Panchali

Pānchālī

Pulled into my husbands’ court by my uncombed hair

Thrown onto the floor where hundreds of feet touch their thick, red silk

The flowing carpet rises and falls like the mist of my garden

I know you are immovable in your rage Shákuni

Your ego knows no limits, it is like a snake stalking a mouse

Quietly without remorse in its meager heart

All eyes watch me cry in anguish as you pull my sari

To end of this room it flows like the Gaṅgā

Shining with its thin, gold-laden fabric

And crippled by your greedy fingers

Dignified beauty you tossed with your dice

Human emotions you sacrificed with your heart

Bring your eyes to mine to see one word: regret

Ha! You are the nectar’s enemy: regret!

If you took me then Kṛṣṇa will smite you right now!

His chakra, a knife for your spineless body

All my fears that followed me at night with my friends

Nibbling on their black pearls while I watched the roses rise

They are you…a shadow that rapes the moon

I cannot give you my body for it belongs to Keśava!

My life will one day be returned to his home

To live as a cowherd while churning milk for his hungry lips

The boyish smile and curly hair that barely touches his shoulders

His eyes so wide yet shaped like the waning moon

Little specks in the corner of both eyes are galaxies unknown to us

So far away other people exist for whom Kṛṣṇa is their king

If I am his then he is my king too

Shákuni, you are the drunken ego, a corrupted seed for humanity!

My body is a vase holding the virtues of Sūrya

He touched my spirit to give me a bite of his own

Disrobing me in front of my husbands and all the Āryas of their kingdom

is a sacrilege!

I cry to you to stop this great injustice!

Can’t you see I have sunken into a sea of distress!?

No, you are busy drowning my voice with your wicked laughter

Brahmā gave you a boon that protects your life from any physical or divine harm

Yet, has he no shame when seeing this monstrous deed?

Ma! You are Sarvāsuravināśā, come to my rescue!

Show your terrifying face to this savage

Make him cower under your crippling stare, ma!

Turn his limbs into brittle sticks so he will stop treating my honor like a toy

Sunil P. Narayan

2 Responses to “Panchali”


  1. 1 parwatisingari October 11, 2010 at 4:38 am

    If this is the plea of Panchali, then the poet has missed the very essence of Panchali.

    • 2 Sunil Narayan November 13, 2010 at 1:17 pm

      Hi🙂. I am familiar with the Mahabharata, having studied it for my classical pieces. “Panchali” is my feminist version of the scene in the royal court of Duryodhana’s father. I did it as a tribute to the strong will, great dignity, great intelligence and great inner strength of Draupadi. I admit it’s not exactly like the actual scene but I love my portrayal of Draupadi. I wanted to do something progressive with regards to Indian poetry.


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