Mahabharata Showcased: A Time Travel Into The Ancient Indraprasta
First Indraprasta Festival in Delhi brings alive the ancient Indraprasta of the Pandavas.
It all started on the crisp morning of 18 November 2016!
The much-awaited First Indraprasta Festival was held in Delhi, taking visitors back in time to the Mahabharata era. Aligned with the World Heritage Week the week-long festival was put together, after several months of preparatory work, by Neera Misra, chairperson of the Draupadi Dream Trust, an organisation working for the empowerment of women and our ancient heritage and culture.
For more than 21 years, Misra has been working as a social entrepreneur and this is the third cultural event organised by her, the last two being the Panchala Mahotsava in New Delhi (December 2013) and the Mahabharata Festival in Lucknow (in 2015).
It was as if two time-portals have opened up in Delhi into the heart of the ancient Indraprasta of the Pandavas! One was at the Pandav Fort (PuranaQuila) situated along the Old Mathura Road and the other one was at the National Museum, New Delhi.
Rare manuscripts, paintings and other artefacts related to Indraprasta were displayed at the Pandav Fort venue of the festival that was inaugurated by Rajya Sabha MP, Dr Subramaniam Swamy.
Yours truly, contributed two paintings on Indraprasta that were displayed at the two venues, bringing the ancient consciousness of Indraprasta to Delhi.
The paintings brought alive the city of Indraprasta, situated on the banks of the Yamuna River that has been described in the Mahabharata as shining white with mansions painted in white and the sabha-griha, the hall of assembly, constructed by Danava architect Maya, donning clear, shiny floors resembling the surface of water.
This palatial hall viz the Maya Sabha was an architectural wonder. My painting shows emperor Yudhisthira seated on the throne flanked by his four brothers Bhima, Arjuna, Nakula and Sahadeva. All the famous kings, heroes and sages in the Bharatavarsha are shown as present in this sabha, invited by emperor Yudhisthira. The dignitaries include Yadava heroes like Krishna Vasudeva, Balarama and Ugrasena, kings like Drupada of Panchala, Sisupala of Chedi, Dyumatsena of Kekaya, Jayatsena of Magadha, Srutayuta of Kalinga, Kamata of Kamboja, Jatasura of Madraka, Chanur of Yavana, the kings of Karusha, Anga, Vanga, Pundra, Videha and others like GandharvaChitrasena, Puru, Kshemaka and Kakshasena. Sages like Krishna Dwaipayana Vyasa.
Besides the visual feast, the visitors were also treated to cultural programmes, immersing Delhi in the ancient sounds of veena, mrudanga and other musical instruments. As the lotus feats of the dancers hit the ground, it reverberated in the hearts of the viewers, teleporting them to the Mahabharata era, reconnecting them to their ancient roots in the itihasa purana cosmos!
The spectacular inaugural programme showcased the WayangKulit – Mahabharata Legend, where 15 artistes from Bali (Indonesia) unleashed the tale of the making of Indraprastha. WayangKulit is a UNESCO-protected folk tradition.
A highlight was Draupadi Antarkatha, a dance drama, conceived by Misra. It was a touching play where Draupadi lamented the abuse she had to bear in the modern world despite Vyasa extolling her as one among the five great women (Panchakanya). Despite Krishna and Vyasa concluding in Mahabharata that Draupadi is pure and free of any blemishes, the present world accuses her as the cause for the great Kurukshetra War. In the play, Krishna consoles her and through their dialogues, the viewers realise the innocence of Draupadi.
In the Mahabharata, we see Duhsasana ravaging the honour of women, and similarly, in today’s world we see thousands of such Duhsasanas assaulting the modesty of women. Krishna then came to the rescue and draped her with a sari, protecting her honour. In today’s world we see many looking the other way, when atrocities are committed against women. A kingdom of Duhsasanas is emerging in Syria and Iraq and is spreading to the whole world like a cancer! This must stop! It is time for all of us striving for the welfare of the society to proactively work to protect the honour of our women, a trait that is rooted in the principles of Dharma. It is only when Draupadis of today can walk the streets without any fear of assaults that we can truly say that Dharma is alive. Dharma resides in the freedom and safety of Draupadi. When Draupadi is in distress, Dharma is in distress. She thus embodies Dharma. She is indeed the queen of Indraprasta!
The cultural showcase included Pandwani folk performance by Teejan Bai and a classical Odishi dance ‘AndhaYug – Gandhari’ by Sharon Lowen. Kala Anjali was a tribute to Indraprasta through paintings at Pandav Fort. A craft and cuisine session representing the ancient era and personalities was followed by a panel discussion on governance, Dharma, woman and justice.
An international conference themed, Indraprastha: Archaeology & History, Art & Culture and Legacy, Development & Preservation, was held as part of the festival. It was attended by scholars from different parts of the world. The conference concluded with a resolution that Delhi be renamed Indraprasta, in light of the clarity achieved with the help of the papers presented and the discussions. The session also concluded that the nation has to focus more on the empowerment of women with Draupadi as the icon of woman empowerment.
As you are no doubt aware, Swarajya is a media product that is directly dependent on support from its readers in the form of subscriptions. We do not have the muscle and backing of a large media conglomerate nor are we playing for the large advertisement sweep-stake.
Our business model is you and your subscription. And in challenging times like these, we need your support now more than ever.
We deliver over 10 - 15 high quality articles with expert insights and views. From 7AM in the morning to 10PM late night we operate to ensure you, the reader, get to see what is just right.
Becoming a Patron or a subscriber for as little as Rs 1200/year is the best way you can support our efforts.