The Role of Women in the Mahabharata
In the Mahabaratha, women are positively portrayed as part of the royalty in the epic like many men; daughters of kings or married to royalty (Brodbeck 16). Women are positively shown as being thoughtful and caring in the Mahabharata. There are four women who show us the place women occupy in ancient Indian society: Satyavati, daughter of the fishermen’s chief and mother of Vyasa; Gandhari King Dhritarashtra’s queen and mother of a hundred sons and one daughter; Kunti the mother of the Pandavas; and Draupadi renowned for her beauty in the entire Mahabharata. Hence, women espouse values that kings ought to possess.
They are negatively portrayed as dependents through over-association with men; husbands, sons, lovers, enemies and so on. They sometimes serve as lessons against promiscuity and sin (Fitzgerald 620). They are all associated with men. The society is patriarchal which values women less than men, and that makes the four women all the worthier of respect. They are powerful in the manner in which they are influential. For example, Kunti shows fairness by treating her step-children like her own. Gandhari, upon marrying the blind King Dhritarashtra ties a cloth over her eyes to show solidarity her husband. Draupadi shows forgiveness. They are victims of destiny rather than having the power to make their own choices.
All the four women named above bore great sons who either …
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