Sita, the ancient queen of Ayodhya and daughter of King Janaka of Mithila was born out of the dreams and desires of her father, who spent a lot of time to literally “Cultivate” her from the Earth.Her tale is still one of the exceptions of how a girlchild is treated in the world and India, that isengrossed with despair and detachment.
Mistreatment, disappointment and a sense of unnecessary load on the shoulders were the ingredients of Draupadi’s birth. The heat of the fire, absence of paternal or maternal affection and anxiety were the Naivedyas that were put to the fire of the Sacrifice that resulted in the birth of an exceptionally dark and celestially beautiful damsel who was refused by her father after birth. The sky opened up in a halo, revealing light from the heavens that enlightened the Kingdom of Panchala to forecast that this lady was going to be the end of a lot of Kshatriyas. Like all other protagonists of the Mahabharata (Bhishma and the Pandavas to be precise), she was the daughter of a celestial Aditya/God. Agni was her father and his flame was about to reflect lifelong in her personality.
Draupadi was betrothed following a faux Feminist ritual of the later ancient India known as Swayamvara where a princess could choose her man from a hall full of Kshatriyas and Brahmins from different kingdoms and select the groom based on some criteria. In this case, it was exceptional expertise in archery that was to be showcased to win her heart. Little did she know that a marriage so successfully incorporated would bring her a lifetime of despair and anxiety.
*picture credit- Google images.
The worst part of Draupadi’s polygamous mariage was that it was involuntary. Nobody desired this, but unprecedented and unthoughtful adherence to Dharma (Here Familial) led the Pandavas distibute her amongst themselves. Objectification of Draupadi was unintentional and all the characters in this episode ultimately cut a sorry figure save for Draupadi, who had to carry the burden of this gaffe her entire life.
The Mahabharata, from a generalized view is divided into 18 chapters. From an analytical view, let us divide it into a number of sections. The prologue, the climax, the conclusion and the epilogue.
Draupadi is the Heroine of the Epic and the center point of the Climax.
There are several theories that justify, critisize, propagate, endorse or dismiss the grand disrobing of Draupadi. Her tears are said to have ended the whole Kuru clan forever. Sexism in the mediaval
period rose to prominence and commentators on religion started concluding from the episodes of Sita and Draupadi, that women (and neither their mistreatment, nor the mismanagement by men)are responsible for all the miseries in the world. The screams and lamenting of Draupadi in the courtyard of Hastinapur were ignored by everyone, for nobody, save a few, spoke a word in her defense. Nobody was brave enough to give up their Dharma to pronouce her freedom. And so the world goes on, where now women are so vulnerable, so stereotyped and so much converted that a lot of them are not even allowed to realise the essence of humanity. Draupadi could not have been protected by anybody, for she protected herself. She stood up and spoke eye to eye, questioned with logic and sought solid answers from every single court memeber of Hastinapur. As long as she spoke, nobody dared to disturb her modesty, neither Suyodhana nor Sushasana could do her harm, for she Spoke, with unwavering confidence and valour, like the fireshe was. Karna, the greatest of great warriors, the Daanvir and also the epitome of the mysoginist thought process “if u don’t get her, destroy her” influenced the Court to disrobe her, called her a whore and the Court laughed. Draupadi stood their, shocked from the misbehavior and betrayed by her husband, Yudhisthir.
Draupadi’s identity is more than that of a lady or a mere mortal. She is the embodiment of Jivatma in demonstration. When the Jivatma was being disrobed, the Paramatma was evoked, who draped it with the eternal clothing of Consciousness. Even before that, when no other way was left, it was her consent and her invitation to Sushasana (known as Dushasana) to showcase his physical might, that led the later dare to touch her dress. If Bhakti is an action, then Draupadi literally took steps to
protect herself, for it was the complete surrender to her friend, the Almighty that saved her morality.Draupadi, is mystery of the subconcious mentality of the mortal flesh and will remain so. Fire is whatshe was and fire was her virtue. Yet, when her modesty was ultimately protected and she appeared
virtuous, the greatness of Panchali forbade herself from cursing the Kuru clan into oblivion and when offered a boon as compensation, she asked for the very freedom of her husbands who dared not protect her during her misery in fear of losing their Dharma. The forgiveness of the otherwise fiery Draupadi, is similar to the divine Ganges, the banks of which initiated and sustained the whole epic of Mahabharata.