Most of the stories we hear or see in India are inspired in some way or the other by the two great epics – Ramayana and Mahabharata. What is intriguing about these two epics is that you pick any character and that character is never purely good or bad. Each characterisation is just so layered. This is a trait that definitely stands out in the Mahabharata.
Take Arjun, for instance. He is the idealist in a world that is not ideal. He is aware that the toughest battles are not just on the battlefield. His conscience becomes his deadliest opponent. Arjun’s silence has always been misquoted as this warrior trudged along the path of dharma.
Similarly, Draupadi, the free-will who is bridled, dare I say, cruelly, questions why another person’s honour depends on her. Draupadi- the untamed tigress, the fragrant flame, goads the Pandava to find his own.
Krishn’s whose unique ideology – ‘Power does not justify sin’ – churns the battlefield into a quest for truth. His enigmatic philosophy says that virtue is that which lasts in spite of power. This trio is at the core of the story of Mahabharata – each of portraying the role of a missile, its trajectory and the vision. Their story is insightful, visceral and candid.
Arjun is the hero of the Mahabharata – he won Draupadi’s hand in the Swayamvar, he killed many from the Kaurava army, felled Karna and Bhishma. He also features prominently in the Bhagavad Gita, with Arjun’s hesitation in killing his family serving as the reason for Lord Krishn expounding about the laws of the world which are relevant even today. This flawed but heroic character sits at the centre of Dr Shinde Sweety‘s book Arjun: Without A Doubt along with the other pivotal characters in a book that aims to rediscover the aura around the best known Pandava brother. This is also the story of Draupadi – who also bore the cross of the responsibility of the war that was heaped on her.
Arjun Without A Doubt is a look into the injustices meted out to Arjun – who won Draupadi in the war for himself; and also Draupadi, who led a polygamous existence that was not her choice. Krishn then becomes the guide and best friend of these two characters who negotiate through the duties of dharma that were imposed upon them. The intersection of these three characters is beautifully depicted on the cover as well. There are artistic semiotic codes in the symbolization that are actually visually stunning – the arrow that is symbolic of Arjun, the peacock plume denotative of Krishna, the blue lotus and, flames portraying Draupadi.
The first person narrative has produced a dramatic effect throughout the story. Contradiction and conviction, love and passion, enmity and togetherness…. everything has been delineated through dialogues. The love story of Arjun and Draupadi – their trials and tribulations form the core of the narrative. The story starts with Draupadi’s swayamvar, the foundation of the most miserable yet beautiful love story of the history. This book is a saga of their constant triumph over the evils, both external and internal. Arjun is described as the idealist by the author and Draupadi is the support that lets him fulfill those lofty ideals. Krishn, the eternal enigma, is their chaperone – guiding them through the maze of their lives.
This the love story of Arjun and Draupadi that was showered with exiles and separation but nurtured with unmeasured passion and fire. The story starts with Draupadi’s swayamvar, the foundation of the most miserable yet beautiful love story of the history. This book is a saga of their constant triumph over the evils, both external and internal.
This fresh and unconventional portrayal of the epic is very relevant also to the problems faced by the successors of Draupadi – the modern women of today who seek empowerment and release from the shackles of their roles as envisaged by a patriarchal society. Note this extract from the book – something that Krishn says to Draupadi – “Once, there was a cub whose foot was tied to the tree trunk to prevent him from wandering off. Years passed, the cub grew up, the tree withered and the chain was chopped off. But the cub refused to believe it was free! Sometimes, the idea of bondage is stronger than the chains.”
This is the perfect book for lovers of the epic stories!
Text by Aarti Kapur Singh