Monday, August 31, 2009


Tonight at the Bharata Natyam Festival I saw two very different interpretations of the Draupadi story. I've included two photos of two artists. R. Rohini (the photo with pink tinge) is an actress; Shreelatha Vinod is a Bharata Natyam dancer.

Draupadi dp266

when dharma is mixed with revenge it’s a shame job
Draupadi born out of hatred is found on a mountain
her clothes in shreds her mind wandering
her mouth moves but the sounds are strangled
before they can form words

she had accepted fate when it delivered
the five-fingers-equals-one-hand marriage
she shared their ambitions and fears
she learnt archery and all about cows
and horses to encourage her sons

but she cannot forget that awful day
when her body was the crime
they dragged her to the assembly
she tried to cover herself they teased
and shame ran like blood

that five-fingered hand was deep in its pocket
it was not lifted instead it was fingering
the future with new gambles and she
was the booty her freedom lost
her dignity thrown out with the dice

Draupadi sits on that mountain the wind
running through her she sings a high lament
her pitch out of the range of speech
each time she tries to utter words the wind
snatches them from the edge of her lips

her god-brother comes to sit next to her
she argues through the wind-blown words
she says you gods are unfair my shame
cannot be spoken turn the world upside down
so the powerless can speak their truths

but the winds comes from all directions
the fill her mouth with air and whistle
into the god-brother’s ear and when he turns
to look at her to catch what she is saying
he can see only the silent moon against ice


  1. Thanks for the poem/story again Sue - I don't expect anyone to believe this but from age 8 to 12 my parents fruitlessly paid for dancing lessons for me - the genre was - yes - The Bharat Natyam! I promise i tried ... but the hockey field and climbing mango trees were far more enticing.

  2. Fortunately no one tried with me so by the time I was 22 and wanted to do modern dance I wasn't put off. I think I have the same reaction to ballet as you to Bharata Natyam. S

  3. Truth is I kept going back becuse I think I was in love with a one of the other girls in the class ...little did I know what this meant!

  4. There have been many myths about Goddess Draupadi, many are mis-interpretations, base-less. She is considered to be the grama devetha and kula devatha for many people. There are many shrines for Goddess Draupadi, spread in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. One of the shrines, where She is a Grama-Devatha and Kula-Devatha to many, is located in one of the small villages of Tamil Nadu.

    The village is named KONDAL, Mayiladuthurai Taluk, Nagapattinam District, Nidur P.O, Tamil Nadu. There are more details about Goddess and way to the shrine at:

    Draupadi Amman Thunai - May Her blessing be always on you all!!