SOAS University of London

South Asia Section, School of Languages, Cultures & Linguistics

Chinmay Sharma

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Chinmay Sharma
Chinmay Sharma
Email address:
Thesis title:
The Mahabharata re-constructed for Hindi and English publics: modernity and the 'national epic'
Year of Study:
Internal Supervisors


I read English Literature for my undergraduate degree at St. Stephen's College, New Delhi, and Comparative Literature for my MA at SOAS. I have chosen to specialise in literary studies because I was excited by the idea of working with an interdisciplinary approach that is a unique feature of this particular field. My BA at St. Stephen's re-ignited my interest in the Indic epics and inspired me to focus on Sanskrit alongside modern literary theory at SOAS. Because of my interest in interdisciplinary approaches, I have aligned my research in such a way that I strive to analyse the contexts (economic, political and religious) of the text, along with the aesthetic forms of the text.

PhD Research

I am interested in how the Mahābhārata came to be called a ‘national epic’, and the engagement of English and Hindi reading publics with the ‘epic’ and it’s re-telling(s) since 1947. I intend to map its rise to an ambivalent sacrality, where it is studied and performed both as a religious and secular text. My research focuses on post-Independence re-telling(s) of the Mahābhārata in different mediums in Hindi and English literary culture in India. My case studies include the re-telling(s) of Mahābhārata in Hindi and English plays, novels, and the Mahabharat TV series. I wish to understand how and why the Mahābhārata has become a paradigmatic text in both Hindi and English and how the dominant (middle-class, upper-caste) as well as the marginal (Dalits, women, Muslims) sections of Indian society form narratives of self-assertion by adapting tales from the ‘epic’. By doing this, I hope to understand the variegated nature of the multi-form re-telling(s) of the text— modern and traditional, urban and rural, hegemonic and subversive.