Drupadi was dragged by her long hair across the great hall to the gambling table. Everyone in that room could hear her cry, yet no one to help her. Even her husband, Yudhistira, was mute. Arjuna, Nakula and Sadewa were likewise. There was only Bima, grinding his teeth in unstilted anger, muttering under his breath that Yudhistira had done wrong.
Yudhistira had gone too far for put his wife as a wager at the dice game. Bima was silent when his oldest brother made all members of Pandawa as a wager. He accept slavery if Yudhistira lost as to him he is his lord. Bima remained silent when Yudhistira wagered himself for only him responsible over himself. But, he was boiling with rage and trying to contain his anger as he knows that Yudhistira has no right to sacrifice Drupadi. What had this woman done wrong, except that she happened to be Yudhistira’s wife?
Dursasana’s eyes were bloodshot from drink, victory and passion. He dragged her by the hair. Laughter, coarse and nervously forced, was heard among the spectators when Dursasana tried to rip off Drupadi’s robe while said ‘come and serve me!’ Her cloth began to fall, but for some reason he was unable to strip naked this confused and helpless woman. Perhaps, it was a mysteriously heavenly help, perhaps it was that Dursasana was too fired with passion or perhaps it was the alcohol had gone to his head; but the cloth seemed to protect Drupadi’s fair skin. Each time a cloth layer was torn off by his shaking hand, it seems that her body was re-covered. And Dursasana fell unconscious at the climax of his passions.
The great hall seemed to sigh – it was relief that this tense scene had ended this way. But Drupadi’s story was not over. Half crawling she came to the old noble man who just sat watching everything with his sad eyes. She cried while ask the sage Bhisma; ‘My Lord, does Yudhistira have the right to wager me? Does he think that he has the right to own me when he no longer owns himself and his own liberty?’
Bhisma, known for his wisdom and detachment, answered; ‘I don’t know, my child. The ways of Darma are very subtle. What is right and what is not? Even a wisest man can only guess. Ask Yudhistira himself’
No utterance. But at that moment, a bird shrieked, a dog barked and the night sky seemed shattered, as they wanted to say that; nobody can own anyone, even a legitimate victory. Layers and layers of protection still lay between Drupadi and submission, between the subject and the lord.
Note; this post was adapted from the book ‘Mahabarata’ by Nyoman S. Pendit— November 21, 2008