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‘Andha Yug’ as an allegory of Indo-Pak Partition and World War

Andha Yug is a 1953 verse play written originally in Hindi by renowned novelist, poet and playwright Dharamvir Bharati. The play is set in the last and the eighteenth day of the Great Mahabharata war. The five-act tragedy was written in the years following the 1947 partition of India atrocities, as an allegory to its destruction of human lives and ethical values. It is a representation of the politics of violence, aggressive selfhood and how the war dehumanized individuals and society.

Allegory as a literary device in which a character, place or event can represent a hidden meaning with moral or political significance, Andha Yug is regarded as an allegory of the aftermath of partition. The events of the Kurukshetra war, specially the bloodshed and violence actually, represents the situation of Indian states during the time of partition, which eventually took a lot of lives.

Due to British colonization, two political parties were formed to gain power and control of the nation. After the British rule was over, there was a debate for power between the two parties – Indian National congress led by Jawaharlal Nehru and All-Indian Muslim League led by Mohammed Jinnah. A decision was made, the entire India would be divided into two separate nations. One was named ‘India’, a land of diverse cultures and the other as ‘Pakistan’, the land of ‘Allah’ or God of Muslims. Dharamvir Bharati uses the Kauravas and Pandavas as an allegory to depict these two national political parties, and their thirst for power that led into bloodbath. The partition resulted in massacre on both sides. More than 2 million people lost their lives during this period and millions were displaced from their homes. Such violence was resulted from the blindness of religion. Hindus were blinded by their excessive faith and similarly, Muslims were too. So, both the religions targeted the opposite religion and continued a saga of brutality. In Andha Yug, Dharamvir Bharati represents this through the very title of the play. The word ‘Andha’ signifies blindness, and the Kaurava kingdom was overshadowed by blindness while it was ruled by a blind king. During the partition, it was the common people who suffered the most, while aristocratic leaders enjoyed their position from the top. The leaders ordered the common people just like kings did in Mahabharata. The common people had no other way than blindly following their power hungry leaders.

The unrighteous war that took place both in the Mahabharata and during Partition smeared the pages of history with blood. The death of Krishna signified the beginning of Kalyug, period where there would be shrinkage of morality and righteousness. The original Mahabharata praised and celebrated the Pandavas. Arjuna is shown as the master of all skills, while possessing the qualities of all the Pandavas. However, in Andha Yug, Bharati portrays a negative image of the Pandavas. Bhima is proud and intellectually dull, Nakula is ignorant and Sahadeva is retarded since birth. Yudhisthira can see the dark future ahead and hence has grown depressed, while Arjuna has grown old and weary.

Through such a portrayal, Bharati tries to exhibit the people who make decisions for the nation and how intellectually and physically incapable they are. The consequences of the decisions made by the leaders or the kings have to be endured by common public. Brothers in the Epic Mahabharata and the two communities, Hindus and Muslims both fight for land, property and power. As a consequence of war, many people were forced to leave their homelands without a single coin and assurance of a secure future. The allegory in Andha Yug depicts loss of ones homeland and identity, the greed for power, suffering of the common people, turning against one’s own families, no sense of right and wrong etc.

The play also contains some references to the bloodshed and horrors of the world wars. The world wars are the most brutal events in the history of world. Millions of people were killed just for the sake of avarice by power hungry leaders. People were displaced and severely injured and handicapped for life. It is said that about 3% of the world population declined due to world wars. The atom bombs were dropped over Japan during the end of WWII. In Andha Yug, Bharati demonstrates the power of atom bomb by making a reference pf the Brahmastra used by Ashwatthama. The Brahmastra is a weapon similar to the atom bomb, as it wipes out a huge portion of the population. It is said that the effects of using Brahmastra would be visible for many generations as babies born will be deformed in shape, and the vegetation grown on the earth will turn into ashes. A similar picture was noticed as the result of USA’s droppings of the atom bombs over Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Children were born deformed till many generations and the land turned barren, unfit for cultivation.

Therefore, Andha Yug is a clear allegory of the ravages caused by the partition and World War.

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