I love to write on contentious topics.  here is a idea that germinated in my mind after reading the translation of the Mahabharata by C Rajagopal Chary. This is a very graphic account of the Mahabharata, which is essentially an account of a battle between two clans who were cousins, namely the Pandavas and Kauravas.

Throughout the epic,( it saw the light of day in about 4500BC); there are smaller tales that add up to create this epic. A central character in this entire epic is the princess Draupadi, who had married all the 5 Pandava brothers, namely Yudhishthira, Bhima, Arjuna, Nakula and Sahdeva. The Mahabharata eulogizes the beauty of Draupadi, who was the fairest queen one can think off and a woman of great charm. In modern terminology she probably exuded great sexuality.

One of the tales goes something like this. Draupadi was once plucking some flowers and fruits. She saw a low hanging tree and plucked a fruit. As she plucked she was startled to hear a vice from the tree. In effect the voice told her that she had sinned by plucking the fruit, which was meant for a Rishi ( holy man) who had meditated at this place. This Rishi was to eat the fruit, but now as you have plucked it, the Rishi will go hungry.

Draupadi was frightened  and called her husbands. She related the tale to them. The 5 Pandavas tried their best to fix the fruit back to the tree, but failed. The tree spoke again and addressed Draupadi. The tree stated that she  herself could have fixed the fruit back, if she had been a chaste woman in thought and deed.

Draupadi was shocked  by this statement of the tree and replied that she was a chaste woman who had been loyal to all her husbands. She mentioned that she only respected Lord Krishna who was like a brother to her. She mentioned that there was no other man in her thoughts. After a moments silence the tree spoke again and said that she was lying as another man had entered her thoughts.

A stunned Draupadi thought and then made a unique confession. She replied that yes, she was saddened that Karna was humiliated and thrown out during the swayamvara.  She admired him and  in case he had won she would gladly have become his wife. She also added that she would not then have been disrobed in public, called a whore and humiliated when her sari was stripped off her. Draupadi made this confession in the presence of her husbands. As she confessed, the tree said she had regained her chastity with this confession and now she could herself fix the fruit back. Bhima and Arjuna were incensed to learn that she  had  a soft corner for the mighty Karna. It must be mentioned that he was the greatest warrior of the Pandava clan and had even defeated Arjuna in battle, till he was killed by a ruse.

Yudhishthira was the only husband who understood what had happened. He saw the consternation of the 2 brothers and asked them to accompany him to a banyan tree in the middle of the night. They followed Yudhishthira and were stunned to see 9 lakh dieties under the tree. As they watched Draupadi materialized before them, Arjuna and Bhima realized that Draupadi was a goddess herself. The entire story whets the mind and one realizes that the Mahabharata is a repertoire of great wisdom. It brings out the power of confession.

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