The Curse of Being Woman: Mythological Echoes in Mahasweta Devi’s Draupadi

Shankar Lal Jhanjhnodia & Sanjit Mishra

Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee. Email:

  Volume 1, Number 3, 2016 I Full Text PDF

Article DOI:  10.21659/bp.v1n3.s107


Mythology, like history, has a tendency to repeat and reinvent itself. In order to comprehend the contemporary world, the modern writer seeks a parallel in the remote past.  Mahasweta Devi’s short story Draupadi revisits the past and recreates the character of the mythical Draupadi to formulate an account of a helpless woman who must fend for herself unlike the epical Draupadi who had Lord Krishna as her saviour. Both these characters—Dopdi of Mahasweta Devi’s story and the mythical Draupadi– symbolize exploitation at the hands of their patriarchs. However, Dopdi represents the extreme abjectness of circumstances in the case of a woman in the modern world that boasts of an ultimate cultural advancement. Separated by thousands of years in time, the two are united in this fictional account of Mahasweta Devi only to showcase the never-ending miseries of the women who are no better than the Fanon’s wretched of the earth.  This paper presents an analysis of Mahasweta Devi’s Draupadi under the archetypal framework given by the Canadian scholar Northrop Frye reasonably appropriated into the contemporary Indian context.

 Keywords: Mythology, Draupadi, Lord Krishna, exploitation, saviour, archetypal.