Title: The Palace of Illusions
Author: Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
“There was an unexpected freedom in ﬁnding out that one wasn’t as important as one had always assumed!”
Having read The Shiva Trilogy and Sita – Warrior of Mithila from The Ram Chandra Series by Amish, I found myself thoroughly enjoying the tales of Indian mythological fiction. I absolutely loved how Sita’s character was portrayed. So, when I came to know that there is a book on the retelling of the great epic Mahabharata from Draupadi’s point of view, The Palace of Illusions went straight to the top in my list.
The women in Indian history have largely gained their reputation as the wives/sisters/mothers of great warriors that walked on earth. As the tales were written by men, the women were often left in the sidelines, their opinions and perspectives going unnoticed. But one can’t deny that even their roles took a massive amount of unmatched strength to play.
Draupadi, the protagonist, is a prominent female character in Mahabharat. Emerging out of the sacrificial fire, she was the epitome of Dharma. She has integrity, inordinate amount of inner strength, her feelings of love is full of passion and is also pragmatic and loyal. The book made me question the fairness of societal rules. Some of the characters in this epic, are even now considered Gods by the Hindus and worshiped with tremendous faith. Yet they were also a part of the system that did true injustice to women in the name of the greater good.
In this book, there is history and then there are the added layers of fiction. Pragmatism doesn’t allow you to accept the tales of magic, but that didn’t mean I wasn’t in awe of the events it unfolded. I absolutely enjoyed the interpretation of the author, rereading the history of the great epic through Panchali’s eyes. How you find stark differences when you hear a story from the point of view of the different characters involved!
I completely enjoyed reading the book. The only thing I think is missing is a more in-depth and elaborate details of the events that took place during the time spent at the Palace of Illusions, the Palace which was constructed by the Pandavs at Indraprasth.
“Love comes like lightning, and disappears the same way. If you are lucky, it strikes you right. If not, you’ll spend your life yearning for a man you can’t have.”