Manjari Shukla

My purpose in this paper is to discuss the use of myth & mythological narratives in Shashi Tharoor’s THE GREAT INDIAN NOVEL that synchronises the epic narratives of the Mahabharata & the twentieth century political history of India. It covers the period of Indian history from the advent of Gandhi as an undisputed leader of freedom struggle to the emergency rule of Indira Gandhi.

Shashi Tharoor’s THE GREAT INDIAN NOVEL (1989) has been inspired by a sense of urgency and outrage on account of general erosion of values and norms in the post-partition Indian poility. The author seems to have been most upset by the darkest period in the history of free India, i.e. the Emergency promulgated in 1975, and conceptualizes that experience into an existential riddle to be solved through the understanding of a parallel happening in the in the remote Indian past.

Shashi Tharoor carves out a niche for himself through the replacement of a peace meal convenient, multi-form structure of fantasy by an elaborate & integrated corpus of myth, undoubtedly Tharoor schematically revives a vital chord in the common consciousness, & anticipates the direction of events with respect to that. It is this reawakening of this common consciousness that is significant in the entire construct of his craft, because of which Tharoor’s history becomes a transcendental vision of the past and an added facility to the understanding of the past by capitalizing on in an inherent culture resources. It is within the ambit of this consciousness that the novelist uses myth. Tharoor does not scan history intuitively but enlightened with available cultural motif. Even if man evolves, he retains the features of identity reflected in the cultural mooring of the past. Tharoor tries to come to terms with his present retrospectively. The Indian mythology in its stupendous diversity provides many motives to correlate various aspects of human life. The Mahabharata is a unitary national myth that perceives human life in totality & supplies for Tharoor’s novel. The most appropriate allegorical background to project the contemporary Indian situation. He uses the mythical setting of the Mahabharata to foreground the eternal present that is the continuance of the historical process from India’s remote past to the present. It corresponds to reality only obliquely, howsoever deliberate the desire to question the present may be, Tharoor says that the official histories of nation are no better than hagiographies and suggests that the vision of an individual recollected from memory can also participate in and contribute to the making of national history.


0 Responses