Dharma and Women in the Mahabharata

1173 Words Jan 30th, 2018 5 Pages
In the Mahabharata- a Hindu

epic-the preservation of a woman’s sanctity is non-negotiable, and any violators of that

principle are bound to face dire consequences. Although whether or not the legitimacy of

Duryodhana winning Draupadi (and consequentially his ownership of her) is supported

by dharma is unclear, it’s irrelevant: his befouling of her feminine purity blatantly goes

against dharma, thereby sealing his fate.

Dharma, having no exact translation in English, can sometimes be difficult to

define. It is a divinely prescribed path of action for any given living being, with each

being’s dharma differing from others and many parts of dharma being determined by

social class (xviii). For example, despite the many atrocities that Duryodhana commits on

the battlefield and elsewhere, he is still granted entrance into heaven “by following the

Ksatriya dharma, a king who was never afraid even when the danger was great” (p. 780).

However, this does not mean that individual dharmas are exclusive to one

another. There are a few actions that are universally adharmic such as brahmanicide

and, most relevantly, the desecration of a woman’s sanctity. The former is evidenced by

Indra’s killing of the Brahman demon Vritra in the tenth…
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