Chitra by Rabindranath Tagore: Summary | Questions & Answers | Major English Class 11



Chitra by Rabindranath Tagore: Summary | Questions & Answers | Major English Class 11
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Chitra by Rabindranath Tagore: Summary | Questions & Answers | Major English Class 11

Chitra by Rabindranath Tagore


Chitra by Rabindranath Tagore

This one-act play "Chitra" has been written by one of the renowned Indian poets, writers, and philosophers, Rabindranath Tagore. It had been initially published in 1913 in English by the India Society of London. It is a lyrical play that makes immense use of symbols and poetic language. This play is based on one of the stories of the Mahabharata. This play has presented the story of Chitrangada (Chitra), a female warrior, as well as the daughter of Chitravahana, the king of Manipur. In this play, she tries her best to attract the attention of Arjuna. This play is about the love between Arjuna and Chitra. This mythological play has shown various things related to illusions and truths. The play has used various figures of speech.


Chitrangada (Chitra) From Mahabharata

Chitrangada was one of Arjun's wives among four wives. She was the third wife of Arjuna, after Dropati and Ulupi and before Subhadra. Arjuna married Chitrangada during his twelve years of exile. Once, Arjuna visited Manipur during his twelve years of exile. Chitravahana was the king of Manipur during that time. Arjuna decided to stay in Manipur for a while. The king of Manipur had a beautiful daughter named Chitrangada. When Arjuna saw her for the first time, he was quite attracted by her charm and beauty. Arjuna went to King Chitravahana to ask for the hand of Chitrangada. But King Chitravahana asked about Arjuna's identity. Arjuna revealed his real identity to the king. King Chitravahana became satisfied with Arjuna after hearing his identity. Later on, the king revealed his problem to Arjuna. The king related the story of his ancestor, Prabbanjana, to Arjuna. According to him, his ancestor Prabbanhjana was so sad because he had long been childless. To obtain an heir, he performed severe penances. Pleased with his devotion, Lord Shiva granted him the boon that he and his successors would each have one child, especially a son. But King Chitravahana was the first to have only a daughter, Chitrangada, just opposite Lord Shiva's boon. After that, Chitrangada was raised just as a son. She was provided with all sorts of art and knowledge. She was taught archery and the arts of war, as well as the rule of governance. King Chitravana agreed to Arjuna's proposal but even put forward a condition before him. According to him, Arjuna wouldn't claim his children born by Chitrangada in the future. Arjuna agreed to the promise that he wouldn't claim his wife or children born by her in the future. Arjuna married Chitrangada, keeping his promise in mind. He lived with Chitrangada in Manipur for three years. A cute son was born in Chitrangada and was adopted by Chitravahana later on. They named the son Babrubahana. After that, Arjuna continued his journey of exile, leaving Chitrangada in Manipur. Before leaving Manipur, Arjuna invited Chitrangada to Hastinapur Palace once. After the war of Kurukshetra, once Yudhisthir asked Arjuna to bring Ashvamedha's horse for Ashvamedha Yagya. While following the Ashvamedha horse, the horse entered Manipur's territory. Arjuna encountered Babrubahana after a long time. Both of them fought with each other. Babrubahana defeated Arjuna and nearly killed him. Chitrangada was shocked to hear the news. She decided to kill herself, but Ulupi saved Arjuna's life with her precious Sanjeevani Mani.


CHITRA: Modified Version by Rabindranath Tagore:

Major Characters in the play

Chitra: The  Princess of Manipur

Arjuna: One of the warriors among Pandavs who is living a life of hermit during his twelve years of exile.

Madana: The god of love

Vasanta: The god of springtime and eternal youth

Villagers of Manipur

Chitra by Rabindranath Tagore

When the play begins, we find the conversation between three major characters: Chitra, the princess; Madana, the god of love; and Vasanta, the god of springtime and eternal youth. Both Madana and Vasanta ask Chitra about her identity and her problems. She replies that she is the daughter of the king of Manipur and has been raised like a son or a boy because her father had no male heir. According to her, she has never experienced the life of a woman despite being born as a woman. She says that she doesn't know how to live like a woman.


Chitra explains about her meeting with Arjuna in the forest while hunting. According to her, she was in men's attire during that time. She saw him lying on a bed of dried leaves on her way while hunting near the Purna River. She asked him to get away from her way, but he didn't respond and move. She pricked him with her arrow. Arjuna got up after that. When Chitra asked him about his identity, he related his identity to her. After listening to it, Chitra remained dumb and speechless, like a barbarian boor. She had a long-cherished dream to fight with Arjuna and prove her superiority over him in archery. She forgot to greet, speak, and beg forgiveness of him. In the meantime, Arjuna left the place with a smile on his face to find Chitra’s boyish arrogance. That incident aroused womanhood within her. The next day, Chitra wore women’s clothes and met Arjuna. She expressed her love for him and wanted him to marry her. But Arjuna wasn't impressed with her ordinary beauty. He told her about celibacy and his inability to be her husband. Chitra became so sad to hear Arjuna's reply. Chitra fell in love with Arjuna.


Chitra explains to Madana and Vasanta that she has changed herself after meeting Arjuna. She explains that she had broken her bow, cast away her arrows, and changed her man’s costume to a woman’s after seeing Arjuna.

Chitra begs in front of two gods to provide her with a day of perfect beauty to win Arjuna's heart and spend a night of love with him. The gods not only provide her with a day's beauty but a whole year's beauty to spend her days with him. Chitra becomes extremely happy with her beauty. 


In the next scene, Arjuna is attracted to Chitra's beauty. When Chitra enters, Arjuna immediately starts talking with her. When he requests to know what she is searching for, Chitra deliberately replies that she is searching for the man of her dreams, who is Arjuna. Arjuna replies to her that he is the man of her dreams. Arjuna says that he will break his vow of celibacy (chastity) to accept the beautiful Chitra. Chitra hides her real identity, saying that she lives in the Lord Shiva temple alone.

But after her meeting with Arjuna, Chitra doesn't feel happy inwardly. She knows that her beauty is just an illusion and doesn't last long. Arjuna is only attracted by her temporary beauty, which will only last for a year. Chitra is extremely unhappy because she knows that Arjuna is not attracted to the original Chitra. She is also unhappy that a man like Arjuna, who is famous for his vows, easily broke his vow of celibacy to enjoy her beauty.


Later the next day, Chitra seems so sad because she sees her false beauty. She regrets much about her temporary beauty. She feels much about her deceitful acts. She hates herself and feels like a cheater to Arjuna. She relates her inner regrets to both of the gods, Madana and Vasanta. According to her, Arjun once rejected her due to her real appearance. Arjuna loves her only because of her temporary beauty. She becomes fearful about the future consequences when Arjuna knows the reality. She requests the gods take back the boon because her own body has become her rival. The two gods scold her, as they had only given her what she had asked for.


God Vasanta advises Chitra to go home and spend her year with her husband. According to him, by the end of the year, Arjuna will be able to accept the original Chitra when her perfect beauty is over. Chitra follows the commands of God. She spends her time with Arjuna, but she always fears reality after a year. Arjuna begins to grow restless and desires to hunt once again as time passes. He also begins to ask Chitra questions about her identity and past, wondering if she has anyone at home who is missing her. Chitra replies that she doesn't have a past and that she's as transient as a drop of dew, which upsets Arjuna.

By the end of the year, Chitra again requests that the two gods make her most beautiful on her last night with Arjuna. Both gods grant her tremendous beauty for the last time.

On the other hand, Arjuna hears stories of the warrior Princess Chitra from the villagers. He begins to ponder about the princess much. Arjuna knows from the villagers that Princess Chitra has gone on a pilgrimage. The villagers tell Arjuna that they are always protected by Princess Chitra, who is the terror of all evildoers. Arjuna says that some villagers have informed him that Manipur is under attack. Chitra assures him that the city is well protected by Princess Chitra. Arjuna's mind is occupied with thoughts of the princess. Chitra asks Arjuna if he would love her more if she were like the Princess Chitra he admires. Arjuna replies that since she has always kept her identity (true self) a secret, he has never truly loved her as much as he could and that his love for her is "incomplete.".

Finally, Chitra reveals the truth in front of Arjuna. She says that she is the princess Chitra of Manipur. She relates the help of two gods, Madana and Vasanta, in making her beautiful and winning his love. She admits that she is not a perfect beauty, but that if he would accept her, then she would remain with him forever. Chitra also admits that she is pregnant with his son. Arjuna becomes too joyous to hear the news and states that his life is truly full.


Chitra by Rabindranath Tagore

Chitra, the princess of Manipur, visited two gods, Madana and Vasanta, to share her problems. She related her identity and her problems to them. She told them about the event in the forest when she met Arjuna. She informed them how she had been rejected by Arjuna in her next meeting. She begged for a day's beauty to win Arjuna's heart and spend a night of love with him. Both gods granted her beauty, not only for a day but for a year, to spend with Arjuna.

In her next meeting with Arjuna in Lord Shiva's temple, she was able to attract Arjun's attention. Due to her beauty, Arjuna became ready to break his vow of celibacy and enjoy her beauty. They started living together in the forest. Chitra never told him the truth about her background. She started feeling regret. She became fearful about the future consequences when Arjuna learned the truth. The illusionistic life of Chitra made her feel sad. She moved to the gods and asked them to take their boon back, which they had granted her. Both gods advised her the way and the solution to her problems. She followed God's advice and spent her remaining days with Arjuna. She spent her days in fear. By the end of the year, she requested that the gods grant her the perfect beauty to spend her last night with Arjuna. Both gods granted her wish's fulfilment. Arjuna desired to hunt once again, being restless. Arjuna heard various stories related to a warrior princess, Chitra, from the villagers. His mind was occupied by her thoughts. He kept on taking as well as admiring Princess Chitra all the time. Chitra even knew about Arjuna's liking for Princess Chitra. Finally, when Chitra put a condition in front of Arjuna that if she were princess Chitra herself, he would love her more, Arjuna related to her that, due to her hidden identity, he was unable to love her much. When Chitra revealed her true self along with pregnancy news, Arjuna became overjoyed and stated that his life was full.


Chitra by Rabindranath Tagore

1. How does the play begin?


The play begins with the conversation between Chitra, the Princess of Manipur, Madana, the God of love, and Vasanta, the God of springtime and eternal youth.

2. Who is Chitra? How has she been raised and why?


Chitra is the Princess of Manipur and the daughter of King Chitravahana. She has been raised as a son in the art of war and governance because her father didn't have a male heir.

3. What does Chitra beg with the two gods and why?


Chitra begs the two gods for a day's perfect beauty because she wants to win Arjuna's heart and spend a night of love with him.

4. Where has Arjuna come? What does he ask with the king and why?


Arjuna has come to Manipur. He asks the king for Chitra's hand to marry her because he is fascinated by Chitra's charm and beauty at first sight.

5. On what condition does the king want to give the hand of his daughter to Arjuna?


The king wants to give the hand of his daughter to Arjuna on the condition that Arjuna won't claim his children born by Chitra in the future.

1. Explain the extract "Beloved, my life is full" with reference to the play.


This extract has been taken from Rabindranath Tagore's famous one-act play 'Chitra'. This line has been spoken by Arjuna at the end of the play, being quite joyous about the good news related to Chitra's revelation of the facts. At the end, when Chitra reveals her truth about her identity, beauty, and pregnancy, Arjuna becomes too happy to hear all these facts. The news of pregnancy makes Arjuna feel so happy; that's why he speaks out this line to achieve everything in his life.

2. Discuss Chitra as a mythological play.


Chitra is a mythological story from the mythological epic Mahabharata. According to the story of the Mahabharata, the Pandavas were in exile for twelve years. Arjuna was living as a hermit in the forest of Manipur. The king of Manipur had a beautiful daughter, Chitrangada (Chitra).

The ancestor of Chitravahana was Pravanjan, who got a boon from Lord Shiva that each generation would have a male child, which would be the future king. But Chitravaha was the first king to have a daughter, and that was Chitra. He didn't get a male heir. Arjuna fell in love with Chitrangada at first sight and met her father to ask for her hand. Chitravahana got ready to get his daughter married to Arjuna on one condition. The condition was that Arjuna would have to give his first son or child as an heir to the kingdom, as Chitra was the only daughter of his. Arjuna promised to do so and finally married Chitra. This is the short love story of the Chitra-Arjuna myth in the Mahabharata. Tagore has used the above myth in the play "Chitra." But he has made certain changes to it, perhaps to heighten the dramatic effect.

3. Write a summary of the play.



Draw the Character sketch of Chitra.


Chitra was a warrior princess and the daughter of King Chitravahana of Manipur. She was born just against Lord Shiva's boon. She had been raised as a son by King Chitravahana because the kingdom lacked a male heir. She was provided with all sorts of knowledge regarding war and governance. She used to be in men's attire most of the time. Due to her appearance, she seemed like a male and less beautiful. She preferred to involve herself in risky activities like war as well as hunting. She used to perform her duty through her task of saving her citizens in times of crisis. But her womanhood was aroused by Arjuna in the forest. After meeting with Arjun, she changed herself and tried her best to attract Arjuna's attention. She was rejected by Arjun at first. She fell in love with him and tried to get his love through fake means. She took the help of two gods, Madana and Vasanta, to win Arjuna's heart. With the help of two gods, she became able to beautify her appearance and break Arjuna's vow of celibacy. Her disguised appearance bothered her later on. She regretted what she did and asked both gods to take their boon back. She suffered a lot living her life with Arjuna in illusion. Both gods showed her a way at last. She followed their commands and acted accordingly. Finally, she put forward a condition in front of Arjuna regarding Princess Chitra. She related all the facts related to her and her pregnancy. She was able to win Arjuna's heart and make him happy at last.

Discuss Chitra as a lyrical play or a poetic play.


Rabindranath Tagore was regarded for his poetic creations. Most of his creations have been written in poetical languages. Apart from his poems, his plays also have lyrical qualities. In most of his plays or dramas, he has made the most use of poetic language. With the help of his poetical usage, he has made all his creations quite effective.

"Chitra" is one of his poetic plays that has been beautifully written using lyrical language. This play is also regarded as a dance-drama, verse drama, or lyrical drama. It has been written using ‘blank verse'. This play has presented the major theme of love between Arjuna and Chitra. The romantic scenes in the play have been presented using the lyrical dialogue of the characters. The characters in the play seem to be acting along with their poetical narrations. It has focused mainly on the concept of love, where there is immense use of lyrical lines and beautiful expressions. The characters seem to be singing while delivering their dialogue in a very poetical way. Thus, this play is a lyrical play where there is immense usage of lyrics.



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  1. I appreciate your hard work brother. I assume, it will be helpful for thousands of students and teachers as well.

  2. Very helpful notes sir, thanks


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