Sunday, October 23, 2011


In Javanese tradition Srikandi शिखंडी,is a woman who is equal to men. As one of Arjuna's wives, she fought in the great Kurukshetra battle on the side of Pandawas.

In Indian tradition, however, Srikandi was born as a girl to king Drupada of Panchala who later lived as a man. In the previous life she was Amba, daughter of the king of Kasi. Bisma won her in swayamvara (contest) for his younger brothers. Amba fell for Bisma but was rejected by him due to his oath of lifelong celibacy. Humiliated and wanting revenge, Amba prayed to be the cause of Bisma's death. She was reborn as Srikandi.

Gods asked her father to raise her as a boy. She then lived as a man, learnt how to fight and archery

During Kurukshetra Bisma knew who Srikandi was and refused to fight a woman. Arjuna hiding behind her attacked Bisma with volley of arrows. Bisma was virtually invincible until then, he died days later after witnessing Kurukshetra ended as he wished.

Srikandi is an exemplary female soldier. She was responsible for the safety and security of Madukara with everything in it.


colson said...

Trying to understand I'm inclined to fall back on what I know. So, do you think Srikandi is a Javanese equivalent to the "Orlando" from Virginia Woolf's novel( and Sally Potter's film)?

(Who, I think, in their turn originate from 16th century's "Orlando Furioso").

triesti said...

@colson I havent read Woolf's nor Orlando Furioso. Therefore I cant really make any comparison. Plus, to my understanding Orlando was a guy. Srikandi was a woman who fought like a guy.

colson said...

Orlando Furioso wás a guy. As I remember it however Woolf turned the "him" of Orlando androgyn and in Potter's movie the "he" becomes a "she" in the next stage and turns to "man" again after that - and so on over the centuries.

H. Nizam said...

I have heard about Srikandi before but this is the first time I read clear explanation about her Indonesian and Indian versions.

triesti said...

@colson I guess the Potter's version is the reverse of Srikandi.

@harry, thanks.. I'm researching the role ;)