A STUDY OF MARINALISED COMMUNITY IN MAHASWETA DEVI’S RUDALI
Mahasweta Devi is an extraordinary writer who has written and fought for the marginalized tirelessly for past six decades. Mahasweta Devi is an activist and writer working for the betterment of subaltern in her own way of protesting against the atrocities on down trodden by the main stream society. Mahasweta Devi’s literary comprises stories around contemporary social and political realities, a majority of which span a reasonably free time range in independent India and are located in real settings. Literary subaltern refers to any person or group of inferior rank and station, whether because of race, class, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity or religion. Subalternity is subordination inferiority, exploitation, hegemony by the superior on the inferior which became inevitable in the present capitalist society. In her opinion, literature cannot be separated from the joys and sorrows of common man. She is not an armchair scholar sitting pleasantly in her home and making fictitious pictures of the sufferers. She has always used her writing as a weapon to attack any exploiting agency and unveil the ugly faces of the exploiters.
The plethora of novels, short-stories and plays by Mahasweta Devi matchlessly portray the unwritten tragic lives of the landless farmers, tribes, labourers and suppressed women. She is certainly one of the influential writers in India writing in English and also fighting for and about subalterns. The splendid portrait of our country progressing by leaps and bounds appear to be totally fake after realizing the trauma of the downtrodden portrayed in her writings. When asked in an interview what she planned to do the rest of her life, Mahasweta Devi answered that she wanted to fight for the downtrodden and write creatively if and when she finds the time. True to her words, she has consistently been fighting for the cause of subaltern communities. For her activism and writings, this octogenarian has been awarded with the Sahitya Akademi Award, the Bhartiya Jnanpith award, the Ramon Magsaysay award and the Padma Vibhushan. But all these awards together cannot recount the glory of who is the true example of woman empowerment, who has heard the voice of the voiceless people so far, who has lived and thought and fought and worked and written for the upliftment of the downtrodden, who has shaken the soul of many, who has shown a mirror to the so-called shining India, she is really an ideal for those who want to use their skills for the betterment of others.
Rudali by Mahasweta Devi is a powerful indictment of socio-economic system in India. It also comes as an attack on vestiges of feudalism in rural India. It is ironical that in, India, women are regarded as a representation of goddesses yet she is exploited and marginalized by the upper classes. Rudali records the transformation of Sanichari, the principal character on whom the story concords around is a ganju women. She is the representative of the gendered subaltern, the subject who is both low caste and woman at same time. The life of Sanichari is used by the writer as metonymy to represent the life of community altogether which at the same times the reality in Indian villages. Economical and social status of an individual depends on the caste and family they are born in. they have their own limitation and are forced to abide by the rules and regulation.
In Rudali Devi portrays the low cast woman as victim and as a potentially subversive agent in the phallogocentric brahmancial patriarchy and its values sphere and epistemology. The de-sentimentalized and detached narrative of the novel presents the hopeless predicament of Sanichari and another women belong to low caste in north Indian village of brahmanic Verna and caste patriarchy in later half of twentieth century brings out the news between caste, phallocentricism and feudalism is the hegemonic structure in this typical rural north Indian village, that shocking breaks the stereotypes and the romanticized images of the village. Sanichari was a ganju by caste and her life falls on desperate poverty. Mahasweta Devi portrays the whole marginalized community with the help of the character in the play, sanichari. The desperate poverty suffered by them makes sanichari as well as the subalterns who are dominated by the ruling elite in every aspects of their life. Even her psychological aspects of grief are dominated by the upper class in the modes of religion and rituals. Sanichari did not cry when mother-in – law died as her husband and brother-in-law was away jail. Ram avatar Singh’s callous nature is revealed in the very beginning of the play, as he locks up all the ganjus and dhushads for a meager loss of wheat. It was a threat to community altogether that they will be thrown out of the village.
The same psychological subalternity keeps recurring in her life with the death of her brother-in –law and his wife. Sanichari is afraid of religious rituals and ceremonials to be undertaken after their cremation. This resists her to control her grief. Death becomes relief to sanichari as at least their own stomachs would be full. Subaltern view of survival is prevailing in every scene of the play
Thus, Rudali is about the empowerment of a downtrodden woman who not only survives despite of many calamities but also finds ways for other downtrodden women. The work gives a realistic presentation of the inevitable struggles of countless women among the poor and low caste people. But like ‘mother-earth’ women have immense capacity of tolerating sufferings. Although feminists opine that characteristic of tolerance among women, makes them weak. It is also true that our Indian society comprising of the rich and the poor is sustained by this quality. All the women characters in Rudali are the example of life-affirming values. Although they are caught in the grimmest of situations, they strive to maintain their existence. Caught in the web of the double oppression of class and gender, they stretch their arms towards life. The end of the story aptly shows that given a chance, they can make the exploiting system extremely vulnerable. They have seen the worst in their lives and now they can enjoy every moment, they are given among the harsh realities of their lives. The oppression of the downtrodden and inequality between male and female is not a new phenomenon in recorded or unrecorded times. Supremacy of the male and the powerful has been taken for granted over thousands of years. Before independence it was easy to endure this injustice since we could blame the foreign rule for it. But after independence it is certainly a slap over the face of modernization, development and equality. For Mahasweta Devi, the oppressed and the downtrodden people of India are neither figures nor a mere percentage of this fat subcontinent. They are her India the real India to her, their slavery is sufficient proof that the war of independence is still to be fought and won. Thus, all these works present different issues of subalternity in the lives of ‘doubly subaltern’ women. From Jashoda to Sanichari of Rudali, all force us to think whether women will ever be able to enjoy the equal status as of men in society? Will the day ever come when women will not have to pay the price for their being women? The day seems to be far away but the writer is optimistic since in her opinion women have greater strength, greater tolerance and greater power than men who make them survive in this cruel world.
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