Repositioning Meera
Anup Singh Beniwal
MEERA VS MEERA: DEVOTED SAINT-POET OR DETERMINED QUEEN? by Madhav Hada. Translated from the original Hindi by Pradeep Trikha Vani Book Company (An Imprint of Vani Prakashan Group), 2020, 237 pp., 399.00
May 2021, volume 45, No 5

India is a land of diverse opinions, interpretations and debates. It is a land of pluralistic but protean ethos. Herein history and hagiography, anecdotal and ideological, secular and sacred continuously coalesce and collide to configure and reconfigure its constitutive icons. In the process the icons often lose their existential/embodied moorings. They are rendered into representational sites where diverse voices converge and jostle for space. Meera is one such icon. She has also been subject to continuous evaluations and re-evaluations. Madhav Hada’s Meera Vs Meera, an English translation of his Hindi book Pachrang Chola Pahar Sakhi Ri (Vani Prakashan, Delhi, 2015), is a recent addition to this burgeoning corpus on Meera.

In this book, as is apparent from its title in Hindi original and its English avatar, Hada’s critical focus is on ‘rediscovering’ Meera in her ‘factual integrity’. For this purpose he simultaneously dives into oft-neglected but relevant vernacular history/resources of Rajasthan and Meera’s poetic corpus to contest the conventional, colonial and ideological stereotypes that have led to a profusion of Meeras around Meera in  canonical, folk and popular imagination.

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