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Draupadi Lives On

Posted: April 24, 2013

Ages ago, Draupadi was abused, and the court watched. What has changed for Indian women’s rights and safety?

It is a low night for me, something bitter in my tongue, something burning in the pit of my stomach. All my thoughts are going back to the little five year old. I am a coward. I am trying my best not to think of her too much. It would make me burn more.

Last night, I again chose escapism. I tried not to think of it. I tried hard to talk to a friend over Facebook. I tried to read and write. But I knew something was wrong, very wrong. Night set forth, and all night through I stared at the summer sky. It was such a melancholy night. At 28, when I think of her, motherly love comes to me. She could have been my daughter. Something in my womb hurts. When Jyoti was gang raped last December, I thought of myself. I too take public transport. Now that Gudiya (name coined by media) is raped, I wonder if she could have been my daughter.

I hardly slept last night. I was woken every fifteen minutes. My sleep was disturbed. I had a call in the morning. My friend was going to the protest for Gudiya. She asked me if I would go. This time I refused.  I did nothing much this morning, just lay on my bed and stared at the ceiling.

Just a few months back, I was there at Raisina Hills at the first day of the protest. I had a meeting at CP. I had to wear a sari and heels. But I did go to the protests. I remember I was late. No vehicle was allowed. And I ran like a mad woman. I took my sandals in my hands and ran on the cold roads. Because I believed, if I ran faster I would outrun the abusers and I would save a woman somewhere. May be I was not fast enough, Gudiya was agonized and raped. And the police officials tried to bribe her father to hush up the case.

Somewhere I believed that if I protested, things would change. Over the course of time, I read, I discussed, I did street plays, I talked, I wrote, I worked harder because I believed something will change.

I was a teenager, when I came to this city to pursue higher education. I remember the ugly summer that year. I had just joined college and a rape happened in the campus. I stood there in the heat. I remember sitting on the hot streets.  That was eleven years back. Somewhere I believed that if I protested, things would change. Over the course of time, I read, I discussed, I did street plays, I talked, I wrote, I worked harder because I believed something will change.

Today, for the first time, I refused to move out of my bed. I do not know if this is my final judgment, I might run even faster tomorrow. But, today for me, it is a defeated day, a melancholy day.

My mind reels back to Draupadi. She almost stands before me with her untied hair. And her eyes are blood-shot. And the scene where Draupadi was attempted to be disrobed plays in my mind. It was a court where all the warriors and the wise men sat. They passed judgments on justice and law. Their words were the law of the land. They were revered. They were the heroes. However, in that court a sixteen year old girl was humiliated and her clothes were pulled and none stood by her. It was the same court that had Pitamah Bhisma who was supposed to be the guardian of the Kauravas and the Pandavas; he was revered beyond measures; his words were coined in gold. No, he did not stand for Draupadi.

But that day, Karna watched it all with a smile on his face. He did not touch his sword or raise his voice when Draupadi was disrobed.

It was the same court that was adorned by Daata Karna ( Karna the Giver). He even cut out his flesh to give his armlets to Indra who asked for it. He surely knew he would die if he gave it away. There was nothing Karna would not give out or stand for when the need arose. But that day, he watched it all with a smile on his face. He was supposed to be an even better warrior than Arjuna. He did not touch his sword or raise his voice when Draupadi was disrobed. True, for many a reason I have loved Karna. And I still do. But for that day, I refuse to forgive him. In that court Vidura too was there. He was supposed to be the wisest of all. He too was quiet. And why blame the men. Gandhari could have stepped in. But she chose her silence. Everyone had the logic of Karma, Dharma and Janma  that day. But no one had the guts to say, what was happening was wrong. It was a moment of sheer power play. And the tragic part of it is that Draupadi was married to the five extraordinary warriors of her time, but alas! To what avail!

When the Pandavas were exiled, Draupadi stood in the courts of the Kauravas and swore to wash her hair with the blood of Dushashan and Duryodhana. And she refuses to tie her hair until then. All through their days in exile she never forgot for a moment that she was humiliated and vengeance was sought for. But it often amazes me that when the war was fought, who solely fought for Draupadi? It was only fought when the Kauravas refused to part with even five villages with the Pandavas.

It was just yesterday, I was in a meeting. It was in one of the best hotel in the town. There were many women. All were educated and mostly working. But we left by 7 p.m. As, I was taking the roads, I knew that I cannot make it to the dark. There will be a Shakuni, a Duryadhana, a Dushashana waiting. And Karna, Vidura or Gandari will just watch on.

I often wonder what if Krishna never came to Draupadi’s rescue? Would all the Kaurava brothers molest her? No one knows.

Of all the saints and Gods we as a civilization are proud off, I think it was only Draupadi who foresaw the destiny of Indian women.

Of all the saints and Gods we as a civilization are proud off, I think it was only Draupadi who foresaw the destiny of Indian women. No matter how many centuries have rolled by, our destinies are still caged in the curves of our bodies. It is a tragedy that we have not been able to walk out of it. When the teenager was molested in Guwahati, no one stood for her until the police arrived after half an hour. For half an hour everyone just watched. When Jyoti was raped, they questioned the time and motive. When five year old Gudiya was raped the police tried to hush the case. So, when I try to take a late night cab I think a zillion times. Where have we changed?

I think whenever a woman or girl is raped or molested, it is only Draupadi who understands and she again rages in heaven. May be all the Gods lower their heads for some time and then they forget. I think till today Draupadi has not tied her hair.

As, I end this post, it is almost morning. I am still melancholy. I remember this quote from the Mahabharata, The Book of Beginning that says, “Poets have told it before, poets are telling it now, other poets shall tell this history on earth in the future.”  I think when Ved Vyas wrote this, he told of the umbilical chord we as Indian women are tied to Draupadi. Jyoti, Gudiya, the teenager in Guwahati, me and you; we are all destinies caged in a female body.

 Indian woman image via Shutterstock

Proud Indian. Senior Writer at Women's Web. Columnist. Book Reviewer. Street Theatre - Aatish. Dreamer.

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  1. Thank you. Least we ever forget, we are daughters of Draupadi.

  2. Dear Paromita

    Heart-warming post..i am almost dazed after reading..

    Its sad how things have never changed for women through all these years..no matter how much we protest, fight or rebel, women have never been given the respect they deserve..

  3. Amazing! very sensitive writing. Loved it

  4. Thank you for reading. Draupadi remains my favourite heroine of all times. The first woman to cuss and challenge!

  5. Ram A Singh - Jamshedpur -

    A very Good written Articles!

    If I had the power to make laws then Rapist should be given death sentence! Everyone should have an option to live there life peacefully.

    I see that many People write about the Plight of Women.

    But what about Married Men and their family. Today the so called Abla nari’s are using 498a etc to send the whole family to prison. A Husbands mother and Sister is also a Women, even if they have hardly lived with the Girl there names are included and they have to suffer to 5-7 years.

    Why is the Indian Working Women so weak that they require Alimony and maintenance?

    respected is earned!

    When Women speak that they are equal then I Feel if they are equal why they do all the Drama in 498a etc and ask for Big time Money.

    If the Guy is Bad/Stupid/Not of your type then dump him and move ahead in life.

    Personally will request you to educate some Women what equality means! Husbands are not ATM machines and their families are not Punching bags.

    You may not agree totally with my points but when your brother faces 498a and your name is dragged into it that day you will remember my post.

  6. There have been many myths about Goddess Draupadi, many are mis-interpretations, base-less. She is considered a grama devetha and kula devatha for many people. There are many shrines for Goddess Draupadi, spread in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. One of the shrines, where She is a Grama-Devatha and Kula-Devatha to many, is located in one of the small villages of Tamil Nadu.

    The village is named KONDAL, Mayiladuthurai Taluk, Nagapattinam District, Nidur P.O, Tamil Nadu. There are more details about Goddess and way to the shrine at:


    Draupadi Amman Thunai – May Her blessing be always on you all!!

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