They say that one must not judge the book by its cover but the cover of this book demands your absolute undivided attention. On a beige background, the bright red and yellow catch your eyes and the title is personified in the image.
Draupadi is undoubtedly one of the most pivotal, complex and celebrated characters of the Mahabharata as is justified by the countless works of literature dedicated to her. From Mahashweta Devi to Chitra Banerjee, she has proven herself a muse time and again.
The Flaming Tresses of Draupadi is one such brilliantly crafted oeuvre delivered to perfection by Veerappa Moily. Chronicling Draupadi’s entire life in one epic poem is no small feat. That coupled with the beautiful imagery created by the author’s words and you find yourself falling, headfirst into this epic narrative that is a heady mix of hatred, love, victory and defeat.
You feel her anguish when she realises that she is to be wedded to five men, instead of just the one who emerged victorious, in the swayamvar. You sense her helplessness, when she is being disrobed, her modesty slowly unravelled to satiate the Kauravas. You detect the steely determination, in her resolution, when she vows to leave her hair open, till she is avenged. At every important stage of her life, you find yourself one with Draupadi, empathizing with her, silently supporting her.
The author raises pertinent questions; about caste (Karna although the son of Kunti was denied her hand because he was raised by charioteers) , the tussle between following one’s dharma and individual freedom (personified by Draupadi who is unsure whether to obey her mother in law or her own honour), the place of women in society (she is as good as any object that can be wagered), the nature of a society that is blind, mute and paralysed before a woman being disrobed and does nothing to stop it.
Draupadi to her credit doesn’t take any of it passively. She stays true to her name of Yagnaseni or the fire god’s daughter and engulfs them in the flames of her words. The book is as much an ode to Draupadi as it is a reflection on the society at that time. It makes one ponder and reflect if anything has changed.
The book is an absolute delight for any novice who wants to learn more about the Draupadi and her contribution to the Mahabharata. Told exclusively from her point of view, the reader can imagine Draupadi narrating her life story.
This book is worth a read for all keen about Mythology and epics, and lovers of free verse.
Author(s): M Veerappa Moily
Publisher: Rupa Publications
Release: March 2017
Genre: Fiction / Women
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