Queen Anula The Shadow of Cleopatra

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By 2017-04-09

By Prof. Saliya Kularathne

In new criticism, the moment where the characters achieve realization, awareness or a feeling of knowledge after which events are seen through the prism of light in the story is called an epiphany. Mohan Raj Madawala uses epiphany lavishly throughout his novel Rajina.

Queen Anula who ruled the country in 47BC is described as a murderous and lecherous queen who sought the lustful companionship of a number of husbands. In any national historical legend, that kind of branded vendetta is often observed. But most probably, a sincere account of as to how such incidents occurred, might not have been recorded. In reflecting this type of controversial issue, the availability of a penetrating vision on the part of an author plays an important role.

It is essential to perceive traditional history from an anthropological view, but also with a humanitarian vision . This concept, in criticism , is identified as New Historicism. Mohan Raj's 'Rajina' , when looking at that perspective , could be categorized as a novel written in the light of New Historicism.

Prof. Vimal Dissanayake, distinguishing the 'New and Old History" from 'New Historicism' states that the 'Old History is based on chronicles and literature whereas the 'New Historicism' deals with the contemporary and also circumstantial documents as well.

Mohan too, seems not to have kept an absolute trust solely on the chronicles, but it is obvious that he has referred to the other contemporary historical documents as well as the history of Egypt and Cleopatra. It is a significant approach in creation of historical fictions

The name Anula the queen, though considered as a nymphomaniac character by most people, after reading the novel 'Rajina' one might feel that she is a very sensitive woman whose humanitarian qualities blended with sensuality. It is according to the common practice of attributing the final responsibility of any diplomatic issue upon the ruler, that queen Anula has been recorded in history as a murderous Jezebel. Each of Anula's husbands died as a result of insidious conspiracies by the state. Those who instigated such conspiracies were the representatives of various social forces of the time.

But just because it was Anula's husbands who were murdered, the blame easily fell on her.

According to 'Meda Midula' by Senarathna Weerasinghe, a translation of George Bernard Shaw's 'Days with Bernard Shaw' (1949) it is evident that promoting or tarnishing an image of either a historical or contemporary person, occurs based on social requirements. This reality seemingly has created an unfavorable stain on Anula's character.

It's true that Anula had to be the wife of many men. Her first husband was the King Mahanaga. Later on, she was compelled to be the wife of someone who used her only to quench his thirst for lust. But Anula developed an attachment which would harmonize the internal sexual and emotional rhythm of each other. It was a man named Thissa who subsequently became a minister of her court and later on the only love of her life. In D.H.Lawrence's 'Fantasia of Unconcious' this reality is described. According to Lawrence there is a tendency for those with equal sexual and emotional mentalities to amalgamate.

These relationships occur irrespective of the accepted religious, cultural or ethical values of people. It is not difficult for lay immature, ignorant people to come to conclusions about the lives of others. Thus, the heresy of certain people would become popular topics for daily gossip. But actually, it is only a mature sensible person with a broad understanding of humanity and knowledge of a subtle epistemological nature, who could pass judgement over such issues. Dr. Philip C. Margo in his 'Life Strategies' states that it is better to maintain silence on the part of those incapable, rather than voice their opinion on the intricate and sensitive problems of other people.

Mohan Raj Madawala's 'Rajina' can be identif as an attempt to cast epiphany in connection with the sensitive character of queen Anula, demolishing all the dark patches attributed to her by people who are immature and of little intellect.

By Professor Saliya Kularathna
University of Peradeniya

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