Author’s Note: I sincerely hope that I’m not the only one appalled by the treatment of Draupadi, from the brothers. I doubt I’m the only one, but you never know! That moment within the story *spoilers* I found deeply unnerving, but I saw strength come through Draupadi, and I could not help but capitalize on that strength. That’s when the idea stuck in my head that I had to write a story about Draupadi. Giving her a more central role in not only the dice game, but another VERY IMPORTANT moment (spoilers). The idea of giving Draupadi a central role seemed like the only possibility. In a lot of ways I saw her as a feminist character, a no-holds-barred individual, that not only says, but does as she pleases. To further capitalize on her bravery and strength I gave her an ability, not only to protect herself, but to inflict justice unto others. In the end, I did not wish Draupadi to come off cruel and indifferent because I don’t believe she is that way in the story. So, I made sure to show a more human, compassionate individual unlike the brothers. That is why I am coming up with the prayer piece. As far as Duryodhana was concerned, he was the epitome of evil in the book. I just did not see much redemption of his character so I kept him the bad guy. I did not find it necessary to change the character because the character is so good at being bad.
Draupadi’s Moment of Power, Source: Chandrika
He is a jackal among the gamblers. There were rumors of his unfairness, cruelty and manipulation. He was not a trustworthy character and the most disturbing aspect of his personality was his exceptional crudeness and vulgarity when it came to anyone that made him even a teeny bit jealous.
She was a princess of Indraprastha, known for her exceptional beauty, kindness towards others, and her insurmountable bravery when faced with crushing odds. She strived to do what was right, while still holding on to her virtue and her love of her godlike husbands.
Duryodhana the jackal and Draupadi the princess had this long-standing hatred towards one another. The cruelty which Duryodhana inflicted on innocent people made it Draupadi’s mission to destroy him. The bravery of a ‘simple’ woman made it Duryodhana’s mission in life to be to break Draupadi and show her what her true place in society was.
“Draupadi, you must not go! The king is not trustworthy and will surely do anything to compromise the virtue and self-respect you hold so dear!” Arjuna spoke with worried uncertainty.
One of her five husbands, Arjuna was worried for his beloved wife. There are not many people who came back whole after gambling with the Jackal and even more didn’t come back at all. What is even more disturbing is the fact the Jackal requested the princess of Indraprastha for company instead of the powerful brothers.
“It is but a trap my lovely wife you must not cave into your pride. You will not come back to us whole and Indraprastha needs you to be, because you are the foundation of this place.”
“Do not worry yourself, Arjuna. I do not go to the Jackal’s castle to not win. I simply go to rid us of our greatest foe. To destroy the very person that threatens not only our way of life in Indraprastha, but many other places. If he is gone, we can finally live in peace.” Wrapping the sari tightly around her, she said a prayer to the countless Gods, about not only protecting herself during this time, but for her home in which her beloveds awaited her return.
“Please be safe, Draupadi, and come back to us. We could not bear to lose you.” Arjuna’s voice reeked of fear.
“I will not give false promises, Arjuna, but I will win this.”
With that she left Indraprastha for Hastinapura, the home of the Jackal and his many brothers. Upon entering the great hall, she was once again taken aback by the beauty and grandeur of the kingdom and especially the castle.
“Ah, at last, you finally made the long, perilous journey to rid your land of me…. Oh, how I tremble at the sight of a woman like yourself.”A wide benevolent grin crossed his face as he pushed himself off his throne. His brothers and father looked on with smirks of superiority.
“You smell that brothers, it is the stench of a woman. Coming into our midst to prove us wrong. To destroy us.” Spinning around he laughed alongside his brothers and father.Having turned back towards Draupadi he spoke once again.
“Kunthi’s sons must be more afraid of us than we thought. Destroying them and taking everything they hold dear should be an easy task.” Stepping forward, he brushed the back of his hand across Draupadi’s cheek.
As Draupadi turned her head away in disgust, the fury and bravery that made her strong bubbled to the surface. “I will never be the wife of you or your disgusting brood of brothers, you Jackal! You are not worthy of a vessel of Vishnu and your destruction is inevitable!”
Growling in a low voice, he looked at the woman that defied the laws in disgust and in need of her virtue. “Sit… let this dice game begin. That way we rid you of what makes you an ungodly woman.”
“Your version of the ungodly is loosely based on your corrupted morals, but I will sit just to show you that I may be a woman, but I’m more powerful than you think.” With a smirk on her lips, she showed her brazen side that made her a pillar of strength for her people.
They both sat down on the ornate floor on large square cushions embroidered with the finest silks and satins. They each took their turn throwing the dice. With every dice throw the Jackal laughed with pleasure at the havoc he would cause, once she was out of the picture. With every win Draupadi stayed calm and collected unaware and unfazed by the loss of her own self and the purity that made her loved by her husbands. With every harsh remark, belittling remarks on behalf of Duryodhana and his brothers, she stayed poised and exuded elegance.
After the final roll of the dice, Duryodhana leaned back, smiling because he won the game. At last, he was able to show this vile creature that she was nothing, but a blip of annoyance.
“Now stand. You now belong to me and my brothers… we shall have you for eternity and you must do as we say. Now disrobe those holy saris you wear. You’re not worthy of them. Now that your purity will be compromised forever.”
Her head held high and fire in her eyes, she was angry beyond belief. “You and your brothers aren’t men your demons. I would rather be poked with a thousand needles before I succumb to your disgusting wishes.”
Now having angered him, Duryodhana got up putting his hand out to his brothers to stop them from hurting or forcing Draupadi-simply because he wanted complete control of the woman who stood before him.
“Do as I say now!” he yelled and glared menacingly.
“Never.” she replied, staring him down stubbornly.
“I will make you!!” as he said this he began to tug at her sari, unaware his hands had been smoking. Finally, ripping a piece of clothing off her, his hands both caught fire.
Realizing his life was now in peril he looked down at his hands in shock.
“What is this?! What have you done!” Gradually his whole body began to go up in flames.
One by one each brother attempted to take the sari off of Draupadi. Each person was set afire, which resulted in multiple piles of ashes around the princess.
“Your vulgarity was to be your death, but I won’t sacrifice your soul. I will pray for you all.”
With that Draupadi lowered her head and said a silent prayer for the lives lost, a prayer for the redemption of their souls. Little did she know she needed to say a prayer for herself to save her own.
Bibliography: “The Mahabharata” by R.K. Narayan. TM-Narayan