The Palace of Illusions


Born from the fire, it was prophesied that princess Draupadi would leave her mark on history. She would be the reason for one of the biggest wars in the history of Bharath which would wipe out the third age of man. We all know the story of the Mahabharatha and how an insult to one women and her subsequent thirst for revenge wiped out an entire clan of more than 100 brothers and others who supported them. But how many of us have actually stopped to think what went through Draupadi’s mind during all these moments and events that altered history?

In a world dominated by men, in a world where the role of the wife was just about taking care of her husband and family and their needs, we are given the opportunity to take a look into the mind of the women who changed it all and in the process set the ball rolling for generations to follow. Having said this, I found that I could relate myself a lot to the character of Draupadi – her need to be independent and not really give up her personality traits no matter what….

Some factors stand out throughout the book like its spine; Like how hate and revenge fuel Draupadi’s fire to bring down those who insulted her and took away everything from her. It seems as if she has realized that her husbands cannot really help her cope with her loss and she makes the best use of their talents to get back rightfully what belongs to them – the kingdom of Hastinapur and also quench her thirst by destroying those who treated her like some kind of vermin.

Another interesting factor that made its presence felt throughout the book was the “Palace of Illusions” the beautiful palace that was built specially for the Pandavas and Draupadi by the asura Maya. The palace unable to exist without its rightful owners and disintegrates to when Duryodhan tries to claim it. Though this pleases Draupadi, the thought loosing of the only place she calls home, the only place where she was truly herself and found a sense of peace and belonging helps in keeping her hatred for the Kauravas fresh and ultimately destroying them.

Moving on to the colorful characters and what motivates their actions: Apart from Draupadis emotional turmoil, we have the Pandavas agreeing to battle to put an end to the ruling of their bad natured cousin Duryodan and to avenge their wife. Duryodan who all his life always worried about loosing Hastinapur one day to its rightful owners and was obsessed with the need to cheat his cousins out of their rights. His father Dirdhirashta who suffered from an inferiority complex all his life owing to his blindness and could never get over the fact that his better brother Pandu was made King over him and ruled until he was cursed!

And the women Kunti and Gandhari – the former a passive aggressive character making sure that her sons were brought up with the sole aim of claiming back what was theirs. A special mention should be made between the bond that was shared between Kunti and Draupadi – that of a mother in law and daughter in law. It seems that they hated each others guts and character – no different from most MILs and DILs in the world! I found this ironically funny! And Gandhari, if only the blindfolded queen Gandhari taught her sons to share, the whole debacle could have been averted in the first place.

Karna who only wanted to belong but could never find peace while he lived, with Bheeshma the patriarch who was torn between duty and what was right! Topping these characters and more is the dashing and amazing ‘Kirshna’ whose magic is felt throughout. The special bond that he shares with Draupadi(she feels that they were drawn to each other because of their dark skin), the way he uses his wits and charms to pacify even those who curse him and how he never forsakes his believers makes me a much bigger fan of his than I ever was.

The book just doesn’t stop with how the war was won and the happily ever afters! It goes ahead and describes how the Pandavas had to get over the grief of their loved ones killed in battle, coming to terms with their loss, picking up the pieces of a war ravaged kingdom and shaping it back to prosperity and their final journey – their march to death. Even here they are joined by their faithful wife Draupadi – she joins them on a journey that women never make. What can I say other than the fact I totally get her! I mean I always seem to do things that others don’t want to do or try and later take the back lash for it and even ignore it! So you see we are all crazy in good way!

Seems I could go on and on about the book and how it has inspired me to read the actual Mahabharatha! Do check out this book – its worth all the bucks you would pay for it!

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