Just like the lotus flower which blooms and opens up its outer petals to reveal the inner whorl , this book also unfolds layers of the saga called Mahabharata in a form which acts as both a guide and an interpreter of life .The fact that the book is from a female perspective is what is most intriguing. For the first time the Mahabharata is not only about the war and the heroism of the pandavas but about what Draupadi (panchali) felt. The female voice adds to the narrative and makes for an interesting read . The title has been taken from the fantasy palace which the pandavas had build for themselves in Indraprastha .
Unlike the Mahabharata which portrays Draupadi as a pitiful character, Palace of Illusion gives a very different picture of her. Here is a woman who was strong, independent, beautiful, aware of her follies yet adamant at times. She is no less than any of the Pandava heroes. Queen of queens , envied by goddesses , yet destined to be remembered as the one who caused the great war . Rishi Vyas long before her marriage predicted her fate and warned her that her own nature, her temper , her pride and her vengeful nature will speed up the wheel of destiny . Draupadi , a miracle born out of fire , unwanted by her father yet destined to outlive and out shine most. Contrary to popular belief she was panchaali not because she had 5 husbands but because she was the spirit of the land of panchaal.
The saddest undertone in the book is Draupadi’s undying love for Karan the ill fated king….she saw his portrait before she saw Arjun’s and lost her heart to him .The quote “ love is like a lightening , if you are lucky it strikes you right . If not you will spend your life yearning for a man you can not have ‘’ echos Draupadi’s pain. The end of the novel however mysteriously unfolds a love affair that started its journey from eyes and ended it in the heart. Karan ‘’ a dark flower that refused to be uprooted from my heart ‘’ laments she .
What makes Palace of Illusions different is that here Draupadi gets to voice her thoughts…..it’s a man’s world she utters amidst tears . For after her marriage to the 5 pandav prince she was given the virginity boon. As per it after spending the year with one brother when she moves on to the next she would be pure and chaste again….a boon designed more for the husbands benefit sighed she . Females love from heart and she craved to be freed from the memories of the previous brother once she moved on. She belonged to five great kings yet she belonged to none and all this while her heart yearned for another.
The book ends on an even more interesting note. The treatment meted out to the chilling topic: death; is so monumental that it makes fear of death vanish all together . A fitting end to a story well told .
A perfect book for the present generation, who do not know the intricate details of the hindu mythology. Interesting, well integrated with facts and opinons. All the illusions summed up , charms chanted , magic created paved way for the great and terrible war of Kurukshetra which ended the third age of man.
Palace of illusions – A triumph from beginning to end