Women Through The Ages, Across Time…

Women Through The Ages, Across Time…

Draupadi was lost by her husband Yudishtar to Duryodhan in a game of Chaupad, and she was then insulted and disrobed in the Rajya sabha, writes — Major General Sanjay Kapoor VSM (retd)

Have always had few doubts about the most revered Epics of India…Ramayan and Mahabharat….both of which are being telecasted these days with record-breaking viewership. We too are watching them. Wanted to pen down these thoughts yesterday, but then thought of sleeping over them for a night, to calm down a bit. Have been really perturbed and disturbed last few days.

Happened to see the movie THAPPAD and the episode of Draupadi’s derobement in Mahabharat, back to back on two consecutive days. Am stunned and numbed at the similarities between the two…even though they are not even years or decades apart but centuries and eras (yugs) apart.

Amu, the heroine of the movie and Draupadi of Mahabharat appeared to be in such identical situations of utter helplessness and disappointed by the behaviour of their husbands. Even the words uttered by the two ladies were so similar. And the behaviour and reaction of the men around them were the same too.

Draupadi was lost by her husband Yudishtar to Duryodhan in a game of Chaupad, and she was then insulted and disrobed in the Rajya sabha in the presence of her five husbands and Bhishma, Dron and Vidur, with Kunti and Gandhari, waiting in the wings.

Forget stopping Duryodhana, his father Dhritrashtra actually encouraged him and his mother Gandhari was not far away in supporting her son by instead of admonishing or punishing her son, she requested Draupadi to forgive him and not to curse him for the heinous crime.

In Mahabharat and since time immemorial, Duryodhan has been presented as the villain of the story. What he did was really bad but I feel the biggest fault is of Yudhishthir followed by the remaining pandu putras. Bhishma, Dronacharya and Vidur too cannot absolve themselves from the responsibility of partners in the obnoxious crime

As it has been always painted, Yudhishthir did it for Dharm, to keep his promise. But was his word, ego and Dharm over his promise and loyalty to his wife? He and all seemed so convinced to the fact that wife was the husband’s property and he had all right to even lose her in gambling without her consent.

Draupadi was not only beautiful but was an intellectual and powerful being the Saamragyi (empress) and still had to undergo this. And similar is the situation today too, where education, power, money or status does not make a woman immune to exploitation, including domestic violence

Bhishma said before the game…..samaj main sabse zyada apmaan nari ka hota hai...and still did nothing to prevent it. He intact would be laughing in his grave that his words stand good, even today, where women are still the most unsafe, most exploited, most insulted and the recipient of most unfair and unjust treatment by men and society.

Gita, a part of Mahabharat, has some good lessons worth imbibing in life but though the PANDITS claim that this incidence and many such other treacherous acts in Mahabharat have a deeper meaning of dharma, it is almost impossible for me to accept such people, leave alone looking up to them or worshipping them as demi-Gods, as expected.

I am human and look forward to simple human virtues in characters of epics, stories, movies and in life. Basic minimum virtue mandatory for a man is respect for others and especially women, irrespective of their age, status, role or relationship.

At this juncture cannot resist from referring to Shri Ram, as I have done once, a few years back. His attitude and behaviour towards his wife, Sita, to please his kingdom was far from any quality adding to his bigger than life, Maryada Purshottam stature.

Though these are all in Indian settings, this issue including sexual assault and abuse and domestic violence are global problems. It’s time for all parents to wake up and shoulder their responsibility by adding equality for women in the syllabus they have to bring up and nurturing their kids. Parents of boys to teach sons to respect woman and those of girls to teach them not to tolerate male atrocities.

The major onus is on fathers to be great role models at home. In this land of Shakti, it is impossible to accept such men. Would be hesitant to have such epics been even seen, leave alone followed by the gen-next. its time for all to join hands to create a society safe for woman and which respects the ladies and grant’s them equality and immunity from insults and violence

(The author is Consultant and Professor of Surgical Oncology. Views expressed here are his personal)

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