Tuesday, October 20, 2009


"Urvashi" is a poem by Rabindranath Tagore. In this poem, he praises the beauty of Urvashi.

Urvashi, Tilotama, Meneka and Rambha are mythological creations. They are believed to be the four nymphs who live in Heaven and their job is to entertain the gods. Urvashi was considered to be the most beautiful 'apsara' among them.

Tagore, in his poem, praises Urvashi and through his language elevates her from being a mere seductress to a divine being.
Since Urvashi is neither the daughter nor the mother/bride of any person. She is free from all the restrictions imposed upon such roles by society. She is unattainable - according to the myth, Urvashi did not let anyone touch her. Her beauty was enough to captivate anyone's attention and cause even the sages to break away from their 'tapasya' or meditation.

Tagore caters to the interests of the Western audience while translating this poem. He calls Urvashi the 'denizen of Eden'. He also likens her to a 'charmed serpent' which can be viewed as a symbol of evil, as per the Holy Bible.

Tagore states that Urvashi was born from the ocean and since she came to earth only in her youth, he wonders if she spent her childhood in the seas, playing with pearls.
Since she is not human, she cannot be on earth forever and when she leaves, the whole universe weeps. She is someone whom everyone desires but cannot attain.


bahubindu said...


Could you tell me where I can find the original copy of this book? Project Gutenberg has English version of the novel and several others from Tagore, but I could not find this.


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