Feminist Analysis of Disrobing of Draupadi (Patrick Beldio 2022)

Resources on the disrobing of Draupadi through a feminist lens

From Sohini Sarah Pillai:

Pamela Lothspeich has a great essay on modern interpretations of Draupadi in Many Mahabharatas entitled “Draupadī, Yājñasenī, Pāñcālī, Kṛṣṇā: Representations of an Epic Heroine in Three Novels.”

There are also some helpful discussions of the disrobing episode in the Sanskrit Mahabharata in Wendy Doniger’s The Hindus: An Alternative History and Alf Hiltebeitel’s article “Draupadī’s Garments” in the Indo-Iranian Journal (1980). “Draupadī’s Garments” is also available in When the Goddess was a Woman: Mahābhārata Ethnographies edited by Vishwa Adluri and Joydeep Bagchee.

In her ethnographic study of the viewing of Doordarshan television programs among middle-class women in Delhi, Screening Culture, Viewing Politics: An Ethnography of Television, Womanhood, and Nation in Postcolonial India, Purnima Mankekar has a whole chapter about the disrobing of Draupadi episode in B.R. Chorpa’s Hindi Mahabharat television serial.

If your student hasn’t read Mahasweta Devi’s short story “Draupadi,” I’d highly recommend Gayatri Spivak’s translation. A PDF is available her:https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/arts/english/currentstudents/postgraduate/masters/modules/femlit/gayatri_spivak_-_draupadi_by_mahasveta_devi.pdf

(Sohini Sarah Pillai) I also recently gave an online talk for Karwaan (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xyuVGqCNb5A) where I briefly discuss Devi’s short story as well as some other modern interpretations of Draupadi’s disrobing. One of them is an episode from a recent Hindi television show called Draupadi (2016) in which all of the Kaurava women who are watching the disrobing from a balcony pull off their own saris and throw them down to Draupadi. A link to that episode of Draupadi is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JoII5PP_HzY&t=82s.

Other resources:

Black, Brian, “Draupadī in the Mahābhārata,” Religion Compass 7/5 (2013): 169–178.

Lavanya Vemsan, “Draupadi: The Fierce Fire-born woman” in Feminine Journeys of the Mahabharata: Hindu Women in Text, History, and Practice (Switzerland: Pellgrave MacMillan, 2021), 71-94.

Iravati Karve’s wonderful masterpiece Yuganta.

Brian Black discusses Draupadī’s arguments in the disrobing scene in some detail in his recent book In Dialogue with the Mahābhārata (Routledge, 2021).

Chakravarti, Uma. 2014. ‘Who Speaks for Whom? The Queen, the Dāsī and Sexual Politics in theSabhāparvan. In Mahābhārata Now: Narration, Aesthetics, Ethics. Eds. Arindam Chakrabarti and Sibaji Bandyopadhyay, pp. 132-52. New Delhi: Routledge.

Falk, Nancy. 1977. ’Draupadī and the dharma’, Beyond Androcentrism: New Essays on Women and Religion, edited by Rita M. Gross, pp 89-114. Missoula, Montana: Scholars Press.

Hiltebeitel, Alf. 2000. “Draupadī’s Question.” In Is the Goddess a Feminist? The Politics of South Asian Goddesses. Ed. Hiltebeitel, Alf and Erndl, Kathleen, pp. 113-22. New York: New York University Press.

Kanjlal, Sucehta. 2017. “Modern Mythologies: The Epic Imagination in
Contemporary Indian Literature” to Draupadi in modern novel adaptations (including Mahasweta Devi’s Dopdi) :https://digitalcommons.usf.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=8072&context=etd

Khangai, Ravi. N.d. “Draupadi’s Trauma: Reading From the Sabhaparva of the Mahabharata. https://www.academia.edu/22841050/DRAUPADIS_TRAUMA_READING_FROM_THE_SABHA_PARVA_OF_THE_MAHABHARATA

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February 23, 2022