Chapter

Reinventing the <i>Rāmāyaṇa</i> in Twentieth-Century Bengali Literature

Mandakranta Bose

in The Ramayana Revisited

Published in print October 2004 | ISBN: 9780195168327
Published online April 2005 | e-ISBN: 9780199835362 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0195168321.003.0005
 Reinventing the Rāmāyaṇa in Twentieth-Century Bengali Literature

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This chapter examines the representation of the feminine in the Rāma tales in Bengali culture. Noting that whole episodes are invented in Krttivasa's 15th-century Bengali Rāmāyana to ascribe self-defining roles to women, these changes are attributed to the dominance of the bhakti doctrine sweeping through the region. An even more sustained celebration of the idea of the mystical power of the feminine appears in the Rāmāyana of the father-and-son team Jagadram and Ramprasad, in which Sītā is revealed as the embodiment of devi and brings about the final conquest of evil by defeating the thousand-headed Ravana, whom Rāma is unable to subdue. Here, as in Krttivasa, the spiritual stance is that of bhakti, which dominates the Bengali narrative tradition of the Rāmakatha.

Keywords: Rāma tales; Rāmāyana; feminine; Bengali culture

Chapter.  7565 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Hinduism

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