By award-winning novelist and poet Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni.A Place of Illusion is a 2008 novel.The Palace of Illusions is an elucidation of the incidents of the Hindu epic Mahabharata through the lens of the woman wedded to the greatest heroes of their time as five Pandava brothers. The novel is written in first person, giving Panchali’s own thinking on her own life. Though popularly known as Draupadi (literally meaning daughter of Drupad), she quickly asserted again herself and gave a new name herself Panchali (meaning from the Kingdom of Panchala), refusing the egoistic name her father gave her and rejecting to faith that her identity was to be bound by the men in her life.
Draupadi has been represented mostly negatively in Hindu society. Many faith that it was her headstrong actions that brought about the demolition of the Third Age of Man and she is known to be a kritya, one who brings downfall to her dynasty. But Divakaruni gives a notion that is far away from such interpretations to show a new outlook on Panchali. Divakaruni sketch Panchali as an independent, powerful, and strong woman, an equal to the men around her rather than submissive. She presents Panchali’s universe as a series of option made by Panchali, and not the persons around her, giving her a voice in the overwhelmingly patriarchal society that was ancient India. Divakaruni’s explanation of the epic gives a complete narrative as giving a powerful role to the women of the story, and portray them as equals in society.
Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni has composed an extremely gripping and emotional mythological-cum-historical-fiction novel, The Palace of Illusions that spoke the great epic Indian mythological story, Mahabharata from the point of view of the most fearless and brilliant female character, Draupadi, who entwine her thoroughly soul-touching yet enduring life tale starting from the day she was born to the day she left her kingdom and palace to escort behind the footsteps of her husbands to heaven. Yes, you can call it a fanfiction of Mahabharata, in modern terms.
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