De-mythifying the Ramayana: A Study of the ‘Devoiced’ Surpanakha

  • Aditi Dirghangi National Institute of Technology Rourkela, India
Keywords: Re-interpretation, Devoiced, De-mythify, Patriarchy, New woman

Abstract

The famous Indian epic Ramayana composed by poet Valmiki between the 4th and 5th century BC is a potent corpus of mythology that has affected the creative imagination of writers from all walks of life. Down the ages it has undergone numerous re-interpretations and retellings. With its grandiose narrative, it also conveys an inherent ideology that is sometimes irrefutable because of the ‘inviolate’ position it holds. To oppose these authoritative and discriminatory ideologies contemporary writers have re-narrated it with suitable mythic structures and have de-mythified the mythology according to the sensibilities of time. The hierarchical dominance of the privileged characters, and the ideology of the patriarchy are countered and the unheeded voices of the ‘minor’ characters are offered spaces to narrate their stories. This paper seeks to examine the character of Surpanakha, Ravan’s sister who is commonly perceived as ugly and brutal. She had transgressed the gender boundary and was ‘justifiably’ mutilated for expressing her sexual desire towards Ram. Surpanakha embodies the label of the ‘bad’ woman of Indian mythology who in contrast to the character of Sita, a dutiful wife who easily succumbs to subjugation, is bold and liberated. This paper analyses Kavita Kane’s Lanka’s  Princess (2017) and studies how the text gives space to Surpanakha by subverting India’s most popular tale of morality. She narrates her story, expressing the progressive outlook of a ‘new woman’ who wants to assert her individuality and is constantly punished by the societal norms for her perceived transgressions.

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Published
2020-06-07
How to Cite
Dirghangi, A. (2020). De-mythifying the Ramayana: A Study of the ‘Devoiced’ Surpanakha. Proceeding of the International Conference on Arts and Humanities, 6(1), 8-15. https://doi.org/10.17501/23572744.2019.6102