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Hayavadana


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A: Girish Karnad Pf: 1972, Madras Pb: 1971 Tr: 1972 G: Drama in 2 acts; Kannada prose and songs S: City of Dharmapura, mythical past C: 4m, 2f, 1 child, 2 dolls, chorus, musiciansBefore the main play can get under way, Bhagavata the narrator is interrupted by Hayavadana, a man born with a horse's head, who has tried everywhere to become a complete being. Bhagavata sends him to seek help from the priestess Kali. The story begins: the clever poet Devadatta is close friends with the powerful athlete Kapila. Devadatta confesses to his friend that he has fallen in love with a beautiful young girl named Padmini and sends his friend to seek her out. Kapila is overwhelmed by her beauty. Devadatta and Padmini marry, but she also grows close to Kapila. All three go on a journey, and when Devadatta becomes aware how much Padmini is attracted to Kapila's physique, he cuts off his head. Kapila promptly decapitates himself to follow his friend. Kali allows Padmini to replace their heads and restore them to life, but in her confusion Padmini transposes the two heads. At first, it seems as though Padmini has created the perfect husband. However, gradually Devadatta both loses the strength in his body and stops writing poetry, and two dolls parody Devadatta and Padmini's declining marriage. Kapila's new body grows strong again but is haunted by his friend's memories of embracing Padmini. Finally, the two friends decide matters by fighting a duel in which both die. Padmini commits satī (suttee). Hayavadana returns from his pilgrimage, content with being a complete horse.

A: Girish Karnad Pf: 1972, Madras Pb: 1971 Tr: 1972 G: Drama in 2 acts; Kannada prose and songs S: City of Dharmapura, mythical past C: 4m, 2f, 1 child, 2 dolls, chorus, musicians

Framed by the title figure's story, Hayavadana was derived from an ancient Sanskrit story and from Thomas Mann's retelling of it. Though potentially tragic, the events are performed with great wit and a sense of the absurd, and reflect an amusing scepticism about the importance of identity, urging instead an acceptance of each individual in his or her own right.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


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