The story of Draupadi ended years ago, or did it? Here is an insight into the inner turmoil faced by her. The story of Draupadi, to Draupadis.

One of the contemporary, and not very appealing facts is that we can still relate to Draupadi, a woman who was ‘ahead of her times’ centuries ago is still considered the same, and mind you, it is 2019, you can do the math.

There is not just a single Draupadi, but several Draupadis, right where you are sitting, if you hover your eyes around the room.

An introductory lecture on Draupadi is a hard nut to crack but one can furnish in a nut-shell. Draupadi, the daughter of King Drupad, born out of fire, the courtroom is an account everyone knows.

In Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s “The Palace of Illusions”, turn pages to the marriage of Draupadi which draws light on the created illusion of swayamvar. What if one tells you that Banerjee waves a creation which lets you know that the swayamvar was not a swayamvar but a marriage of convenience? The forbidden fruit of right to choice is what most of us don’t savour.

The marriage of Draupadi to all the Pandavas is another source of wrinkles on one’s forehead. Kunti – a woman, mother of Draupadi’s husbands, making a turbulent decision which alters her life henceforth. In epics, daily soaps, secret domestic tales it is very common?

The infamous vastraharan (de-clothing) of Draupadi is a question on inner conscience. Dragged to a court while menstruating, barred of her clothes- such was the plight of Draupadi. All done for a cause that doesn’t even qualify to be a cause- the game of dice, the inflaming addiction, the addiction of power. And a quick update- these so-called causes source upon many Draupadis, the worst part- future seems to be as monotonous as the past and the present.

While one may defend- “well someone’s (you know the name) superior powers did save her from the plight. But here is an eye-opener- the ‘someone’ was absent from the picture, Draupadi’s self- strength led to the incessant, never-ending cloth. Many Draupadis fight, fight for themselves, yet lie in the shackles of silence.

Here is a situation – a woman deprived of her fundamental rights, outraged in a room full of ‘honourable entities’, with no help from all the four sides of the walls, stands alone – isn’t this a contemporary fact? This episode exists, repeats and continues.

Draupadi was always a pawn in a game of chess- born for the cause of revenge, married for the sake of political alliance and finally reduced into a stake at the game of dice.

Irawati Karve through her work- “Yuganta” gives us an insight into the inner psychology of Draupadi through incidents. After the game of dice, when Dhritrashtra intervened as the indecency had gone too far and feared terrible consequences, grants Draupadi three wishes wherein she saves the Pandavas of the impending doom. “… but Draupadi has re-established peace. Like a boat, she has saved the Pandavas when they were about to drown in a sea of disgrace. The taunt that they had been saved by a woman infuriated Bhima.”

How many times has the society stitched the lips of women, tied their hands and reduced them to speechlessness? Draupadi’s power affected egos, Draupadis still exist, their power affects ego.

Draupadi was unapologetically herself. Karve tells us more about Draupadi when her brother visits her in the forest (during the period of exile) she says, “I have neither husbands, nor a brother, nor a father. If I had, do you think they would have stood for my being insulted like this?”

In the 21st Century sitting in our living rooms, it is a shame that we can relate to the problems of Draupadi, it is time to address these problems and not relate to these.

Feature Image Credits: Focuz Studios

Priyanshi Banerjee

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The Mahabharata may have been written centuries ago but it has relevance even in today’s world. Let’s have a look beyond the story. 

The Mahabharata was written between 400 BC to 400 CE but what the text teaches us is relevant even today. The story is an epic because of its complex and long structure but it talks about issues present in the present as well as the past and future. Critics don’t call the Kurukshetra war a fight of good and evil for nothing, it is believed that the Pandavas were incarnations of their fathers who were all Gods and the Kauravas were incarnations of Asuras or demons. Draupadi, wife of the five Pandavas was born an adult woman from the fire of the Earth itself.

The Pandavas are considered to be the five elements of nature which nourish the land or the Earth, Draupadi. She was meant to marry the five elements and not Karna who is an incarnation of the Sun God. The land needs nourishment from all the five elements and cannot stay close to the Sun.
The disrobing of Draupadi is one of the longest episodes in the 18 chapters of the Mahabharata and has a meaning on the ecological plane. Draupadi’s disrobing is symbolic of mankind exploiting the land’s resources excessively. Duryodhana is a representative of humanity and all mankind. His greed and jealously leads to humanity’s fight against nature.

When after losing at the game of dice, the Pandavas and Draupadi are exiled for 12-13 years, it is symbolic of a calamity like drought or famine because the elements of nature are distanced from mankind.
Yudhishtra is the symbol of death, Bhim of wind and Arjun of water. The grotesque war of Kurukshetra is the result of excessive exploitation of nature by humanity for which they pay with their deaths. Only a handful of humans survive to repopulate the Earth.

Dharma and Karma are concepts entwined in a symbiotic relationship in the Mahabharata epic. Death comes to all because what takes birth has to die but your deeds decide your death.
Many critics believe the Mahabharata is only a story and they have evidences to prove their statement. It is a story which has anything and everything that happens in the current world. Devastation and death come to those who take nature for granted. All of us are heading to the very same doom because of our actions. Earth has started rebelling and indicating that we have exploited it to the brim. It is time we realize that our actions will have dire consequences. The latest one was the Delhi smog.


Feature Image Credits: MensXP

Prachi Mehra
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After having masterfully tackled the challenge of penning down one of the greatest epics of human history- the Ramayana- author Ashok Banker takes on the daunting task of retelling what is unarguably THE greatest epic ever written- Mahabharata, in his latest novel, The Forest of Stories.

Unequalled in size, the Mahabharata is considered a giant in the world of books and stories. And rightfully so, consisting of 10000 shloks in its original Sanskrit version, written by Ved Vyasa. Over the centuries that followed, it has been told and retold innumerable times, changing with the narrator and with time itself. Today there exist over hundreds of versions of this epic and Banker’s version is just one in this vast ocean.

The first book in what he refers to as his MBA series, The Forest of Stories provides a brief outline of the events that led up to, and in ways unfathomable, shaped the foundations of what is considered to be the greatest war ever waged in human history. Whether you consider it to be a part of Indian history or as mythology is a different question altogether.

The distinct feature about Banker’s Ramayana was that he seemed to have effortlessly humanised Lord Ram. However, if you expected him to have achieved the same with this epic, it would be asking for a little too much, for the story itself is so mind-boggling. The real test of his excellence would lie in his narration of the epic, while keeping true to the essence of the story. And he seems to have come out with flying colours in that department.

Word of caution: venture into this narrative only if you have a knack for epics and the other worldly; the names of the numerous characters may prove to be overwhelming; you might lose all respect for the Gods you believed in after going through stories of their sexual exploits.


Surya Raju
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