Friday, March 2, 2018

Agnivarsha: Girish Karnad's twisted version of a Mahabharata story part-2

Continuing from part-1, here we will look at some more deviations presented in the Agnivarsha play and the film.
Previous parts of this discussion can be found here:
Part - 1

Yavakrit molests Paravasu's wife: 

Actual story as per Mahabharata: Yavakri, after feeling haughty and arrogant because of the boon he recieved, returns to his father, Bharadwaj. He tells his father that the knowledge of Vedas is now manifested in both of them. He says that they are now as powerful and learned as Raibhya and his sons. Yavakrit's father warns him not to mess with Raibhya and his sons. He tells him that Raibhya is very powerful sage and that he should not do anything to irk him. Yavakrit ignores his father's advice and goes to Raibhya's hermitage. There he finds Raibhya's beautiful daughter-in-law, the wife of Paravasu. Attracted by her beauty, Yavakrit asks her to come to him for sexual favors. Now, Yavakrit boasts his powers and Paravasu's wife, well aware of the consequences of rejecting his desire and facing his newly found prowess, agrees to do his bidding. She was also very much aware of the ascetic powers of her own father-in-law, Raibhya. Yavakrit rapes Paravsu's wife and leaves.

Story as per Agnivarsha: In the film Agnivarsha, it is shown that Paravasu's wife Vishakha loved Yavakrit before her marriage. When Yavakrit returns after his 'failed' penance, he meets Vishakha and tells her about his meetings with Indra and his own austerities. Then Vishakha narrates to him that she was married to Paravsu after he (Yavakrit) went for penance. She also reveals that her father-in-law Raibhya is a vile and evil man. In the film too, its shown that during their conversation Yavakrit and Vishakha get intimate and Raveen Tandon, the actress playing the role of Vishakha, gave one of the most controversial bare back exposing scene in the film. However, no actual intercourse happen between the two as they are interrupted by Paravasu's younger brother Arvavasu (who was named 'Aravasu' in the film). Arvavasu was also present there to meet his beloved Nithilayi, a tribal girl of scheduled caste whom he loved. After seeing her brother-in-law, Vishakha is ashamed and she runs away from there. It is shown in the film that Yavakrit meets Vishakha in the outskirts and not in Raibhya's ashram. It is also shown that Vishakha was carrying some water to her house, which she was very concerned to not spill.

Analysis: The assent of Paravasu's wife to have intercourse with Yavakrit is indeed controversial. This assent, well spelled in Mahabharata, is actually a great example of the mature thinking of society in that era. It is difficult for modern intellectuals and for those who hate ancient Indian scriptures to accept that a woman could go with another man for sex on her own will in ancient India. So they had to weave a story of a past love between Yavakrit and Vishakha. In the epic, it is mentioned that Paravasu's wife, though did not wish to submit to Yavakrit, did so in fear of the latter's power and in full confidence of her father-in-law's prowess. The bottom line is having sex with other man was not a taboo. During this incidence and later as well, no one blames Paravasu's wife. However, the film showed a completely different story in this regard.

More on this in the next post.
Click here to read next post in this series, Part - 3

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