AUTHOR – CHITRA BANERJEE DIVAKARUNI
PUBLISHED IN – 2008
PAGES – 360
This book was a much needed eye opener! I loved it. During these troubling times, I have been trying to know more about my roots. There is nothing more comforting than understanding the many things which have made a huge impact on people. And that’s how I stumbled upon this beautiful book. Truthfully, once again it was my father who urged me to read this and I am so glad that I did. I had been going through a reading slump. I previously tried to read two books but I could barely proceed. Reader’s block huh? I can’t express just exactly how terrible those days are where I can’t even read a single page unintentionally. My mind would be begging for it and at the same time it would be refusing my offering. I don’t think I am completely cured right now but this book certainly helped to fill in the void that was gradually beginning to form.
On with the story! It is the tale of Mahabharat from Draupadi’s POV. Before reading the book, I had a pretty good idea about the happenings of the epic tale but analyzing it from Draupadi’s POV, it turned out to be a completely different tale altogether. I never knew that she hated being called Draupadi and instead preferred Panchaali! Why? Because Draupadi meant ‘Daughter of Drupad’ while Panchaali referred to ‘Spirit of the land, Panchaal’. A free spirited woman born in a patriarchal world! That was who she was. I had always admired her in a very different way. I almost thought of her as a role model of what a woman should be: proud and refusing to let go of her rightful place! Oh how wrong did this book made me feel! I saw just where she went wrong. I saw how she could have stopped the entire war but instead added fuel to the fire. Who could really blame her though? She was nothing but a puppet for divine Krishna.
The book gave a new vision to what it was in the Pandavas’ household. Contrary to my previous belief, no one was flawless there. None of the Pandava brothers were flawless and neither was Kunti barred from her own faults. The strenuous relationship between Kunti and Draupadi was a bit shocking but not impossible as there were two very different personalities.
My favorite chapter was the last chapter when Draupadi falls from the mountain and was simply awaiting death. As she wonders about what she used think about during her final moments, her mind calls out Lord Krishna’s name (as it always did whenever she was in any trouble). Lord Krishna comes to her and talks her through the last moments where he tells her that she had committed no sin as she always did whatever he had wanted. He tells her that he was always with her. Always! Before Draupadi was born out of the fire, he was with her, telling her that he would be right by her all through her difficult journey. Truly, that chapter was too emotional. The love that Draupadi had for Krishna! It was devotion. Pure devotion. This was the first time that I was reading about an interaction between a devotee and the divine power.
For some reason, I read out the last few pages to an audience and I never knew that people loved to listen. Didn’t we all listen stories when we grew up? Does listening to a story being read aloud stir something in them that time had covered swiftly?
“Can’t you ever be serious?’ I said, mortified.
‘It’s difficult,’ he said. ‘There’s so little in life that’s worth it.”
“Expectations are like hidden rocks in your path—all they do is trip you up.”
“Aren’t we all pawns in the hands of time, the greatest player of them all?”
“I saw something I hadn’t realized before: words wasted energy. I would use my strength instead to nurture my belief that my life would unfurl uniquely.”