Rashmirathi: A Reader’s Review

One of the greatest marvels of Hindi literature was written by the national poet, Ramdhari Singh ‘Dinkar’, named रश्मिरथी’’ (Rashmirathi). Centred around the life of Karna, the valorous character of Mahabharat. This epic poem is an example of extensive use of grammar (व्याकरण) and vocabulary (शब्दावली). The writer defines all the colours of life through the character of Karna. This masterpiece is a description of a tragic life which Karna went through and it provides a glimpse of the social discriminations like caste, colour, gender, inequality which had been prevailing in our society since the ancient times till the present world.

Almost all of the scenes of Mahabharat could be seen through the words used by Dinkar. The epic poem starts with the description of the Rangbhoomi, where the Kauravas and Pandavas have gathered together to show their physical strengths after graduating from their Gurukul. The poem describes the gathering of the most powerful warriors of that time, all at one place. The city of Hastinapur is delighted to see its heir Yudhisthir and his brave brothers. The ceremony had started and then enters a common simple looking man, challenging Arjuna for a competition to show his strength. This is Karna, a lower caste young warrior. This scene shows how Karna is prohibited to participate in Rangbhoomi, just because he is not of an upper caste. Dinkar has used great figures of speech in this part to describe the social inequality through Karna’s character.

The next two chapters describe how Karna’s identity was always a humiliation for him to stand among the Kshatriyas. It shows how he is prohibited to be taught by a Brahmin. The poem tells how destiny played with his fate. Despite being born in a Kshatriya clan, he was always called a Sut-Putra. Despite being the eldest Pandav, he was always away from his brothers. He was always insulted by his own blood-brothers. This part of the epic poem is more of an emotional touch to the tragedy of Karna’s life.

The fourth and fifth chapters of Rashmirathi describe the qualities of Karna and the treacherous plan of fate which was being built to trap him once again. He is described as the great Danveer who gave everything one would ask him for during the dawn when he used to pray to his Godfather the Sun. The poetic description of his this character is one of the most beautiful parts which show his kindness.

Also, the epic explains how destiny once again tests Karna when Indra comes to play with him for the sake of his divine son Arjuna. Dinkar Ji has expressed his views on the mentality of society through this epic on how people take advantage of others for fulfilling their unethical desires.

The last three chapters are the scenes of Kurukshetra where Karna is once again tested by fate. It is an account of conversation of Karna and Kunti, in which the mother’s love for his separated son is beautifully described. Also, it tells the pain of the son who was exempted from his mother’s love for a lifetime. The poem accounts also for the necessity of war for the sake of establishment of truth and justice. Dinkar used a lot of words for bravery and sacrifice. In the last phase lies the conversation of Krishna, Parth, and Karna on the battleground. It describes the scene of Karna’s death.

In a nutshell, it can be told that this very beautiful epic poem is an amalgamation of poetic devices like figures of speech, rhymes, and ironies. The content centered around the times of Mahabharat makes the storyline of the epic more glorious and beautiful.

Based on a personal experience, I would advice all the readers to once read this masterpiece. 

About the Author:

Rajat Dwivedi (UIET, PU Campus)


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