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I am Draupadi, the heroine of the epic Mahabharata (all about dharma and karma), and wife of the Pandavas, who were 5 in number. Though I married only one of them, due to a misunderstanding of my mother-in-law – Kunti, all of them became my husbands. We shall not go into that right now, how it happened, when and all that.
A beautiful lady (the world thinks so), I am full of human emotions and feelings, joy, anger, love, hate, and sorrow which every woman has. It’s my strength and fearlessness that has seen me through all ordeals.
Here I want to tell you about the harassment I encountered and its consequences.
In a game of dice between the Kauravas and the Pandavas (my team without my approval), my husband was tricked into losing all the property and kingdom. Duryodhan, my husband’s cousin, asked for another round where they put me on the table. The Pandavas get back what they lost if the dice rolls in their favor, or, they lose me. The weakness of a gambler is that even when everything is lost, he believes that in the next round he will recover and accepts the next challenge. That’s how my husband met the subsequent challenge and I was handed away as part of the loss.
Gambling is a weakness that needs to be conquered before it ruins our life.
Duryodhan, the winner here, had earlier lost the competition to Arjun, my husband, to win my hand in marriage. And in another incident, he fell down and I found it very funny and laughed. These insults were good enough for him to take revenge and how.
The bold and beautiful me was dragged by my famous long hair by Duryodhan’s brother on to the venue under his orders. The harassment begins.
He wanted me to be disrobed in front of the sabha. He starts in the midst of my screaming, shouting, and cursing.
The venue is a palace, the actors are few lustful eyed men ( included a blind king) in power, mute witnesses were intellectuals, lawmakers and advisors who looked down or away during the event.
Nobody moved to help, finally, I vehemently prayed to Krishna in total surrender and he did magic, the robe kept growing into a limitless size and the bro fell down exhausted unable to complete the operation.
I gave a spirited speech putting all present into shame and closed it with a big CURSE, that they will pay with their lives.
On another occasion, when we were living in hiding in Kamyaka forest, Duryodhan’s sister Dussela’s husband Jayadhratha saw me alone in the forest and wanted me to go with him. When I refused, he used force to abduct me. On the way my husband caught him and the brothers reprimanded him, shaved his hair off, and let him go.
There was Kichaka, commander of the Virata Kingdom who started harassing me while we were in concealment. I had to play a trick to put an end to his advancement, invited him to a dance hall at night, where Bheem fought with him, and killed him.
Karna was another one whom I rejected when he was competing for my hand in marriage, who kept insulting me to the extent of calling me a whore.
All the greats who were present at Vastraharan (operation disrobing), were killed in the Kurushetra war.
Ironically, when men are rejected, insulted, or unable to establish their supremacy, it is the women caught in the crosshairs who face the brunt of it. A pattern reflected in world history that recounts women as subordinate and as objects to the dominant, presiding male energy.
This dominating sexual energy of men when bridled by intelligence enables a tribe to continue through its progeny. When unbridled, its repercussions could include wrongful acts against women, impacting them disproportionately.
In today’s world, the resultant harassment of women is consequently tackled through the legal system’s laws on sexual harassment and other relevant laws. However, the solution has always lain at the root – in inculcating in boys and men, the view that men and women as equal, deserve the same kind of respect and treatment. Only then we can exit the lopsided approach of teaching our daughters to avoid, escape, and stay safe while abetting our boys and men to disrespect them.
The timeless essence of the Mahabharata appears to subtly hint at the same.
– Author: Rajendra Menon, Board member for KelpHR, Advisor and Consultant.