A Deconstruction of the Mahabharata: When Draupadi Writes Back
Keywords:Mahabharata, Draupadi, Narayan, Divakaruni, Devi, gender and postcolonialism
From a post-colonial and gender perspective I examine R.K. Narayan’s The Mahabharata (1978), Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s The Palace of Illusions (2008) and Mahasweta Devi’s “Draupadi” (1997), in order to analyze how they have rewritten the ancient myth of the Mahabharata. To be more precise, I look into the story of Draupadi, one of the most popular female protagonists, who has become an archetype of the Hindu woman. The ultimate goal is to demonstrate by confronting these narrations that Narayan’s modern prose responds to the dominant Brahmanical discourse that has built up essentialist models of masculinity and femininity. In contrast, Divakaruni’s and Devi’s texts go a step further and 1) hark back to a Brahmanical patriarchy that has exercised control over the feminine throughout history; 2) offer a form of counter discourse by interrogating and deconstructing gender; 3) expose with their rebellious voices the limits of the colonizing power and 4) give us a more accurate understanding of women’s realities in contemporary India.