Chitrangada, a major verse-play penned by Tagore in 1892, had the eponymous character and all her cohorts taken from the epic Mahabharata. Its narrative had begun on the note of an abject offer of surrender of the protagonist’s womanhood at the altar of a macho man: to be his companion, charioteer, follower in hunting, his night guard, devotee, servant and subject.
Over four decades later, when Chitrangada was turned by the poet into a dance-drama, he catapulted the image of the Manipuri princess to almost a transcendental level. In the 1936 adaptation, when the world had already seen the rise of the ugly Nazi machismo in the West, Tagore made her utter -- with all the emphasis at her command – the prophetic feminist words: “I am Chitra. I’m no goddess to be worshipped, nor the object of conjugal pity to be brushed aside like a moth with indifference. If you deign to keep me by your side in the trail of danger and daring, if you allow me to share the real duties of your life, you will then know my true worth…”
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