Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Hands Up

The moment anyone says 'Hands Up', an image of someone holding a firearm at a bank robbery crosses my mind. This image of someone holding a gun to your back at point blank and asking you to raise your hands is so etched in our minds that I forget endless hours of punishment (for constantly talking while the class was on) where I had to kneel down and hold my hands up in school.

Another memory of holding our hands high were the weekly yoga lessons in school. While doing 'tadasana/urdhva hastasana', "Stretch them high enough to touch the sky", our teacher used to say. It increases blood circulation in the body by giving the vital organs free space to work more efficiently,  they preached as we stood on our toes, trying to reach the ceiling if not the sky

Then there is the Mexican wave. A totally different version of 'hands up'. Adrenalin, happiness, jubilation!

Kavita Dwibedi & team performing at DODACON 2012
Yesterday I saw another example of 'hands up'. I saw a beautiful Odissi dance recital by Kavita Dwibedi. The theme of one of the dances was 'Draupadi Vastraharana' where Draupadi is being forcefully disrobed in a court full of Kings, courtiers and relatives after she was dragged around with force by pulling her hair.

Dushassana kept unwrapping Draupadi and she helplessly sought the help of all elders, her husbands, her in-laws and all present in the court by pleading with one hand and clutching her saree with the other, no one came forward to help her.

She even falls down on the feet of her aggressors. They just laugh and continue stripping her.
She is humiliated beyond words.

Draupadi calling out to Krishna - A madhubani painting

She closes her eyes. Folds her hands and prays to Lord Krishna. After salutations to him, she throws up both her hands in despair and lets this heinous act continue without any resistance from her anymore. 

That is when Lord Krishna comes to her rescue by miraculously extending her saree into reams which Dusshasana gets tired of pulling and finally gives up.

Most of the Indians know this story but very few are aware that as per the legend, only when Draupadi throws up both her hands in surrender does she get help. Why didn't Krishna help her before? Why didn't she get help when she pleaded. Why only when she gave up?

What is it with us and raising our hands up in praise, prayer, surrender, happiness? Abandonment or submission, it does give us a sense of letting go. A sense of release. It symbolises our connect with forces outside of us for help or expression. Hence the hands up I guess.

But whenever we are scared, worried, thoughtful, ashamed etc., we want to curl up. That is for affirmation, expression for seeking of help from within. That is a whole different story about why we curl up?

Note: This Madhubani painting is courtesy dollsofindia.com 


  1. Fantastic painting and a thought or story behind.. I recently read this in a book and was amazed by the thought.. When you totally surrender to the Almighty then only you get HIS full help.. Till the time you think you can manage it by yourself HE just watches you.. It's very true in every sense.. & you've well written it..

  2. Hi Shraddha, I believe in it too. As long as you feel you run the show, He lets you run the show. Only when you surrender wholeheartedly, He guides you. I am not belitteling human efforts here, but they have to be in tandem with the Universe. The balance and law of averages must be maintained.

  3. Vandu, I think....God watches, and sees how much hard you yourself try...we can say...he judges you. And when he sees the strong will and hard efforts to achieve the mission/target/goal...He helps us.

    In Draupadi's case...he was judging other people....other elder people who were present there....how much they care....what they do...and with that he was creating the background and history for the great Mahabharat war...and I think Draupadi was teasing her husbands sitting there, just to achieve Krushna's goal.

    I don't know whether am clear here.

    But that's what I believe.

  4. yes her state should have provoked the Pandavas...but it didn't :(


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