Cultural Implications of Nature and Eco-Consciousness in Select 21st Century Indian Retellings of the Mahabharata

Rashmita Devi, Rajiv Gandhi University, India
Prachand Narayan Piraji, Rajiv Gandhi University, India
Published: November 24, 2023

Citation: Rajiv, R., & Piraji, P. N. (2023). Cultural Implications of Nature and Eco-Consciousness in Select 21st Century Indian Retellings of the Mahabharata. IAFOR Journal of Literature & Librarianship, 12(2).


Ecology and environmental catastrophes have found an immense place in Indian classical literature. As Indian mythology shapes the culture of the country, worshipping nature remains an intrinsic part of it. The great Indian epic, the Mahabharata, is one of the earliest Sanskrit literary texts that lay a platform to edify people about the value and importance of ecological equilibrium. This paper aims at studying the relationship between nature, humans, and culture through select 21st-century Indian mythological retellings. For this purpose, Meenakshi Reddy Madhavan’s retellings titled The One Who Swam with the Fishes (2017) and The One Who Had Two Lives (2018) from her Girls of the Mahabharata series have been taken as the primary texts. Primarily, it examines the role played by Nature in the lives of the protagonists as an important character. Theologically, in the Hindu culture, nature is venerated for possessing mythical supremacy. The present article reflects this supremacy of nature celebrated through the character of Yaksha. While investigating the employment of various techniques to illuminate nature’s unpredictable qualities such as soothing, nurturing, aesthetic, ethereal, powerful, destructive and alive, the study focuses on looking at how the characters are highly influenced by nature and on understanding the character of human influence on nature centralizing the idea that human existence is possible only if there is a harmonious coexistence with nature. Ecocriticism has been applied as a theoretical framework in the paper for critical analysis of human-nature interaction and the cultural implications of it reflected in select novels.


Mahabharata, myths, retellings, human-nature, ecocriticism