IGNOU MEG 16 Indian Folk Literature Solved Assignment 2021-22


All of the answers to “MEG 16 Indian Folk Literature 2021-22” can be found below.

MEG 16 Indian Folk Literature Solved Assignment 2021-22

Course Code: MEG-16

Assignment Code: MEG-16/TMA/2021-22

Max. Marks: 100

Attempt any five of the following:

1) Give a brief overview of the academic period in the growth of folklore studies in India. 20

Answer: India, more than any other place in Eastern civilisation, provides a wonderful chance for folkloristics scholars to trace the threads of unity within packed variation. Munshi notes, “Throughout India’s history”, The process of integration is divided into two parts: one has its origins in Aryan culture and operates on the momentum that the culture’s values have; the other works its way upward from the way of life of the Early Dravidians and other non-Aryan cultures in the country into the framework of Aryan cultures, modifying its form and content but not the fundamentals, and weaving into a continuous pattern. The first movement adds life and synthesis, while the second adds vigour and variation to the piece. But it is the balance of the two that gives India her strength, tenacity, and sense of mission, year after generation.

Scholars who began serious research on Indian culture around the turn of the century appear to have failed to capture this essence of harmonic pattern, resulting in a lack of universal knowledge of the genuine regularities in Indian civilisation and society. The much-discussed notions of the “Great Tradition” and the “Little Tradition,” as well as their triumphs and failures, must be evaluated in light of these and other deeply embedded aspects of Indian culture and civilization. Another significant issue that early ethnographers in India appear to have overlooked.

These links would have become known if ethnographers’ research targets had been a little broader and deeper, clearing the conceptual undergrowth and providing an excellent opportunity for scholars to work out the relationships that existed between the scriptural theories of Indian society and the actual systems that operate in Indian village life.

Furthermore, in the end, it may have aided in the construction of an overarching structure of thought about Indian civilization, allowing researchers to leave the wilderness of old misunderstandings.

Despite a long and illustrious history of anthropological research on the Indian subcontinent, oral traditions, particularly the rich and fascinating folk narratives, remained largely untapped: they were not collected or subjected to the rigorous analytic tools developed by anthropologists over time.

While investigations on the Indian caste system, social structure, kinship, village organisation, and other topics drew the attention of both Western and Indian researchers, resulting in the publishing of useful research, oral traditions did not. Scholars in general appear to have missed the fact that a systematic study of oral traditions would greatly aid in our comprehension of the phenomena we’re all trying to grasp. Nevertheless, in past years, researchers have recognised their earlier errors, and the necessity to study oral traditions in order to comprehend the reality of Indian culture in a holistic manner has been acknowledged by both Western and Indian scholars, leading to the adoption of many innovative techniques. For example, until the mid 1950s, anthropologists paid little attention to oral traditions. Oral traditions began to catch the attentive focus of every cultural anthropologist after the mid 1950s, when structuralism, based mostly on Lévi-Strauss’ study of primitive mythology and oral traditions, began to sweep anthropological research.

As is generally known, India holds a unique position in the history of world mythology. The wonderful Indian storey has influenced the theoretical development of folkloristics. Max Muller’s writings on Indian mythology and Theodore Benfey’s translation of the legendary Panhcatantra, for example, gave birth to the belief that fairy tales originated in India. The question isn’t whether these and other hypotheses were eventually supported or not. The problem is that Indian folktales’ richness and variety have the potential to inspire such notions. This also serves as a reminder of the importance of the subcontinent’s oral traditions, which are still alive and well.

In addition, India has the distinction of having the world’s oldest written oral traditions. Apart from the Rigveda, Ramayana, and Mahabharata, the Puranas and Upanishads are rightly referred to as the “encyclopaedia of Indian religion and mythology,” with the best examples being Narayana Pandit’s Hitopadesa, Gunadhya’s Brhatkatha, Somadeva’s Kathasaritsagara, Das’Vetala Pancavimsatika, and other works.

India has a unique position in worldwide folklore studies due to its dizzying wealth of oral traditions. Anthropologists and folklorists were drawn to it because of its diverse ethnic and language cultural traditions. The study of Indian myths and folktales by Max Müller and Theodore Benfey demonstrates how Indian folklore materials affected the theoretical development of folklore studies. Indian culture and civilisation have been defined by the preservation of some of the world’s oldest oral and written traditions.

However, it was only after the arrival of the British that folklore on Indian soil was studied in contemporary methodical manner. One of India’s most eminent folklore researchers, Jawaharlal Handoo, has divided the development of folklore studies in India into three periods: the Missionary Period, the Nationalistic Period, and the Academic Period.

Academic Period:

After India’s independence in 1947, the academic age of Indian folklore studies started, with official study and research in institutionalised institutions such as colleges and universities. The essential impetus for this was obtained in the spirit of the patriotic era. If the missionary period was distinguished by the gathering of raw material on Indian folklore and the nationalist period was marked by patriotic feelings, the academic period was marked by the pursuit of truth about Indian folklore, as well as scientific study and preservation by Indians. Folklore studies at Indian educational institutions remained/were initially merged with departments such as anthropology, history, and literary studies, as in many other countries. Gauhati University established a Folklore Archive in 1955, which eventually evolved into the Department of Tribal Culture and Folklore Research, India’s first folklore department.

Later on, several additional Indian institutions established departments to provide M.A., M. Phil., and Ph.D. programmes. As well as a Ph.D. Folklore studies courses are available. IGNOU is one of the few institutions in India that provide academic programmes and courses in folklore studies, and students have responded enthusiastically. Nongovernmental organisations, such as the National Folklore Support Centre, have been established to promote and disseminate folklore studies in India, in addition to government institutions and universities. Folklore studies in India during this time were marked by an interdisciplinary approach, international partnerships, and applications of modern ideas and viewpoints in the humanities and social sciences. Birinchi Kumar Baruah, A. K. Ramanujan, Jawaharlal Handoo, Praphulladatta Goswami, Birendranath Datta, Manoj Das, K Sachindanandan, Indranath Choudhury, and many more are among the renowned folklore scholars of this period.

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2) Ecology is an inevitable element of folklore. Elucidate. 20

Answer: William Thoms a British antiquarian invented the word “folklore” in 1846. Folklore has always been linked to ecology and has endured; it is the human relationship to nature and time.

The term “folk” may be used to describe any group of individuals who have at least one thing in common. It makes no difference what the connecting element is– it might be a shared vocation, language, or religion– what matters is that a group forms for whatever reason it chooses to name its own.

Oral tradition literature is the primary source of folk literature. To read the past in the present, it relates to archives, buildings, monuments, and archaeological sites. It is often noticed that mainstream art and literary genres never objectively or inclusively portrayed previous facts of existence. As a result, researchers rely on folk literature to explain a wide range of social undercurrents, which, obviously, has a tight relationship with all social sciences.

The origin of folk literature is founded on the beliefs and widespread conviction that the elements prevalent in nature possess phenomenal force and are sensitive to the same degree as any other human person. Some of these ideas are seen to have institutionalised friendly qualities, while others may have institutionalised adversarial powers. As a result, out of fear, practises of praying to both god and evil have become institutionalised. Songs, prayers, folk tales, myths, gods, goddesses, and consternation stories were commonly constructed for these powers’ petitions. Puranas, Rigveda, Ramayana, Mahabharata, and Upanishadas constitute the repository of Indian culture. The best examples of folk Indian literature include Narayan Pandit’s Hitopadesha, Gunadhya’s Brihatkatha, Somdeva’s Kathasaritasagara, Shivada’s Vetalpanchvimashti, and Sukhsaptati and Jataka Tales. Although most of these texts and literature are written in Sanskrit, substantial efforts have been made to look into the origins and development of folk literary traditions in them.

Folk culture cannot be defined only on the basis of geographical or literary considerations. It can be shared by persons of the same race, gender, religion, or profession. It has the ability to cut past geographical barriers and have close human-to-human engagement. Technology and contemporary civilization can also influence it. Net surfers, for example, might have their own unique folk culture that sets them apart from the rest of the globe. Folk indicates a sense of collectivity since it is a shared experience shared by several people. A folk culture cannot exist until it is shared and collectively generated, even if it is created by a single person. It is not required for all members of the people to know one another. They might be far apart and unconnected in any way. The term “folk” does not always mean “rural” or “lower class.” There may be a sizable urban literate population. Jokes, songs, tales, and myths have all been influenced by television, computers, and the telephone. It has evolved into a powerful instrument for transmitting and generating new folk cultures.

Folk culture is alive and well in the United States. Folklore was thought to be a dead culture in the nineteenth century, however this is incorrect. It is inextricably linked to any region’s rich, ever-changing cultural legacy. Its meaning and value may shift throughout time, but its essence remains the same. Certain jokes and proverbs, for example, have lost their societal importance yet remain part of folk culture. Folklore conjures up images of deception and imagination in the minds of many people. Folk tales and legends are sometimes said to be based on myths and inaccurate facts. While this is true for some types of folklore, such as tales and stories, it is incorrect to assume that all kinds of folk culture contain elements of deception. It is very much based on people’s everyday lives, and certain forms, such as theatre and performance, are based on concrete truths.

Folk culture is made up of a people’s taught habits, beliefs, rituals, institutions, and expressions. However, this does not have to be confined to oral habits; it might also involve material culture. This is closely related to the concept of a folk society, which is a group of people who are united by a shared interest.

Folk culture and folk society are inextricably linked. As previously said, folk culture has undergone significant transformations. Folk culture was once conceived as a rustic and ordinary people’s culture, centred on idealised, romantic notions. It has also been related to nationalism. Folk culture, on the other hand, covers everything.

Scholars of folklore have a variety of definitions. “Traditional cultural forms that are conveyed between persons through words and acts and tend to exist in variety,” according to Klintberg. Folklore is thought to be passed down orally through informal techniques by scholars for a long time. They argue that because folklore is mostly verbal, it may vary drastically depending on the context. However, informal communication should not be viewed as the only mode of communication because it may be delivered in a variety of ways and through a range of techniques. Folk beliefs are communicated through both literary and visual media. Well-known artists have used creative forms such as theatre, dance, and painting to convey their ideas. In his play Hayavadana, for example, the well-known writer Girish Karnad explores traditional themes.

Folklore is inextricably linked to tradition. Because tradition entails change and continuity, folklore’s cultural symbols, artefacts, and emblems are all subject to change. Folklore is fundamentally dynamic and in a constant state of transformation.

Folklore is inextricably linked to social life and the processes of change and transformation that it undergoes. As a result, this is a creative and inventive artistic process that is in constant movement and change. Folklore is notorious for its inconsistency. We frequently witness people’s faith in particular concepts and ideals being questioned. Folklore, on the other hand, upholds a set of cultural values. This may be found in folk music, where ideals such as mother-child love, family connection, patriotism, and man-nature oneness are consistently promoted. Folklore may bring people together, as with music, or tear them apart, as with embarrassing jokes. Folklore is full with contrasts.

Folklore might be personal or public, global or local, national or international. Folktales about a hero saving a princess from the hands of evil, for example, are widespread, but tales from Rajasthan, such as Dhola Maru, are exclusive to the region. Folklore, like art and folk crafts, is closely tied to aesthetics and the sense of beauty. Folklorists define this in terms of aesthetics and artistry. Jokes, riddles, and ordinary art objects like clay pots and textiles are not considered innovative or attractive by certain researchers. Art objects, common idioms, speech patterns, and vocal utterances, on the other hand, are artistic communication patterns.

Folklore, on the other hand, has a high level of authenticity and dependability. In high culture, authenticity is determined by the person, and originality is determined by the individual. Authorship is nameless in folklore, on the other hand.

Folklore is inextricably linked to aesthetics and the sense of beauty, as evidenced through art and folkcraft. Folklorists use the terms “style” and “artisanry” to describe this. Jokes, riddles, and ordinary art objects such as clay pots and textiles are not considered creative or attractive by certain historians. Art objects, common idioms, speech patterns, and vocal utterances, on the other hand, are artistic communication patterns.

Folklore, on the other hand, has a high level of authenticity and dependability. In high culture, authenticity is determined by the person, and originality is determined by the individual. Authorship is nameless in folklore, on the other hand. They consider this social organisation as the driving force behind the entire folklore process, whether it’s communication, cultural preservation, or cultural symbol conservation. The family mediates patterns of belief, behaviour, art, rituals, institutions, and expressions. To this, we might add that folk culture symbolises the portrayal and reaffirmation of a group’s whole identity, whether it be a family, a community, or a nation.

Folk life is always presented in contrast to the elite, who are portrayed as civilised, urbanised, or wealthy. Folk culture, according to some, belongs to a tiny technologically backward population. Folk culture is considerably larger, and it may be seen in urban contexts as well, such as among migrant workers in India’s great cities or tiny shopkeepers in metros. Folk is a term used to describe a group of people that share some characteristics that allow them to work together. A group might be large or tiny, or major or secondary in nature. Size, goal, duration, communication patterns, kind of social control, and the individual’s level of engagement in the group are some of the characteristics that may be used to distinguish this. A main group is often small, and community members engage face to face and in a direct manner. A secondary group, on the other hand, is larger and may persist longer.

3) Categorize legends and folktales and discuss their functions in literature. 20

Answer: Folk literature is a huge collection of legends, stories, fables, fairy tales, religious tales, and mythological tales that may be found in both oral and written form in a culture, language, and people. In reality, folk literature and oral literature are often used interchangeably. Jawaharlal Nehru’s definition of oral literature, which he equates with folk literature, is as follows: Oral literature, also known as verbal art or expressive literatures, consists of traditional utterances that are spoken, sung, or uttered. This has also been referred to as folk literature in the past.

Folk literature encompasses a wide range of literary endeavours that evolve, advance, adapt, and reorient in response to the dynamics of time and the needs of the people who produce, own, and perpetuate folklore from generation to generation. Folk literature is defined by the people to whom it belongs. As a result, it is acceptable to refer to it as “people’s literature.” Folk literature is born out of people’s wishes, ambitions, creativity, and aesthetic impulses, and it is directly linked to people’s lives and experiences, dispute resolution, life improvement, emotional and intellectual journeys, reason and logic, and concerns of existence and conservation.

The enormous range of human experiences and the storey that folk literature encompasses is marked by complexity wrapped in simplicity and innocence anchored in the integrity to uphold humanity. Because borrowing and sharing are healthy requirements and practises in the domain of folklore, permeability in cultural borders functions as a renewing mechanism for folk literature.

Like every other kind of writing, folk literature is intimately connected to the socio-cultural undercurrents and ebb and flow of existence. This is a common trait of all literatures, but it is an absolute prerequisite in folk literature. Folk literature has never been founded on the publishing industry, with its multi-layered methods for creating a successful book; rather, it has always relied on its capacity to give people with a medium of expression that seamlessly recounts their tale and enhances itself with each new retelling. The desire to listen to and tell stories is not only a child’s feature. This tendency is inherent in all people, regardless of age. As a result, when it comes to people’s literature, or folk literature, story-telling takes centre stage.

Stories and tales narrated, modified, improvised, and created with an amalgam of genuine happenings, personal experiences, cultural appropriations, historical and present significance are honoured all across India via folk literature, which is a creative embodiment of this universal tendency.

When it comes to folklore as a field of study, the sheer diversity of myths, folktales, stories, folksongs, proverbs, riddles, games, and dances may be overwhelming. There have been claims that the oral and written traditions have significant vocabulary and stylistic distinctions. In the case of folklore, sounding out is a required and crucial pre-requisite. In written form, a word or phrase may seem one way, but when performed/spoken orally, it may appear quite otherwise. Folklore presupposes and offers socially sanctioned behaviours in which a performer creates materials based on common assumptions and lived actions. This is quite similar to the written world’s reality. Even the written world has its own set of common rules and standards, but they are far more varied and spread out over time and place.

This attracts a larger audience. This range is only conceivable in the oral situation when the items join a circulation chain – whether by printing, distribution of audio recordings, or other means.

It is crucial to note that, notwithstanding the distinctions that govern the oral and written worlds, seeing them as necessary, mutually exclusive, and watertight chambers is an oversimplification. There has been a lot of interaction between them over time. It would be a folly to confine ourselves to ages and societies where scripts did not exist, and to dismiss any possible similarities between the oral and written.

According to Durga Bhagwat, a veteran scholar in Indian folk literature, Reverend Hinton Knowles, a British scholar, mentions the translation of Kashmiri stories into German, French, Russian, Siriack, Persian, and Arabic, languages in his Folk- Tales of Kashmir, and that they bear extreme correspondence with Kashmiri original folktales. He also stresses the significance of folk literature in cultural studies. All Indian states have worked hard to preserve the rich heritage of folktales and to develop critical studies of folk literatures. Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kashmir, Assam, Himachal Pradesh, and many more Indian states have been developing age-old finely woven folk stories describing the world of the overlooked and deprived: the people who in reality popularised folk literature. As a result, the term “folk literature” is a good fit.

Sarojini Babar, Devendra Satyarthi, Prafulla Dutta Goswami, Komal Kothari, R. C. Dhere, Jhaberchand Meghani, Krishna Dev Upadhayaya, Jawaharlal Handoo, Kunja Bihari Dash, Ashutosh Bhattacharya, and R. C. Dhere are some of the past and present Indian folk literature scholars who designed the process of collecting folktales M. D. Muthukumaraswamy, Malatibai Dandekar, Durga Bhagwat, Dr. U. M. Pathan, Sudhir Rasal, V. A. Vivek Rai, N. C. Fadake, Birendranath Dutta, Dr. Madhukar Vakode, and others, among them Mahendra Mishra, Somnath Dhar, Ramgarib Choube, Jaga They have created a corpus of critical thought and publications on folk literature that provides an independent perspective on the subject.

Indian folk tales have the potential to be an unfathomable treasure trove of indigenous Indian culture. All of the lines produced in the canon of people’s literature, i.e. folk literature, include songs, stories, marriage rites in various Indian states, seasons, and dietary habits, all of which are fundamental parts of Indian culture. Folklore is a way of life that instils universal values such as fraternity, solidarity, and communal consciousness. The pan Indian folktales are a storehouse of one of the best, most distinctive, and unbiased judicial systems in the world, and they also reveal how India developed the judicial talent of monarchs in general, and parents and panchayat members in particular. One of the most noticeable elements of Indian traditional literary traditions is the absence of a protagonist and the presence of communal awareness, which creates an ideal environment for cooperation, universal humanism, and harmony between men and women and nature.

In his ‘Siddha Hema– Shabdanushasana,’ Acharya Hemchandra concentrates on the many aspects of Gujarati folk literature from the 11th century. It sheds insight on the rich oral literary traditions. Gujarati folktales feature important topics such as ‘Ghoga Bapaji’, marriage songs, traditional Hindu culture, gods, goddesses, and their rites, songs of the season, upper caste/lower caste based society, and women’s subjugation. Family structure and mother-in-law-daughter-in-law ties, feudal system, rural conservatism, and other features of day-to-day life are well-expressed in ballads, dohas, and folk plays such as Dhadhilika, raslila, bhavai, and ramlila from Saurashtra and South Gujarat. The Unmarried Princess, Three Proverbs, Sun-Moon, and Queen Devaki are Gujarati collections of short stories that cover a wide range of topics including male-female dichotomy, female dominance in family structures, changing loyalty for money, gender discrimination, business and travel, men and women in disguise, religion, god, and morality, all of which are common themes in Gujarati folk literature.  History and mythology are always intertwined. Real historical events inspired a lot of folk art, literature, and music. During the early years of British administration in India, several peasant uprisings supplied such drive. During the early stages of their inroads into India, the British encountered intense opposition from indigenous peoples who despised the infringement of their basic rights. Tribal communities and ethnic groups that had never been controlled by anyone other than their own head/chief and who had been given rent-free land in exchange for service to the landlord for generations were suddenly required to pay taxes.

The zamindars snuck in for their cut under the guise of British sponsorship. These needy people’s protests and challenges were brutally suppressed by colonial overlords and their agents. The legacy of these unrecorded catastrophes lives on in the mythology of these areas. The Chuar rebellion (in Bengal’s northwestern region) of 1799, the peasants’ insurgency in North Bengal districts in 1783, the sannyasi Bidroha in Birbhum and Bishnupur in the aftermath of the food crisis of 1769-70, the Hos’ (of Singbhum) long resilience to the British from 1820-27, and the cumulative rebellion of the Hos and the Mundas (Chhotonagpur) in 1829-32.The insurrection of the Santhals (in Bengal and Bihar) in the 1850s, the revolt of Bhil that occurred in Khandesh, West India, from 1819-1831, the Poligar uprising in various locations along the eastern coast of South India, and other events have been recorded in folk memory as tales, songs, and rhymes.

4) Why did Verrier Elwin collect and document tribal tales? Briefly enumerate the various discoveries through his stories. 20

Answer: The well-known anthropologist, writer, and activist Verrier Elwin arrived in India as a British missionary with the goal of bringing reform to the “primitive” society. When he came into touch with the Adivasi people, it didn’t take long for his attitude to shift. He was enthralled by their intrinsic sense of beauty and energy, as well as their worldview, which was deep and profound yet being represented in many cases through simple imagery and metaphor. As he became more familiar with the Adivasi groups’ cultural customs in India, he became more eager to enlighten not only himself, but the whole globe. He therefore vowed to record the rich oral histories that had previously only been accorded value by a select few in India’s literary culture. Verrier Elwin went on to gather a large number of tribal tales from various parts of India and copy them verbatim, without adding his own opinions or interpretations.

Over the course of thirty years, Verrier Elwin gathered stories throughout India’s hills and woods, publishing about two thousand of them in five collections: Folktales of Mahakoshal, Myths of Middle India, Tribal Myths of Orissa, Myths of the North-East Frontiers of India, and the Baiga.

When the World Was Young, Verrier Elwin arranged stories from all of the preceding collections in chronological sequence, according to the theme they discuss, spanning from “The Beginning of Things” to “The End of Things.” This book is divided into six sections, each based on a different motif. As the title indicates, readers will get a peek of the authors’ creative imaginations as they transport us to a time when the world was still young and things were just beginning to take shape. The collection of tales depicts the narrators’ thought processes, as they allow their creative thoughts wander freely from one topic to the next, inspiring the listeners’ brains to reflect about the world. Oral tradition was used to pass along these tales from one generation to the next. Verrier Elwin told the stories exactly as they were told by storytellers in his time, giving readers a glimpse into the creative minds of many ethnic tribes.

Building of House:

Many legends about the many ways humans lived in the beginning may be found in the hills. They established their homes in caves, trees, and grass-and-leaf houses. The Saoras of Orissa thought that humans were very short and were constantly looking for areas where they might dwell in peace. They would try to dig burrows and live within them like hares during rainstorms, but they would often be buried alive when the roofs crashed on them. Then a guy named Jangu Saora had a brilliant idea and built a home out of toddy palm leaves that looked like an umbrella because it had a circular roof supported by a single pillar and also no walls. For many centuries, these were the Saoras’ homes, and their temples are still similar today. The Singphos of north eastern India have a fascinating narrative about how the early people learned how to build dwellings from various animals. They lived in caves and trees at first. Kindru Lalim and Kincha Lali Dam were two friends who learned the craft from an elephant who instructed them to create wooden pillars that resembled the elephant’s strong and sturdy legs, and when they inquired what they should do next, the elephant answered that he didn’t have any idea. The other animals sent information to them one by one in a similar method. The snake instructed them to “cut poles as long and thin like a snake,” the female buffalo instructed them to “install cross-poles and create a roof like the bones of this skeleton,” and the fish instructed them to “gather lots of leaves and place them on the roof, one above the other like my scales.” This is how the first house was constructed.

Story of Hammer:

When Intupwa, a craftsman, saw the elephant’s hooves demolish everything under their force, he learned to build a hammer out of stone. Then Intupwa attempted to cut wood with sharp stones, but found it extremely difficult. He proceeded in pursuit of the iron he had dreamed about, knowing he could use it to construct an axe. He asked the tree, the grass, and the wild animals where he might obtain iron, but they all refused, claiming he would construct an axe to cut them down or an arrow to murder the wild animals if he knew where he could find it. Water finally ordered him to travel to Numrang-Ningpu, where a goddess dwelt, and she gave birth to a kid who was as red as fire that very night, but the newborn quickly cooled and turned as black as iron. Intupwa cut a little piece and transported it home, where it exploded into thousands of fragments and was carried by a stream to various areas of the globe. Intupwa did not have anything to hold the iron when it was heated. A crab grabbed his arm when he was walking to a brook to sip water. Intupwa yelled in agony, but when he examined the crab’s claws, he realised he could make tongs. The hammer and tongs were manufactured in this manner.


Hambrumai, according to the Mishmis of north-eastern India, was the first weaver, having learned the craft from God Matai. Hambrumai knitted the clothing using various designs seen in nature. She’d weave the designs in the garments while watching the waves and ripples in the water, as well as the trees and ferns, plants and flowers, and the sky and clouds. When Hairum the porcupine came to steal her fabric from her cave, he pushed the boulder so hard that it crushed Hambrumai, who was sitting by the river. Even her loom was shattered into millions of pieces, which the people gathered up and learned to weave as they were transported down the river to the plains. Hambrumai’s creations were eventually transformed into butterflies, and the patterns Hambrumai woven can still be seen on their wings.

Discovery of fire:

A narrative concerning the discovery of fire was being recounted in Kawardha, Central India. Humans ate everything uncooked during the hunting era. They would hunt a wide range of animals and consume them uncooked. They didn’t have anywhere to reside. As a result, they would dwell in caves or under trees. They didn’t have any clothing on and their nails and hair were quite long since they never trimmed them. During the summer, when the wind was very strong, the dry bamboos were brushed extremely hard, resulting in a fire. The fire spread quickly, completely consuming the vegetation. Humans had sought refuge in the caverns and were therefore rescued. When they emerged, they saw several creatures had been burned to death. When one of the men touched a burned body, his finger was burned, and he swiftly inserted it into his mouth. Then he forgot about the agony and savoured the scorched flesh’s flavour. After then, people began to consume roasted meat.


This is a moving storey of a king’s daughter that no one wanted to marry because she wasn’t conventionally attractive. Her father sought to purchase her a spouse, but suitors turned her down because of her malformed limb, dwarfish physique, cross eyes, and bodily rashes. She thought the rest of the world was quite happy since everything was in pairs – ants, rodents, birds, cattle, men and women. She informed her father she didn’t want to live, and as she lay down, she died. When the almighty God asked the girl’s soul what she desired, she begged that he transform her into something that the entire world would enjoy. Her dream was accomplished when the almighty God transformed her into a tobacco plant. As a result, the sad girl grew happier after men began to declare, “There is no difference between a wife and tobacco; we love them both equally.” The girl is content since all smart men adore her, and no one leaves to work without kissing her on the lips with his pipe.


The Gonds have a storey about how they learned to dance and who taught them. The peacocks taught them how to dance. There was a hill of peacocks, and while people were traversing the hills, they saw peacocks dancing away to woo peahens, so they stopped and watched them dance, and soon they began to dance with the peacocks as well. Humans put tufts on their turbans since peacocks had tufts on their heads, and because peacocks stare at their own beauty when dancing, people started looking at their own shadows while dancing away. The peacocks afterwards left, leaving them their feathers and instructing them to place them in their turbans and dance, as this would ensure that their dance would never go awry.

5) What is the cultural significance of the folk Ramayana songs? Discuss with reference to Paula Richman’s text.

Answer: The Ramayana exists in a variety of forms and texts, both textual and oral. The Ramayana is associated with Valmiki and the Sanskrit book credited to this mythical author by educated upper caste men. The Ramayana, on the other hand, is not an epic fiction produced by the great teacher Valmiki for the Brahmin ladies of South India: it is genuine, and it occurred.

These women sing distinct songs on the events of the Ramayana, some of which are long and others of which are brief. The songs are generally sung in secret meetings, mainly in the backyards of Brahmin homes, where males are not allowed to enter. There are around twenty-five distinct songs that are widely sung. They make up an epic plot that is fairly related.

The Brahmin ladies that perform these songs are often between the ages of 35 and 70. They hail from traditional homes and are literate yet unschooled. Women from similar backgrounds, mainly cousins and neighbours, make up their audience. Children, unmarried young ladies, and freshly married brides are among those who have come to their moms’ house for a celebratory event. Frequently, a wedding or other similar event provides an opportunity for a group of ladies to get together. Women from different castes are not included in the audience. The singing normally takes place in the late afternoon, after the family’s midday meal, when the males have all retreated to the front of the home.

Traditions in Deshi and Margi

Although we recognise that the Ramayana is a living literature that belongs to a certain culture, we also recognise that the text has a broad appeal. The Sanskrit terms Deshi and Margi mean “country” and “direction,” respectively. The Ramayana songs deal with “deshi” culture and customs, yet they are successful in offering guidance to everybody; it is more than a book or a text; it is a way of life. Whether intentionally or unintentionally, these songs have had a profound and lasting impact on people’s minds.

The Ramayana and Indian Culture and Tradition

The Ramayana and Mahabharata are not just heroic tales; they also represent the socio-religious aspirations of India’s Hindus, who number in the millions. Rama and Krishna are believed to be manifestations of God, and their practises are considered divine by Hindus. They are revered at temples and remembered during times of national and personal stress. The Gita was a major source of inspiration for India’s independence struggle. Many Indians’ mentality is coloured by its philosophy of performing labour without expecting a result. The figures in the Ramayana and Mahabharata embody the feelings of Indians, and the lessons of these two great epics are passed down through generations.

Ramayana’s significance

) The Ramayana covers a wide range of topics in man’s existence, including love, obedience to superiors, betrayal, parental devotion, selflessness, and so on.

) In the Ramayana, these characters represent love, charity, patriotism, conjugal love, parental obedience, self-sacrifice, and other virtues.

) Sita and Urmila are idealised female figures.

) Ravana’s character demonstrates how a man may destroy himself due to his own follies and nefarious desires.

) Dussehra is a major Hindu holiday that is observed throughout India. Rama’s triumph over Ravana is the subject of the event.

)Ram Navami is a huge celebration that takes place over most of North India.

Each song’s structure is reminiscent of the Brahmin house’s building. The males are in charge in the front. At the house’s main entryway, all of the house’s traditional male-dominated values rule supreme. The inside of the home, particularly the back section, is, nonetheless, a woman’s domain. They are somewhat free in that location, away from their men’s chastising gaze. They have complete control over their life in that region, and males are mocked for ever approaching it. This concept is perfectly replicated in the song structure.

Each song opens with a polite homage to Rama, the ruler. Rama is not the God in these songs, as he is in the devotional Ramayanas. He is the yajamani, the housemaster, but one who is not entirely in charge. The tunes move with remarkable freedom if the intro is appropriately created. The majority of the people who live in the songs’ interiors are women. Lakshmana, the younger brother-in-law, and Lava and Kusa, the young twins, are among the males who gain the same freedom as the women in this area.

Despite their independence, the songs’ language is quite soft and feminine. There are no obnoxious words or abrasive diction. Everything is tasteful and fitting for the occasion. These songs, on the other hand, vividly express both the emotions and the difficulties of a mixed family. Women in mixed families experience considerable internal tensions behind the surface of the house’s seeming tranquilly. Movements from one area to the next, as well as interactions between individuals, are thoroughly observed and tracked. The usage of words in the songs reveals a similar vibe. The overall tone of the language is deceptively soft, with the syllables blending in a pleasing manner. The use of gentle Dravidian language, rather than Sanskrit, lends an ideal mood of serenity and happiness to the texture of the songs. The underlying implications, on the other hand, depict a mood of repressed tensions, veiled eroticism, and thwarted emotional satisfaction. Words flew out like sharp darts at times, hitting their targets with pinpoint accuracy. Every character is mocked under the guise of family comedy. No one is perfect, and no one truly loves the other. Even Sita’s ideal virginity might be questioned. Ravana’s big toe is a hidden reference to his genital organ, which she depicts in her artwork. Under the guise of denouncing Rama’s exile of Sita, the family’s daughters-in-law pretend that they are all in love with Ravana. Sita’s yearning is represented through surrogates in this way. The image that emerges is not of a perfect Ramayana with an ideal husband, wife, and brothers, but of a complicated joint family in which everyone mistrust the other, lies to the other, and lives in a perpetual state of tension and dread, tempered by love and devotion. In some aspects, the Ramayana songs represent a protest against the bhakti Ramayanas, which exalt the established values of a male-dominated culture. The lesser and lower characters emerge as winners in these texts. Urmila, Lakshman, the twin boys, Santa, and even Surpanakha have the opportunity to avenge themselves. Sita does not fight her own struggle by herself. Others are fighting on her behalf. She even relishes the newfound independence brought about by the announcement of her death. For the first time in her life, she was free to enjoy her life without thinking about Rama. Sita silently gives birth to sons and waits for her final victory over Rama, achieved through her agents, her sons, as Rama prepares for her funeral rituals, tormented by the guilt of having her slaughtered unjustly.

6) Attempt a critical note on the ethnographic details and eco-systems of the Paraja tribe. 20

Answer: Gopinath Mohanty portrays a picture of the eco-system and landscape rituals, beliefs, ceremonies, and tribal wisdom in his novel Paraja, which is rich in ethnographic aspects. He gives a vivid depiction of Koraput’s mountains and woods, as well as the Paraja’s many activities from one winter to the next over the course of a year. The yearly hunt during the spring festival is a major event in the novel. All of the village’s young and strong men go on a hunting excursion that lasts two or three days. The men would walk into the bush knowing that if they returned empty-handed, they would face the ridicule of their wives. Anyone who failed to kill something would be forced to crawl beneath the garments and be bombarded with dung-balls and other dirt… Success, on the other hand, was met with garlands, dancing, and joy. (Paraja) Mandia and Bagala go off on a hunting adventure not only to kill an animal, but also to hunt their friend. Bagala kidnaps Kajodi and flees into the bush, using the ancient Paraja privilege of wedding by kidnapping. Singing, dancing, and drinking are all part of every celebration. “Mahua wine was served to the males, while pendom-strong mandia beer – or landha, which is just slightly less powerful – was served to the ladies.” Mahua wine is prepared from the blooms of the mahua tree, fermented and boiled in clay pots, then cooled with stream water. “The tribesman required booze not just to propitiate his gods but also to drown his hunger and his sorrow,” Gopinath Mohanty said of the cleaning procedure. ‘Paraja 98’ is a paraphrase of the phrase ‘Paraja The Paraja honour their ancestors by placing a stone in the open area in the centre of the communal plaza, vertically for a man and horizontally for a woman. The spring festival is celebrated with a bonfire with the young men and ladies having a good time. The living as well as the dead came together to rejoice in the arrival of spring.

Mohanty is a firm believer in the notion of bonded labour, which is common in Odisha. The forest guard has his eye on Jili, but after being rejected by her and humiliated by her father, he seeks vengeance on the family by accusing Sukru Jani of illegal tree felling. To pay the fine, Sukru loans a significant amount from Sahukar Bisoi and therefore becomes a debt-bound goti or bonded labourer. The Parajas’ goti tradition refers to a pre-arranged arrangement in which a man is required to labour for the moneylender rather than repaying the loan. The tribesmen ask the Sahukar for loans for weddings or bride prices, as well as crops during the rainy season. The principal was greatly surpassed by interest, and the debt expanded year after year. Poor tribals would mortgage their land, giving the Sahukar control of their land, bodies, and souls. According to the contract on which Sukru Jani and his son Tikra Jani leave their thumbprint, the Sahukar charges compound interest at fifty percent per year and only rupees five each year for the services provided by Sukru Jani and his son. As the Sahukar’s goti, his son Mandia joins Sukru Jani and Tikra. Mandia was apprehended while selling illicit wine. Non-tribals’ selfish goals, according to Gopinath Mohanty, endangers the link between the paraja and his land. Sukru and his sons bemoan the fact that they are unable to plough their own land while working on the Sahukar’s. Wind and rain caused the walls of the houses to droop, and the thatches became bald, ripped clothing hung from the ceilings; and children, men, women,   dogs, chickens, and swine grovelled in the same dust, says the author.

The Sahukar deceives the tribesmen at times, putting down all mutinies by violently beating them and passing them over to the police, who are then kept satisfied by the Sahukar by offering favours. Despite the fact that bonded labour is no longer practiced, it is still used in some manner as 87 percent of Scheduled Tribes in South Odisha is still below poverty line.

To the tribals, migrant labourers are another face of exploitation, which Mohanty is very concerned about. The migration of Jili and Bili as labourers at a road construction site demonstrates the exploitation of the paraja by strangers. After mortgaging his property to the Sahukar, Sukru Jani frees himself and returns them home. ‘A Paraja girl exclusively works for her father or spouse,’ says the author. As Sukru Jani points out, there are 239 people in the world. The young men also wish to flee to Assam’s tea plantations for higher pay, but they are unable to do so since they are Sahukar’s gotis.

As with any other tribe, the Paraja are unaware of any laws. They are constantly on the lookout for police enforcement. The tribals have a poor literacy rate, which causes parajas to be fearful of the law, government officials, and police. This is one of the reasons the moneylenders have them entrapped. Because he doesn’t know the details of the contract between the Sahukar and the goti, the tribesman has a natural aversion to the law. “He has his own shabby way of accounting a length of rope in which he makes a knot for every year of goti-hood accomplished by him,” Gopinath Mohanty reveals. It is totally beyond his grasp for it belongs to a system in which he has no part, albeit he lives on its borders,” the writer says of the jail. Once a paraja is imprisoned, he is shunned by society. As a result, Mandia decides to take a fifty rupee loan from a money lender and become a goti instead of going to jail after getting found selling illegal booze. “The legislation forbids anybody who is not himself a tribal to acquire tribal land,” Gopinath Mohanty says. However, the moneylenders discover a means to purchase the tribals’ lands. The Sahukar’s friendly connection with the tribal headsman and other authorities has earned him tribal land rights. “The income records were doctored to demonstrate that the property in issue truly belonged to the Sahukar,” according to Mohanty. “It was all done by word of mouth, tribal way,” says Sukru Jani, who mortgaged his land to the Sahukar without using any written documents. In addition, there were no eyewitnesses… And, according to tribal custom, Sukru Jani ceased to be a goti as soon as the deal was signed;… and the territory came into the hands of the Sahukar.”

Justice appears to be a distant memory in the life of the Paraja. While the Paraja enjoy themselves and gather during festivals, hunts, and bazaars, they do not help Sukru in his hour of need. Their cohesiveness and power have been weakened by their dread of the Sahukar, poverty, retreat, and materialistic difficulties. Sukru, Mandia, Tikra, and Nandibali try to talk to the Sahukar as a last resort, but the Sahukar dismisses them. Mandia axes the Sahukar in a fit of rage, and the three surrender to the cops. The carnage at the novel’s conclusion is a consequence of the silent agony and rage, which is like a “fire that feeds on itself and waits” until it can no longer be suppressed. When tribals are exploited, Mahasweta Devi claims, violence is justified. “When the legal system fails, violence is permissible…. No one can suffer in silence.” (Imaginary Maps, number xii) Because Gopinath Mohanty is a bureaucrat, he is able to work productively, humanely, and meaningfully with and for tribals. “Gopinath Mohanty, while offering the tribals justice as magistrate and educating them about their rights as their guardian, was prepared to broaden the boundaries of Odia literature, exploring locations until then untapped and characters until then unknown,” according to Prof.Manoj Das. Gopinath Mohanty’s work combines a vivid folk-idiom with a lyrical that is subterranean, recapturing symbolism and allegory. He is without a doubt the greatest Odia writer, and his works have been translated into nearly every Indian and international language.

7) Discuss Girish Karnad’s pivotal role in the development of modern Indian drama with special reference to Hayavardana. 20

Answer: Girish Raghunath Karnad, a renowned Indian writer and recipient of the Padma Bhushan and Jnanpith Awards, is well-known not just among those involved in theatre and theatre studies, but also among moviegoers as an actor and director. In addition to his work as a playwright, he has also worked as an actor, screenwriter, director, and administrator. Despite a multifaceted career in theatre, film, and television, as well as a larger-than-life public presence, Karnad has preserved an exceptional separation and balance between his contributions to “high,” “popular,” and “official” culture, and hence as a public figure, Karnad has always been a “celebrity” for almost half a century.

Girish Karnad
Girish Karnad

He was born in 1938 in Matheran, near Mumbai, and had his education in Sirsi and Dharwad in Karnataka, Mumbai, and Oxford (where he was a Rhodes scholar from 1960 to 1963). Although he first aspired to be an English poet, he soon realised his passion for play. On his return, he worked in the Oxford branch in Madras (now Chennai).

He worked at the University Press till 1970, during which time he also played and directed English theatre for the Madras Players.

Karnad tells the account of the transposition of heads in Hayavadana through people with various names and identities. Hayavadana’s subplot is all his own, and it contributes to the play’s overall effect and significance.

In the Introduction to Three Plays, Karnad discusses the folk aspects in traditional Indian theatre in relation to Hayavadana.

“I was first drawn to the narrative because of the opportunities it provided for the usage of masks and music. Western theatre has evolved a contrast between the face and the mask – the genuine inner person and the outer one exhibits to the world outside, or seeks to convey. However, in traditional Indian theatre, the mask is simply the face magnified; as a character symbolises an ethical archetype rather than a complicated psychological person, the mask only reveals its core moral essence in enlarged detail. The action is then further distanced by music, generally percussion, which places it in the world of the mythological and elemental.

After exploring the styles of music of mythic-existential and historical drama in Yayati and Tughlaq, Karnad’s third play, Hayavadana (1971), signalled yet another major shift in direction, both in his playwriting and also in post-independence theatre, as it was the first work to put the discussion over the usefulness of native performing art forms in the development of a neocolonial identity into practise. While receiving the coveted Homi Bhabha Fellowship for artistic activity in folk theatre, he began to wonder about the interaction of a city inhabitant like him with the full complement of dramatic devices, including half curtains, masks, improvisations, music, and mine. In the course of a debate with B.V. Karanth regarding the meaning of masks in Indian theatre and the link between theatre and music, the concept for my play Hayavadana crystallised in my thoughts.

The narrative about exchanged heads in Kathasaritasagara, a twelfth-century Sanskrit book, piqued his curiosity at first because of the potential for mask employment on stage. Traditional conventions were defamiliarized in Hayavadana, which produced a totally groundbreaking work for the urban Indian stage, and developed a great intellectual and dramatic experience all through the decade of the 1970s, as refracted through Thomas Mann’s philosophical novella The Transposed Heads, Karnad’s distinct and unique view of womanhood, and a reflexive double frame.

Hayavadana’s amazing quality as a ‘urban folk’ play is that it manages to combine Yakshagana folk performance conventions such as stock characters, songs, dance, masks, talking dolls, etc with a pivotal storyline that poses philosophical riddles about the origins of identity and reality, in keeping with Karnad’s interest in a usable’structure of expectations.’ The narrative of ‘The Heads That Got Switched’ in the Kathasaritasagara features a simple conundrum. In this version, the consequent dilemma of ‘real’ identity is resolved in an unclear manner: the one with her husband’s head is her spouse since the head dominates the limbs and self identity is based on the head. Brahmans emerged from Purusha’s head in the mythic genealogy of caste, first offered in the Purusha-sukta in the Rigveda (Book 10, hymn 90) around 1000 BC, and the supremacy of that part of the body is so deeply rooted in the subsequent Hindu tradition that it overpowers the consequences of incest in the twelfth century narrative.

Devadatta, Kapila, and Padmini’s plot in Karnad’s Hayavadana is near enough to Mann’s novella in terms of characterisation and event order to be regarded, in some ways, a ‘de-orientalized’ modern Indian theatrical adaptation of it. The play’s true originality rests in the story’s reflective frames, as well as the thematic force of Karnad’s rendering of gender, passion, and existence in and for the present, regardless of its roots.

The first fundamental step made by Karnad is to increase the circumstances in which the problem of incongruity, indicated by the separation of head and body, occurs. Transposition provides a figurative but momentary solution to the dilemma of mind/body dualism in Devadatta and Kapila’s human world: for a little amount of time, Devadatta-Kapila gets both the perfect mind and the ideal form, but Kapila-Devadatta is deficient in both. The dilemma of dualism returns when each man’s body reverts to its original attributes, and the human state appears to be basically one of disunity and imperfection, terminating in death. Karnad diffuses the human “tragic” by juxtaposing it with two additional worlds of experience: heavenly and animal. The elephant-headed, Ganesha is the guardian deity of writers and performers, the removers of impediments (vigneshwara), and the god of all fortunate starting — an embodiment of both divinity and excellence despite his funny looks. On the other hand, Hayavadana, the play’s titular character, is devoid of any traces of divinity and appears to be stuck between both the animal and human realms. Hayavadana, unlike the gods, cannot stand being mixed up; unlike humans, he lacks a past personality that can express itself. However, just as in the human realm, the head defines identity, even if it means that the animal triumphs over the human: Hayavadana finds wholeness by losing his human features and totally transforming into a horse. This triple standpoint on shattered selves puts into practise Karnad’s belief that the numerous norms of Indian folk theatre produce impacts similar to those associated with Brecht’s idea of ‘complex seeing’8: ‘the chorus, the masks, the apparently irrelevant comic episodes, the blending of human and non – human realms enable the instantaneous presentation of alternative views, of alternative perceptions of the core issue’.

The self-conscious modification made by the author of the framework of folk performance is the second degree of sophistication in Hayavadana. While the action of folk theatre goes between a frame and the inner play, Hayavadana has two outside frames, both from the historical present, that collide unpredictably with each other and with the inner play’s action. The opening frame features Bhagvata, the female chanting, and two male actors who were not only participants in a traditional play but members of a regional company prepared to tell the narrative of Padmini and her two husbands to a modern viewer. The performance is interrupted just as the action of the inner play is about to begin by the presence of Hayavadana, the talking horse who seeks a solution to his own problem. The disturbance causes folk theatre characters to revert to their “true” personae as performers, and Padmini’s narrative is only performed after the Bhagvata has convinced Hayavadana to depart and seek heavenly aid for his condition. Similarly, the drama does not stop when Padmini’s storey ends: the two framing storylines continue until Hayavadana, who now emerges as a horse with a human voice, has lost – as he desires – his final human trait. In Hayavadana, the traditional folk framework of the play-within-a-play is yoked to a reflective rehearsal style, whose purpose is to ironically examine the defining tropes of folk performance.

8) Write short notes on any two: (10×2=20)





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