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"Chitrangada" by Rabindranath Tagore

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Nupur Basu

on 6 December 2012

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Transcript of "Chitrangada" by Rabindranath Tagore

by Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) Nupur Basu Tagore's Background Playwriter, poet, songwriter, dramatist, novelist, painter, educator.
The first non-European to win the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1913.
Introduced a new style, verse, and prose to Bengali literature- different from classical Sanskrit.
Highly influential in introducing the East to the West, and vice-versa (modernization). Influences Cultural:
Modernized Bengali art and theater by resisting linguistic structures/features used by a traditional/Sanskrit society.
Broad range of topics in his novels, stories, songs, dance-dramas (both political and cultural).

Political Compositions: India's National Anthem, "Jana Gana Mana" and Bangladesh's National Anthem "Amar Shonar Bangla".
Was offered 'Knighthood' from King George V in 1915- Accepted but renounced and returned it to show support for Indian Independence. "Rabindra Nritya Natya" Three dance-dramas composed by Tagore:
Story on stage told through dance, song, and direct recital of text:
About women/ issues relating to women- women in spotlight
Dance form- "Rabindranritya"
Language- Bengali (although has been translated in many other languages)
Highlights matrilineal society/traditions The Original "Chitrangada" Plot "Mahabharata":
-Focuses on Arjuna, 3rd brother of the Pandavas
-Meets Chitrangada in Manipur (daughter of the King)
-King of Manipur asked that her future children be named heir to the throne of Manipur
-Arjuna and Chitrangada had a son- Babruvahana
-Their son becomes king of Manipur- heir comes down through his mother's lineage
-Follows matrilineal customs/traditions Tagore's "Chitrangada" 1892, Dance-drama plot:
-Spotlight on Chitrangada; character expansion.
-The only daughter of King of Manipur, brought up in a manly way (due to lack of mother's presence).
-Protector of the land, warrior.
-Finds Arjuna hunting, falls in love with him.
-He mistakes her for a man (due to fighting capabilities, manly attire, manly behavior).
-She receives a boon from Kamadeva, the Hindu God of love, and turns into a beautiful woman.
-Arjuna falls in love with her beauty, but doesn't know her true nature. Tagore's "Chitrangada", continued... -She wishes he would love her for what she really is.
-Meanwhile, enemies come to Manipur and Chitrangada is called upon to fight for her people.
-Arjuna finds out that she is the greatest warrior of Manipur and he considers her his equal.
-Chitrangada appears, saves her people, and reveals her true form in front of Arjuna.
-Arjuna marries her, and they have a son named Babruvahana, who goes on to become heir to the throne of Manipur. Tagore's Themes in "Chitrangada" The Spotlight on Women: -"Mahabharata" focuses mainly on Arjuna, while Tagore focuses on Chitrangada.
-Addresses the importance of the woman warrior, without whom Manipur would be easily conquered by enemies.
-Importance of looking beyond the face of women- getting to know their inner identities, finding inner beauty. The Switch of Gender Roles: -Raising a female as a male.
-Her attire, behavior, and capabilities.
-Females doing "manly" jobs.
-Chitrangada as a warrior, protector. Equality of Women/ Matrilinial Society -Acceptance of women taking on roles not traditionally meant for them.
-Arjuna treats Chitrangada as his equal, even as a fighter/warrior.
-Arjuna marries her not because she is beautiful, but because he is impressed by her true capabilities- usually not given importance in traditional societies.


-Non-traditional forms of royal lineage- passed down through the mother.
-She provides security. Tagore's General Themes in Dance-Dramas "Chandalika":
-A female untouchable who is degraded by society.
-Meets and falls in love with a monk who teaches us that everybody is equal in the eyes of God.
-The test of a woman's strength and endurance.

-Romantic tragedy about a female court dancer who falls in love with a man who has been falsely accused and faces execution.
-She can save him by taking his place.
-The test of a woman's love and her strength. Bibliography Outline -Tagore background
-His influences
-Nature of his dance-dramas
-"Chitrangada" Plot
-Tagore's themes
-Video clip Das, Arabindo. "Chitrangada: An English Version of the Original Bengali Drama "Chitrangada" of the Poet-preceptor, Rabindra Nath Tagore." Bandana Das, 2002. Thompson, Edward J. "Rabindranath Tagore: Life and Work (Studies in Asiatic Literature No. 57)." Haskell House Pub Ltd; 2nd edition. June 1974. Das, Sisir Kumar. "The English Writings of Rabindranath Tagore: Poems." South Asia Books. 1 December 1994. BOOKS: ARTICLES: Shukla, Richa. "Dance-drama on Tagore’s Chitrangada." The Times of India. 8 August 2011. <http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2011-08-08/people/29863914_1_dance-drama-gurudev-rabindranath-tagore-odyssey>
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