Chapter

Draupadī and Sītā

Alf Hiltebeitel

in Dharma

Published in print August 2011 | ISBN: 9780195394238
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199897452 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195394238.003.0010

Series: South Asia Research

Draupadī and Sītā

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This chapter comes back to women's dharma: now depicted not so much through maternal generations as in its enactment by each epic's chief heroine. Rather than being portrayed biographically, the heroine appears episodically. She is introduced through brief and indirect glimpses of her scenes of birth, youth, and marriage, and emerges centrally only in her handling of each epic's decisive crisis, which involves specifically her violation: Draupadī's hairpulling and disrobing at the Mahābhārata dice match and Sītā's abduction. Focusing on Draupadī and Sītā as dharmapatnīs or “legal wives” brings into relief what each makes of her svadharma, and of a woman's dharma in crisis, exile, and especially in Sītā's case, captivity. In both cases, the heroine intimates a perception of being the pawn and victim of a divine plan beyond her own devising.

Keywords: Draupadī; Sītā; dharmapatnī; dice match; disrobing; abduction; captivity; svadharma; divine plan

Chapter.  18874 words. 

Subjects: Hinduism

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