When we attempt to understand the saga of the Mahabharata, we come across many books pertaining to the epic. Therefore, it becomes a daunting task for an author to ignite the interest of the readers about his work which relates with this most explored and over exploited subject. Here, the author, Anuradha Singh ,comes off with flying colours as she strives to present an altogether novel version of Draupadi, the female protagonist in her book ‘’The Essence of Draupadi’’. The title of the work sends us the feelers that this book has been conceived and created from the feministic point of view. The fact can not be refuted that the world of mythological writing has several perspectives on the epic but most of them are unfortunately just driven by male centric notion and hence they shed ample amount of light on this historical tale of The Mahabharata from a purely patrachial standpoint. Contrary to that, the writer of this book must be immensely applauded for the fact that she has excellently introduced the readers with the true essence of the queen Draupadi who personifies the idea of women empowerment in the olden bygone times.
Adhering to the feministic streaks of scholars like Elaine Showalter and Simone de Beauvoir, Anuradha has succeeded to a large extent in demolishing the old fossilised concept of masculinity and thus informs the readers that Draupadi was the epitome of women empowerment and the paragon of feminine strength. Unlike the conventional heroes, the five Pandavas, this book revolves around the heroine Draupadi, who emerges as a greatly charismatic woman of unflinching courage and unflagging zeal. The book is also loaded with deep symbolism and it seems to be a sardonic satire against the male chauvinistic pattern of society. Much to our chagrin, we are the dwellers of a parochial minded society in which the opinion of women is seldom sought pertaining to the matters of great import. But such was not the case with Pandavas as they would always hold Draupadi in high estimation and great esteem.
In the further analysis of the various aspects of this amazing collection of stories, we meet 12 women from different walks of life who draw inspiration from Draupadi at crucial junctures in their lives. Draupadi becomes the queen of Bharatvarsha’s most prosperous kingdom, but is also molested by men who are her close relatives amidst the deafening silence of the wise men in the royal court. Still, she has the audacity to ask them questions. She does not capitulate at any point of time in her life. Later, when the Pandavas come back victorious after the war and begin to rule over Hastinapur for the next thirty-six years, Draupadi renders her most significant contribution for ameliorating the pathetic and pitiable condition of the widows and the other women who have to struggle hard to make their both ends meet and deal with post war traumas. She is fully dedicated to the idea of service to society and lend a helping hand to one of her husbands Yudhishthira in reviving Hastinapur from its ashes. Her spirit still resides in Jaya, Devi, Tara, Kumud, Shobha, Meenakshi, Bella, Malini, and in each and every Indian woman, whose stories find place in this book. How does Draupadi inspire them is a question, the answer to which must be left for readers to find out. Hence, it will be pertinent to remark that with a remarkable knack for creative writing, the author of this deeply thought-provoking book has proffered us a unique blend of mythology and modern storytelling. The stories evoke very subtle emotions and reflect over the profound experiences that are relevant to modern society. The writing is well-paced and keeps the reader fully engrossed. To conclude, it is a must read book for all the sections of readers.