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Abstract

Currently the term ‘gender’ has come to occupy a highly dynamic and riddling status especially as part of the postmodern zest to deconstruct and decipher almost every known area of anthropological interest. While sex is a biological entity primarily based on the biological characteristics that one possesses, especially the genitalia, gender is largely a psychological concept pruned and fashioned by culture and society. Mythology and folklores have extensively addressed the problematic concerns involved around the notion of gender and sexuality with commendable dexterity and a boldness that seems way ahead of its time. Indian mythology visualized the more happening and modern concept of Queerness before centuries. The Mahabharata, written over 2000 years ago has many fascinating tales of gender fluidity that calls for in depth contemplation and scrutiny in the present scenario. The more popular stories of genderqueer characters like Shikhandi and Arjuna/Brihannala have undergone extensive adaptions and retellings; however, the less significant characters who display amorphous gender identity are often left out of the limelight. Hence this paper attempts to analyze how the epic treats its two minor, genderqueer characters- Ila/a and Bhangaswana, both of whom show chronogender characteristics. An attempt is made to show how both these characters fit in to the category of chronogender and how the notion of the same is dealt in the epic. Also incorporated into this analysis is the theory of ‘performativity of gender’ put forward by Judith Butler and examined how her theories are already anticipated in the genderqueer tales of The Mahabharata, focusing particularly on the tales of Ila and Bhangaswana.

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