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Editorial: Special issue on the Indian Epics in Adaptation

By KBS Krishna, Editor

Volume 2, Number 2, 2017 I Full Text PDF

Article DOI:  10.21659/bp.v2n2.01

Epic presupposes a community for the good of which the hero strives. Such epics strengthen the social and cultural foundation of the community by prescribing a code of conduct for its members. Homogeneity is important in an epic, as every element, from the gods that help the superhuman heroes, to the problems that the characters face, is community-specific. Therefore, it may be safely said that epics are products of an age where identification with a community was possible and not problematic. For instance, readers could identify with Ram, the “Suryavamshi” king, who is the hero of Ramayana, and support him in his struggles with Ravana, the Asura king. Both the supernatural acts he undertakes (such as his building a bridge to Lanka), to his acts that prove him human (such as his killing of Vali), have the sanction of the readers precisely because they sympathise and/or empathise with Ram. The readers accepted everything that was said as part of a grand narrative that not just explained everything, but also justified them; thus, legitimizing power relations.

However, epics cannot be looked at in such a simplistic manner in the present day. A reason may be increasing alienation due to disillusionment with society caused by a dawning sense, mainly by the beginning of the twentieth century, that the Machiavellian notions of power are nightmarishly true.  This, thus, resulted in making each individual a separate entity, and undeniably putting an end to communal harmony. Such a lack of community prevents the acceptance of a hero who would prove to be the saviour of that community. The inability and unwillingness of modern day readers to accept a grand narrative, both due to its failure to solve the readers’ own problems, as well as the readers’ refusal to accept power relations as legitimate makes them read the epics closely and more diligently than their predecessors. Reading epics in this day and age, therefore, becomes an analytical exercise, speaking not just about the power structures of the age in which the epics were written, but also about the power dynamics in the current age.

Furthermore, as epics imply a hierarchical society, (as the very notion of a hero carries within it the sanctioning of a being superior to others), traditionally they celebrate the acme of power in contrast to the sidelining of those beneath. Such marginalization is naturally pointed out in the modernist era with its obsession with binaries. However, the all-pervasive disillusionment which not inevitably is a result of enlightenment and rational thinking, has also led to questioning not just the privileging of those in power, but also the very existence of God. As a corollary to this, other creators vis a vis authors and their right to project their vision as the only way of viewing the world is questioned. Hence, epics, which have been traditionally accepted as either cultural representatives or factual/allegorical retellings of legendary heroes, in the current milieu, have to undergo the throes of being reborn as such tales are challenged by numerous novel voices representing the margins – and they have been: the various retellings of Ramayana and Mahabharata are a case in point.

Those re-imaginings of epics, of course, undermine and/or subvert what has once been considered valid as well as the only way of telling a story. The current volume is a synthesis of articles which aims to bring to light the myriad manners in which such retellings have been depicted, while critically interpreting and/or evaluating them.

Consider the Deer, and Other Explorations Nature in Kalidasa’s Sakuntala

Susan Haris

Independent Researcher

Volume 2, Number 2, 2017 I Full Text PDF

Article DOI:  10.21659/bp.v2n2.11

We can only describe, only remain within the work, if we also decide to go beyond it; to bring out, for example, what the work is compelled to say [… W]e must show a sort of splitting within the work; this division in its unconscious, is so far as it possesses one – the unconscious which is history beyond its edges, encroaching on those edges: this is why it is possible to trace the path which leads from the haunted work to that which haunts it. (p.94) Pierre Macherey, A Theory of Literary Production (1978)

Raja Ravi Varma’s famous painting Shakuntala Looking for Dushyanta (1870) features Shakuntala and her two friends dressed in orange robes- shapely sensual figures foregrounded against a mesh of green. Critical discussions show how she is pinned to a position of erotic desire by the male gaze, causing the active female gaze of Shakuntala to be under-read because she is foregrounded against a green nature. Traditionally Shakuntala is interpreted as the passive female who suffers for the king’s amorous pursuit, and must depend on her male child with imperial birth marks to be ultimately recognized. This paper attempts to analyse categories of nature and culture by charting the slippages, the aporia of the site occupied by the animals, and re-imagine the relationship between Shakuntala and nature.

Shakuntala is referred to as the ‘deer’ who ‘enticed the hero of our play’ signalling an elision of categories. Through the play we encounter nature and the heroine exchanging places, standing in for each other and avoiding easy symbolisms. Thus if we both can exist in the same time-space continuum then we have to attribute more qualities to the deer other than the ‘animal’ or a ‘thingness’ (Chakrabarty, 2000, p.77). The deer is not a symbol for Shakuntala; it exists in itself.

The first Act is formulated in the mode of a hunt, with a literal hunt paralleling the figurative pursuit of Shakuntala by Dushyanta. The charioteer sees the King as God who can ‘hunt the spotted deer with shafts to end his race’. In the framework of a hunt, the moral responsibility falls on the deer which leads the king on ‘a long chase’ as if the pursuer is pursuing only because of the pursued. While the deer cannot speak, the narrative suggests that the deer is pursued because it makes the king chase it. This causal relationship is always inverted in the hunt: the hunt derives its meaning from the intended prey, and is a kind of destructive agency- a posthumous agency; an agency granted to foreclose it in the event of its death. Further, to extract rights and responsibilities, the hunted has to be objectified to draw them in relation to the object of the hunt. The narrative thus privileges the rights and duties of the king and the charioteer in styling the hunt as a social custom…Full Text PDF>>

Questioning orthodox tradition: A scrutiny of the teacher in Chandra Prasad Saikia’s Maharathi

Sumi Bora

LOKD College, Dhekiajuli, Assam

Volume 2, Number 2, 2017 I Full Text PDF

Article DOI:  10.21659/bp.v2n2.10

Epics in a society work as the cultural repository and the bearer of tradition which provides an identity marker and a sense of repute to it. When we look at ‘Indian tradition’ the two great epics Ramayana and Mahabharata offer the bedrock through which the ‘Indian way of life’ defines itself. No doubt India is a land where different religions co-exist and a place with multitudinous tribal cultures, yet these two epics have made inroad into the psyche of the Indian masses in one way or the other.

There has been a culture of re-writing and re-interpretation of the epics by different authors based on the present concerns which have lent them a life of their own, to quote an Eliotean phrase “presentness of the past” and have prevented them from being lost in dead archives. When we look at the context of Assam, eminent littérateur Chandraprasad Saikia’s novel Maharathi (Great Warrior) (1992) based on the life of Karna immediately draws our attention. Written in the first person narrative the novel depicts the inner life of Karna and offers his perspective on different characters and situations that moulded his life and being.

It was Chandra Prasad Saikia’s multifaceted experience in life as freedom fighter, a novelist, journalist, book publisher and commentator from Assam that provided him with the creative and critical acumen to script such an outstanding novel like Maharathi which also earned him the Sahitya Akademi Award. Here, I would further like to add that Chandra Prasad Saikia (1927-2006) was the President of the Assam Sahitya Sabha between the years 1999-2001 and has also authored several books; prominent among them are Edin, Meghamallar, Uttarkal, Suryasnan, Mandakranta, Janmantar, Maharathi and Tore More Alokare Yatra. Acknowledging his contribution he was awarded many titles and recognitions in the state and national level. Prominent among them are the Williamson Magor Award, the Publication Board Award for his novel Torae Morae Alokare Yatra and the Katha Award for three consecutive years from 1996 to 1998 for Gariyoshi, a monthly magazine in Assamese. He was also conferred the Padma Bhushan Award by the Indian Government in the year 2007 for his outstanding contribution to the society.

By penning the novel on Karna, Saikia made a unique contribution to the tradition of literary works on Karna, one of the fascinating and complex characters of Mahabharata. When we survey the field of literary creations on Karna the prominent works which draw our attention are Rabindranath Tagore’s poem, Karna Kunti Sangbad based on the meeting of Karna and Kunti before the war which played a decisive role in structuring the course of events in the Mahabharata. Karna’s private and personal life which have intrigued writers and readers is keenly dealt in the Marathi books of Radheya (1973) authored by Ranjit Desai and Mrityunjay (1967) authored by Shivaji Sawant. Mention must also me made of Ramdhari Singh Dinkar’s epic poem Rashmirathi (1952), also been adapted as play later on, which narrates Karna’s life…Full Text PDF>>

The Hindu Comic of Amar Chitra Katha and Bhimayana, the Epic Tale of the Dispossessed: A Comparison of Empowerments

Shweta Basu

Master of Arts, Department of English, Presidency University, Kolkata

Volume 2, Number 2, 2017 I Full Text PDF

Article DOI:  10.21659/bp.v2n2.09

As most of us already know, Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar (14 April 1891 – 6 December 1956), was a jurist, economist, politician and social reformer who also supported the rights of women and labour.  He was Independent India’s first law minister and the principal architect of the Constitution of India. Among the many socio-political activities of this prolific scholar was campaigning and negotiating for India’s independence, publishing journals, advocating political rights and social freedom for Dalits, and contributing significantly to the establishment of the state of India. Popularly known as Baba Saheb[i], Ambedkar, born amongst the untouchable Mahar caste is more or less a messiah among Dalits[ii], today who are totaling between 165 to 170 million, or about 17% of India’s population[iii], and according to Dorothy M. Figuiera, in her book * only 1% of whom were literate in his time (150). Under the circumstances, one of the many popular media adaptations of his life and works, Bhimayana, the “graphic book” by the publishing house of Navayana, did certainly have enough reason to be biased in his favour. Instead, the retelling of the chronicle of the hero, who is “typically underacknowledged in mainstream textbooks and popular media”[iv], takes place through factual reference, such as newspaper montage and conversational prose flowing with energy and logical fervor, both of which complement each other. The litany of humiliations is compelling because they belong to a range of social stratum, that we the modern Indians, in our upwardly mobile global venture of “Unity in Diversity”[v] fail to perceive. According to Prajna Desai in her review of Bhimayana in The Comics Journal, “Little Bhim’s acumen for unwitting irony mixes nicely with Ambedkar’s calm eye”[vi], interspersed with the conversation between the racist man in favour of caste-based discrimination, and the comparatively more learned, vocal and logical woman who undercuts his claims through insights into Ambedkar’s life and contemporary reality.

The ACK edition has a style that is strictly westernized comic-book like[vii]. The rigidly defined musculature of the characters, the dramatic portrayals of emotions and events through pan and zoom, the panels and speech bubbles, the font (Comic Sans), the colouring strategy using RGB and 8-bit colouring – everything about it feels like a foreign import dressed in an interpellated[viii] Indian-ness that is out of tune with the representation. Even the English used in narrativization, that in the background and the characters, is crisp and economical, and lacks emotion. All in all, the comic book emphasizes the individuality and iconic stature of Ambedkar as a leader of his people…Full Text PDF>>

[i] The cult website <https://drambedkarbooks.com/> dedicated to him and his teachings, works and analyses by other Dalit scholars, make him a live, digital phenomenon, that speaks of an alternative “Imagined Community” of learned Dalits, who harken not to the typical nationalist “Jai Hind” salutation, rather to “Jai Bhim”, in honour of the messiah of the Dalits.

[ii] Ambedkar’s fame as a champion of the causes of the marginalized has even made him into a global figure of aspiration and protest, as the Hindistan Times article shows, <http://www.hindustantimes.com/india/united-nations-describes-ambedkar-as-global-icon-for-marginalised-people/story-lLXxZpB1qAt43p8Xd7jcOJ.html>

[iii] <http://www.tcj.com/reviews/bhimayanaexperiencesofuntouchability/2/ >

[iv] <http://www.tcj.com/reviews/bhimayanaexperiencesofuntouchability/2/>

[v] Vincent A Smith, in his introduction to the Oxford History of India, 3rd Edition, 1958, p. viii. writes, “India offers unity in diversity… [the] underlying unity being less obvious than the superficial diversity, its nature and limitations merit exposition.” Is stereotyped into the oft quoted, propagandist phrase in history textbooks as merely “unity in diversity”, without the reference to Smith’s idea of India being “primarily a Hindu country” (p. 7).

[vi] <http://www.tcj.com/reviews/bhimayanaexperiencesofuntouchability/2/>

[vii] Comic book tradition cite Britannica/diamond comics, the why and the how of its relation to this project.

[viii]  Interpellation, a term coined by French Marxist philosopher Louis Althusser, describes the process by which ideology addresses the individual. For more on the topic, refer to <www.longwood.edu/staff/mcgeecw/notesoninterpellation.htm>

Performing Alternative Ramayana: A study of the (re)presentation and (re)reading of the Epic in Modern Bengali Theatre

Saswati Saha

Assistant Professor, Department of English, Sikkim University

Volume 2, Number 2, 2017 I Full Text PDF

Article DOI:  10.21659/bp.v2n2.08

Indian theatre is extremely complex in its relation to modernity as well as tradition and it has become more so in the present postcolonial scenario. Playwrights have often fused traditional folk forms with western influences in an attempt of answering various new questions that crops up in a postcolonial nation. The shift in the tradition of theatre practices in India was noticed, most prominently, post 1960s with the advent of the Progressive Theatre movement which had a zeal for exploring the possibilities of an experimental theatre. “These new experiments”, as Bishnupriya Dutt writes in her essay, “Theatre and subaltern Histories: Chekov adaptation in Post-Colonial India”, “demanded a reverence for the text, a close reading, analysis, understanding and consistent interpretation of the lines through dramatic action conceived in terms of a “total” theatre, that is to say, theatre as a balance of acting, sound and music, scenic design, and illumination, with the director committed to the text and its inherent values, in perfect control over an ensemble of performers and technicians”. (Clayton & Meerzon, 2013, p.146) The works were often an attempt of getting back to the mass bases of India as they believed performance can change its receivers’ beliefs and attitudes and hence their behavioral pattern. The playwrights often chose to stage and re-tell the epics thereby implicitly invoking the nation which was still adjusting to its new found independence. The re-presentation of the epics on stage invoked a past that would help to deal with the various emerging issues of the modern stage.

This paper will try to briefly analyze one such work of modern Bengali theatre: Mareech Sambad by Arun Mukherjee, first staged in 1973 by the theatre group named Chetana that dealt considerably with the ethical and moral ramifications of the Ramayana story. The play uses the trope of Ramayana and redefines it to address the issues of class struggle, oppression and plight of the subaltern at the hands of the elites of the society. It attempt to show how the voice of the historical margins of the society gets subsumed under the narrative constructed by the biased upper classes. Therefore, the play intervenes the grand narrative and with the help of textual nuances and subtleties attempts to interrogate and deconstruct the popular belief propagated and disseminated by it.

Aparna Bhargava Dharwadker (2005) in her book Theatres of Independence: Drama, Theory, and Urban Performance, writes extensively on the re-telling of myths on the Indian stage in the post-independence era. Albeit, speaking in the context of Mahabharata adaptations, she discusses the history that leads to the re-telling of the epics on Indian stage which becomes significant in the postcolonial scenario…Full Text PDF>>

Beyond the Gender: Transgressive Bodies and Desires in Devdutt Pattanaik’s The Pregnant King

Nidhi Khatana

Assistant Professor, Christ University, Bengaluru

Volume 2, Number 2, 2017 I Full Text PDF

Article DOI:  10.21659/bp.v2n2.07

Devdutt Pattanaik is a contemporary mythologist who has recreated famous mythological characters such as Ram, Sita, and Jaya among others from Ramayana and Mahabharata in his works. Some of his works on mythology include Shiva: An Introduction (1997), Vishnu: An Introduction (1999), Devi: An Introduction (2000), The Goddess in India (2000), Hanuman: An Introduction (2001), Man Who Was A Woman (2002), Lakshmi: An Introduction (2003), The Indian Mythology (2003), Myth= Mithya (2006), The Book of Ram (2009), Shikhandi and Other Tales They Don’t Tell You (2014), Devlok with Devdutt Pattnaik (2016), and My Hanuman Chalisa (2017) among others. Pattanaik has also attempted to revive the interest of young children into Indian epics and mythology by writing Gauri and the Talking Cow (2011), Pashu: Animals in Hindu Mythology (2014), Devlok series that includes Devlok Omnibus (2011) and Fun in Devlok Omnibus (2014), and others. Pattnaik has also recently written number of books on Management Studies exploring Indian approach to business and leadership through epics and puranas. His novel The Pregnant King was first published in 2008 and was later adapted into a play titled Flesh in 2013 by Kaushik Bose.

The Pregnant King offers a unique re-telling of selective episodes of Mahabharata with a fictional tweak to produce a counter discourse to the heteronormative notions of gender and sexuality, which reduces human beings to mere social performers of the pre-defined set of rules and expectations. Pattanaik in author’s note mentions, “The story of the pregnant king is recounted twice in the Mahabharata. Once by the sage Lomasha during the exile of the Pandavas. And the second time by the poet Vyasa during the war with the Kauravas… This book is a deliberate distortion of tales in the epics. History has been folded, geography crumpled… my intention is not to recreate reality but to represent thought process.” (Pattanaik, 2008, pp. vi-vii) This paper argues how the dialogic voices within the novel bring forth a more subjective and fluid understanding of human bodies through its re-engagement with Mahabharata.

Through its various characters, the novel depicts how manavas struggle all their lives negotiating between sex and gender, duty and desire, and personal and social truths. Pattanaik takes the readers on a mythological journey to reveal myriad possibilities of human forms, subjectivities, and imaginations; to show the “confining nature of words” (287); to remind that “the human way is not the only way in this world” (Pattanaik, 2008, p. 33); to reinstate that truth is polymorphous, “it all depends on one’s point of view” (Pattanaik, 2008, p. 144); and to present a wisdom that must look beyond the flesh to understand human existence. The characters of Yuvanashva, Shikandi, Sumedha and Somavat(i), the unnamed prince, Nabhaka, Prasenjit, Uttara and Uttari, Nara and Narayana, Aruni, Ila, Arjuna and Krishna in the novel (and Mahabharata as depicted in the novel) portray the fluid nature of human body and desire, and demand a wider perspective to accommodate multiple human subjectivities…Full Text PDF>>

‘The Subaltern Surely Speaks’: S.R. Harnot’s Epical Vision of Women in “The Slur” and “Daarosh”

Khem Raj Sharma

Assistant Professor of English, Central University of Himachal Pradesh

Volume 2, Number 2, 2017 I Full Text PDF

Article DOI:  10.21659/bp.v2n2.06

In contemporary world, feminists have gone beyond the idea of discrimination, exploitation and marginalization of women; they are rather working towards their emancipation and liberation from all forms of oppression by the state, society and men. Feminism, therefore, now includes the struggle against women’s subordination to the male within the home; against their exploitation by the family; and against their continuing low status at work, in society and in the culture and religion of the country. Consequently, they seek a just and equitable society for all, thereby achieving a dignity for women. In the Indian society, the seeds of feminism are in every woman. To become a feminist, one doesn’t need to know the words, or the jargon, nor be equipped with theory. All that is needed is a recognition of patriarchy and the courage to put an end to injustice, male discrimination and double standards. Also, these subalterns couldn’t remain silent for a long time. If the silence could prove as a ploy for resistance, then they would remain silent, otherwise, violence, verbal as well as non-verbal, may come up to cope up the situation.

Based on this hypothesis, this paper critiques the rise of female consciousness in S. R. Harnot’s short stories “Daarosh” and “The Slur”. Situated in the backdrop of Himachal, Harnot has articulated the silence of the Pahari women to position them against any patriarchal domination prevalent in the state. The fight of an educated village girl against an unusual tradition in “Daarosh” voices the long silence of women of a particular area. The paper also evaluates how Shama, a widow, in “The Slur” articulates against the awful patriarchy prevalent in her home, village, panchayat and the vicinity.

The earlier propositions by various theorists that the subalterns cannot speak either for themselves or for others, and even others cannot speak for them have been proving wrong. Looking at various literatures of the world over, it seems that the subalterns have surely spoken, however, their denigration, exploitation, and victimization remains at the backdrop of their voicing, transgression and resisting. B. R. Ambedkar has argued that “unlike a drop of water which loses its identity when it joins the ocean, man does not lose his being in the society in which he lives […] Man is born not for the development of the society alone, but for the development of his self.” (n.pag.) He writes this because he knows that this nation need not necessarily represent the ‘self’ of the subalterns collectively. As they have been the worst victims of the social stratification, so, for the assertion of their identity, they surely come to the fore by transgressing those social codes that had been demeaning them for long. Everywhere, the subalterns are made to believe that the justice will eventually prevail; however, this notion of prevalence is a continuing saga in the statute culture of the civilized world. So, the subalterns will never accept the premise that this farcical exercise will help emancipate them…Full Text PDF

‘One is not Born but (Rather) Becomes a Woman’: Glimpses of Mahabharata through the lens of Women Studies

Sagrolikar Kapil Irwantrao

PhD Scholar, the English and Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad. ORCID ID is 0000-0002-4375-2267

Volume 2, Number 2, 2017 I Full Text PDF

Article DOI:  10.21659/bp.v2n2.05

Introduction

Simon De Beauvoir’s influential statement “one is not born but becomes a woman”, an important statement/realisation in the domain of patriarchy, shook the world compelling it to ponder over the very essence of women. Male intellectuals have constructed such essentialism with the help of discourse, state apparatuses and the local machineries to sustain and perpetuate male supremacy in the society. Various discourses- religious, cultural, social, political, and the like have played a vital role in the process of constructing women as born with these essential qualities. Along with a prescribed set of rules and norms in the society, these discourses very tactfully have supplemented different narratives so that women could imbibe these qualities right from their birth. Narratives of the religious discourses, the most effective and successful tools and also the storehouse of different everyday life stories have grappled (in)directly with the Hindu women’s life and have prominently and actively participated in the process of constructing the very essence and identity of the Hindu women. That is to say, stories that have grappled with the life of women in the religious discourses like Mahabharata and Ramayana have reflected upon the everyday life of the Hindu women and the same has been replicated in the actual world.

My study will focus on the way one of the greatest epics of the world the Mahabharata has been instrumental in the process of constructing Hindu women. To do so, I shall rely on Foucauldian formulations like- discourse, discursive and non-discursive machineries, norm, and the like.

Revisiting the Mahabharata

When looked at the Mahabharata from the perspective of women as a discourse and storehouse of a Hindu way of life and worldview, we are confronted by questions such as: ‘Why did the narrators narrate different stories along with the main plot of ‘rise and fall’ of Bharata Vansha or Kuru Dynasty?’; ‘Why were the women placed at the receiving end?’, ‘What were the reasons behind marginalizing women in general?’ and ‘How had marginalization impacted the Hindu ways of life?’.

The Mahabharata, though attributed to one hand (Vyasa- the narrator or at least the compiler of the epic into eight thousand slokas or verses) is narrated by different persons throughout history. Due to the re-editing and the additions of more slokas (ranging from twenty-five thousand to one lakh) by the Bhrigu Dynasty, complexities and complications are affixed to the women characters of the Mahabharata which again have undergone changes according to the needs of the narrators to further easily channelize the male preeminence in the society. The roots of such changes can be traced back to two hundred BCE to the production and the aftermath of the influential seminal work, Manusmrti by Manu. It was the time when complexities and complications in terms of social values, social norms, customs, rituals, and Hindu ways of life started taking place. Male-dominance started strengthening its roots firmly and patriarchy took its charge coercively. The seminal epics, the Mahabharata and the Ramayana, have been re-narrated with a view to uphold the renewed patriarchal values, customs, rituals and the like. During the time of such transformation, the role of women had been adjusted merely as the keeper at the receiving end of the repository of renewed patriarchy. The portrayal of women characters based on her behaviour in the Mahabharata too had been reintroduced with the added qualities. She had but only two things to do- giving birth and warming the hearth. Evidently, this dependability is the result of Manu-effect with his declaration, “पिता रक्शति कौमरे भर्ता रक्शति यव्वना | पुत्रः रक्शति वार्धक्ये न स्त्री स्वतन्त्र्य मर्हति ||” (Manusmrti, 9/3) (Meaning: she should be taken care of and her freedom to be infringed right from her birth by her male partners: father, husband, and son)… Full Text PDF>>

Thinking Back Through Our Mothers: Female Heroes of Mahabharata

Jasmine Sharma

Research Scholar, IIT Ropar

 

Volume 2, Number 2, 2017 I Full Text PDF

Article DOI:  10.21659/bp.v2n2.04

 

                                             Yada Yada Hi Dharmasya

                                             Ghanirva Bhavati Bharata,

                                             Abhuthanam Adharmasya

                                             Tadatmanam Srijami Aham.

   Bhagwat Gita, Ch- IV- 7

Lord Krishna lessoned Arjuna with the above lines when the latter faced a moral dilemma  while he stood in the battlefield of Kurukshetra as to whether take up arms against his  own kinsmen and gurus or not. However, it would be far way deceptive to assume that Sri Krishna was the only supernatural and strong-willed force behind the authentication of dharma for Kuru princes. In other words, this four line fragment is not just a factual information demarcating a rotten and unhealthy phallocentric world but a comparative manifesto which needs to be deciphered as a poem of female heroism, an age-old yet a postmodern saga of feminine articulation operating at the heart of mythological genesis. Therefore, the research attempts to construct the unwritten part of the poem with creative perceptions and acknowledgements that further enables a reader to accentuate the epic in a new light. In addition, the theological prerequisitation to this primary idea is the presence of female forces of power and assertion across the epic line. This insightful contemplation begins by questioning the one sidedness of the above mentioned lines.

Was it only the phallic inspiration at work in order to establish righteousness in the Dvapar yuga of irreligion? In both Indian and Western mythological traditions, binary forces existed together in order to procreate a new age. Eve was created for Adam both for terrestrial and sexual regeneration, Parvati both with respect to power and psychological perception were one with Shiva thereby forming a coalition of ardhnarishvara. Therefore, in Mahabharata too Sri Krishna was not alone in the task of cleansing unrighteousness but there was a presence of catalytic feminine Shakti which was constantly there at work.

One of the foremost character representative of this shakti was the demi – goddess Draupadi. From the womb of sacrificial fire, she emerged fully grown into the world of humans. This sensational womb was metaphoric of her physical, articulational and psychological nature which reverberated throughout the epic poem. Her supernatural birth was accompanied by a predestined oracle that emblematized her as a destructive force which will burn the Kshatriya race in her rage and vengeance.  She incarnated the aspects of goddess kali, who demanded the blood of her enemies in order to conquer her revengeful hatred. Lotus eyed Krsna glorified as Yasasvini; she was an “arc – kshatriya whose energy engenders her own self destruction” (McGarth, 2009, p. 117-135).  Such was her fiery nature which hailed her as a heroic princess, unattainable by the enemies and whoever aspired to grasp this fire was burnt down to ashes. This fire was subsequently cooled down when she was undertaking her last journey with the Pandavas. Her death on the icy Himalayas validates this fact.  All her rage got melted in ice when she was taking her last breathes…Full Text PDF>>

Performance, Appropriation and Adaptation: A Case of Vrat Kathas

Girija Suri

Ph.D Research Scholar, Centre for English Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi

Volume 2, Number 2, 2017 I Full Text PDF

Article DOI:  10.21659/bp.v2n2.03

The rich folklore of India poses a challenge to any attempts at its analysis owing to the extremely rich layers of history behind it. Indian folklore is a complex blend of myriad cultures, traditions, myths and legends that have been handed down from generations, significantly through the oral tradition. This peculiar feature of orality that defines Indian folklore viz. stories, songs, dances etc., demands that the method of its study must be multi-dimensional, unconventional and holistic.  This paper seeks to study one of the folk traditions of storytelling, namely the vrat katha. The discussion will centre on the ways in which the textuality of the vrat-katha as a religious story is defined in great measure through its performance. Furthermore, the different ways in which the vrat katha seeks to perpetuate as well as subvert the dominant orthodox ideologies is sought to be explored. Lastly, the appropriation of the vrat kathas through media, for instance cinema, the formation of cults, the impact of adaptations on the original text and meaning of the katha remains a relevant question to be considered.

     Oral tradition of storytelling has always been an important part of India’s culture. Till today, ordinary village folk assemble to listen to stories, epigrammatic tales, proverbs and parables, which are considered as a source of ancient wisdom and a commentary on contemporary values. The source of these stories, as well as those that form part of vrat-kathas are often identified as Kathasaritsagara (c. A.D. 1100), Vedic ritual manuals, Mahabharata (c. 400 B.C.- A.D. 400), Buddhist Jatakas (c. 300 B.C.) and the Panchatantra. Often these stories refer to the magical and shamanistic powers, belief in ghosts and spirits and so on…Full Text PDF>>