Comment on the changed perspective in Chandrabhati’s Ramayana

Comment on the changed perspective in Chandrabhati’s Ramayana

Chandrabati's Ramayana shows a substantial divergence from the conventional interpretation of the Ramayana epic, providing a distinct and altered viewpoint that captures the author's personality and sociocultural background. Bengali poet Chandrabati (16th century) adds her own voice and vision to the retelling of the classic tale, bringing subtle changes that deviate from the standard narrative conventions.

Comment on the changed perspective in Chandrabhati’s Ramayana

1. Shifting Female Narratives:

Comment on the changed perspective in Chandrabhati’s Ramayana-In Chandrabati's Ramayana, female characters are notably repositioned, given agency and voices that are frequently absent from more traditional renditions of the epic. In particular, Sita proves to be a strong and independent character who defies the submissive image that has long been attached to her. 

Chandrabati creates a Sita who converses thoughtfully with her female friends, illustrating a spirit of female solidarity and friendship. The patriarchal conventions ingrained in previous Ramayana narratives are broken by this emphasis on female relationships and dialogue.

2. Humanizing Ravana:

The humanization of the Ramayana's antagonist Ravana is another characteristic of Chandrabati's viewpoint. Instead of just showing Ravana as a demonic figure, Chandrabati delves into his complexity and motivations. As he develops into a complex figure with both virtues and shortcomings, Ravana challenges the idea that there is only good or evil.

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This nuanced depiction encourages readers to identify with Ravana's hardships and decisions, which in turn complicates the epic's moral landscape and develops a deeper comprehension of the characters.

3. Moral Ambiguity and Ethical Dilemmas:

Chandrabati introduces moral ambiguity and ethical dilemmas, injecting shades of grey into a narrative often characterized by stark moral binaries. Characters grapple with conflicting emotions, and decisions are not presented as clear-cut right or wrong. This departure from moral absolutism adds depth to the narrative, forcing readers to confront the complexities of human nature and the intricacies of ethical decision-making.

4. Cultural Syncretism:

The changed perspective in Chandrabati's Ramayana is also evident in her incorporation of local Bengali cultural elements. Through regional idioms, folklore, and customs, she weaves a tapestry that reflects the cultural milieu of 16th-century Bengal. 

This cultural syncretism not only distinguishes her rendition but also contributes to the richness and diversity of the Ramayana tradition, showcasing the epic's adaptability to different regional contexts.

5. Emphasis on Devotion and Bhakti:

Chandrabati places a pronounced emphasis on devotion and bhakti (religious devotion) in her retelling. This spiritual dimension pervades the narrative, with characters expressing profound devotion to the divine.

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Comment on the changed perspective in Chandrabhati’s Ramayana-The changed perspective, in this case, lies in the heightened spiritual resonance that permeates the epic, fostering a deeper exploration of the characters' inner lives and their relationships with the divine.

6. Subversion of Traditional Power Dynamics:

Chandrabati subverts traditional power dynamics, challenging hierarchical structures embedded in the original Ramayana. Characters from marginalized backgrounds, such as Shabari, gain prominence, and their stories are given due significance. This subversion reflects Chandrabati's commitment to social inclusivity and her desire to elevate voices often sidelined in mainstream epics.

7. Symbolism and Allegory:

Chandrabati employs symbolism and allegory to infuse layers of meaning into her narrative. The changed perspective includes a symbolic reimagining of certain events, imbuing them with allegorical significance that resonates with the cultural and spiritual ethos of the Bengali context. These symbolic elements add depth to the narrative, inviting readers to interpret the text beyond its surface storyline.


In Chandrabati's Ramayana, the changed perspective emerges as a transformative force, reshaping the contours of the traditional narrative and infusing the epic with new dimensions. Through nuanced character portrayals, moral complexities, cultural syncretism, and a heightened spiritual resonance, Chandrabati's rendition transcends the boundaries of conventional storytelling. 

By humanizing characters like Ravana, repositioning female narratives, and challenging traditional power dynamics, she creates a tapestry that reflects not only the socio-cultural context of 16th-century Bengal but also the universal themes of morality, devotion, and the intricacies of human experience. 

Chandrabati's Ramayana serves as an exemplary illustration of the evolving nature of storytelling, demonstrating how a changed perspective can breathe new life into ancient tales and offer readers a richer, more inclusive understanding of the epic tradition.


Q 1. How does Chandrabati's Ramayana differ from traditional versions in terms of character portrayal?

Chandrabati repositions female characters, particularly Sita, providing them with agency and voices that challenge traditional stereotypes. Additionally, she humanizes characters like Ravana, presenting them with multifaceted personalities rather than adhering to simplistic good versus evil dichotomies.

Q 2. What cultural elements does Chandrabati incorporate into her Ramayana?

Chandrabati infuses her Ramayana with local Bengali cultural elements, including regional idioms, folklore, and customs. This cultural syncretism adds a distinctive flavor to her narrative, grounding the epic in the specific socio-cultural context of 16th-century Bengal.

Q 3. How does Chandrabati emphasize devotion and bhakti in her Ramayana?

Chandrabati places a pronounced emphasis on devotion and bhakti, weaving spiritual dimensions into the narrative. Characters express profound devotion to the divine, fostering a deeper exploration of their inner lives and relationships with higher powers.

Q 4. In what ways does Chandrabati challenge traditional power dynamics in her Ramayana?

Chandrabati subverts traditional power dynamics by giving prominence to characters from marginalized backgrounds, such as Shabari. This emphasis on inclusivity challenges hierarchical structures embedded in the original Ramayana, amplifying voices often sidelined in mainstream epics.

Q 5. How does Chandrabati use symbolism and allegory in her Ramayana?

Chandrabati, in her Ramayana, skillfully employs symbolism and allegory to infuse the narrative with layers of meaning, adding depth and complexity to the storyline. Through a nuanced use of symbolic elements, she transforms certain events into allegorical representations that resonate with the cultural and spiritual ethos of 16th-century Bengal.

The symbolism becomes a vehicle for conveying profound truths beyond the literal narrative, inviting readers to interpret the text on a symbolic and metaphorical level. These symbolic layers serve as a bridge between the familiar narrative and deeper philosophical or cultural insights, enhancing the poetic and transcendent qualities of the epic.

Chandrabati's adept use of symbolism and allegory not only engages readers in a more contemplative exploration of the Ramayana's themes but also reflects her unique perspective and the cultural syncretism of the Bengali context in which she crafted her rendition.


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