Amritha. S – Deconstructing the Myth of Mahabharata: Reviewing Panchaali From a More Humanitarian Perspective with Divakaruni

Debalina Sengupta, Debalina. “Deconstructing the Myth of Mahabharata: Reviewing Panchaali From a More Humanitarian Perspective with Divakaruni.”IJELLH 2.6 (2014): 50-57. Web. 16 June 2016.

The researcher attempts to deconstruct the Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s retold version of Mahabharata using Derrida’s concept of Deconstruction. She finds in Chitra Banerjee’s book, ‘The Palace of Illusions’, a dynamic shift from the stereotyped understanding of Draupadi. Moving away from being perceived as a catalyst for the Kurukshetra war, Draupadi is read as a sufferer, victimized by her fate by the researcher.
A brief account of deconstruction is given, incorporating Saussure’s ” Structure, Sign and Play” and Derrida’s tenets of Deconstruction.
A text (…) is henceforth no longer a finished corpus of writing, some content enclosed in a book or its margins, but a differential network, a fabric or traces referring endlessly to something other than itself, to other differential traces. ( Sengupta 52)
Therefore, deconstruction is more a practice than a bound theoretical concept which brings ‘to light what had remained unperceived by the author and his followers’ ( 53)
The researcher then describes the general perception of Draupadi, and how Mahabharata is often read analysing Draupadi as a bringer of sorrows, destruction and a revenge seeker. Using Chitra Banerjee’s retold version, she moves away from this understanding. She observes how Divakaruni portrays her life, as one that is full of prophecies . The narrator of the book, Vysya prophesizes that she would be the cause of a ruthless war. Right from her Swayamvara to her death, the researcher analyses how Draupadi ‘s tumultuous life was a play of fate against her.
She finally sees that from a vast, cosmic perspective, her fate was that of “the instrument” (p.357) beyond which there were other doers, other forces at work. So she is not to be blamed for the fact she forgot the origins of her being and that she caused pain and devastation ( 55)
The researcher looks into the episodes which are reinterpreted by Divakaruni; be it the Kurukshetra war, Keechak’s death, embarrassing Karna in the Swayamvara, laughing at Duryodhana in the palace. She comments on how, everything in her life was a pre- ordained decision, that somehow unwounded and acted out on its own, despite her passive role in most of them. Despite being the queen of Queens, she stands uncared for in the Vastraharan episode. All her life, she faces the sexual advances of lusty men and stands defenceless, despite the presence of her five hero husbands, the Pandavas.
Thus, the researcher though argues successfully that Draupadi was a sufferer more than a revenge seeker, her analysis on the role of fate is limited.

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