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.

Mahabharata – the epic that played out in Kurukshetra is getting a million reinventions: The Outlook

Can you hear the dull throbbing of vimanas in the sky? Can you smell the burning embers of the morning fires? Can you feel the thud-thud of millions of boots on the ground? Assassins, demons, monsters come together on the battlefield  with super-warriors to play out the final battle. There are atomic weapons, lasers, gene­tically engineered super-elephants. The archetypal und­er­­pinning is the story of heroes overcoming hardships and growing in the process.