“Yuganta: The End of an Epoch”, by Irawati Karve does not just elucidate the story of Mahabharata; instead she delves into the human aspect of the epic. With a scientific, historical, impersonal and anthropological approach, she dissects the various characters and focuses on their foibles while keeping their very obvious strengths under consideration.
The part/chapter of Draupadi in Yuganta basically compares Ramayana and Mahabharata and primarily the women in Ramayana and Mahabharata i.e. Sita and Draupadi respectively. Now, quite few things she states seem outrageous but, well, the beauty of both of these epics is that every reader can cherish the independence of interpretation which adds to the richness of these epics and hence even Karve’s perception should be taken into consideration.
Karve also draws attention to the differences amongst the relative position of the women in their in-laws family. The arrival of Sita into Rama’s life gave him a devout wife, whereas Pandava’s get a new position upon marrying Draupadi. Karve also points out various nuances in the personalities of the two women. While sita represented the ability to bear with suffering; Draupadi was more of a kind who sought avenge for any wrongdoing (verbal or physical) inflicted on her. She even herself express herself as “nathavati anathavat” – as in having a husband, but still like a widow. This phrase alone portrays the agony that has imbibed her.
Though one thing that Karve draws our attention to, and seems a very valid argument, is that when Draupadi went into exile, she and her family had been disgraced whereas when Sita and her family went into exile, people’s respects for them increased. So, Draupadi had a lot of mental baggage while in exile whereas Sita was mentally free which could be why Sita handled the exile situation very calmly and maturely without fuming or raging whereas for Draupadi it was a terrible experience. In fact, that continues for the rest of Mahabharata, from the moment Draupadi and her family were disgraced, something inside her snapped forever (which is quite understandable too considering the ordeals she faced).
So, on the whole, the essay is one more perception of the epics. There are points and arguments which seem quite logical and provoke thinking but then there are also many arguments which seem totally illogical and flawed. But then, considering that this is a person’s perception and opinion and considering that this is about Ramayana and Mahabharata, there can never be truths or lies or a single line of thinking, there can only be views. We can have opinions about the epics but can never reach conclusions and that is exactly the point of the epics.
This was the synopsis of Yuganta: The End of an Epoch. There are many who prefer downloading books to their eBook readers or iPads, or computers. There are also many who console themselves that digital books look like real paper. If you are one of them and if you feel that the ebooks give out the same lignin as the real books do, here is the link to download the pdf file.
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