An Exploration of Shakuntalaâ€™s quest for Freedom of Soul in Namita Gokhaleâ€™s Shakuntala-The Play of Memory
The desire to break free from discrimination and domination is inherent in every soul. Women have been marginalised and discriminated in every patriarchal society. However it is also important to understand that women themselves inadvertently become agents of patriarchal notions and thereby contribute to oppression. Beyond all oppression is the deep desire of the human soul for dignity, respect and freedom. Namita Gokhaleâ€™s novel Shakuntala: The Play of Memory traces the journey of the protagonist Shakuntala breaking free from everything that binds her, including love.Using the concept of past life memory (called Past Life Regression in Hypnosis) that influences oneâ€™s current life,Namita Gokhale describes the life of a young woman with the same name. Like her namesakeShakuntala,the famous mythological character, she has flashes of a past life and seeks liberationâ€” freedom to experience all that her soul desires- travel, knowledge, lust and above all the freedom to be equal to a man.Her desire to be â€˜freeâ€™ is so strong that marriage and motherhood cannot bind her to societal norms. Shakuntalaâ€™s quest for travel and knowledge leads her into an adventurous world. This paper explores the journey of the protagonist as a quest for the â€˜freedom of the soulâ€™ which is beyond the confines of gender- Shakuntalaâ€™s soul is her memory and experiences and cannot be defined as masculine or feminine. And it flees whenever it experiences â€˜dominationâ€™ either in the form of a controlling mother, who represents womenâ€™s internalization of patriarchal notions, an unaccountable husband or an indulgent lover.