Feminism And Nationalist Themes English Literature Essay

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The twentieth century Indian literature has drawn a considerable amount of its themes especially feminism and nationalist themes from two major epics: The Mahabharata and The Ramayana. Like Bible in European culture these two major epics dominates the Indian culture strongly and powerfully because they discuss all the major problems that are faced by all kinds of people. They discuss the issues of social inequality, gender inequality and for the rights of the lower class people too. Especially in India, for most of the people, myth is a 'lived reality', is a part of one's lived reality, every day existence, and large communities of people live by myths. As Daniel Tehapda, the philosopher from Cameroon states in "La Place du my the dans L'existence du negro-African". Another critic Ritwik Ghatak says' "the purpose of using such ancient myths and traditional music is to constantly point towards some dormant inspiration that lies hidden in reality".

Sita, the female protagonist of the Ramayana and Draupadi, the female protagonist of the Mahabharata have become signs or cultural icons as pativratas (ideal wives) and as earth born Goddess. In the epics and in the culture that influenced and is influenced by them, a woman alone, a woman the powerful, a woman capable of bringing shame upon her family-that is to say, any woman is a woman in need of control. On a relatively innocent level, she is viewed as vulnerable creature in need of masculine protection. More insidiously, she is seen as essentially unable to control her own fatal force. But literary texts have brought subtle readings of these two epic women- sita can wage a psychological war against her captor Ravana; Draupadi can argue.

The Mahabharata, attributed to Vyasa, is generally agreed to have been composed between 500BCEto 400CE. The Ramayana, attributed to Valmiki, is likely between 200BCE to 200CE. In the eleventh century, the Tamil poet Kamban wrote a recension in the south, and in the sixteenth century,Tulsidas translated the epic into Avadi(old hindu),which was later brought into Bengali by Krittivasa,and into modern Hindi. William Jones translated it to English.

Both the epics recension of oral and written have emerged in all major Indian languages, as well as in European languages, from palm leaf into paper, drama, film, poem, etc. When one speaks of epic in India at large, with its literate and non literate audiences, no one written text is necessary to mind: Mahabharata or Ramayana is more likely to be envisioned. Doordharshan televised version of Ramayana, generally based on Tulsidas, but incorporating other major texts, faithfully watched by over80,000,000viewers,some of whom

"Bathed before watching, garlanded the set like a shrine, and considered viewing of Rama to be a religious experience". (Rich man 3)

Most of the versions of epics focus upon the tradional heroes (Rama in the Ramayana, the Pandava brothers in the Mahabharata); only very few versions focus the views of the heroine. India is casted as Bharathmata, a maternal figure who has been captured, insulted humiliated by evil men or rakshasas (demons) - Draupadi at the hands of Duryodhana, Sita at the hands of Ravana. Social activists or writers perceive the darkness and power of sita and Draupadi to rescue from their avenging figure to liberate one of a nation, of a gender, of a class.

This chapter concentrates on the major crisis - Sita's reunion with Rama at Valmiki's Ashram; Draupadi's humiliation at Hastinapura after Yudhistra has lost her in a game of dice, the innocent lives of innocent people - was written or reworked in literature.

Mahaswetha Devi says,

"I'm not a student of history but anyway I read, I wrote, then I tore away the pages, I collected folklores, ballads, things like that. I was drawn to the great importance of collecting the oral traditions. I was only 26 or 28. Because at the time Thakur mansingh was operating. I had left my child son at home with my husband. I went to all these places. Never have I faced any danger, except one small Encounter with a dacoit. That was the time when I realized that oral tradition, folk material, is very important of historical, material. So those must be kept and preserved and printed if possible, because when these people die, the next generation, their life style might change, they will not see these. Indian people anywhere, tribal or non-tribal whatever happens; they keep it alive in folklores. Else, you will be surprised to know how many songs about Telegana struggle have been collected and published".

I have taken 'After Kurukshetra story collection', 'Dopdi' from 'Breast Stories' and Ambai's 'Atavi' for the study. In all these stories, the women move on. They do not wait for endings. They meet the demands of life and find resolutions in nature.

The Mahabharata and the Ramayana has received a great deal of exegetical and explicatory attention over the years, yet the voices of the oppressed in the great epic have remained a somewhat neglected field of critical enquiry. Mahaswetha Devi and Ambai's palpable intention is to underscore the contrast between the Rajavritta and Lokavritta, in which one "Honours and celebrates life". Kunti and Nishadin epitomize these two contrasting world vies respectively.

The fifteenth chapter of the original version of the Mahabharata "the ashram Vasik Parva" describes the three years stay of the three familiar characters of the great epic - Dhritarashtra, Gandhari, Kunti- in a forest towards end of their lives. After fifteen years of reign, they opt for a life of vanaprastha which is the third of the four stages of life, prescribed tradition for a caste Hindu, the stage of abandoning worldly affairs. Much against his wishes, Yudhistra lets them go. One day, as Dhritarashtra finishes his ablutions and returns to their hermitage, he comes to know that the forest has caught fire. The wind blows and the flames spread everywhere. The animals and the birds start deserting the forest. The blind Dhritarashtra, Gandhari with her blindfolded eyes and kunti, all awaiting death, ready to give themselves up to the flames. They have spent their times in penance, prayers and yoga's till their death in the forest-fire.

In her attempt to rewrite the story, Devi has made a couple of brilliant interpolations-Kunti's confession, her guilt-stricken conscience at being unwed mother and her helplessness in not accepting Karna as her son in public. What shocks her more is the Nishadins reminder of a greater crime committed by her, of which she was totally unaware, that is, the murder of six innocents belonging to the lower caste society. In her introduction to the politics of literary theory and representation, Pankaj.K.Singh states that,

"this is an interrogative rewriting of a segment of the Mahabharata from the point of view of the Nishadin whose mother-in-law and her five sons were made to die in the fire of Lakshagriha to cover the escape of Kunti and her sons, and who holds up for interrogation the whole practice of Rajavritta".

Commenting upon its cotemporary relevance Singh states further that

"contemporary India has its own subalterns in the lower castes, the tribal, the landless, the poor and their women, Devi gives voice in her writing".

Devi says, "it's my realization that the more we read through the lines and give voice to the countless infantryman used to protect the landed epical heroes, the dasis (mother of vidura, mother yuyutsu and countless others) and the 'vratyas' used as cannon fodder during rajavritta emergency, the more the mythical time come into focus and the eternal game of politics comes into view.

The first thing which strikes us, as the story opens, is the pitiable, pathetic plight of Kunti, the mother of mighty pandavas, queen of Pandu undergoes an existential despair, "Mother of the Pandava, wife of Pandu, the role of a daughter-in-law, the role of a queen, the role of a mother, playing these hundreds of roles where was the space, the time to be her true self? All that while, - amazingly - she never felt that anything was hers, hers alone".

She feels betrayed by life, "now, she can't bear to keep it all locked inside her". But never tried to learn the life style of Nishadins, even she did not care their presence, "one day she sees some middle-aged Nishadins moving about the forest with their children and families… Kunti never tried to learns the language they speak". Kunti is not happy, she laments of her present situation, whereas Nishadins are happy without any crumbling.

"This forest is full of tall, resinous trees. They gather this resin, honey, tubers and roots. They seem to be a tranquil, happy, hardworking lot, their faces always wreathed in breath smiles".

After watching nishadins life Kunti feels that she has wasted her life by following the rituals of rajavritta. "Watching Nishadins, it strikes her for the first time that she is wasting herself living like this, subsisting on rotting, withered leaves. Blindly following predetermined predestined path to death".

Then realizes that, "she never knew that she carried within her such a burden of unspoken thoughts".

She feels guilty of being on unwed mother to Karna, one of the greatest heroes of Mahabharata and her helplessness, in accepting him openly as her son because of the oppressive patriarchal social order gnaws away at her conscience, "Karna looked so much at peace as he lay there, dead. Gandhari's piercing cry at the sight of Karna's body struck me like a whip. Why did I not have the courage? To cradle Karna's severed head in my lap and say, this is my first born? Dhananjaya! You have murdered your eldest brother! The son I abandoned for fear of public shame! Had I not disowned him, my name would have been sullied forever. Karna is the only one of my sons whose father I took of my own free will. What irony! What irony! Not one of the five pandavas as is sired by Pandu! Yet they are Pandavas. And Karna? A carpenter's son. O! Ancient mother! That day Kunti stayed silent. What greater sin can there be? Gandhari knew she was pure and innocent. This knowledge gave her courage to publicly speak the truth".

Death is approaching slowly towards her and she feels the urge to unburden herself before she dies. She knows that the confession at this stage is urgent because "Silence would be unpardonable". Then, her second confession, it's about when she directly went to Karna asking him to leave Duryodhana and join to Yudhisthira "I hesitated no more. I have not committed just, one sin, after all. I had not told my sons about the birth of Karna. Then, the day before the battle, I went to Karna and told him, abandon Duryodhana, side with yudhisthira".

At this time she feels for being Rajavritta, "living in the Rajavritta makes one cunning, treacherous". Because love did not dry Kunti to meet Karna only her self-interest did.

Against the world of Rajavritta, the dark Virgilian world of deceit, duplicity and double moral standard stands the world of Lokavritta, world of Nishadins that is guided by nature's law, where different standards of judgments do not have any place. "Nature's law. Nature abhors waste. We honour life. When a man and woman come together, they create a new life. But you won't understand". As the Nishadin proudly tells Kuti, "we do not deny the demands of life. If we are widowed we have the right to remarry. Those who wish to, can marry again. We did so. We have husbands, children… an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth that is the way of the Rajavritta. That is what Kurukshetra was all about. The Lokavritta's ways are different".

The conversation between Kunti and Nishadin brings out the sharp contrast between the worlds of Lokavritta and Rajavritta, "the Rajavritta folk and the Lokavritta folk have different values, different ideas of right and wrong. If a young Nishadin girl makes love to the boy of her choice and gets pregnant, we celebrate it with a wedding".

After the conversation Kunti understands clearly that Lokavritta's moral and spiritual ethics have been destroyed by the Rajavritta and which does not allow her to lead instinctive life and to confess her sin.

It is in the forest Kunti realizes her true self, "do not forgive me, o mother! The brute wealth of the royal palace, the might of the son on the throne, I felt caged and torn to pieces".

Kunti dreams of her past life. She recalls her life as Rajavritta, the life of Rajavritta was so different, and she had so many roles to play. Deep in the forest she notices the Nishadins but nothing registers on her mind, "oh, yes, I not only understand it, I speak it too. Of course you never thought of us as human, did you? No more than mute rocks, or trees, or animals".

The Nishadins are so self-composed, hardworking, innocent people. But Rajavritta knows only to attend the Brahmins and worshipping the Gods. Kunti does not remember ever talking to a lower-class people, "how could they? Her life had been the Rajavritta, the Gods, serving the Brahmins. Had she ever spoken to a dasi? Had she developed any genuine bond with hidimba? Life outside the Rajavritta had not touched her at all".

Kunti wishes to confess, to purge herself of the sins she had committed. After every confession Kunti finds herself at peace, 'cleansed light' and on every occasion. The nishadins hear her maternal lamentations, but Kunti believes them to be as dumb as rocks. Nishadins do not know her language or Kunti their, still the elderly nishadins reprimands her: "no confessing of sins today? You…you… I've heard you out day after day, waiting to see if you will confess your gravest sin. Your language…likes mine…? Oh yes, I not only understand it, I speak it too. Of course you never thought of us as human, did you? No more than the mute rocks or animals".

The elderly Nishadin accuses her of committing the most heinous crime, "the massacre of innocents for self-interest". As the Varanavata episode from the Mahabharata was a conspiracy to kill Pandavas. But the Pandavas came to know the plan of Kauravas and hatched a counter-plan for survival. When the vax palace was set to fire by the trusted soldiers of Duryodhana, the pandavas escaped through a secret tunnel. In order to make the Kauravas to believe that Kunti and Pandavas were burnt to death, an elderly Nishadin and her five sons were invited to a feast and oceans of wine were served with food. The innocent Nishadin and her five sons drank too much and slept well. The elderly Nishadin, in Mahasweta's story whom discusses with Kunti is none other than the daughter-in-law of the dead old Nishadin. Kunti is shocked by this revelation and fears for her life. The elderly Nishadin makes clear view of their (tribal) ethics to kunti. She says, "no I won't kill you".

The Nishadin informs Kunti that a forest fire, which is disastrous natural phenomenon, has already broken out. She says, "Yes, we can tell, from smelling the air, just as the other creatures of the forest can, that a fire has started. That is why they are fleeing - like we are. Where to? Far away, beyond the reach of the forest fire. Where there are mountains, lakes and winding rivers".

Kunti asks for forgiveness but the elderly Nishadin says, "three blind, weak and infirm people cannot make it there. One is blind from birth, another has chosen to be a blind, and you, you are the blindest of the three". The thought of forest fire makes Kunti fearful but the Nishadin is not ready to forgive. She believes that it is easy for the Rajavritta to commit sin. "to beg forgiveness is typical of the Rajavritta ". The narrative ends with Kunti's acceptance of the destiny with the sense of finality. "She got up. She has to go back to the Ashram. Wait for the forest fire. Dhritarashtra and Gandhari, after their loss of a hundred sons, are waiting patiently for death, waiting for the final fire to consume them. Kunti also welcomes death". In the story "the five women", the narrators are five war widows, their husbands, foot soldiers, died in Kurukshetra war to protect the "chariot - mounted" heroes. "these women are not of the rajavritta, women of royalty, nor are they servants or attendants. These women are from the families of the hundreds of foot-soldiers - Podatics - from various other little kingdom". The women of Rajavritta strictly follow the ordeal but the women of Janavritta lives life in close association with the natural world. The Rajavritta is represented by Kunti, Draupadi, Subhadara and the pregnant Uttara where as the five women from the Kurujangal represent the Janavritta. "I am Godhumi. This is Gomathi, holding my hand. That is Yamuna, with the red spot between her brows. That one standing there with a finger on her chin is Vitasta. And this is Vipasha, Vitasta's sister".

The five women consider the war as futile clash of egos, "so many great kings joined in a war between brothers. Some choose one side, some cross over to the other. It was not just brother slaughtering brother. We know of quarrels - jealousies - rivalries too. But such a war for just a throne? This, a holy war?! A righteous war?! Just call it a war of greed!"

The five women are appointed to keep Uttara company and help her to overcome her grief. But to Uttara all the five women seems to be inseparable. "the five women seem to think as one. They are so close that they seem to understand each other without words, speak to one another with their eyes alone. They look, they understand". The companionship of these five women is in contrast to the isolation of the women of the Rajavritta. Uttara feels as a stranger to them. Uttara, like the other women of Rajavritta believes that all the soldiers who died in the holy war are very secured in Divyalok - the heaven, but the five young women reject this idea. Gothumi says," no chariots came down from Divyalok. They did not go to heaven. The foot soldiers, died fighting in the very same Dharmayudha. But no funeral rites were held for their souls".

Further they reject the idea of Dharmayudha, "this was not out Dharmayudha. Brother kills brother, uncle kills nephew, shishya kills guru. It may be your idea of dharma, it is not ours".

The Janavritta women enjoy the public participation where as it is denied to rajavritta. Thus Uttara expresses surprise, "imagine men and women singing together".

The rajavritta women have no companionship or bond with their child, "at best her child will stay with her a year. After that, the wet nurses will take over its upbringing. Royal offspring are not raised by their mothers. Then will begin the prescribed rites and rituals, the self-denial, the penance".

So, this story clearly shows that the rajavritta's were restricted by false notions of high civilization. The natural human state is represented by the five Kurunjugal tribal women, whose life, ideas and quests are opposite to the destructive and sterile attitudes of the higher class of society." Uttara understands the difference and is not ready to leave them". But as widows of rajavritta, all the women (widows) concerns only for Uttara and not for the five young widow. Rajavritta women expect them to give a good company to Uttara because she may beget a son for the throne. "how anxious her mother-in-law are! Draupadi, Subhadara, all the others, are deeply worried. If Uttara bears a son, he will be a king". After becoming so close with the five people Uttara used to question, "did the rajavritta - the royalty - ever care to know about the Janavritta - common humanity?" through the story "the five women" Mahasweta Devi reveals to the reader the 'other' side of Kurukshetra war and the ingenious of rajavritta women towards Lokavritta people.

The third story, Souvali focuses on the irreconcibility of the rajavritta and the Janavritta. Souvali is a former handmaid who served to Dhritarashtra and bore him a son named Souvalya; known as yuyutsu. Souvali, a woman from Janavritta is forced to send her son to the Gurugrigha at the age of five. She is not able to bare the life of Janavritta so she gives up her dasi status and lives outside of the town, waiting for her son to return.

"On the margins of the town live the marginalized. Their settlement is a lively, noisy place. The alleys are narrow, the houses small. Ponds here and there, surrounded by trees, cattle sheds beside the huts. There, on the stoop of a large hut, sat Souvali".

Souvalya is insulted and discriminated from the Kauravas, "Dasiputra! Slave child! It's because of this Dasiputra that you got water from a son's hand! Kunti! Gandhari! Gandhari never once, in all these years, acknowledged you as a Kaurava". But he only performs the last rites (tarpan) for Dhritarashtra after the forest fire.

The conversation between mother and son reveals that Souvalya is happy to rise above the status of dasi-putra by the pandavas. But his mother is not happy to accept the recognition rather she calls it as a farce. She wants her son to be a Janavritta, "her son is foolish. Following the norms and customs of royalty even though he is one of the common folk. She thinks to herself, if you must learn, learn from your mother. I was nothing but a dasi in the royal house-hold but here, amongst the common people, I'm a free woman".

This story shows the difference between centre and the margins of society. "it's true. It's in the janavritta,amongst the common people, that we are in touch with our natural emotions. Tenderness,caring,compassion romance,love anger,jealousy. But in the rajavritta,you know how they keep such natural emotions strictly in check".

Thus, mahasweta devi shows the two types- "the subaltern as gendered subject and the subaltern as class subject" clearly. The charcters exemplify the twin problems of class and gender.

Mahasweta devi's another story "draupadi" concentrates on the major crisis of drupadi's humiliation at hastinapura after yudhistra has lost her in a game of dice.

Briefly the Mahabharata chronicles the ancestry and the escalating conflicts of two sets of the brothers, the pandavas and the kaurauvas,for ruler ship of the land. In most recensions, drupadi is born from the earth(although some have her emerging from the fire of her father's ritual sacrifice). Not long thereafter (she emerges as a young woman of marriageable age), her father arranges a sw aymvara, a gathering of eligible men who compete for her hand in marriage. Arjuna, the third of the five pandavas,wins,as she had hoped he would. But when he returns with his brothers to tell their mother the joyful news, their mother thinking he has won some material goods, commands him to share his winnings with his brothers. As her word can never be taken back, arjuna must share her, to the consternation of all.

Draupadi marries all five pandavas in turn, yudishtra, the eldest and wisest; Bhima,noted for his physical strength and tenderheartedness; Arjuna, the consummate warrior, friend of Krishna, and Draupadi's favourite; and the twins nakula and sahadeva, celebrated for their good looks. They device an arrangement to eradicate jealousy: beginning with Yudhisthira, each brother ha sole right of conjugal acces to Draupadi for a year at atime, during which the other may not even accidently enter the marital bedroom. Draupadi bears a son to each husband.

Eventually, due to pressure exerted upon them by the king Dhritarashtra, the two sets of brothers reconcile, although mutual suspicion remains. In a move of anticipatory, Dhritarashtra divides up the kingdom between the two sides of the family: half to the pandavas and the other half to the hundred kauravas, an arrangement most unsatisfactory to the kauravas. The leading kaurava , Aduryodhana, arranges for yudhisthira's horse sacrifice and coronation,followed in the kauravas grand assembly hall by a ritual game of dice in which players are supposed to ceremonially lose to the new king. But Duryodhana puts his maternal uncle Sakuni, a master at dice, to play in his stead, and the loaded dice take away yudhistra's land, wealth and slaves. Yudhistra then stakes each of his brothers in turn, again losing each time. He stakes himself, and again he loses.

While the pandavas, stripped to their undergarments, stand aside helplessly as slaves, Duryodhana demands that Draupadi be brought out of the women's hall, and sends a messenger to fetch her. Informed about what has just occurred, she asks whether Yudhishtra lost her before or after he lost himself, and argues that one who no longer owns himself cannot own another to give up. She sends back the messenger. Another messenger is sent, and again returns. Finally, in frustration, Duhshasana himself goes to the women's hall; Drupadi tells him to leave her alone that she is having her period and unable to come to men's gathering. Ignoring her protestations, he drags her by the hair out to the assembly hall, where she pleads in vain with her husbands to help her, which they cannot do. Draupadi's fury 'unmans' all present. A debate ensues, interrupted by Duhshanan's demanding that Draupadi be stripped, and Duryodhana laughingly patting his thigh to invite her to sit.

This humiliation in the assembley hall is Draupadi's central crisis, and is related in varying ways. Most recensions show her caling for Krishna to protect her; some show her merely as being jeeringly told to pray. In either case, a miracle occurs: as Duhshasana pulls at the cloth, Draupadi remains clothed:sari after sari appears, and ultimately, after pulling off hundreds of saris, Duhshasana collapses,weary and confused. Dhritarashtra halts the proceedings and grands Draupadi twoo boons. She asks for the freedom of Yudhisthira and for that of the other pandavas. The king grands freedom to every one, and restores all of their posssssessions and land to the pandavas. A second dice game ensues, which Yudhisthira again loses:the terms of the loss are that the pandavas must go into exile for twelve years, remain in exile in disguissse for another year, after which their half of the kingdom would be restored.draupadi follows them into exile, and tjhrought their years away from the kingdomis most eager for revenge: Bhima fulfill his promise to break Duryodhana's thigh and to drink Duhshasana's blood.

A reworking of the mahabharata's assembly hall scene, draupadi brings forward the struggle of a santal woman(black like the epic's draupadi, for whom she has been named by her mother's master). A cadre in the naxalbari rebellion, draupadi, in the text referred as 'dopdi' is ultimately captured by senanayak, a Bengali army officer whose expertise in anthropology makes him perfect for the task of apprehending tribals. "in order to destroy the enemy,become one" . senanayak has become one just as in the Mahabharata , kauravas planned to wipe out draupadi's husband,the five pandavas. Both the narratives clearly show the struggle of less powered people at the hands of powered ones and the less powered people's wake of the powerful cheating. Similarly to the disempowering of the epic draupadi's husbands,who,enslaved by the loss at the dice,cannot move,dopdi's husband is murdered. "on one such search, army informant Dukhiram Gharari saw a young Santhal man lying on his stomach on a flat stone, dipping his face to drink water. The soldiers shot him as he lay. As the 303 threw him off spread- eagled nd brought a bloody foam to his mouth, he roared 'Ma-ho' and then went limp. They realize later that it was the redoubtable Dulna Majhi". She refuses to fall into the army's trap by going to bend his body.

"The problem is thus solved. Then, leaving Dulna's body on the stone, the soldiers climb the trees in green camouflage. They embrace the leafy boughs like so many great God pass and wait as the large red ants bite their private parts. To see if anyone comes to take away the baby. This is the hunter's way, not the soldiers. But senanayak knows that these brutes can not be dispatched by the approved method. So he asks his men to draw the prey with a corpse as bait. All will come clear, he says. I have almost deciphered Dopdi's song. The soldiers get going at his command. But no one comes to claim Dulna's Corpse".

Rather than lead her pursuers to capture other rebels, Dopdilets herself be caught, refuses to tell names.unlike the epic Draupadi,whose sari flow out in endless profusion,she is stripped, "Draupadi mejhen was apprehended at 6.53 pm. It took an hour to get her to camp. Questioning took another hour exactly. No one touched her, and she was allowed to sit on a canvas camp stool. At 8.57 senanayak's dinner hour approached, and saying,Make her. Do the needful, he disappeared".

The next day she is ordered to senanayak's tent and offered a pot water to slake her by-now overpowering thirst. But her response upsets all expections, " Draupadi stands up. She pours the water down on the ground. Tears her piece of cloth with her teeth. Seeing such strange behavior,the guard says,she's gone crazy, and runs for orders. He can lead the prisoner out but does not know what to do if the prisoner behaves incomprehenstably .so he goes to ask his superior".

Mahasweta devi's Deaupadi refuses to be clothed again. She forces the confrontation with her tormentors-letting them see exactly what they have done to her, refusing to futilely attempt to cover herself. No goddess will come to help her and no king will fight for her behalf. Senanayk is paralysed at what he sees, "Draupadistands before him, naked. Thigh and public hait matted with dry blood. Two breasts,two wounds.

What is this? He is about to bark.

Draupadi comes closert. Stands with her hand on her hip, laughs and says, The object of your search,Dopdi Mejhen. You asked them to make me up, don't you want to see how they made me?

Where are her clothes?

won't put them on,sir. Tearing them.

Drauypadi's black body comes even closer. Draupadi shakes wih an indomitable laughter that senanayak simply cannot understand. Her raveged lips bleed as she begins laughing. Draupadi wipes the blood on her palm and says in a voice that is as terrifying, sky spiliting and sharp as her ululation,what's the use of clothes? You can stripe me, but how can you clothe me again?are you a Man?

She looks around and chooses thr front of senanayak's white bush shirt to spit a bloody gob at and says, There isn't a man here that I should be ashamed. I will not let you put my clothe on me. What more can you do? Come on, counter me- come on counter me-?

Draupadi pushes senanayak with her two mangled breasts, and for the first time senanayak is afraid to stand before an unarmed target, terribly afraid".

In the Mahabharata Draupadi is dragged from her menstrual cycle into the assembly hall in one garment, the stained garment is signifier that dushasana is expected to understand. She is not to be touched, and she certainly is not to be brought to the view of men. She reminds him,but he mocks at her and forces her to be in the hall.

Dopdi's signifiers of bllod, in contrast , mark a rape and torture completed rather than forestalled. The soldiers and senanayak are paralysed rather than goaded like Duhshasana into further action. Like the epic Draupadiu, who decries the impotence of her husbands, dopdi can find no man present within the camp. Ferociously, she defiles senanayak with her blood-she spits on him with her bleeding mouth, and pushes him with her wounded breasts into hiswhite shirt. Occypying his physical, forcing him to see her "made up", she shoves his own fear into his face. Unarmed, but threatens what the actions of the next hour may be.

In dopd's case,the insults she hurls at senanayak and his men- which echo those that the "master narrator" Vyasa gave to the epic Draupadi in the assembly hall, and even her spitting and her pushing her wounded breasts against him, defiling her tormentor with blood, just as Vyasa's menstruating draupadi cannot help but contaminate Duhshasana when he sinks into violence. Despite the bungling of senanayak's aid's enthusiasm over his discovery that dopdi's

" hende rambra kecje keche

Pundi rambra keche keche (188)

(never translated the text, leaving the reader as much in the dark as senanayak) is Mundari language, her message is ultimately received, senanayak who could dispatcher in seconds, is frozen, in the eternal, suspended moment of the narrative's end, unable to acr.

Like Mahasweta devi Ambai(c.s.lakshmi)rewrites one of the episodes of the Ramayana and introduced a new twentieth century sita to the readers.

In The Ramayana, when sita is reunited with Rama, Rama demands her to prove her purity, and it is too much for her to bare, so she returns to the forest.; senthiru of Atavi too like sita goes to the forest at end of her life, and enjoys the rythem, lovo, music of nature.

Slthogh The Ramayana was composed during the same general time frame as the Mahabharata, the Ramayana is set in an earlier mythical time, in the age of Tretayuga; its ending begins Dvaparayuga,the era of the Mahabharata. Again as in the Mahabharata précis,sita's life will be set forth in brief. As with inDraupadi's emergence from an altar fire,sita's " birth" from a furrow in the earth is miraculous,and as with Draupadi, her parents arrange for a contest, at which Rama wins her. His brothers Lakshman and Shatrugna. Son's of his father's wife Sumitra, sita's sisters Urmila and Shrutakiriti; his brither Bharat, a son of his father's wife Kaikeyi, marries her cousin-sister mandavi: a multiple wedding, but one which leaves no one aghast.

Aftersome time in their marital home, that of the young men's father, king Dasaratha, Rama, who is destined to become the crown prince, is banished as the result of a court5 intrigue led by Kaikeyi, who wishes to enthrone her son Bharat. Accompanied but Sita and Lakshman, Rama must live in the forest for fourteen years. The king dies of grief, and Bharat takes over the leadership of the country, but puts Rama's sandals on the throne as a symbol of the "true" king while he and Shatrugna await Rama's return.

In their travels, the trio visit various stages and have many adventures of one sort of another: exile becomes idyll, until a rakshasi(female demon) falls in love with Rama, attempts to kill sita, and is mutilated by Lakshman. Complaining to her brother Ravana, she relates Sita's beauty -and Ravana, despite his 10,000 wives, falls in love with the thought of Sita, and determines to capture her for himself. He sends another demon in disguise of a golden deer adorned with jewels, which attracts Sita's attention. She sends Rama after it; it leads him far astray, but when he finally slays it with an arrow, it calls out Sita's name, in Rama voice. Greatly upset, Sita insists that Lakshman go to his brother's aid; he suspects a ruse and refuses to leave. Now infuriated, Sita accuses him of having sexual designs on her, and demands him to go. Lakshman inscribes a circle, the Lakshmanrekha, around the house: no one other than he or Rama will be able to cross it if Sita does not stop over it.

With Lakshman out of the way, Ravana arrives at the house, disguised as a sage, and asks for refreshment. Sita steps across the line to bring him some water, and he apprehends her and abducts her in his aerial car to Lanka, his domain in the south. Although Sita is seemingly under his control, fate is on her side: Ravana lives under a cause that to attempt sexual intercourse with an unwilling woman will kill him (his 10,000 wives, many of whom he abducted, very much , refuses to have anything to do with him, and Ravana wages psychological warfare upon her, alternately cajoling and threatening. Sita wages war in return, eating only enough to stay alive, and refusing to wash, to change her clothes, or to otherwise beautify herself: making herself as thin and repellent as possible. Her virtues eventually endear her to the fierce rakshasis set to guard her, and she stubbornly holds her ground against Ravana. While this is transpiring, Rama and Lakshman, aided by the vanara (Monkey) general Hanuman, ultimately located her and fought Ravana to the death.

One would expect a happy at this point, and one would be surprised at what actually occurs: in front of the multitudes present, Rama rejects Sita, telling her that he fought this war for the sake of his honour, that she is now free to go anywhere: to one of his brothers, to a rakshasa, to a monkey. Because she has live in the home of another man (her unwillingness is irrelevant), he purity is called into question. At first, tears speak more eloquently for Sita than words, but she wipes her face, she commands Lakshman to build a fire: he looks to Rama for guidance, and then builds the pyre. Doing obeisance to Rama and entering the fire, she calls four times upon the flame as the witness to her purity:

If my heart has never strayed away from [Rama], may the God of fire, who sees all happens in the world, protect me on all sides? If [Rama] wrongly judges me, who am innocent, as having misbehaved, may fire, the universal witness, save me from all danger. If I have never been guilty of transgression in thought, word or deed again at [Rama] . . . may fire protect me! If the exalted Lord, the Sun-god, the Wind-god, the deities of the different directions, those presiding over day and night, and the twilight, the goddess earth and others know that I am blameless, may the fire do me no harm.(III.338)

She emerges unharmed, resplendent -Valmiki even adding that her garlands were still fresh, the sweat from her stress undired, after the gods have proclaimed her spotlessness (III: 342). The couple reconciles.

Kamban ends the narrative shortly thereafter, but in valamiki, sita has more ordeals to endure. Not long after returning home to Ajodhya to reign in triumph, Rama, bowing to political pressures, commands Lakshman to abandon the now- pregnant sita in the forest, presumably to die. While Lakshman must obey Rama, he her instead to Valmikie's ashram, where she gives birth to twin sons, Lav and Kush, and presumably, given the customs of the time of writing, joins in the life of the religious community.

Years later, by coincidence, a sons and father are reunited. Rama appears to have repented, and overjoyed that she is still alive, sends for Sita- but she must prove her purity yet once more. Seemingly having had enough of her husband's demands, Sita obliges him, but in a fashion obverse to the fire ritual: where as she had once called for the fire to burn her if she were impure, she now calls for her mother the Earth to take her back if she is pure.

If it is true that I have never so much as thought of any man other than, may the goddess…open her door wide and take me to her bosom. If it is true that I have always worshiped in Rama in thought, word and deed, may the goddess-queen of Madhava open her door and accept me. If what I have said now is the truth, and I have never looked upon any one as greater than Rama, may the divine consort of Madhava give me entrance into her abode!(RagunathanIII:607).

The Earth opens, and the enthroned goddess takes her daughter back into her lap, letting the ground close above them.

Here,Ambai makes Sita to realize her quest for self-realization, liberation and equality. Like Sita Ambai's senthiru expects recognition from her husband and not recognized by him because she is a woman. She supports her husband's (Thirumalai) business and promotes to the next level. But Thirimalai mindlessly excludes her from the new export business, so Senthiru feels hurt and leaves the family. Living close to nature in the nearby forest, she tries to seek peace of mind. She writes the story of Sita in the name of 'sitaayanam'. She deconstructs the image of Rama as a monogamist divine man to depict him as a suspicious, jealous, proud, and selfish patriarch and assert's Sita's right to lead a single life.


Senthiru gets the meaning of life only through music. She learns from a sanyasi, in the forest about the secret of life that just as the music, whether karnatic or Hindustani, is the same to a peaceful mind, so is life everywhere. The voice of a cuckoo can be melodies to an ever- happy mind. To a trobled heart, everything seems problematic and troublesome.


At first, Thirumalai pokes fun at Senthiru's decision to leave the house and critises her for the forest plan. He says that women have gone to the forest with their husbands in purnas and the animals and flowers in the forest have been hostile to them.


But senthiru is serious. Sshe gets the permission of the forest department, goes nearby forest and plans to rewrite the epic and purnas to get relaxation.


The forest department arranges a comfortable stay for her and gives information about the forest. In spite of repeated phone calls from her husband, she is so firm to stay in the forest and not readu to change her decision for anyone. While taking a walk she happens to meet three tribal woman-Meenabai, Rukmanibai and Savithabai. They discuss with her and share their food with her.


One day, the three tribal woman take senthiru to their houses. Their husbands are away from home. They prepare food together and eat together. They also drink toddy. Senthiru is reminded of an occasion when she went to Murut- Janjeera Fort with friends and children. Senthiru was unexpectedly held up in the fort, and there was a sign of storm so the boatman refused to take the boat. During that night, senthiru tasted toddy and fish to overcome the coldness. Now, for the second time, she tastes toddy.


Soon senthiru and tribal women hear music from Veena at a distance. The tribal women tell her that one Soofi Baba is living in hermitage plays Veena.


The next day, senthiru goes to that place. She talks with hermit about music. The hermit suggests her that the choice is between two things- sanyasam and nonsanyasam. She replies that she cannot live in Bombay.. the hermit advises that she can enjoy the pleasure of the forest in Bombay to the forest. As the Baba explains, senthiru understands that everything is on one's will. She walks towards her room with a clear mind.


Senthiru now attempts to write the most famous Indian Epic The Ramayana. She makes Sita as central figure in the story 'sitaayanam' and narrates the feelings, thoughts, experiences of sita in 'sitaayanam' from Sita's point of view. Her story ends with Sita living alone, leaving her children to Rama and rejecting the friendship of Ravana.


This story, 'the sitaayanam' breaks the traditional myth of Rama's divinity and presets him as an ordinary man who cannot understand the feelings and thoughts of their bête half. The story Atavi ends with a peace of mind attained by both senthiru and Sita.

Ambai has divided the story into an unequal twelve parts, by following the parallel pattern Ambai describes the lives of two women- one belonging to epic age and another modern age. She portrays that the condition of women has been the same and women have to take bold steps to design their own lives. Forest becomes the common locale for both the heroines and senthiru's life too becomes another sitaayanam.

Thus, Sita and Draupadi of Mahasweta and Ambai are brought into disturbing confrontations with the reader, to see them not in scriptural contexts, not as patriotic rallying points, not even as women to be saved, but rather as represent actions of silenced and invisible who now demand to be seen and heard. The writers by presenting the strength inherent in each, they construct a new world for modern young women. And especially, the show that the subalterns, those of the lowest strata of Indian society have recoverable voices, than the scholars.