Why does the poet Lakshmi Kannan hold the academic institution responsible for Draupadi's condition today?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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There might be a couple of premises that could be examined in the question.  The most primary one would be how the condition of Draupadi, as a figure, has been examined by the academic institution and social reality, in general.  Kannan seems to be arguing that the response to what happened to Draupadi was ineffectual and probably inappropriate.  She feels that the academic and social institituions failed to grasp the reflective vision of shame that should have been evident with her disrobing and her mistreatment.  When Kannan writes, ""She had done it/ Has offended the supreme male/ Into a sudden silence/ By her terrible nakedness," it signifies that she believes that the story of Draupadi is not a cause for war, or a reason to go into battle.  She does not seem to see it as validating narrative as one where Krishna's power of continually supplying the sari that others seek to disrobe.  Rather, she sees it as a moment where a male controlled social and academic institution must see their own actions through the eyes of the woman. Rather than use the story of Draupadi as a moment for self congratulation as to how far progress might have been made, Kannan seems to be suggesting that the only truth that can be taken from it is to be shamed into a "sudden silence" through seeing her as naked and violated.  It might be worthy to note that the violation of Draupadi might not even be the disrobing first, as much as the idea of her being "put up" as an object of bartering.  In either reality, she was violated, her dignity stripped even before her clothes.  Akin to how some see the Goddess Kali as a personification of the awful condition at which men have treated women, Kannan asserts through the poem that Draupadi has to be seized at a moment where men see themselves through her eyes, a shared consciousness that provokes silence and shame. Just as Kali might be staring back at men, forcing them to accept their culpability for what has been done to subjugate women, Draupadi might serve the same function. It is only from this point that progress can be made and blame goes around until social and academic institutions do so.

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