Re-writing The Story of Draupadi: An Analysis of The Veil of Draupadi (Le voile de Draupadi by Ananda Devi (Mauritius) and Yajnaseni by Pratibha Ray (India))

Author: MOHAR Daschaudhuri (University of Calcutta, India)
Speaker: MOHAR Daschaudhuri
Topic: Language, Gender, Sexuality
The (SCOPUS / ISI) SOAS GLOCAL CALA 2020 General Session


Mauritian Francophone writer Ananda Devi and Oriya (Indian) writer Pratibha Ray re-write Hindu mythology by giving voice to Draupadi or Yajnaseni, the great mythological character from the epic Mahabharata. These two novels which recount the myth in the first person modify the patriarchal cultural capital to bring forth new value systems defined by a more liberal and humane symbolic capital which re-inscribe symbols of fecundity and motherhood thus linking creativity with the power of inclusiveness, as opposed to a culture of dichotomy, war and death. The two novelists differ in their re-wrting the character of Draupadi, but they deploy narrative strategies which bring the mythical character of Draupadi to life in a modern context. The language, inspired by oral traditions, folklores, local myths, dismantles the epic linguistic traditions and uni-linear mode of writing through humour and irony, effects of chorus, inter-textual and palimpsestic strategies of writing.

The Mauritian and the Indian literary works will be analysed within the theoretical framework of Pierre Bourdieu’s theory of ‘cultural capital’ and in the light of the postmodern French feminist thought of Luce Irigaray, Helene Cixous, Julia Kristeva keeping in perspective complementary Indian feminist theories by Rajeswari Sunder Rajan, Ania Loomba and Tanika Sarkar. This comparative approach may help to not only see the universality of the feminist quest for an egalitarian place for the woman in the foundational mythical texts which form the Symbolic order of a culture, but also to find how in practice, historical and socio-cultural contexts deeply impact the vision of ‘egalitarianism’ in women’s lives in modern societies.

Keywords: Symbolic capital, cultural capital, mythology, Mahabharata.