Books

The Palace of Illusions


Palace of Illusions

This one, written by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, definitely was an interesting read. We have all known the story of Mahabharata for a long time now but reading from the point of view of Draupadi gave it a new dimension. Infact, the cover of the book has a review from Outlook which says, “Divakaruni has given Draupadi a powerful voice,” and this is absolutely correct.

Draupadi, daughter of King Draupad was born out of fire along with her brother Dhristadyumna. All through her life Draupadi was aware of the significant role she was meant to play in creating history and bringing about a destructive war, but how and why she never knew. This is what forms the crux of the story. We get a glimpse of how she felt at this prophesy along with her endeavor to know more about the world outside her palace through her brother and Lord Krishna, her friend. A few visits like that of Sikandi helped her know more about important character of the story like Bheeshma.

Post her marriage to the Pandava brothers, she stayed for a brief period in Hastinapur and then shifted to Indraprastha where the Palace of Illusion was her home. Draupadi grew too attached to this Palace, so when Duryodhna won it in the game of dice, she could not tolerate it. Apart from this, her own humiliation at the hands of Kauravas infuriated her beyond limits. She needed revenge and all through the next thirteen years of the exile that the Pandavas were to suffer as a result of their defeat in gambling, she does not let this slip out of her husbands’ mind.

The war is destructive, and this is something she realizes after she looses her dear ones including her five sons. The war was meant to be fought with a code of conduct but every rule was flouted and most of the warriors were killed with deceit.

Life of the Pandavas after the war revolves around Abhimanyu’s son, Parikshit, but then Yudhistar was constantly in pains for killing his kins, specially Karna, his elder brother. So one day the Pandavas decide to leave for Himalayas where earth and heaven meet. Draupadi, who as always accompanies them, is the first to fall since she has her faults which prevents her from entering heaven in human form. Only Yudhistar manages to achieve this rare distinction.

The book makes for an interesting read mostly because of its narration which just flows. Draupadi relationship with her brother and Lord Krishna is worth reading. Though Draupadi prides in the fact that she will change the course of history, she is pained by the thought that the death of her brother will be her own doing. Her secret attraction of Karna throughout her life, her hatred towards Kunti and her views about her five husbands also make the book interesting. The book also has a lot of other interesting stories like that of friendship and rivalry between King Draupad and Drona and Bheesma and Sikandi.

The book is worth reading. Read it if you want to see Mahabharata from a new angle.

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Discussion

One thought on “The Palace of Illusions

  1. Hi Harshita,
    Thanks for the review.
    Draupadi’s character has always interested me…it’s so full of light and dark, and of yes and no – that it’s almost real. In fact, it can be said of many other characters in Mahabharat. This is what makes Mahabharat a more interesting read than Ramayana where the characters are portrayed either a positive or negative – never gray.
    Regards,
    Paarijaat.

    Posted by shafalipaarijaat | August 30, 2010, 12:22 am

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