Palace of caite.info - Download as PDF File .pdf), Text File .txt) or read online . paper critically analyses Palace of Illusions by Chitra. Banerjee Divakaruni from feminist perspective. Keywords— Mahabharata, suppression, feminist, equality. Editorial Reviews. From Publishers Weekly. Recasting the Indian epic Mahabharata from the The Palace of Illusions: A Novel - Kindle edition by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. Religion & Spirituality Kindle eBooks @ Amazon. com.
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This book has been optimized for viewing at a monitor setting of x pixels. T h e Pa l a c e of Illusions. The Palace of Illusions. Identifierthe-palace-of-illusions-com-v Identifier-ark ark://t5r84qh OcrABBYY FineReader (Extended. Taking us back to a time that is half history, half myth and wholly magical, bestselling author Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni gives voice to Panchaali, the fire-born heroine of the Mahabharata, as she weaves a vibrant retelling of an ancient epic saga. Which is the best book to read.
Can hearts know these things? Dhri offered to teach him the newest wrestling holds. I resolved to form a separate court a place where women could speak their sorrows to other women. The year my mother died and what her last words were. Nessun dorma. I read about them in the Puranas. Why is there a crown on your head?
But very few teachers know the art of summoning them. Surely he was joking! But my brother never joked. You must refuse. He must have been tired, for he sounded bitter, which was rare for him. I was given lessons in singing, dancing, and playing music.
The lessons were painful, both for my teachers and me, for I was not musically inclined, nor deft on my feet. I was taught to draw, paint, sew, and decorate the ground with age-old auspicious designs, each meant for a special festival. My paintings were blotchy, and my designs full of improvisations that my teachers frowned at. I was better at composing and solving riddles, responding to witty remarks, and writing poetry, but my heart was not in such frivolities.
With each lesson I felt the world of women tightening its noose around me. Why was no one concerned about preparing me for it? When I mentioned this to Dhai Ma, she clicked her tongue with impatience. Kings always take other wives. And men always break the promises they make before marriage. She gave me a challenging grin. She relished our arguments, most of which she won. Was it a memory of Krishna, the cool silence with which he countered disagreement, that stopped me?
I would use my strength instead to nurture my belief that my life would unfurl uniquely. But then a different kind of grin appeared on her face. Perhaps, now that I was grown, we could be friends. I drew on all my speaking skills, but the conversations I began soon disintegrated into silence. Even Sulochana, whose blithe grace I had so admired during the festival of Shiva, seemed a different person. She responded to my greetings in monosyllables and kept her two daughters close to her.
I lifted her onto my lap and unclasped the chain so she could play with the pendant. She burst into bewildered tears, not knowing why she was punished. Soon afterward, Sulochana retired to her chambers with excuses of ill health that were clearly false.
Ignorant cows! I began to notice things, though. My maidservants—even those who had been with me for years—kept their distance until summoned. If I asked them anything of a personal nature—how their families were, for instance, or when they were getting married— they grew tongue-tied and escaped from my presence as soon as they could. The best merchants in the city, who routinely visited the apartments of the queens, would send their wares to me through Dhai Ma.
Even my father was uneasy when he visited me and rarely looked directly into my eyes. Did they fear contagion? Already the world I knew was splitting in two.
They suspected anything that fell outside the boundaries of custom. But women? Especially women who might bring change, the way a storm brings the destruction of lightning?
All my life, they would shun me. But the next time, I promised myself as I wiped my angry tears, I would be prepared. The other group consisted of those rare persons who were themselves harbingers of change and death. Or those who could laugh at such things. So far, I knew only three such people: Dhri and Krishna—and Dhai Ma, transformed by her 33 affection for me. But surely there were others. I wondered how long I would have to wait before destiny brought them into my life, and I hoped that when it did so, one of them would become my husband.
I was driven to this ignoble practice because people seldom told me anything worth knowing. King Drupad only met with me in settings designed to discourage uncomfortable questions. Dhri never lied, but he often kept things from me, believing it his brotherly duty to shield me from unpleasant facts. Though Dhai Ma had no such qualms, she had the unfortunate habit of mixing up what actually happened with things that, in her opinion, should have occurred.
Krishna was the only one who told me the truth. So I took to eavesdropping and found it a most useful practice. It worked best when I appeared engrossed in some mindless activity, such as embroidery, or pretended to sleep. I was amazed at all the things I learned in this manner.
It was how I discovered the sage. And as you know, Nandaram, who works in the stables, has been courting me! Now set out that blue silk sari carefully! The year my mother died and what her last words were. Ask him if that good-for-nothing Kallu will ever change his ways, and if not, what I must do to be rid of him. Truth to tell, he scared me, with a beard that covered his whole face and glittery red eyes.
He looked like he could put a curse on you if you made him angry. Does it please you? I could smell the fragrance of the amaranths woven into it. What use was all this dressing-up when there was no one to admire me? I felt as though I were drowning in a backwater pond while everything important in the world was happening elsewhere.
What if the prophecy at my birth was wrong? Do you want your poor old nurse to starve by the roadside in her old age?
That no-good drunkard? Walk on the common road where every man can look into your face! My entire body ached. It taught me a new respect for the hardiness of commoners. I was startled by a rumble like a thundercloud. The sage was laughing.
In his lined, cracked face, his eyes shone mischievously. But enough of that. Eager to learn your future, are you? Did you ever think how monotonous your life would be if you could see all that was coming to you? Believe me, I know! Inside the circle, the earth felt hot against my blistered soles. It keeps the mosquitoes away. You may ask them your questions. Coldness passed over my skin like ghost breath. Why, then, did a strange reluctance silence me now?
Later I would wonder, was it because of this lack of faith that the spirits answered me so obliquely, in riddles that were more hindrance than help? I want to leave a mark on history, as was promised to me at my birth. But there are other things—perhaps unknown to you—that you crave more.
No matter. The spirits will see into your heart and answer accordingly. Yellow whispers came to me through the smoke. You will be queen of queens, envied even by goddesses. You will be a servant maid. You will be mistress of the most magical of palaces and then lose it.
You will be remembered for causing the greatest war of your time. A million women will become widows because of you. Yes, indeed, you will leave a mark on history.
You will be loved, though you will not always recognize who loves you. After the voices fell silent, I sat stunned. Or become queen of queens? And all those deaths! But in your case, your own nature is going to speed its process.
Your vengefulness. Women will chant your name to bring them blessing and luck. Besides, your destiny is born of lifetimes of karma, too powerful for me to change. Three dangerous moments will come to you. The second will be when your husbands are at the height of their power: Maybe it will mitigate the catastrophes to come. He ran a hand through his thick mane, exasperated. And of the great and terrible war of Kurukshetra that will end the Third Age of Man.
Go now! I climbed onto the cart, too preoccupied to feel its jolts. I peered through the shadows of the banyan one last time. The gloomy light played tricks on me: One of them was the sage. The cart lurched away before I could point him out to my nurse. You look so solemn. I knew this heat would be too much for you! Remind me to get you some green-coconut water when we go through the bazaar. Though no one seems to have a problem when men sleep with a different wife each day of the week!
Can you see your royal father, proper as he is, ever allowing something scandalous like that? Dhai Ma heaved a sigh.
What a waste of time this was! Oh, my aching back! Wait till we get back to the palace. Each night I thought of my name. Princess Panchaali. A name strong like the land, a name that knew how to endure. No matter what else came to pass, I would always thank the sage for giving it to me.
I thought also of the palace the spirits had promised me. I wondered how I would ever gain such a palace. I understood, suddenly, the unspoken questions the spirits had answered: Who would I marry? Would I ever be mistress of my own home? Were these the kinds of desires hidden in my heart? How puerile they were, things my maids might have wanted! It was a mortifying thought. Other nights I considered the mystery of the book the sage showed me, the story of my life.
Did this mean that I had no control over what was to happen? Otherwise, why did he take the trouble to warn me? I learned his name: On those nights, my rough bark-bed seemed softer. But no matter how much I called for them—for by now I had other, wiser questions—the spirits did not return to me again.
My maids gathered in corners and corridors, whispering fervently, but they scattered like sparrows when I approached them. Dhri was shut up in council with our father, so I had no way of asking him.
And why is everyone so afraid of her? What else, I would wonder later, had they been keeping from me? This afternoon, in fact. Dhai Ma had a lengthy compendium of rules as to how women should behave. Already I felt sympathy for the unknown Sikhandi.
She paused only to inform me that Dhri, who usually ate with me, would not be here because Sikhandi had expressed a desire to speak with me alone. I waited with some excitement to view my sudden-found sister.
I wondered what she looked like. Was her body hard and muscular, her arms scarred from weapons? Or was it her heart that had changed so that it no longer shook at the thought of killing?
How had she survived in the forest—for she must have been just a girl when she left? What terrible crime could she have committed for our father to banish her at that tender age? And why did she want to speak with me, alone? Sikhandi walked with a panther grace, light and assured on the balls of his feet.
Yes, his. Sikhandi, who was born a woman, was now a man! Clearly, he wished there to be no misunderstanding about this: He carried a bow, which he leaned against the wall before approaching me. His cheekbones were like knives. His almond-shaped eyes gave him a foreignness that was not unattractive.
Around his neck hung a garland of white lotuses. Silently he put out his hands to touch my cheeks. I hesitated— he was a stranger, after all—but then I allowed it. A shiver went through me as they grazed my face. I noticed that we were the same height, and somehow this consoled me for the loss of the sister he was supposed to be.
He smiled past the shadows in his almond eyes.
He stood on tiptoe to kiss my forehead. Sikhandi stayed with me for a day and a night, and in that time he told me his story.
He said: Or of the wolf that hid under sheepskin so he could mingle undetected with his prey? I feel like both sometimes. A fake—or a hidden menace. This time I invoked a yaksha. He appeared in the sky with his burning demon sword. When he heard what I wanted, he laughed and plunged it into me. The pain was unbearable. I fainted. When I awoke, I was a man. And yet not completely so, for though my form was changed, inside me I remembered how women thought and what they longed for.
Yes, someone greater even than Drona. His name is Bheeshma the terrible. Tangled indeed is the web of this world!
This garland? I was six when I found it hanging on the palace gate and placed it around my neck. Our father cried, What have you done, you foolish, unlucky girl!
Oh, he and I are father and child indeed! We both live for vengeance. First I remembered my death upon a pyre: And through it all: Because without death there is no rebirth, and without rebirth I could not kill Bheeshma. The god Shiva himself had promised me that in my next life I would kill him whom no man had defeated before.
My name? In that body I was Amba, the princess of Kasi, the rejected one. Very well, the story from the beginning, then. We three sisters, princesses of Kasi, were to marry. My father arranged a swayamvar, inviting all the kings of the land, so that we could choose our husbands.
I already knew the man I wanted: King Salva, who had wooed me for a year. The brother said, A woman who has embraced another in her heart is not chaste. I do not wish to marry her. Bheeshma said, Very well, I will send you back to Salva. But when I went to him, Salva said, Bheeshma has taken you by the hand.
You belong to him now. I said, If someone grasps my hand against my will, how does that make me his? For Salva forced me to return to Bheeshma, and still I lived. I told Bheeshma, My happiness has crumbled into dust because of you. Marry me so that at least my honor can be saved. Bheeshma said, Forgive me. In youth I promised my father I would never marry.
I cannot go back on my word. Abandoned and shamed, I went from court to court, seeking a champion who would battle Bheeshma, but all were afraid of him. I went to the Himalayas in my despair and performed austerities so that the gods would help me. Years passed; my youth fell away.
The gods were reluctant to interfere because Bheeshma was the son of 49 Ganga, goddess of the sacred river. Finally, the child-god Kartikeya took pity and appeared before me with this garland. My hopes rekindled, I went back to the kings with the everlasting garland. But the cowards! Even King Drupad, known in that time as a champion of the weak, dared not accept it. The humor of the gods is cruel; or perhaps they see more than we do. The moment I set eyes on the garland-that-never-fades, my past returned to me, and with it my rage.
I took the garland for myself, determined to do on my own what no man dared do for me. Remember that, little sister: I lifted Earth out of the primordial waters with my tusks. I read about them in the Puranas. I never could tell when he was joking. In meditation, you invoked Shiva. He came and stood in front of you, silent and blue as moonlight. You asked for a wish to be granted.
You asked for it again—and again. Five times you made your wish before he had the chance to say yes. His eyes, bright with amusement, were like black bees. King Drupad had invited Sikhandi to stay with him, but Sikhandi politely excused himself. Drupad tried, unsuccessfully, to disguise his relief at this. But I was delighted. Something about Sikhandi drew me to him. Was it his easy acceptance of me? His own unusual life? We whiled away his short visit in eating and storytelling and playing at dice for Dhri had taught me this most unladylike pastime.
We laughed a great deal, often at the littlest things. I composed poems and riddles to entertain my brothers and watched as they practiced with swords. Was it because one day if the prophecy about my husbands was true I, too, would cross the bounds of what was allowed to women? Dhri offered to teach him the newest wrestling holds. Sikhandi shook his head, his eyes regretful. I gave him sweet laddus to eat on the way, and a yak-hair shawl against the approaching winter.
In its folds I had secreted gold coins. But he would take nothing. It weakens the foundations of society. Share some of your wisdom with us.
Know the particular properties of your power. In the world that I knew, men just happened to have more of it. I hoped to change this. But I had something else to ask before he left. I grasped his hands one last time, feeling those calluses. It was a large and laborious book that set out the laws of the land, which my brother was currently studying.
Around me summer unfurled its drowsy petals in a conspiracy to distract me. Insects sang. Luscious purple jamuns dropped lazily onto thick grass. The paired cry of bright birds pulled at my chest, releasing a strange restlessness. Was this a feminine interest? My companions, daughters of courtiers, clustered themselves under canopies hoisted to protect our complexions.
They murmured gossip, chewed betel leaf to redden their lips, exchanged recipes for love potions, pouted, giggled without reason, and emitted suitably feminine shrieks if a bee orbited too close. From time to time they sent me beseeching glances. This pitiless sun—even with a canopy, it was so bad for the skin! The book, which described in diligent, morose detail complicated laws concerning household property—including servants and wives—caused my eyelids to droop. But I was determined to learn what a king was supposed to know.
How else could I be powerful in myself? For even as I turned the page Dhai Ma came from the palace, waddling as fast as her bulk would allow. Out of breath and wheezing, her face an alarming red, she shooed my companions away.
Then she whispered the news in my ear but in her excitement she was so loud that everyone heard: But Dhai Ma informed me I was to have a swayamvar. Eligible rulers from every kingdom in Bharat would be invited to Panchaal.
From among them, my father had announced, I would choose the man I was to marry. He was too cautious. He should have been the girl, and I the boy! As a matter of fact, Dhri was quite taken with the neighboring princess to whom our father had betrothed him.
But a question gnawed at me: Why would our father, who delighted in control, allow me so much freedom? Truth, like a diamond, has many facets. Tell her, Dhristadyumna. Tell her about the test. Nor can they use their own weapons. Is he mad? Arjun, the third Pandava prince, my dearest friend. I think our Krishnaa will like him!
A warrior has the greatest respect for the man who defeats him in battle. They lived by strange rules. I wanted to ask Dhri why our father hated Drona so much, then, since Drona had been the mastermind behind that defeat.
But I allowed myself to drift to more pleasant thoughts. To be the beloved of the greatest archer of our time. To be the woman whose smile made his heart beat faster, whose frown wounded him almost to death, whose advice guided his most important decisions. Could this be the way I was meant to change history? Krishna smiled slyly, as though he knew what I thought. Still, I was surprised at how much it rankled to articulate it.
Krishna touched my shoulder.
I was ashamed of my petty worries. I wondered if it would break him or harden him, and which would be worse. He was trying to teach me something. Was it to be aware of the dark motivations that lay behind seemingly benign actions? Was it to not 59 let myself be carried away by emotion, to see myself instead as part of a larger political design that would affect the fate of Bharat?
Was it to teach me how to wear the armor of caution so that no one could reach past it to break my heart? Important lessons, no doubt. But I was a woman, and I had to practice them—as Sikhandi had suggested—in my own way. I would approach the problem aslant. Perhaps Time was the master player. But within the limits allowed to humans in this world the sages called unreal, I would be a player, too.
But why do I call her that? She looked no different from the women who sold their wares in the marketplace, with the pleats of her blue sari tucked, peasant fashion, between her legs. I expected her to shout for the sentry or berate the woman with her usual belligerence, but she did neither. Secretly, I agreed with her estimation of my lessons. I was interested in seeing what she had to offer. I had a suspicion it was Vyasa the sage.
She grinned. Her teeth were very white in her dark face, their edges sharp and serrated. You do it by ignoring them. She taught me how to wash it, oil it, comb the tangles out of it, and braid it into a hundred different designs. She had me practice on her and rebuked me sharply if I pulled too hard, or snagged a tress. I took them with unaccustomed meekness. Dhai Ma puffed out her cheeks in disapproval.
The sorceress taught me other unqueenly skills. She made me lie on the floor at night, with only my arm for a pillow, until I could sleep under those conditions. She made me wear the cheapest, most abrasive cotton saris that chafed my skin until I grew used to them.
She made me eat what the lowest of my servants ate; she taught me to live on fruits, then water, and then to fast for days at a time. The breath made my mind one-pointed, and I began to glimpse subtleties that had been invisible to me before. I noticed that her lessons went in opposites. She taught me adornments to enhance my beauty. She taught me how to make myself so ordinary that no one would spare me a sec- 62 ond glance.
She taught me to cook with the best of ingredients and the most meager. She taught me potions to cure illness and potions to cause them. She taught me to be unafraid of speaking out, and to be brave enough for silence.
The hero is presented with a problem, challenge or adventure. Draupadi is faced with the challenge of being the acceptable version of a princess and later a queen. She is humiliated in front of everyone at the royal court, commoditized and then pawned upon and lastly, abandoned by the very men whose ego is tied to the women stripped of her clothes in front of thousand different strangers. Refusal of the call Often at this point the hero balks at the threshold of adventure. After all, he or she is facing the greatest of all fears — fear of the unknown.
She questions Krishna for his absence. She rises up again and curses everyman in the court. She swears to avenge for the injustice she was subjected to. Meeting with the mentor In the case of Draupadi, she has always had her mentor, Krishna. He tells her that she will change the course of history and that she will lead to a great war. However, it is crucial to note here that Draupadi being a woman was not considered capable of leading a war but causing one. This highlights how she as a woman was conditioned to think of herself as a cause of bad events and not the one who could defend herself.
It is vital to recognize the gender roles as the Jungian archetypes do not talk about these very culturally ingrained gender norms and roles. Crossing the Threshold The hero fully enters the special world of the story for the first time.
This is the moment at which the story takes off and the adventure gets going. The disrobing is when she realizes everything. I no longer depended on them so completely in the future. And when I took care to guard myself from hurt, it was as much from them as from our enemies.
Guided by Krishna, She convinces her five husbands to start forming allies, she approaches to the troubled kingdoms and asks for help, manipulates several men and for a woman who was hurt she was not taken lightly. The hero reaches the innermost cave. The hero comes at last to a dangerous place, often deep underground, where the object of the quest is hidden. She recognizes the guilt she was internalizing all this while, while growing up and had decided to not only to stop taking the onus on herself but taking charge of what happening in her life.
She is confident and strong in demanding what she wants. She asks her husbands who now have more wives and children and show her no affection that she must avenge what happened to her in that court. She is strong and calling out on the gender roles she has been aversive to throughout her life but could not break free from them. The supreme Ordeal: This is the moment at which the hero touches bottom.
This is a critical moment in any story, an ordeal in which the hero appears to die and be born again. The disrobing was not the ordeal but death of her loved ones on the field was. She mourned the loss, consoled the mothers who lost her sons, she consoled her mother-in-law who spent every second worrying for the safety of her sons and grandsons.
However, she knew she wanted to be on that field. She knew she would be blamed for years to come for the war that killed the great warriors in Kurukshetra. The hero seizes the sword Once, the war was over, she recognized the damage that was caused. She wanted to relished that victory but did not feel that solace yet.
I resolved to form a separate court a place where women could speak their sorrows to other women. Finally, the character of Draupadi has achieved that liberation where she is no longer responsible for the misery of men around her, she was sensitive towards the women and could resonate with women irrespective of the caste and class. She has achieved the very place she wanted to as a child. The shame is no longer guiding her. She is not stagnant and wants to build on the city of Hastinapur.
Draupadi through this paper is seen from the lens of Freudian principles of guilt and the Jungian analysis of the archetype of the hero. However, the resolution of her identity can finally be understood as that of a feminist. She defeats the dogmatic norms of the society and chooses to establish equality. It is interesting how within the journey of the hero, she is constantly defeating the guilt and shame she had internalized while growing up.
She grows to be more sensitive towards the women of various caste and color. She rises above the dependence of the very men who taught her to hate her and not only does she avenge the humiliation she learns to love herself as a strong independent woman.
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