By BIRAJ DIXIT :
DRAUPADI: A woman or a divine incarnate, powerful or powerless, triumphant or defeated, condoned or condemned? The many pages of the great epic Mahabharat in which Draupadi dwells have so magnificently etched out her character that she seems to embody all the above and so much more. And while many may argue for or against her, no one will deny that she had been treated most cruelly by her times and people. Till date, she remains the face of women treated unfairly in a world dominated by men. Her story resonates from the many stories of women of all times. The many cruelties meted out to Draupadi not withstanding, she is still judged by her decisions and words and actions. Among her many curses, perhaps the most painful is to be ever remembered as the one who caused the great war. But what if with a little foresight, the queen could have reversed her fortunes?
In her very imaginative, creatively-crafted work, Panchaali: The Princess of Peace, Dr Saniya Inamdar attempts to rescues Panchaali from her imminent doom. Turning a page of Draupadi’s life backward, Inamdar strikes down the very event that led to the making of Draupadi as we know her today. In the writer’s hand, an astute Draupadi reworks her arguments, analyses her choices, emphatically speaks her mind and follows her heart — steps most women try to take but very hesitantly even today. Born out of fire to fulfill an end, Saniya’s Yagyasaini Draupadi sees through the egos, cravings and the falsehood of men — even the greats among them. Her only solace is a trusted friend, a man but in a manner no man can ever be - listening, feeling, understanding. The bond of friendship between Draupadi and her Sakha Krishna, as depicted in Mahabharat, is arguably the best relationship between a man and a woman — one of trust, faith, openness and understanding. Saniya explores their relationship in great depths. To a Yagyasaini, born to serve a purpose and led in life to fulfill that purpose, no matter the cost, Krishna’s presence is that ever-reassuring breath of life and her belief in the higher purpose of existence.
The ease with which she opens up her heart and mind to him, the delicate manner in which he receives her arguments, eases her doubts and lets her be, is most endearing. Even as the men around her carve out her paths, make her choices, debunk her arguments, her Sakha listens. Saniya’s Draupadi courageously rejects to marry five men instead of one who has earned her hand, thus not allowing anyone to demean her existence. Through this very decision, she rescues herself from being the cause of war, which happens nevertheless, thus becoming Princess of Peace. A lesson for many women to not tread on the paved path but follow instincts and make their own road. The language, the arguments, the conversations that the book offers are delightful. Saniya Inamdar’s Panchaali: The Princess of Peace, rekindles arguments over ethos and values that shaped the life, characters, beliefs and also the destiny of women in India. From the Queen who brought about a war to a Princess of peace, the book transforms Panchaali as perhaps the woman in her always wanted to be. An insightful twist to a twisted tale!