One watched in disbelief as the venerated Mahabharata descended to farce, liberally drawing from the Mills & Boons of today! The elders and the generations which grew up on the staple of Mahabharata would have watched the episodes mystified as none of the books they read ever described a sequence where romance and ‘connection between souls’ was heralded by a gust of wind , a blissful closure of eyes and a indescribable feeling of awareness of the invisible beloved. The current lot of course would not even have batted an eyelid at this fusion having watched many such scenes before in other romances.
One might argue that the current rendition of Mahabharata is trying to explore and present the hitherto unexplored aspects of Draupadi, her emotions, her feelings and her thoughts. Nonetheless, the fact remains that the many versions that have come about and are existing today have been united on one point that although Arjun was her favorite, Draupadi did not have any romantic feelings towards him prior to marriage nor was there any hero worship from the intelligent dame and in the case of Arjun, although he respected and cared for Draupadi, Subhadra was his loved one. Casting aside such frivolous considerations, there were several good moments in the episode.
Draupadi comes to the temple of Shiva to find answers to her questions and finds her husbands instead! Draupadi being a Kshatriya and a royal follows Dharma and serves bhojan to the Brahmans; Bhim the glutton, lands up amidst them to partake in the lavish feast. Draupadi, who had felt the presence of Arjun and had gone in search of him, walks back towards the temple, her path taking her through the feasting Brahmans. The Brahmans clamber to their feet as soon as the royal princess walks among them save Bhim. Bhim is intent on his meal and is focused on that, he neither pays attention to Draupadi nor scampers up in servitude, a subtle touch emphasizing that Bhim is a equal to Draupadi by virtue of his lineage as well as the future husband, for a husband does not have to shoot up to pay respects to his wife every time she passes by.
Excellent Research about the days of Yore
Kudos to the research team of Mahabharata for it might be forgotten knowledge now but in earlier ages when earthen ware was the only means of cooking for the poor, a certain tradition was followed and that was highlighted in the episode when Arjuna comes to the temple to collect clay for the formation of utensils. While the clay or soil from any other parts could be used for various other purposes, only the clay from near the temple was used for kitchen purposes. The thought behind such a notion being that the clay would be considered pure and only pure things can be allowed inside the kitchen where Agni, the fire resides. This action underlines that fire was held in high regard by the ancients and efforts were taken not to anger the fire god. For those who dismiss such a notion as superstition, there was another more practical reason too. In the times when there was a absence of public toilets and when the whole open earth served as the public urinal’s, the temple area was considered sacrosanct and no desecration of the temple was allowed by either doing the morning rituals nearby nor allowing animals near it. Hence that area would be reasonably safe from many bacterial infections which might prove fatal to humans who would be consuming food from the utensils made of earth. Arjun going to the temple to get the clay highlighted the habits of the yore while fusing the romantic situation that arose due to the temple visit. This was done to pander to the modern viewer’s sensibility and rake in the much needed TVT. One just hopes that in their ardor to fetch more TVT’s, they will not twist the entire Mahabharata and come up with a version that does not stay close to the epic; an epic that teaches one about life, duty and dharma; it would be a pity if the book got reduced to a masala pot boiler.
By Uma Eshwari
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