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Feminism in Indian Mythology

This is a famous painting by Raja Ravi Verma based on a scene from the Hindu mythology, Mahabharata. Draupadi is one of the strong women depicted in the Hindu mythology, for whom life was unfortunate. She is a symbol of strength, patience, endurance and intelligence. Born as a princess, she looked for the right prince to marry. After a competition, where princes from all over the country competed for this dark-skinned beauty, Arjuna won. When Arjuna takes her home to his mother he says ‘Mother, look what I have won.’ Using the word ‘won’ was offensive to Draupadi, she felt like an object and she later found out that that is what she would be treated as. The mother replied with “You have to share your winnings with your four brothers,” Without realizing that he had won a bride. In the end Draupadi is shared amongst the five brothers as an object and not a person. They even marry other women making her feel unwanted and humiliated. One of the brothers pledges her in a gambling game of dice like chattel, after he loses all his property, money and even himself and loses. She refuses to go to the winner claiming that the brother now had no right over her as he had lost himself in the game first. She was then dragged to the court as painted above. In the court she was shamed and called a public woman that didn’t deserve to be clothed and was undressed.

This is the perfect painting portraying Draupadi’s humiliation and sacrifice. She is slumped on the floor as if embarrassed as to how her life turned out. She went from being a princess to an objectified, dishonored queen. The winner of the gambling game stands on the left of the painting with an expression of smugness on his face and the onlookers, all male, peering down at her with interest and amusement.

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