The Palace of Illusions by Chitra Banarjee Devakaruni (2008) reimagines the world famous Indian epic, the Mahabharta. The story has been narrated from Draupadi’s point of view. It is half history, half myth and wholly magical.
Since the eternity, Draupadi has been blamed for being the cause of the great war while the actions of men are neglected. Drauopadi has been a passive figure in the past but Chitra Banerjee gives her a voice, the authority to navigate. The plot of Palace of Illusions majorly focuses her relationship with Krishna and her secret longing for Karna.
Draupadi and her brother Drishtadyum were born out of fire sacrifice. Draupadi was not expected, however was accepted. Both the siblings had been their for each other from the beginning. Her love for Dhri (Drishtdyum) stopped Draupadi from marrying Karna because Dhri’s life was at stake. This decision, however, she would regret or lifetime.
By becoming the wife of five brothers- the Pandavas, it was clear, Panchali had no absolute control over her fate. Infact she herself said
“Aren’t we all pawns in the hands of time, the greatest player of them all.”
Karna’s vengeance did not stop the Vastraharan- the most shameful act in history and Panchali became its victim.The anger brewing in her made her seek revenge through her husband. This feeling of vengeance in Draupadi is given more weightage. But people fail to see the faults of her husband who in addiction of the game and to keep his so called words betted his wife’s pride.
When the war started , it was Sage Vyaasa who assure Draupadi that the war was the result of seed sown long ago and not her fault. Several hundreds lost lives, Panchali lost her brother, father and beloved Karna only to get the blame of being the cause of war.
Only at the end when she dies, she comes to know her origin.
Try to remember that you are the instrument and I the doer.Krishna to Panchali
Therefore it is clear at the end that Panchali was just a pawn and this fate was chosen for her by the almighty. This novel justifies the allegations put on her since time eternal.
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