A Critical re-reading of the poem “Sarpasatra” by Arun Kolatkar
The word subversion implies or indicates an urge to rethink and present an alternative system of thought by challenging and questioning the authority and validity of the existing systems of thought. Subversion is essentially an act of non-conformity and this act is clearly visible in Sarpasatra- one of the seminal collections of English Poetry by Arun Kolatkar where the speaker rewrites and subverts one of the founding texts of Hinduism by retelling from an alternative perspective the myth of the Snake sacrifice in the Mahabharata and along with this myth he also exploits the myth of the incineration of Khandava forest by Krishna and Arjuna.A myth is often thought to be a lesson in story form which has deep significance for Pre-literate cultures, who preserve and cherish the wisdom of their elders through oral traditions whereas in the present narrative there is a striking transfiguration in the poet's outlook and approach towards the use of myth. Here the speaker uses myth to critique the authoritarianism and bigotry of Hindu Brahmins and intellectuals and the subterfuges or machinations devised by them to warp the minds of people who believe in the concept of religion. The objective of my paper is to offer a critical analysis of the poem and also to analyse how Irony and humour are important structural devices through which the speaker subverts the established notions of religion.