How a society defines a hero is dictated by the present and prevailing culture and mentality. And culture, in turn, is shaped by changes in the community – politics, the media, science and technology, etc. A person considered as a hero for fighting and killing thousands of invaders centuries ago, may not be considered as a hero if he fought and killed Muslims in the present day claiming to uphold Hindu dignity. An interesting example of this change in hero culture is the prevailing perception of Indians is regarding Gandhi. A BBC article wrote on the increasing criticisms of hardliner Indian Hindus of Gandhi (McGivering). The Indian hero, renowned for his non-violent struggle against the British for Indian Independence is now accused of being too pro-Muslim and acclaims Gods, Gandhi’s murderer, as a hero.
This paper will discuss, using Kalidasa’s Sakuntala, Indian concept of heroes, and how this concept transformed through time that reflects the changes that the country underwent.
Hero is a general term used to describe someone as a person who is admired for great or brave acts or fine qualities (merriam-webster). The same definition is not altogether different when put in the context of Indian culture. Before the British invasion, Indians depicts their hero as “generally a warrior, who displayed martial prowess and earned renown on the battlefield, often sacrificing his life in a lost cause” (Brückner, Skyhawk and Zoller). More often than not, heroes had some godly descent to give them a more superior personality.
This same mentality prevailed when the British arrived to make India their colony. Their arrival was welcomed with spears, arrows, and any other ...
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...us life. However, not one second that he thought about himself, he knew at once what he had to do. The ring was not his and it bears the sign of its owner, the king. Immediately he returned the ring and that paved the way for the king to regain his memory of Sakuntala. Without the fisherman the story could not have ended happily. The king would not have remembered Sakuntala and he would not have looked for them in the forest. Sakuntala would have died feeling pained by the harsh words spoken by the king during their encounter in the kingdom. Everything would have ended tragically without the honest fisherman. He portrays the kind of hero that post-colonial India admires: selfless, public-spirited, lives for the service of others.
Although the two concepts are seemingly very different, both exemplify a life lived in the service of others and that of the greater good.
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