Nathavati anathavath- means 'one with a Husband, but as though an orphan.' The phrase is associated with Draupati because she had five husbands but once they had been gambled away into slavery, she herself stood in danger of being publicly disrobed like the Gambler's wife in the Rg Vedic hymn celebrating 'Krishi' (agriculture).
Since the Hindu marriage ceremony generally features 'saath phere'- seven steps or circumambulations of the sacred fire, Agni, and since Draupati was born out of the sacrificial fire in order to bring about the downfall of Drona, the Guru of her husbands, there is a particular poignancy in Draupati, menstrual blood flowing, being dragged into the Great Hall of the Kuru King to repeat her question 'whom did you gamble away first, yourself or me?' (kiM nu pUrvaM parAjaiShIrAtmAnamatha vApi mAm) which caused the righteous Yuddhishtra to stand mute like one demented. (yudhiShThirastu nishcheShTo gatasattva ivAbhavat/na taM sUtaM pratyuvAcha vachanaM sAdhvasAdhu vA)
Iravati Karve- obviously a stupid woman by reason of her possession of a German PhD in anthro-fucking-apology- considers Draupati to have asked a 'terrible question' because-
Apparently, Iravati's husband was an 'atheist' and like I said the lady went to Germany and didn't do Math or Dentistry or some thing the krauts were good at. Instead she lost what little ability to reason her previous academic training hadn't utterly despoiled her off. What is her argument? It is that Draupati would be better off being raped by all and sundry rather than publicly raising the legal, or diplomatic, question which forced her own and her husband's release.
Why? Well, the Kauravas were estopped from claiming that Draupati was Yuddhishtra's chattel because Sakuni had only mentioned her as a stake after her husband had become a slave. Moreover, Draupati had a claim to the Kingdom by virtue of a previous portion of the Rajasuya ritual which also featured the dice game. Even if she was raped and killed then and there, her Kingly father inherited her claim to Indraprastha.
There is another, more subtle point- but then Dharma is subtle, more so even than Diplomacy.
Draupati is born from Agni, the sacred fire, who is also known as Maatarishvan, it follows that she can herself launch the destructive war for which, in fact, she was specifically created. Suppose Draupati had not been menstruating. Then the supposition would be that Agni as Maatarishvan was in her womb and the war would be won by him or on his behalf. Since this isn't the case, an even more horrific prospect arises- viz. the bleeding cunt will just fucking kill everybody and then reclaim her husbands as spoils of war and use them as sex-slaves. (What? Shite like that goes down all the time. Look at what Theresa May is doing to poor old BoJo)
Since Iravati Karve studied in Germany, she- of course- couldn't see this. But that hasn't stopped Karve's comment from establishing itself as part of a wider Feminist availability cascade of permanently menstruating self-pity.
Thus, Gayatri Spivak is channeling Karve when she muses on her own 'nathavati anathavath' status which causes her to be reviled by 'traditionalists and the racists and the horrible guys, as well as the resenters of theory, the activists; as well as the folks who are in the traditional camp, faulted for being too European.'
What does Spivak mean? It turns out she thinks people hate her because she had periods not progeny.
Nathavati anathavat: Lorded, and yet, as if not lorded. In my reading, each time the woman menstruates, lording has misfired in the suspension of reproductive heteronormativity. And I believe that's why, again and again and again, in the opening conversation that is the entire story, what is told is - she is in her feminine nature, in her stridharma, suspended.
Why does Spivak have this absurd belief? The answer, probably, is because when she went to Amrika she was asked about the Indian population problem. Clearly, proper Indian women were perpetually pregnant and barefoot. But, she was an 'Europeanist'. Thus she couldn't have babies and had to have periods instead. It so happened that Spivak's great-aunt had hanged herself while on the rag. Spivak thinks she did this so as to show she wasn't preggers but rather mutely protesting her terrorist pals' bloodthirsty plans. The problem here is that anyone concerned enough to notice the hanged kid's genital condition would have remarked the hymen or its lack and that alone was germane in establishing her motive for suicide. You see, a girl who has been fucked by some local Romeo is probably already being blackmailed into sucking his friends' dicks. Hymens are important because men pay more for them, or the pretense of them, because they don't want to be sticking their little wicks into syphilitic sewer pipes.
Spivak thinks 'Lordship' means men want women to keep having babies so they get a return on their expenditure of jizz. Maybe this was 'heteronormative' at one time but that time wasn't the Calcutta of the Nineteen Twenties or Nineteen Sixties or, probably, ever. Ramram Basu, whom Ranajit Guha thinks was a great Historian, procured abortions for all his conquests- which didn't stop William Carey from trying to turn a profit on his worthless anti-Brahmin screeds. (Basu, like Guha, was Kayastha).
Spivak, it must be said, isn't saying her reading of Draupati's prashna is 'Feminist'. Nor did Karve make any such claim. Yet, by default, this is the academic bandwagon, or availability cascade, Indian Academic Feminists have laboriously hauled their ungainly carcasses onto.
More ominously, Spivak actually thinks there are Feminist versions of Vyasa's epic- not the Stri Parva but full fledged narratives which, however, no one else has noticed. No doubt, Indian Academics will start hallucinating having read such narratives and an incestuous exegetical tradition will arise without there ever having been any text in the first place.
She says- 'Now, as to how a feminist reads this, that's something else. This is not a presentation of a feminist reading of the Mahabharata, but I'm just saying that because my grandmother's sister dragged herself into the open court of death menstruating, only earned me opprobrium from people who read quickly, and said - Spivak refuses voice to subaltern resistance.
And I see women every day saying - the subaltern is speaking because I am, and so on. And I say to myself - my mother was wrong. She had said - you are using her name? I had said - ma, no one will pay any attention to her. And I was right.
So the queen is dragged up. She asks the oldest member of the court, who also has a marriage story - am I a piece of property that can be wagered? And the oldest member of the court, Bhishma, is not able to answer her.
This is not a bit from the Mahabharata that's given much popularity. If you have seen Peter Brooks' version, you certainly have not noticed this. But there are female versions of the epics, StriMahabharata, which are very different and in the best-known of them, the entire epic ends, not with the brothers climbing the hill to heaven, but Draupadi laughing in the devastated field of war, somewhere in the empty camps. Draupadi's laughter ends the women's epic.'
Spivak doesn't tell us why Draupati would be laughing her head off- after all, Draupati's laughter at 'the blind man's son being blind' is conventionally described as the cause of the war- but, perhaps, this supposed Feminist Mahabharata features a heroine who considers blood spattered Kurukshetra her own leaky tampon and was greatly cheered by the sight of her children slain in its final apocalyptic night-slaughter.
Draupati, born of Maatarishvan, but so beautiful, for black, that Drupada's wife wished it never to be known that she wasn't her own daughter, is also the incarnation of the Chandhogya's Panchagni Vidya for though heated by the carnal fire of five husbands she remains impartial between them. This is, as the Rg Veda says, as difficult as to be indifferent to whether- during the allotment of fields after a communal forest clearing- you get the best land (which also had a longer tenure) or the worst land (which, however, had the shortest tenure giving you a quicker chance to change your fortune). The same applies to which 'Yuga' you live in. Thirst for rebirth is lost when this equipoise is gained.
Draupati was 'nathavati anathavath' in that her husband couldn't prevent her disrobing- but this could happen to anyone by reason of absence or weakness- yet her own strength of character clothed her in Dharma- not Spivak's or Karve's menstrual rags of an incompossible maiuetics.
The Mahabharata- the fifth Veda- was written for women and drunkards and worthless drunken man-boobed boobies like myself. Clever, or- in Spivak & Karve's case- Credentialized swine of all genders can only prove their own stupidity by commenting on it.