I have always been fascinated by our epics Mahabharata and Ramayana. I read K.M. Munshi’s Krishnavatara when I was just a ten year old kid. And I doubt, if any other author can present ‘Krishna’ as he did. His characterization of Draupadi and Krishna in Krishnavatra, were the best that I read ever.
Yajnaseni: The Story of Draupadi was a impulsive buy, which I thankfully did not regret. Written by Prathiba Ray and translated by Pradip Bhattacharya, this is Mahabharata told from the perspective of Draupadi.
Born from fire, she is Yajnaseni, Panchali (Princess of Panchala) and Draupadi (Daughter of Drupad) and Krishnaa (dark). This fiery beautiful princess is supposedly born out of the sacrificial fire along with her brother Dhristadyuma to avenge Drupad’s vow against Drona.
The book follows the template laid out by K.M. Munshi quite faithfully, where Drupad, on his quest for a valorous son-in-law offers Draupadi to Krishna. And Krishna rejects the offer and suggests that Drupad conduct a svyamvara for her. And Draupadi begins her arduous journey towards matrimony.
Did Kunti deliberately say when she said? Did she want Draupadi to be married to all her five sons? We ponder these questions even as Draupadi does. Married to five men, is definitely not a joke. In today’s society when people still raise their eyebrows when a woman marries again, I can only imagine what Draupadi must have endured.
Am I making everybody happy? Are all my husbands happy with my service? What if I displease someone? Will that brother leave me and go away? While she sleeps with one brother through the night, she is supposed to be a sister, a mother and a companion for the rest. So while each brother vies around for a piece of her, she yearns for a glance from Phalguni (Arjuna) whom she truly loves. Yet she tries to please everyone. Even Karna, her mother-in-law so called adopted son. She cooks, soothes, advices and mothers them all but is forever left in doubt whether it was all enough or not.
In the end, she is left all alone on the foot of the hills, to await her death while her husbands one by one leave her behind. And that’s when she writes a letter to her beloved Saka Krishna. I read the last few pages with tears in my eyes. Though she was married to the five brothers she was spiritually united only with her Govinda. She is hailed as one of the Panch Sati in India yet many still slur her name even to this day.
This is probably the most definitive book on one of the most controversial character in the history of epics. I wish I could read the original oriya version as I am sure some things might be lost in translation but for now I am happy with Pradip Bhatacharya’s interpretation.
You can click here to buy the book – http://www.amazon.com/Yajnaseni-The-Story-Draupadi-ebook/dp/B00DBSUU94/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1377001405&sr=1-1&keywords=Yajnaseni