Whenever we talk about this iconic woman from Mahabharat.. It comes an image of a strong woman who demands justice and revenge.. What we fail to see is that what made her so strong. Perheps being strong was the only choice for her.
Since her birth,nobody trated her as an individual. It is said that she was born from fire. Fire here could be symbolic for revenge. Her father Drupada wanted revenge of his insults from Drona and so he performed “Putrakamesthi yagya” and got a son and daughter. Then during her swayamvara, she had no choice to make , she was just a prize to be won in an archery contest. .After Arjuna won her hand, and they went to Kunti,again she was in difficult situation when Kunti said to divide “alm”they have got, among all five. Nobody asked about her opinion that what she wants to do.
Then again during dice game, she was suddenly a prize won by Duryodhana. Dushashana dragged her,Duryodhana’s friends mocked her. Karna called her unchaste woman,because she had 5 husband. Dushasana tried to disrob her in public. Nobody tried to save her. Not even elders like Bhishma and Drona. Vikarna tried to stop but his opinion didn’t matter just because he was young .She had five husbands but none of them came to help. Bhima was in rage,he wasn’s silent spectator like other Pandavas, but Arjuna stopped him as he thought they can’t go against their elder brother.
During this incident, she turns out to be a very strong woman. She asked question to whole assembly that why there were silent. She questioned them their Dharma fearlessly. But all of them were silent. All of them thought she was now property of Kaurava. Everyone thought about rules but nobody thought for the plight of a woman who was standing there wearing single attire. (During that time, woman wore single attire during menstrual period and don’t come out of their room)
She still forgave Pandavas. But she never forgot how she was being treated. When Krishna came to meet them she said painful words “I have no husbands, no sons, no relatives,no friends,not even you Krishna ” At this point Krishna promises her that he will give her justice. “Earth will drink blood of Dushasana, Duryodhana, Sakuni and Karna”he promised.
As if this wasn’t enough, life kept putting her in hard situations again and again. Jaidrath and then Kichaka tried to harass her. She got justice at the end,but it took away alot from her.
At last,during their journey to the swarga, its her who falls first. Nobody,except Bhima,looks at her. Yudhisthira gives the reason like”She loved Arjuna more that other husbands” really? This is the reason of her fall? But what about them?Did they ever treated her respectfully,did they ever realized that they were failure as husbands of her, did they gave the love she was craving for? Was not it their duty too?or it’s only woman who should be dutiful all the time, not vice-versa?
It must be very difficult to live the life she had..Whose opinions, nobody asked,whose self-respect never mattered to the people she loved. And perhaps that makes her a strong iconic character that she managed to be very strong and demanded justice in the patriarchal society which can never understand a woman. Sometimes I wonder from where she got all the courage she had. Perhaps only Krishna can answers.. It’s him after all,the only man in my opinion, who truly cared for her.