Friday, January 14, 2011

Decoding Mythology: The Faithful Mandodari

Mandodari, wife of Ravan, is considered one of the most perfect women in Indian mythology. Why?

An upcoming filmstar allegedly raped his maid servant. His wife stood by him. A Police inspector allegedly molested a young sportswoman. His wife stood by him. Are these women Mandodaris of modern times? Media has tried and judged the accused. They are, for the media, Ravan — demon men who do not respect the rights of women. The court is undecided. They are probably Ravan. Or probably Ram.

Mandodari, queen of Lanka, is regarded as a Sati or a pious wife who stands by her hus-band no matter what. She is one of the five great heroines or Panchakanya of Hindu mythology, the other four being: Ahalya, Tara, Sita and Draupadi. All these women have fractured relationships with their husbands. Ahalya is abandoned by Rishi Gautama for having an extramarital affair; Tara marries her hus-band's younger brother Sugriva, after Vali is killed; Sita is abandoned by Ram following street-gossip even though she is faithful and chaste; and Draupadi has five husbands who gamble her away.

Mandodari deals stoically with the fact that her husband is a certified villain. Not much is known about her.

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