Amritha Suryakumar – Sita and Draupadi: Aggressive behaviorand Female role models in Sanskrit Epics

Sutherland, Sally J. ” Sita and Draupadi: Aggressive behaviour and Female role models in Sanskrit Epics.” Journal of the American Oriental Society. Vol 109. 1989. Web. 9 June 2016.

 

The author, analyses the characters of Draupadi and Sita in Mahabharata and Ramayana in light of major episodes of the epics. She looks into the reasons behind the idealization and deification of Sita in India, despite the presence of other prominent heroines in Indian mythologies. The author analyses her character sketch in the episodes of the dice game and Vastraharan and comments on her quick wit and clever tongue.  She further terms Draupadi’s resentment as an obsession for revenge and war. Draupadi’s ability to debate leads not just her husbands but also Krishna towards avenging her honour by raging a war against the Kauravas. In analyzing important episodes such as the exile period of twelve years, the Virataparvan where Drupadi suffers another sexual assault, the author reads Draupadi as a strong, sensible women and an ideal wife, following the dharma prescribed by the society during the age of the epic.

On the other hand, the author reads Sita as a passive and submissive wife to Rama, ascribing to the subservient role of a wife in the society. The author recognizes gaps in the epics, where Sita is not given space to express herself and plays a rather subdued role. Taking into the account, the episode of abductions in the lives of both the heroines, the author compares and contrasts the way the women handled the situations. While Draupadi is aggressive and strong in the way she handles problems, Sita is always passive and meek. Even in the event of Rama’s doubting her chastity, she only chooses a passive aggressive way of self immolation as self defense.

While Draupadi expresses her anger in undisguised oppression, Sita expresses her anger at her love object, inwardly, in socially acceptable ways of expressing anger. This gives her the idealized position in Indian tradition, believes the author.

 

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