The Epic of Bharthari in Chhattisgarh

in Module
Published on: 12 July 2018

Team, Chhattisgarh Project


This module is part of series of modules on performing genres from Chhattisgarh. They seek to reflect the richness of oral epics and folklore traditions from this region, and the modes in which they are performed and recited. The focus is the documentation of the entire epic or tale  known orally to a performing artist, as also the shifting contexts of performing these forms over the past 50 years.

The tale of Raja Bharthari tells the story of a renunciate king and the dilemmas of forsaking the world, conveying a tension between wordly responsibilities and the quest for release. The tale weaves in accounts of the Nath Siddhas, featuring their main preceptor, Guru Gorakhnath and the king Bharthari. It is popular across northern India, particularly in Rajasthan, U.P and Bengal, where it is known in several versions.  

This module is based on the recitation of this epic by the Chhattisgarhi artist Rekha Jalkshatri. She began performing the epic at the age of 12, and has been performing it for over 40 years, receiving accolades and recognition. An interview with the artist draws out the significance of this tale based on her experience, charts shifts in its performance over the past 50 years, and records her own agency in introducing change. The recordings of the performance and the interview are published with Chhattisgarhi transcription and Hindi translation. 

Also See Musical Repertoire of the Jogi Community of Eastern Rajasthan


This content has been created as part of a project commissioned by the Directorate of Culture and Archaeology, Government of Chhattisgarh, to document the cultural and natural heritage of the state of Chhattisgarh.