Mahashweta Devi Death Anniversary: Five Literary Works by the Bengali Author That One Should Read
From 'Jhansir Rani' to 'Bashai Tudu,' here are some of the most prolific works of Mahashweta Devi.
Image of Mahashweta Devi
On July 28, 2016, India lost an eminent literary writer when Bengali writer Mahashweta Devi passed away. While the author has passed away three years ago, her writings have left behind a legacy that will live forever. Devi has been a recipient of many awards and recognition, including Jnanpith Award, Padma Vibhushan, Ramon Magsaysay Award, Sahitya Akademi award and Indira Gandhi Award for National integration. An active voice for tribals, Devi’s writings gave out strong messages.
On her third death anniversary, here are five literary works by the author that should be included in a must-read list:
Aranyer Adhikar (Right to the Forest)
A prominent fighter for Dalit and Adivasi rights, in her 1977’s novel Aranyer Adhikar, Devi writes about the life of Birsa Munda. She received Sahitya Akademi award for the book. Devi was so influenced by the tribal issues that she donated the prize money from both the Jnanpath and Magsaysay awards to tribal communities.
Hajar Churashir Ma (Mother of 1084)
Devi’s Hajar Churashir Ma, also a famous movie with the name Hazaar Chaurasi Ki Maa, is the story of an upper middle class woman whose world is forever changed when her son is killed for his naxalite beliefs. In fact, the naxalite movement of the late 1960′s and early 1970′s were also an important influence in her work.
Devi's Rudali is a powerful indictment of the socio-economic system in India. The story talks about the issue of feudalism in India by putting the low caste women as the victim. The books talks about the irony of India, where, on one hand women is considered to be goddess, and on the other hand, she gets disrespected by the patriarchy.
Jhansir Rani (Rani of Jhansi)
Devi’s first novel came back in 1956 as a biography of Jhansi Ki Rani. Even after being her first novel, Devi left no chance to give her best to the book. She toured around areas of Jhansi to write down the novel. Unlike many other biographies on Laxmibai, Jhansir Rani weaves a very personal history of a heroine—an unusual woman, widowed at an early age, who grew from a free-spirited child into an independent young leader.
Another work by Devi dedicated to the tribals in India is Operation Bashai Tudu. The novelette, along with Draupadi, a short story, evokes a modern myth of a tribal peasant revolutionary who turns up whenever the landless farm labourers are driven to a crisis.
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