Who needs you, Shiva?: A Queen Questions

Mallika Sarabhai needs little introduction. The only real problem with introducing her is in wondering which tag to put first – dancer, writer, choreographer, activist… The list extends itself with time.

At the Bharatanatyam performance she staged with her son, Revanta, Mallika Sarabhai presented a very provoking poem penned by her. The poem questioned the mythological God of destruction, Shiva, and his requirement in today’s world. With human beings across continents, race and generations engaging in the most brutal acts of violence and devastation, does one really need to wait for any other force to bring on more?

Mallika and Revanta Sarabhai at KGAF 2017. Image source: www.hindustantimes.com Photo credit: Anshuman Poyrekar/HT

Sarabhai’s poem, originally written in English and them translated into Tamil lyrics for the purpose of the dance performance, had Revanta exhibit interesting abhinaya. While paying due obeisance to the Hindu trinity of Brahma the Creator, Vishnu the Preserver and Shiva the Destroyer, the dancer openly expressed his doubts for the need of the last and final hero.

While Shiva’s role in the pantheon, one may argue, is to destroy forces that threaten the work of his two partners and make cosmic sustenance a threat, Sarabhai asks a simple question: Is there anything left to destroy now?

There is global annihilation of environmental resources, unending threat to human and animal life and not even the psyche is being spared from the threat of implosion. Human efforts have steadily ensured that what has been created and preserved is steadily destroyed and forgotten. Art, culture, social wealth, economic sanity, et al. The pillars of a world of longevity are collapsing systematically. What will Shiva have left to reckon with? A few mortals who are far from salvation? A futile endeavour for a God, don’t you think?

We might as well ladle out all the milk we can summon and keep the third eye in eternal slumber. It needn’t be opened at all. Shiva, rest assured, we are doing your job with great efficiency.


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