A letter I sent to Mr DMR Sekhar of sulekha.com
Dear DMRS saab,
When you suggested a few days ago to write about ‘Meghnad Badh Kavya’, by coincidence, I took out an anthology of writings of Michael Madhusudan Dutt with the intention of reading this ballad once more.I wanted to write a blog on anti-hero of our mythology and who can be better than Ravan to be the person to write about!
Michael has broken many grounds with this ballad. He has introduced a new style …’amitrakshar chhanda’ ( the lines of his ballad do not rhyme : blank verse). More importantly, he has portrayed the characters of Ram, Lakshman, Ravan and Meghnad in a very unconventional way. The story has been told in several layers and he followed western grammar of epics , specially Virgil.Though reading ‘Slaying by Meghnad’ by Cinton Seely in the internet , through the window I suggested , is not easy to manage, it is the 2nd best way for you to savour the ballad….since you cannot read the original. The following two links will give you a good idea about the ballad and there are couple of points I would like to add .
While Michael has shown Ravan and Meghnad are victims of Destiny (the poet has repeatedly used the word ‘Bidhi’ which means ‘the god above’), his narration brings out a picture of conspiracy by the gods and deception by Ram’s camp being at the root of defeat and fall of Meghnad, not the valour of Lakshman. He has portrayed Meghnad as invincible in face-to-face battle with both Indra, king of gods (that is why he used to be called ‘Indrajit’,he who vanquishes Indra) and Ram. Please read this quote : ‘….duibaar aami haranu Raghave, aar ekbaar pitah deha aajnaa more;dekhiba ebaar beer baanche ki oushadhe! – twice I defeated Raghav; father, you give me permission once more, let’s see which medicine brings him back to life this time ) !
Night of the long knives : Indra convinces Parbati to influence Shiva in accepting that Ravan and Indrajit do not deserve any more support of Shiva. Kamadev aids the process. With Shiva’s acceptance of the proposal in principle , Mahamaya hands over the weapons Kartikeya used to kill Tarakasur and Indra arranges to deliver the same to Lakshman before the day-break.
Deception : Bibheesan shows the path to the place where Meghnad has lighted the fire for his Yagna at dawn before he will proceed for the battle and obstructs Meghnad’s exit for acquiring weapons to fight Lakshman . Please view the panel
Bengal’s artist portrayed decades prior to Michael’s penning this ballad.
William Radice is another person who has done a lot of serious study and work on 'Meghnad Badh Kabya'. His article is available in :