The story of Chitrangada

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What is Chitgranda exactly? The story of Chitrangada is centred around the mythological hero Arjuna and the princess of Manipur who was brought up as a son by her father, and trained as a warrior. Her name was Chitrangada.

“I am Chitrangada, I am not a simple woman, so I will not tread behind you. Neither am I a goddess to be put on a pedestal, I would rather be by your side through thick and thin if you accept me for who I am and what I am then I agree to be yours.”

The above dialogue encapsulates perfectly what the story is all about. Chitrangada is a character from the great Indian epic ‘The Mahabharata’. Though written thousands of years ago the story promotes many ideas and ideals relevant to life today. This particular story emphasises equality of sexes. In the instance for the upcoming KLIAF Kshetra Academy draws inspiration from an eponymous drama written by the legendary Indian writer and Nobel laureate the late Rabindranath Tagore. Tagore was the first Nobel laureate from Asia when he was awarded the Nobel prize for literature in 1913.

Chitrangada’ is considered by many as the poet-laureate’s ’s loveliest drama, and a lyrical feast. It was written in 1891 when Tagore was 30 years old. In the drama, Tagore portrays Chitrangada as temporarily confused – as demonstrated by the need for borrowed beauty to draw Arjuna (the hero). This proved redundant as Arjuna chose, instead, to profess his love for the ‘real’ Chitrangada, the warrior princess who protected her kingdom. Through this play Tagore wanted to free young minds from fear, and enable them to realise their full potential. Tagore wanted the young to value true beauty within rather than the falseness on the outside. , implying, therefore, to take pride in what’s their own. Rabindranath Tagore was a patriot but he was fiercely opposed to narrow-minded nationalism.

“Throughout the play, Tagore has coloured the evolution of the character Chitrangada who is indeed a fusion of the Eastern and Western idea of feminism. From a Chitrangada smitten with Arjuna, she changes herself to a beautiful woman just to woo him and in the end realises that she shouldn’t have changed at all as she stands as man’s spiritual and mental equal. We even find changes in Arjuna but they are lightly indicated Chitra and Arjuna are symbolic figures but we can certainly relate to their roles and the message that come from the play. Also, we see that love cannot deny or bypass the reality of the body’s desire, but a love which never learns to go beyond the body knows no fulfilment, no peace and, therefore, unreal.” – An extract from assignment submitted by Gheetha Arumugam, student at Kshetra Academy

Kshetra Academy will be performing an abridged version using dance as an idiom of expression.

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