Drupadi

The rich and wide tapestry of the Mahabharata lends itself to myriad interpretations.

The fascinating tales of intrigue, wicked machinations, internecine quarrels, exemplary conducts, fairness in dealings and ideals of righteousness make it a work of great beauty and a benchmark on human behaviour at different levels.

While admiring the vast canvas of the Epic, it is difficult to ignore the part played some of the main characters who give the Epic its enduring appeal. Krishna, the Lord in human form, appears to direct the course of the entire story. The Pandavas, the Kauravas, Mother Kunti, Draupadi play the part assigned to them by the Lord. But it is Draupadi alone who understands in full measure the reasons for the Lord’s actions at each stage. She becomes a tool of the Lord in the flow and tide of the Mahabharata. If the Lord chose Draupadi to explain His actions, it was because many of His interventions would not have been comprehensible to the limited reach of a mortal’s mind. The choice of Draupadi confirms the special position He accorded to her in His scheme of things.

Draupadi is being put to severe tests throughout her life: as an unmarried maiden generating envy and passion from a never ending procession of suitors, delicately balancing the needs of her five husbands in married life, staving off lecherous advances during exile in forest, being treated as a disposable pawn in a game of dice, facing the ultimate humiliation of being disrobed in full assembly and in the final stages of having to face the neglect of her husbands whom she served with extreme devotion.

It is a question that answers itself. A strong willed woman of no mean birth, in possession of great strengths of character, mind and intellect is submitted to acts of reprehensible behaviour at every turn. Why? Why did she not raise her voice of rebuttal, resistance or call for help? One can only assume that Draupadi was totally ensconsed in the glory of the Lord and did His bidding without murmur. An exemplary devotee indeed. The only sign of Draupadi speaking for herself is seen at the conclusion of the Kurukshetra war when she decries war and its cataclysmic fall-outs and prays that a golden era should dawn on Mother Earth where peace and righteousness will prevail. She issues a clarion call to the women to fight their own battles, become fearless and brave and emerge strong in the face of all humiliation because the protection of Krishna Sakha will not be available to them in the Kaliyuga.