her. However, he continued to nurture a secret desire for her.
Once during the 12-year exile period of the Pandavas in the Mahabharat, Jayadratha happened to pass through with his army through the forest in which the Pandavas was living. He saw a beautiful woman standing on the doorway of the ashram. He was overpowered by lust and evil desires made him ask his deputy to find out if the woman was interested in making him her lord.
His deputy soon returned and told Jayadratha that the woman was Draupadi, wife of the Pandavas. He also advised the arrogant king that it would be foolhardy to nurture such evil designs and it is better we vacate the place as soon as possible.
Men who are drunk in power never listen to sane advice. Power and lust is a cocktail that pulls men down from glory.
Jayadratha went into the Ashram and realized that the Pandavas were out hunting. Draupadi was alone and the only person present in the Ashram other than the beautiful queen was Sage Dhaumya.
Aditi Devo Bhava
Draupadi welcomed Jayadratha because she was the husband Dussala, sister of the Kauravas. Thus they were related. She followed the Aditi Devo Bhava mantra.
But Jayadratha was overwhelmed by lust and asked Draupadi to abandon her worthless husbands and accept him as her lord and lead a comfortable and amorous life in his palace.
Draupadi immediately asked Jayadratha to stop his reckless talks. He warned him that he would lose his life for harping such wanton ideas.
Jayadratha’s intelligence was blurred by lust. Lust blinds. He grabbed the hands of Draupadi and forcibly took her away.
Sage Dhaumya could only stand as witness to the Adharma.
Fury of the Pandavas
When the Pandavas came to know about the kidnapping of their wife from Sage Dhaumya, they followed him and his army.
Soon they caught up with Jayadratha and his army. Pandavas easily overpowered the army of Jayadratha. Dead bodies of soldiers lie scattered all around. Those soldiers who realized it was foolishness to fight against angry Pandavas abandoned their king and ran away.
Seeing his army abandoning him, Jayadratha released Draupadi and fled in his chariot.
Pandavas followed him and captured him. Bhimasena caught Jayadratha and pushed him down. Bhima began hitting the king so hard that he lost his consciousness. Arjuna, Sahadeva and Nakula stopped Bhima from killing Jayadratha.
Yudhishtira Spares the Life of Jayadratha
The brothers imprisoned him and took him to Yudhishtira, the eldest of the Pandavas.
Yudhishtira asked his brothers to release him because he was the husband of Dussala and thus their relative.
Bhima was unhappy with the decision.
But the other Pandava brothers were not ready to let him off without an apt punishment. They only released him after shaving his head bald.
To a king this treatment was worse than beheading.
Jayadratha returned to his palace utterly disgraced.
Biggest Mistake of Pandavas
Not killing Jayadratha was a great mistake. Bhima was right there. You should never let your enemy go. Death was the right punishment.
Later in the Kurukshetra battle in the Mahabharata, Jayadratha sided with the Kauravas and he was responsible for the death of Abhimanyu, son of Arjuna.