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The Model of Behavior of Women According to the Mahabharata

The Mahabharata is the longest epic in the world literature and is one of the greatest works of Indian literature, which incorporated philosophical, religious, and social basic ideas of the traditional Indian society. This work is very interesting from different point of view and it is so huge and informative that it seems that the entire life will be not enough to fully research this epic, not surprisingly that “what is found here, may be found elsewhere. What is not found here will not be found elsewhere”

It is necessary to define what the Mahabarata appeals women for, what model of behavior is promoted. At this respect the epic is quite controversial. On the one hand there is Ganga who kills her sons, leaves her husband and ruins the family. On the other hand, there is Gandhari, who seems to be in the other extreme for she joins her husband in his blindness. Furthermore, the fate of Amba reveals the idea that active model of behavior, boldness and disobedience from the part of women will be obligatory punished, since she is abandoned by her husband and rejected by Bhishma. Quite symbolically, in her attempt to revenge she spends 12 years standing on one toe in the snow to learn the secret of Bhishma’s death and she gets a chance to revenge only when she changes sex with a demon to become a man. In such a way, it is obvious that active and bold actions have to be done by men while women should primarily care about the family and moral norms traditional for Indian society and protect them as Draupadi does when she gets abused by Dhritarashtra.

Anyway, on reading the Mahabharata, a reader realizes that women characters are depicted quite critically and mainly their behavior is criticized and condemned basically because they violated social norms and fail to contribute to the family unity as Ganga, Amba and, in a wayFeature Articles, Draupadi did while Gandhari is rather a symbol of an ideal woman as Indian society view it.

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