Deep Ecological Reading of Mahasweta Devi’s “The Book of The Hunter”: An Eco-Conscious Approach

Authors: Darshana Pachkawade, Pillai College of Engineering, New Panvel, India
Published: August 25, 2021

Citation: Pachkawade, D. (2021). Deep Ecological Reading of Mahasweta Devi’s The Book of The Hunter: An Eco-Conscious Approach. IAFOR Journal of Arts & Humanities, 8(1).


Deep Ecology is one of the newly emerging areas in ecocritical studies. Norwegian philosopher Arne Naess has coined the word in order to promote ecological consciousness and encourage a feeling of shared identity between humans and the biosphere. Studies in Deep Ecology propose that the human being is just one more among the many species in nature, and not the supreme one; the belief that humanity is somehow exceptional is swiftly leading us towards the anthropogenic depletion of the environment. Mahasweta Devi, a well-respected author and social activist, shows great concern for the health of the ecosystem and its importance for the continuity of the human species, to the extent that a significant amount of her work can be used as apposite study material for eco-critical analysis. The novel considered here, The Book of The Hunter, incorporates salient features of the concept of Deep Ecology. Consequently, the present study reviews the novel with an ecological perspective, all the while discussing the author’s efforts to create eco-consciousness among the readers. The story follows the lives of two couples, the medieval poet Kabikankan Mukundaram Chakrabarti and his wife, and the youngsters Kalya and Phuli. While the novelist aims to capture the different socio-cultural conventions of XVI century rural society (in this Devi acknowledges her debt to Mukundaram’s 1544 epic poem “Abhayamangal”), she nonetheless offers a significant commentary on the deep-seated, beneficent attitude of the forest-dwelling Shabar community of Odisha and West Bengal towards ecological management. At the same time, the author illustrates the effects of the growing number of settlements encroaching upon the forest.

Keywords: deep ecology, ecocide, Ecocritical Theory, ecocriticism, ecofeminism, Mahasweta Devi