To many people, Draupati is a self-centered, head-strong and complaining woman, who brought destruction and disastrous battle. Until I read this book, I was one in them.
Without damaging the actual Mahabharat, Chitra had profoundly brought-forth the tale of Panjaali, the fire-born princess. Being the MOST crucial character in Mahabharat, she was naive and innocent woman who confronts loneliness and rejection all through her life. Born a princess, she lived the queen of Indraprasth, in the palace of her dreams, for a shorter period of time. Her husbands, the heroes of history, the five Pandavas, are taking her for granted. Like a bag of coins, she is staked at the game of dice and brought to court like a dancing girl, which paved way for the end of third-yug with a ruinous battle. In the world inhabited by Krishna & Shakuni, she finds herself a pawn in the hands of time. Her love, her suffering , her longing are all confined and sealed withinherself. She befriends Krishna, and he’s the sole companion who understands her apart from DhaiMa, who raised her. Whenever she’s in trouble because of her polyandrous marriage, he comes to her rescue. I loved the way her relationship with Krishna had been narrated.
“It’s only now I see that he’d always been there, sometimes in the forefront, sometimes blended into the shadows of my life. When I thought myself abandoned he was busy supporting me – but so subtly that I didn’t notice.He loved me even when I behaved in most unlovable manner. “
Her polyandrous marriage to the Pandava brothers doesn’t alter her feelings in any way. With shame, she confesses that she was never involved with any of the Pandavas like an ideal wife. Yes, she did support them, providing comforts of the body and mind, but when it comes to relationship by-heart, she never gives in completely. May be because they took her for granted. May be because she was passed like a token between the Pandavas at the end of every year. May be she was pre-occupied with shameful events that she couldn’t involve herself with any of the Pandavas (not even to Bheem who loved her the most). May be because she had already bestowed her heart away to the man Pandavas loathed. Draupati’s secret desire for Karna is unveiled. Had she married him, she wouldn’t have suffered dreadful fate. Unfortunately, they constantly share a love-hate relationship. Only that we don’t know whether they loved to hate each other or hated to love each other. The way Chitra wrote about Karna’s death and the divine glow that left his body chocked me.
“Leaving the field, the glow traveled to a nearby hill, where it paused for a moment over weeping woman. Before it soared into the sky and disappeared, it grew into a great radiance around me. A feeling emanated from it that I have no words for. It wasn’t sorrow or rage. Perhaps, freed of its mortal bondage, Karna’s spirit knew what I hadn’t ever been able to tell him.
When the glow ended, I was left with strange comfort, that this wasn’t end of Karna’s story. “
The thoughts of dying Draupati left me speechless. Complexity of a woman can take her to any extreme.
And in an astonishing manner, her love that she had buried in inside the layers of her cold-heart is broadcasted after her death. The counter-image of Draupati’s true-self joins with Karna and he clutches her had with firm resolution. In the end, Karna emerges a hero.
At my childhood, I was too naive to apprehend what Draupati was upto. Now, especially after reading this book, I feel sorry for her. I wish to be a strong-willed, possessed woman like Draupati. Kudos to Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, the story of Draupati has been convincingly drafted. Written in the language of broken-heart, it renders Draupati an image of lugubrious empress !