Mahabharata is considered to be the storehouse, which provides a glimpse into the Indian society, religion and philosophy. Over the ages, scores of litterateur have ideas inspired from it, leading to the creation of new literary works. Three writers of the 19th century: Madhusudan Dutta, Bankim Chandra and Nabinchandra, have created various poetries, novels and dramas centred around the characters of Mahabharata. This book explores the expression of the characters of the Mahabharata in the literary works of the above mentioned writers and examines their imaginative outlook revolving around the works.
Born on 20th February, 1968, Dr. Sumita Bhattacharjee is currently working as the Head of the Department, Bengali at Arya Vidyapeeth College, Guwahati. Having completed her B.A.(Hons.) from Handidique Girls College, she went ahead to become a Gold Medalist (First class first) for her M.A. degree from Guwahati University.
She further completed her Ph.D. from the same institution in 2016.
This book has been written on the topic of my research work. My thesis is submitted to the University of Gauhati for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy (in the faculty of Arts) and I am awarded the Degree successfully. I have published my research-work after revision.
My proposed topic of research is : "Creative Approaches to the Characters of the Mahabharata by Madhusudan, Bankim Chandra and Nabinchandra : A Critical Study". Although some partial and segmented discussions were held earlier, no exhaustive dissertation has yet been done on this topic. Besides, this topic is worth studying from the perspective of research and hence I have selected this subject.
In this book the title have been abbreviated. The topic has been classified into three chapters which are as follows:
CHAPTER : I
Creative Approaches to the Characters of the Mahabharata by Madhusudan
a. Principal characters from the Mahabharata as portrayed by Madhusudan.
b. Secondary characters from the Mahabharata as portrayed by Madhusudan.
CHAPTER : II
Creative Approaches to the Characters of the Mahabharata by Bankim Chandra
a. Principal characters from the Mahabharata as portrayed by Bankim Chandra.
b. Secondary characters from the Mahabharata as portrayed by Bankim Chandra.
CHAPTER : III
Creative Approaches to the Characters of the Mahabharata by Nabinchandra
a. Principal characters from the Mahabharata as portrayed by Nabinchandra.
b. Secondary characters from the Mahabharata as portrayed by Nabinchandra.
I would like to furnish herewith the contextual points in order to substantiate any distinctive observations as well as those of my cessations clarified by myself given below:
1) In all respects, I owe my dissertation to the original text composed by Vedavyasa as well as to the portions of the different volumes of the translation (of the original text) done by Haridas Siddhantabagish. The English renderings of the text have been given within the brackets.
2) The narratives of the well-known episodes of the Mahabharata have been excluded, considering them superfluous and out of context, and hence only the mentions of the same have been included here. Footnotes have been used to indicate the less-known episodes. However, since this dissertation is going to be offered as a test and since it is obvious that the examiners are naturally well-versed in the subject called the Mahabharata, I have ceased to delineate the narratives of the main episodes. And the controversy in regard to the time of composing the Mahabharata has also been excluded from the dissertation.
3) I have picked up only those characters for discussion which have been included in the literary works of Madhusudan, Bankim Chandra and Nabinchandra. But some characters which have been merely mentioned in the writings of this Trio, have not been considered to be included in my discussion.
4) This dissertation somewhere contains the contextual allusions to the Bhagavata, Besides, in order to evince the historicity of any deportment of any figure caused by the novel method of characterizing any of the protagonists from the Mahabharata with a new dimension, as it was ventured by the Trio.
5) My dissertation also contains the repeated mentions of the literary creations of Kashiram Das - sometimes as the sources of the modification of the characters, or when sometimes they served the purpose of a secondary source of the dissertation. Besides, a number of secondary sources have been utilized by myself. I have done all these for the revaluation of the characters and also for the sake of my research.
6) Somewhere else in the footnotes, in order to substantiate my averment, I have quoted the secondary or the primary source.
7) In the writings of these three writers, the source of the modification of some characters from the Mahabharata has eluded me even after a long pursuit. Hence these modified characters devoid of any certain source, have been excluded from my discussion.
8) The distinctive outlooks of the three writers, as they are revealed through the diverse methods of characterization of the protagonists of the Mahabharata have already been mentioned in the three chapters. Hence, I have desisted from including any separate chapter in my dissertation to display the distinctive attitudes of the Trio, in order to get rid of repetitive verbiage. Instead , I have ventured to distinguish among the viewpoints of this Trio recapitulated in the conclusion, in relation to the characterization of the protagonists in the Mahabharata.
9) By my own volition, I have avoided the external aspects of the creation of the Trio and pivoted on the internal aspects of this creative genius instead.
10) I have used diacritical mark specially for Bengali and sanskrit quatations. In case of Sanskrit text occuring in the book, care has been taken to maintain their Sanskrit pronounciation of medial and final 'a' in translitering them into Roman script accoridingly, as for example Mahabharata unlike Bengali pronounciation of tatsama words and phrases has been maintained, for example Mahabharata.
The Mahabharata was the first ever epic that mirrored the ocean of humanity that emerged in ancient India after the co-mingling of the Aryans and the Non-Aryans, along with reflecting the happiness-sorrow-emotion-pain-jealousy and its religious feelings too. This epic is not only a versified composition reflecting the colourful romancing of the poet, but it also acts as the backdrop of his contemporaneous History, Literature and Philosophy. This epic is thronged with different characters. In this train of characters, each and every character appears gloriously effulgent- be it the prominent ones like Bhisma or Drona, or be it an insignificant one like the hunter. It may be mentioned in this context that since we are going to dwell on the characters of the Mahabharata, then preference should be given on the role of characterization in the epic while deliberating on this topic.
Characterization is one of the prominent components of a drama or an epic or a novel. A character hinges upon the plot. Of course, the plot is the pivotal component in a tragedy, the position of the character is secondary. When the speaker desires something or wants to renounce something, that connotes the character and may be defined as the intrinsic attribute endued with an individual.
A protagonist expresses his feelings of joy and sorrow sometimes through the dialogues, or sometimes using the device of soliloquy, or sometimes through his demeanours. But, a character is concomitant of an action or an incident.
Characters can be of various types. In the annals of the origination of characterization, it is noticed that an author of solemn nature used to emulate the activities of a great and virtuous person and consequently ended up composing the hymns dedicated to the deities known as Devastuti and glorifying the great men known as the Mahapurusa Stuti- while the authors of frivolous nature used to mimic rather the activities of the people belonging to the lower strata of the society and they ventured to compose satire. A character is endowed with the ability to express his view sounding feasible and in accordance with a particular situation. While the ancient poets used to attribute the character with conventional and colloquial language, the modern poets articulated their characters with flowery and rhetorical language.
In regard to the perspective of characterization, four points should be taken into consideration, such as (i) A character ought to be good, i.e., his or her motive or intention should be good; (ii) A propriety ought to be there in his or her intention; (iii) A character should be factual and (iv) There should be some congruity in the character. During the portrayal of a character, the poet should be conscious of the feasibility or probability of
In India, the Mahabharata is known as a religious treatise to the common people. During the Medieval times, eminent poets from Bengal, namely, Srikar Nandi, Kashiram Das etc. offered the Bengali renderings of the Mahabharata although they failed to evoke any creative outlook and response. None of them could add any novel dimension to the epical characters. In fact, at the moment it was not possible to treat the epical characters with a novel interpretation in addition to a new dimension, since at that time, the characters of the Mahabharata were being interpreted with a devotional outlook. Only the varied traits such as the firmness or tenderness of nature, were attributed to the characters and differentiated according to the diversified regional interpretation. The poets from Bengal who rendered the Mahabharata into Bengali, were guided by the aforementioned trend at the time of portrayal of the epical characters. As a result, all the epical characters of the Bengali renderings had a typical mellow touch and flavour distinctive of Bengal.
The Nineteenth century witnessed the intellectual awakening that illumined the realm of consciousness of the Bengali literati, after being triggered by the nation's encounter with Western education and culture. This impetus claimed the revolution of the epical protagonists of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata- as Sri Aurobindo puts it : 'back to ourselves'.' Exactly at that period, the eminent intelligensia as well as the sagacious stalwarts of contemporaneous Bengal started a good deal of rethinking over the epical protagonists of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, since one of the prominent features of the Bengal Renaissance was to re-assess the characters of both the epics (the Ramayana and the Mahabharata) which was triggered by the coeval eminent thinkers of Bengal who were free from religious superstitions and bigotry.
In fact, Nineteenth century witnessed the impetus to revivify that image in the current of thought which had never been envisaged by the great poet. Before dwelling on the backdrop of that animating zeal, it is essential to highlight the facets of the Bengal Renaissance.
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