Witnessing Tribal Life and the Environment: An Ecological Re-reading of the Select Narratives of Mahasweta Devi





Ecology, Environment, History, Nature, River, Tribal.


The current ecological crisis in India must be traced back to its origins because, similar to Western beliefs and practices, colonization of the natural world is fostered and justified. Materialistic creed, techno-culture, enlightenment principles of human progress, and industrial developments successfully exploit the resources of nature and threaten the existence of rivers, lands, and their flora and fauna. As a result, the lower sections of society, including the deprived and marginalized tribes, bear the inevitable outcome of this exploitation of nature, and the tribal are pushed into socio-cultural and economic decline. The condition of the tribal people and their environment find best expression in the works of Mahasweta Devi, one of the most famous journalists, social activists, and creative writers of West Bengal. After witnessing the pitiful condition of the tribes of Western, Central, and North-East India, she decides to delineate their livelihood, and naturally their relationship with nature comes into discussion. Her writings trace the ecological history of India, and for this she cites incidents from the Mahabharata and Ramayana, and thus her narratives encompass the journey of the tribes from forest life to industrial life. The lost ecological histories of the tribals are again shown in The Book of the Hunter. The close bond between nature and men is given the fullest expression here, and their ecological wisdom should be followed and embodied to avert the current ecological crisis. The recreation of the tribal history of the Mundas, historical events of the Ulgulan, and ecological movements are portrayed in Aranyer Adhikar and Chotti Munda and his Arrow. In the same way, in her short stories like Seeds, The Hunt, Little Ones and Pterodactyl, Puran Sahay and Pirtha, she not only depicts the ecological equilibrium of tribal culture, but also the subjugated condition of the tribal and their lands, forests, and surroundings, so this paper delineates the ecological history of the tribes in the selected works of Mahasweta Devi.


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How to Cite

Pal, P. (2023). Witnessing Tribal Life and the Environment: An Ecological Re-reading of the Select Narratives of Mahasweta Devi. Journal of Narrative and Language Studies, 11(21), 118–129. https://doi.org/10.59045/nalans.2023.19