Chapter Critique 4 – INDIAN LITERATURE
By Harlem Jude P. Ferolino
The Societal Norms, Mythology, and Romance in Mahamaya, Selected Stories from Panchatantra and Selected poems from Gitanjali:
A. Societal Norms
Mahamaya presents the societal norms of marriage in India. Arranged marriages are preponderant. These are caused by the parents’ decision for their children. Because of the marriage customs in India, the parents could only arrange marriages with families of the same social status as theirs. Indian culture has this social stratification called the Caste System that distinguishes the higher and lower classes. This comprises the groups, Brahmins, Kshatriya, Vaisyas, Shudras, and Dalit or Untouchables. A woman in a Brahman caste, for example, could not be married to a man in the Kshatriya or to any other caste outside their own, and vice versa. Marrying from a different caste is frowned upon especially in the higher caste. This norm somehow differentiates the concept of Love and Marriage. In Mahamaya by Tagore, Mahamaya, a woman from the Brahman caste, has a romantic connection with Rajeev, a man from the lower caste. Unfortunately, there is a difficulty in finding Mahamaya a groom from the same caste as hers for no particular reason. When Rajeev proposed for a wedding to Mahamaya, she could only refuse to him because of the difference in their social status. Later came her brother, Bhavanicharan, and Mahamaya just followed him without a word. He handed down a red wedding sari to Mahamaya. She put it on as instructed by her brother because later on, we learn that her brother arranged her to an old Brahmin biding for death, to prevent the future humiliation to their family in case Mahamaya and Rajeev will decide for an inter-caste marriage. Mahamaya and the old man got married that night, but the next day Mahamaya became a widow. This shows how marriages are arranged in India in the time of Tagore. To date, reports claim that inter-caste marriages are now rising up in urban India, “because of female literacy and education, women at work, urbanization, need for two-income families, and influences from the media” (Wikipedia).