Women as Mediators of Social Truths in Epics: A Comparative Study of Draupadi and Kannaki

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Swastishree Saikia


Indian epics features a world of heroism and mysticism. The heroic ethos and magical ritualistic atmosphere pervade the epic space. The ritual underpinnings exemplify the sacredness of epic poetry. The world of epic recants the story of the semidivine heroes who bear the spear of justice. Cilappattikaram departs from the patriarchal heroic world and goes on to establish a woman who achieves divinity. Draupadi in the dicing episode of The Mahabharata questions the patriarchal order of the assembly hall. Both these women challenge the norms of a patriarchal society that subdues the voice of a woman. The verbal impotence of the woman characters in epics is subverted only when they encounter an ethical dilemma, thereby projecting the social truths and realities. The role of a chaste wife or the caring mother labelled on a woman in the epic shows the preoccupation of the patriarchal world with woman’s sexuality and its control.

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