Dr. Usha Bande casts a critical glance at Tagore’s Chitrangada, based on the Mahabharata story of the warrior-princess, and Hidimba, a folklore figure from the present Kullu area of Himachal Pradesh in India.

tagoreSomehow, Chitrangada and Hidimba stand out as epitomes of feminine power and feminist assertion in the Mahabharata as well as in literature. The role assigned to them in the Epic (Mahabharata) and in folk and mainstream literatures focuses on their strength, independence of spirit and intelligence. Rabindranath Tagore’s lyrical drama Chitrangada is based on the Mahabharata story of the warrior-princess whose quest for love has both feminine and feminist overtones.  Similarly, Hidimba, the present Kullu area of Himachal Pradesh, is a folklore figure who has become a part of folk psyche and has achieved divinity. These two women are not identical; though contemporary, they belong to distant parts of the land, with different value systems and social set-ups but both are strong and both represent an era that illustrates women’s authority and agency. It is interesting to explore how Rabindranath Tagore makes changes in the Mahabharata story to give his heroine the attributes he would like modern Indian women to possess and how the folklore of Himachal Pradesh elevates Hidimba from the daemonic to the human and then to the divine.

Young_TagoreEarly in his study of the young Rabindranath Tagore, Sudhir Kakar quotes Rilke on Rodin: “It’s like holding a cup beneath a waterfall.” The waterfall is an unconsciously apposite image, given the way in which the overflowing spring is used by Tagore himself to represent an epipha­nic moment in his early adulthood, when he com­posed the poem The Fountain Awa­kes (Nirjharer Swapnabhanga).

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 Rabindranath Tagore, Pearl Buck, and Mo Yan are a trio, Jeffrey Wasserstrom writes in the LARB

 

The title of this post lumps together three writers I’ve begun to think of as a trio, though I can certainly understand why some readers might think of them as having precious little in common with one another. Only the first was a major poet, after all, only the second wrote a novel that became a major Hollywood movie, and only the third’s career has involved navigating the challenges of writing in a Communist Party-run state.

Young_TagoreSomak Ghoshal reviews Young Tagore by Sudhir Kakar in Mint

Sudhir Kakar’s “first-of-its-kind psychobiography”, as the blurb puts it, intends to deepen “our understanding of Rabindranath Tagore”. It is, the author clarifies, an “inner biography” and “not to be confused with ‘psychoanalysis of Tagore’”. Since the clinical situation usually involves a direct exchange of words between the analyst and the analysand, it is impossible to use such a methodology to describe the interior life of a subject who is dead. But the challenge, in Kakar’s case, is also greatly enhanced by his limited access to Tagore’s writing, and the rich literature on it, in Bengali. The result, unsurprisingly, is not salutary.

tagoreMaverick film directors inject LGBT erotica in India’s cultural icon Rabindranath Tagore’s works, according to a report

Rabindranath Tagore, Asia’s first Nobel laureate in literature, has been interpreted as a gay rights champion by two maverick Indian film directors in their recent works.

Tagore, who won the Nobel in 1913 for Gitanjali, a collection of songs and poems, has had several films made on his novels and short stories. They have ranged from advocating women’s emancipation to support for society’s marginalized. Now an Indian director known for making films that revel in shock elements – full-frontal sex and profanities – has had his latest film, with strong undertones of gay, lesbian and transgender sex, released in India amidst mixed reviews.