The IUP Journal of English Studies
Interrogating the Self: Demythologizing the Discourse of Nirvana in Gita Mehta’s Karma Cola

Article Details
Pub. Date : Dec, 2018
Product Name : The IUP Journal of English Studies
Product Type : Article
Product Code : IJES51812
Author Name : Saumya Bera, Soumyajyoti Banerjee, and Rajni Singh
Availability : YES
Subject/Domain : English Studies
Download Format : PDF Format
No. of Pages : 16



This is a study of demythologization of the concept of Nirvana (self-actualization) as elucidated in Gita Mehta’s Karma Cola. The study is an attempt to decanonize, delegitimize, deconstruct, and destabilize the metanarrative of the “Self,” functioning within an Orientalist discourse that forms the crux of the ideation, dissemination, and preservation of mythic structures of the Oriental, especially spiritual, tradition. Existentialism is employed as an analytical tool to illustrate the insincerity of the thesis of enlightenment and the angst ensuing from disenchantment at the failure of the quest for mystical panacea within Eastern religious ethics.


Rudolf Bultman, a German philosopher and critic, propounded the term “demythologization” as the means of recontextualizing myths for the contemporary world and ethos. Bultman’s (1954) primary focus was on reinventing the mythological structures in the New Testament and reinterpreting them for a world where supernaturalism tends to lose its luster. Bultman suggests that myths function by linguistic signification which veils the truth they intend to express. He contends that the importance of a myth lies in its manifestation of a human existence rather than something beyond it. Lévi-Strauss (1972, 109) points out, “Myth is not defined by the object of its message, but by the way in which it utters this message”; it is “depoliticized speech” (Lévi-Strauss 1972, 142). A myth is thus an artistic projection of the lived experience of a particular sociocultural group within a certain spacio-temporality. Coming under the influence of Heidegger, Bultman examines the practice of myths from an existential angle; he says, “Myth should not be interpreted cosmologically, but anthropologically, or better still existentially” (Bultman 1954, 10).


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