Devavrat, better known as Bhishma Pitama, was virtue personified. And yet, his silence when Yajnaseni, known to us as Draupadi, was disrobed in the Kaurava court, deprived the grand old man of due honour. Bhishma Pitama’s association with Duryodana and his brothers led him to commit acts that were not virtuous in the end. K A Neelakandan’s rendition of the Mahabharata from Draupadi’s eyes—Yajnaseni—leads the reader to hold Bhishma differently and shorn of glean.
This short invocation of the Mahabharata, an epic that holds sway over a people across communities and generations in our society, will help comprehend and locate Arif Mohammad Khan, the Governor-elect of Kerala.
Let me, at the outset, clarify that I am not glossing over some issues of impropriety in making someone a Governor despite his association with active politics in the recent past—a factor that the Justice Sarkaria Commission held as undesirable for healthy conventions in its report in the 1980s. This recommendation, indeed, was followed in its breach more than adhered to in all the years since then and the Raj Bhawans remained, most often, reduced to appointing political persons either to ensure them the comforts of life or to play political games.