The Mahabharata is a mythology of epic proportions that would remain as a guide for centuries to come. The story revolves around a strong woman character who didn’t accept being just a pawn in the hands of her masters, and she is Draupadi. But women in the near and far past were never advised to have Draupadi as a role model to look up to.
Guru Kinkar is an Indian contemporary and modern artist based in Kolkata. Guru’s Art philosophy is about the conflict between human beings and society. His artworks are dominated by his attempts to find ways of penetrating a subtle and elaborate camouflage that obscures the hidden structure and processes of human personality. He believes that human beings are yet to possess a good quality of life from the past civilization even after the greater part it has been used, removed, and destroyed.
Guru’s thought process is as natural as breathing. His visual language starts looking into the confidences of imagination and later rules the canvas by both, in the making and the breaking of them. While today’s contemporary living is making us flock with fragile values and conditions, Guru opines that great epics and personalities in them can be the torchbearers for the generation.
In the portrayal of Draupadi, Guru sees the position, relevance, and significance of Draupadi with today’s contemporary women. Guru opines that today’s women should take Draupadi seriously as a role model. One needs to feel the experience of Draupadi since her beginning when she was born of a fire ritual, unwanted and unasked for. She was beautiful and spent her former years recognized only for her looks, while her brother, who was born of the same fire, was taught the arts of war and statesmanship. She then took every opportunity she could to learn the arts, master politics, and comprehend books beyond her years. Day after day she was dismissed as being just a pretty face and weaker gender, something many women today can identify with.
Guru’s visual narration depicts the great amount of confidence she displayed when she took the challenge of being the wife of five husbands. For this, she faced disdain, shame, and mockery at the hands of the kingdoms to the extent of being called the kingdom’s prostitute. But she was clever. She used her husbands’ love for her to her advantage and gained their respect, advising them on political matters and having her opinions fervently adhered to.
Draupadi is not remembered for the fierce, intelligent woman that she was but rather the woman who was disrobed at the great hall and had to be saved by Krishna. It is for us to remember that she was not a pretty doll passed on from one man’s house to another, but a woman who swore revenge and sought justice in all her endeavors. She spoke up for herself in full awareness of the consequences of such boldness and explained the ideas of right and wrong to the kings when she was wronged. The role of quiet suffering and submission is one she rejected.
Draupadi is one such woman who while doing all her rightful duties is willing and bold enough to take a stand when appropriate. Draupadi actually declared war with the Kauravas long before it really happened on the battlefield of Kurukshetra. Draupadi took a stand for dharma, which is righteousness.
Authored by Vasanth Rao
Artist & Curator, Sydney, Australia