University of the Arts London
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Varsha Singh - Science Metaphors for Religious Contexts: Decoding Amruta Patil’s Parva Duology

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conference contribution
posted on 2020-06-29, 15:35 authored by Varsha Singh

03/07/2020 10:00 Room 1 #sciipr

In the existing tradition of visual culture in India, graphic novel retellings of Indian epics occupy a centre slot. Although mythological representations, beginning with the Amar Chitra Katha (1960s) through to the post-millenial Campfire adaptations of epics are a done-to-death phenomenon, their enigma propels more than ever, a fresh breed of retellings and modern avatars. One such is Amruta Patil’s Parva duology: Adi Parva and Sauptik Parva (HarperCollins India, 2012 and 2016 respectively).

The proposed paper analyses (under the sub-category of metaphor and allegory in graphic narratives) the visual function of metaphors employed by the author-artist in her retelling of the Mahabharata. It would argue that the engagement of scientific metaphors within religious contexts need not necessarily be read as regressive or counter-productive to critical inquiry. Unlike the current Hindutva nationalist propaganda in India which views modern science and Vedic spiritualism as an organic whole, works such as Sauptik, quite literally, draw out inventive spaces of interplay between the scientific and the religious, constructing newer domains of knowledge.

The paper intends also to suggest that the use of artistic symbolism in Patil’s mytho-graphic rendition of the epic deviates from the conventional (Western) structure of panels/gutters, adopting instead, a uniquely Indian style of visual storytelling.





Varsha Singh is Assistant Professor of English Literature at the Indian Institute of Technology, Jammu, Jammu and Kashmir, India. Her teaching and research interests include Image Studies, Popular representations of Indian epics, Cultural translation and Literary Theory. Her Articles appear in the Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics (Routledge), The Journal of Commonwealth Literature (Sage), The International Journal of Comics, and the Sahitya Akademi. She is presently working on a national research seed grant in the area of Visual Culture in Contemporary India. Email: Institutional email: