Exploring Shanta Myth through the Trajectory of Feminism : A Select Reading of Anand Neelakantan’s “Shanta” and Kavita Kane’s Sita’s Sister

  • Anindita De
    JIS University
    Email: deanindita771@gmail.com


  • The Ramayana, for its extravagant storyline and larger than life characters, holds a universal appeal and is cherished by an entire nation since ages. However, there have been many examples where the deeds of select male characters of the epic are exaggerated to attract the reader’s attention and, except for propagating certain misogynistic notions of female chastity andStree Dharma, female characters are largely overlooked. Some of thesewomen, even though the narrators have used them for fulfilling the interests of the menfolk, are made invisible in such a way that the readers are not even aware of their existence. One such character is Shanta, the daughter of Dasaratha and the elder sister of Rama. While the traditional authors have always glorified and revered Rama, his sister Shanta has not even been acknowledged by them. She has been treated as the ‘other’ because mythology itself, having been dominated by those ideas which benefit men, has become a victim of patriarchy. However, the reading and rereading of ancient scriptures and its multiple representations tend to subvert the dominant ideologies and connect myths with contemporary issues. Therefore, in the era of revisionist mythological narratives, a number of re-tellers have given voice to the previously ignored female characters of the epic. While they have re-explored characters like Sita, Mandodari, Kaikeyi, Surpanakha and even Manthara in new shades, very few of them seem to have adopted a sensitive approach towards Shanta. Anand Neelakantan and Kavita Kane have proved themselves to be exceptional in this regard since both of them, especially the former, have given an emotional description of Shanta’s life experiences and her feelings towards her family members. The objective of this paper is to closely analyse Neelakantan’s “Shanta” and Kane’s Sita’s Sister and to re-evaluate Shanta’s character through a feminist studies approach.

  • Key words: Ramayana, Shanta, Revisionist Mythmaking, Feminism.

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