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Reader, Department of English Erode Arts College (Autonomous), Erode –9.

Department of English ERODE ARTS COLLEGE (Affiliated to Bharathiar University) ERODE –9. JANUARY 2006.


I, K. Radhai, hereby declare that the thesis, entitled “ Treatment of Reality, Fantasy and Myth in the Select Plays of Girish Karnad”, submitted to the Bharathiar University, in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in English is a record of original and independent research work done by me during the period 2002-2006 under the Supervision and guidance of Dr. A. Arunachalam, Dept. of English, Erode Arts College (Autonomous), Erode and it has not formed the basis for the award of any Degree / Diploma / Associateship / Fellowship or other similar title to any candidate in any University.


I express my profound gratitude to my guide Dr.A.Arunachalam, Reader, Department of English, Erode Arts College (Autonomous), Erode, for his scholarly advice and invaluable suggestions. His esteemed consent and motivation has enabled me to complete my task. I sincerely thank the Secretary, Principal and the Head of the Department of English, Erode Arts College (Autonomous) for permitting me to do this research work in their institution. I am extremely grateful to my respected Madam Principal

Dr.(Mrs) S. Andal, M.Sc., M.Phil., Ph.D., (Syndicate member, Periyar University ,Salem) for the encouragement and support extended by her. But for her blessings and motivation, this volume would not have seen the light of the day. I express my sincere thanks to the Secretary and Correspondent of J.K.K.Nataraja College of Arts and Science, for permitting me to undertake the present study. I am grateful to my teacher and well wisher Dr.R.Kasthuri Bai, Head of the Department of English, Sri Sarada College for Women (Autonomous), Salem for her constant encouragement and invaluable suggestions. I owe my earnest debt of gratitude and heartfelt thanks to my well wishers and my dear friends for having encouraged me time and again.

United States Information Service Centre Library.Sc for her co-operation and supernal patience in making my work attain completion in a prompt and elegant manner. Bharathidasan University Library. Madras University Library. Bharathiar University Library. L. Above all. Hyderabad. I express my profound thanks to the Librarians and authorities of various agencies for their willing co-operation and timely help rendered to me. . Trichirapalli. J. Chennai. I thank the Almighty for showering His choicest blessings on me.I am grateful to Ms. Komarapalayam. Nataraja College of Arts and Science. Chennai. The American College. Chennai. Erode Arts College (Autonomous).K. Connemara Public Library. Indo-American Centre for International Studies. Madurai.K. Hyderabad. Coimbatore.VinayaLakshmi M. Osmania University. Hyderabad. SCILET. Erode. Central Institute of English and Foreign Languages.


Drama was the fifth Veda for the ancient Hindus and Indian classical drama. It was precisely the lack of these essentials that had hamstrung Indian drama in English all along. which flourished for ten centuries or more. it was just a plant of meager growth in the house of Indian English literature but it has been advancing. One silver lining was that in the recent decades Indian drama in English language had “fared sumptuously and put on flesh”(155). which was once considered as the Cinderella of literature in English has shown “spring time fervour” and has attained “autumnal ripeness” (Preface vii) in the recent years. could now safely challenge comparison with other genres in Indian Writing. Indian English literature. It was almost a non-entity and it could not be matched with other genres in this literature like fiction and poetry. ancient and multi-faceted. . A play in order to communicate fully must become a living dramatic experience and so it needs a real theatre and a live audience. a true dramatist has to “communicate or he will die” (181). was not a “Hesperian hybrid nurtured in a Hindustani hot house” (158). It was rather a slender twig of that Banyan tree-termed Indian literature. Drama. during the last four decades. rather limping.R.CHAPTER I INTRODUCTION English language served as a veritable Suez Canal for intellectual intercourse between the East and the West. According to Naik. There were several factors responsible for this stunted growth of drama and the foremost problem was the indissoluble relation between drama and the theatre. is a composite art in which the written word attains artistic realization when spoken by the actor on the stage and reciprocated by the audience. a mimetic representation of life.Srinivasa Iyengar has commented that an Indian writing in English was rather like an animal imitating the footprints of another Indian English literature according to Naik. Although Hirankumar Sanyal has pointed out that drama is a “literature that walks and talks”(233). Though K.

but only a theatre.” (173) It was highlighted that the audience were not watching real life. Lord Indra. Indra Nath Chouduri has pointed out that “Bharatha in his Natyashastra explained that theatre is a plaything (Kridaniyakam) – a kind of diversion from the day-to-day drudgery of life. Gods and demons became the spectators. But Indra.Drama in India has had a rich and glorious tradition. Indra-dhvaja festival. So it involves the conventions of stylization (Natyadharmita) more than the conventions of the representational World (lokadharmita). to celebrate Indra’s victory in a battle over demons which is symbolic of the conflict between good and evil–the story of eternal battle between Gods and demons in the heaven. Traditional Indian theatre through the presentational form created the reality of the theatric universe on the stage. The contemporary dramatist Girish Karnad has said in The Fire and the Rain “Brahma. Nandhi and Anukrati were the commentators. He culled out the text from Rig Veda. songs from Sama Veda. the supreme God of Gods. good doer and evil doer on the earth. Lord of Gods. the Lord of all creation extracted the requisite element from the four Vedas”(Prologue 2). Narada and others were engaged as musicians. the art of acting from the Yajur Veda and Rasa (aesthetic experience) from the Atharvana Veda and combined them into a fifth Veda “Natya Veda” and thus gave birth to the art of drama. The first open air performance was held on the occasion of Banner festival. The primary aim of drama was not only to entertain but . realized that Gods were unfit to the new form and passed it on to the human preceptor Bharata who organized a troupe with his hundred sons and twenty-five Apsaras. He then handed it over to his son.

also to arouse a personal response in the mind of the spectator. Saryug Yadav affirms that “… all emotions including grief, terror and disgust are depicted; the Sanskrit drama never allows a tragic catastrophe to cause a painful impression in the minds of the audience.”(34)

Classical Sanskrit theatre, ritual theatre and folk theatre comprise the traditional Indian theatre. Classical Sanskrit theatre drew support from the works such as Natyashastra, Abinaya Darpana and Sangitha Rathakara; Ritual theatre portrayed a very wide range of castes and communities, while folk theatre was secular in spirit. Sanskrit Literature is classified into Drishya (that can be seen or exhibited) and the Sravya (that can be heard or recited). Drama falls under the former category. Drama in Sanskrit literature belongs to the ‘Umbrella’ of Rupaka which means depiction of life in its various aspects represented in form by actions assumed by various characters. The rupaka has ten classifications and the prominent component is Nataka (Drama). Sanskrit drama develops around three primary constituents, namely Vaster (plot), Neta (hero) and Rava (sentiment). Each play consists of a Prologue introduced by an invocation and a formal ushering in of the plot. This is followed by the theme presented in equally divided parts of five or ten acts. Every act is concluded by the exit of all the characters and the stage is left empty. The incidents like journey, killings and wars are never enacted but are only suggested. The surviving Sanskrit dramas are numerous and vary from short one act play to very long plays. The exponent dramatists were Asvaghosa, Bhasa, Kalidasa, Bhavabhuti and Sudra.

There are various kinds of dramatic presentation. Edward cites the concept of drama as defined by Bharata. As he observes, drama has to deal with: “the imitation of things done in former times by Gods, and men, by kings and the great ones of the world” (88), this was followed by the ancient playwrights and theorists. The dramatist draws on the subject matter from the epics and the puranas. The actor is aware that he is enacting a drama, and it is the stage presentation, which distinguishes drama from pre-modern western drama. The classical Indian drama is episodic and narrative in structure and it does not build up a climax as Aristotelian drama does. Though the earliest drama which appeared on the literary horizon written by an Indian, Rev Krishna Mohan popularly called as K.M.Banerjee, was published in 1831 itself, Indian drama in English was in infancy for long and it could not overcome its teething troubles till the middle of the last century. Sri Aurobindo and Rabindranath Tagore, the two great divine poets, were the first Indian dramatists to become prominent in Indian literature in English. Sri Aurobindo, a born ‘Lord of language’, was an outstanding writer in Indian English literature. He wrote five complete blank verse plays besides his six incomplete plays. His complete verse plays are Perseus the Deliverer (1943), Eric (1960), and Vasavadutta

Rodogune (1958), The Viziers of Bassora (1957),

(1957). The implied theme of Perseus the Deliverer is the evolution of man from the state of ignorance to that of enlightened humanism. The play also presents the dramatist’s vision of an ideal world where man will be broad minded and kind in spirit which may lead him to perfection, so as to become one with God. The

purification of the human soul through suffering is the theme of Rodogune. According to Aurobindo, suffering in the hands of the Divine will is an instrument for perfecting the soul of mankind. In The Viziers of Bassora, the playwright reveals a bright future for mankind and the ultimate victory of the forces of good over the forces of evil. Through this play, the dramatist visualizes the evolution of man where a new society comes into existence in which man realizes the higher possibilities. In this new society lies the dramatist’s vision of man’s aspirations for establishing an ideal world in this mundane earth. Sinha sums up the theme of the play Eric as, “the trinity of glorious manhood can be completed only when ‘strength in nature’ and ‘wisdom in the mind’ are combined with the love in the heart.” (202) Love becomes the evolving force in Eric, and the vision that is portrayed by the dramatist is the vision of a blissful state not only for individuals like Eric, but for all those who experience the magic charm of love. If an individual is guided by his instincts, he will attain peace and perfection. This concept has formed the basis and theme of his play Vasavadutta. The plays of Aurobindo deal with the concept of love as its basis since love has become the greatest solvent of most forms of evil. Apart from all these, his incomplete plays are The Witch of Ilni, Achab and Esarhaddon, The Maid in the Mill, The House of Brut, and The Birth of Sin and Prince of Edur. The length of these plays varies from one scene of fifty-two lines to three acts. The most striking feature of Sri Aurobindo’s plays is that they portray different cultures and countries in different epochs with a variety of characters, moods and

But whether the theme is ancient. The fable is from Somadeva’s Kathasaritsagara and Sri Aurobindo has also followed Bhasa’s Pratyina Yayugandharyana in planning his dramatic action. Rodogune. Sri Aurobindo weaves adroitly plots and characters and uses language to a high creative purpose. of conflict and change” (33). The drama has a fairy–tale ending with Haroun al Rasheed.R. This is true as Perseus the Deliverer is grounded on the ancient Greek myth of Persues and Vasavadutta is a romantic tale of ancient India. and the source was Corneille’s famous tragedy. a delightful story told by Shahrazed to King Sharayar during the thirty-second night in the Arabian Nights Entertainments. which is “the hoop of Gods. Rodogune is the only tragedy attempted by Sri Aurobindo. setting matters right. K. medieval or modern.sentiments.Srinivasa Iyengar observes that Aurobindo’s plays deal with the “drama’s of life and love. of tears and smiles. Through this play the dramatist has glorified the supremacy of love as it overcomes bitterness and murderous revenge. In this tragedy. There is almost a global coverage in the total content of Sri Aurobindo’s dramatic literature . The dramatic romance Eric the King of Norway leads us to ancient Norway as the dramatist has taken his fable from the lives of Old Norwegian sages. hearts to combine” (Prema Nandakumar 36). The play Viziers of Bassora is mainly based on The Tale of the Beautiful Sweet Friend. All the characters in Aurobindo’s play realize the value of love. the legendary Caliph. of insights and epiphanies. Hence the dramatic world of Sri Aurobindo is a world of heroism and romance. As cited by Prema Nandakumar. the alliance between poetry and tragedy is as ancient as Aeschylus.

his lengthy speech suppresses the action of his plays. Though this penetrating literary critic is known for his felicitous use of blank verse. As a part of dramatic design. The study of drama is half-literary and half-sociological because drama comes directly in contact with the people. dramatic companies never staged his plays. Aurobindo’s emphasis on the general principles of dramatic design is definitely a paramount . Aurobindo’s indebtedness to Elizabethan drama is undeniable. juxtaposition and suspense as chief structural forces. literate as well as illiterate. through stage production. The use of English blank verse was flawless in his plays. the playwright effectively used soliloquy in Vasavadutta and in Perseus the Deliverer. The dramatist has employed the principle of contrast. He was also motivated by the impact of Sanskrit playwrights. In order to expose the inner recesses of the mind. He has followed the footpath of Shakespeare by not adhering to the three unities of drama. this multi-faceted genius strove to present the exposition scene in an elaborate manner in his full-fledged plays and the transition from exposition to the rise of crisis is smooth. and asides in The Witch of Elni and Eric the King of Norway. Aurobindo through his imaginative skill has transformed the temporal materials into rich and varied art forms.and the method adopted by Aurobindo is to pick up only brief outline and relevant points out of the different sources so as to build up a unified and harmonious new structure that bears the stamp of his personality. natural and logical. Though Aurobindo was a supreme artist. because he has failed to evolve a language quite appropriate to the dramatic medium. With respect to plot construction and characterization.

Satires. Charades. He wrote primarily in Bengali but he himself has translated almost all his plays into English.achievement in the field of Indian English drama but it is a regrettable fact that he could not cater to the demands of the stage unlike the popular script writer Karnad who writes exclusively for stage production. from the clutches of the material world. legend. religion and death. Tagore was so captivated by the dramatic genre. poignant tragedies and rollicking comedies. was a pioneer in the Indian dramatic scenario.five act plays based on the Elizabethan models. . In all his plays. symbols and allegory in large proportion to express his views on love. the heroes struggle hard to relieve the sufferings of humanity. Rabindranath Tagore. His major plays are impregnated with the spirit of Buddhism and through his characters he has crystallized the meaning and substance of the play. Valmiki-Prathiba and a fullfledged drama Rudra-Chanda and Malini in verse form. Farces. one act plays. He has written more than forty plays of all kinds using myth. and plays predominating in metaphysical and contemporary problems. and he began his career as a dramatist in his early twenties. . But his first full–blooded drama was Raja O Rani published when he was twenty-eight and the theme of the play is that of love and patriotism. The protagonist in his plays realise the value of compassion and self-sacrifice. Lyrical Dramas. Dramatic Dialogue in verse. His important plays are The Post Office (1914). Symbolical plays. He composed the Opera. He has written abundantly and his plays encompasses all the known categories. Many critics have crowned him as the father of Indian stagecraft. the epitome of Indian spiritual heritage.

but when the end arrives. The King of the Dark Chamber (1914). The dramatist in all his later plays. But he lacked the sparkling wit and penetrating sense of humor. death comes in a blaze of glory. The plays are firmly rooted in the Indian ethos in their character and treatment. All these plays move on the purely human plane and deal entirely with the conflict between man and machine. Chandalika. he felt the compulsive urge for a search for new values and as a literary artist this groping is recorded in his writings. Raja O Rani was the first problem play in Bengali literature and it was followed by Dakhgar (The Post Office) (1912). but it proved to be less of a problem play. has tried to explore new world of thoughts and experience and this led him to experiment with new techniques. Tagore. Ratakarabi titled (Red Oleanders) in English is a moving parable of contemporary civilization in which the machine dominates to a much greater extent than pictured in Mukta-Dhara. in Ratakarabi he successfully portrays the world of greed and unscrupulousness in an overwhelming manner. Natir Puja (1961). Sanyasi and The Mother’s Prayer. Ratakarabi and Tapati.Red Oleanders (1925). MuktaDhara deals with the conflict between man and machine. taking in his stride nearly all the known ‘isms’ in dramaturgy: naturalism. Mukta-Dhara (1922). symbolism and expressionism. in prose or verse. More than in any other work. MuktaDhara. which enabled the dramatist . The Cycle of Spring. Hirankumar Sanyal has pointed out “the shadow of death darkens the play almost till the end. transmitting tragedy into triumph” (237). portrays this idea. As a sensitive humanist. realism. through his plays.

Kailasam. He regarded drama or theatre only as a medium of selfexpression. are “not plays of action. Though regarded as the Father of Modern Kannada Drama. B. “the total impact of life and work is indeed that of a modern Leanordo da Vinci. Though according to Srinivasa Iyengar. of a multiple power and personality”(112). He was faithful to dramatic tradition and to the moral and spiritual values. his dramas highly inspire the progressive and enterprising devotees of dramatic art. Krishnanand Joshi and Dr. are extremely stage worthy and popular. None of his plays are to be viewed objectively as a representation of a series of events. Although he may have left the world with no dramatic masterpiece. Tagore’s plays. but plays of feeling.to understand the qualities of different temperaments and to identify himself equally with all of them. as opined by Dr. They attempt to synthesize the rhythmic intensity of western tragedy with the mingling of Indian folk and classical drama. Another dramatist who occupies a prominent place in the firmament of the English drama as a socio-linguist is Tyagaraja Paramasiva Kailasam popularly known as T. Karna (1946). As Ramasamy points out. his plays lack the dramatic terseness and they often fail to grip the attention of the audience. The Purpose (1944). plays of carnival delight and eternal identity” (79).Shymala Rao. Kailasam expresses a profound .P. Fulfilment (1933).The Burden (1933). his ingenuity finds its full expression in his English plays . “… he has written his plays in the exact way in which people speak in a sort of combination of Kannada and English which has been called Kannadanglo”(273). It is intended to produce an aesthetic and emotional experience. and Keechaka (1949).

which portrays Kailasam’s dramatic quality. His play Fulfilment is a sheer horror as Lord Dunsany’s Night at an Inn and can be regarded as the crown of Kailasam’s dramatic art. but he renders them brilliantly for the intellectuals of the modern days. Another play. according to Krishna Bhatta. In his Kechaka. . Kailasam shows his interest only in highlighting the greatness of the tragic heroes of the epics. He successfully strives to bring in the element of fate to intensify the tragic helplessness but devoid of suspense and climax. The dramatic adventure of Kailasam is evident in his play Karna. his theme does not reach the Himalayan heights of a Greek or Shakespearean tragedy.R. “… he can make prose a fit vehicle for the expression of tragic emotion”(197). In the short and poignant plays The Burden and Fulfilment. as K. he idealizes the hero and he goes to extremes in his search for greatness in epic characters but unfortunately.Srinivasa Iyengar has commented. its legends and myths by borrowing well–knit themes from them. culture. His English plays unlike his Kannada plays are inspired by puranic themes. “Kailasam’s Keechaka is disappointing so far as the handling of the epic theme is concerned”(34). An analysis of Kailasam’s dramatic output reveals that “… he captured the public imagination by the fresh breath of life and vitality. He employs old myths and legends to project contemporary problems. Kailasam has a better stage potential than Aurobindo and Tagore. is The Purpose as the Elizabethans indirectly influenced him through the Greek tragedy. and brought down drama from over dramatic heights” (Krishna Bhatta 39).reverence for ancient literature.

In his other tragedy. In his foremost sociological play The Window. the dramatist portrays the cruelty inflicted by capitalistic industrialist on poor laborers. As a sign of sympathy for the miserable people. portray the tyrannical nature of the capitalist through revolution. The Sentry’s Lantern (1937). Bharati Sarabhai predominates the Indian dramatic scenario. The Coffin (1937). She is the author of The Well of the People (1943). he makes a brave attempt to dramatize the lives of saints and the current problems of the society. historical and devotional aspects. he fails to meet the demands of the stage so far as his full-length plays are concerned.Another versatile poet who ventured into the field of drama during the preindependence phase was Harindranath Chattopadhyaya. the playwright has dedicated the play to ‘The Brave Textile Workers of Parel. His other sociological plays. He highlights the realistic picture of workers. symbolical. he reflects man’s inner urge for freedom from the bondage created in the form of certain customs and cultures. he seems to be over-enthusiastic in employing Western techniques and as a result. In spite of his knowledge of the ancient Hindu dramatic tradition. Bombay’. and The Evening Lamp (1931). didactic and propagandistic while his hagiological plays are plays of conflict between the good and the evil and the assertion of God’s grace. unrelieved sufferings and unjust law making. His sociological plays are manifestos of new realism. He has to his credit a number of plays and playlets on sociological. The Parrot (1937). which portrays . Though essentially a poet. he has failed to create the desired effect on the stage. Among the female contributors. In his Siddhartha (1956).

V.Ayyar.V.Krishnaswami. His plays are scholarly discussions about conflicting opinions on social customs.Fyzee Rahamin. The Well of the People is considered as the most memorable contribution of Sarabhai in dramatic form to the Gandhian age. the Indian English playwrights in the pre-independence phase vied with one another to use social themes for their plays. Brahma’s Ways and The Slave of Ideas (1935).” (Preface ii) A. In this modern world. A vigorous critic of contemporary society.traditional womanhood and Gandhian social doctrine. Her plays bear testimony to her ability to give realistic touches to some age-old customs and beliefs and thereby elevate them to a higher plane. Two Women (1952) deals with the sensitive nature of the modern sophisticated woman and her private world. published a collection of three plays – Sita’s Choice. “the beatings on the drum of society for creating the harmony of life. She uplifts her characters and leads them to the ultimate reality of the Vedantic heights by making them visualize the omnipresence of God.Krishnaswami designs his characters as ‘Props’ for the theme of widowmarriage and the evil consequences of ill-assorted marriages between young girls and old men.C.Panchapekesha Ayyar.C. V. there are numerous conflicts arising out of the social problems. apart from his historical plays. V.P.Srinivasa Iyengar who’s Dramatic . The dramatist treats her theme in accordance with the Indian tradition blending it with spirituality.S. A. Whether their plays were successful or not. A. The dramatist makes a crude experiment in presenting the social evils in his play The Two Twice-Borns (1914). The other playwrights who followed the tradition of social realism were A.Srinivasa Iyengar and S. which are.S.

which has fostered the growth of the drama and vice-versa. The Point of View. it is the public theatre. only a few dramatists were able to gain the attention of the audience. Fyzee Rahamin’s Invented Gods and Daughter of India (1940) deal with the caste system and the tragic consequences of the corrupt practices of priesthood.Divertisements (1921) is a collection of plays that exposes the angularities of the Indian middle class society. which has achieved a considerable dramatic literature. though there was no proper living theatre. The Surgeon – General’s Prescription. Their plays were lyrical. encouragement was given to the performing arts in the first five-year plan by establishing an Akademi and other organizations. The burning problems of the day occupy a more predominant place than historical and legendary themes. and it is no wonder if they constitute the themes of some plays”(70). symbolical and sociological. Krishna Bhatta rightly comments that “… corrupt practices in the name of religion are as old as the great religions of our country. as they did not have a distinct awareness of staging their plays. Even after independence. allegorical. Vichu’s Wife. The history of the drama shows that it has always been dependent on the stage for its development. His plays entertain and give us charming little sketches of social life in India. The collection includes Blessed in a Wife. in bulk and in quality. The playwrights had not made use of the rich traditions of classical drama and folk-stage. The Pre-independence phase presents a host of dramatists who were convinced of short plays. These dramatic activities uplifted . and Wait for the Stroke. in almost every country.

Among the dramatists of the post-independence phase. The Dissident MLA (1974). Monsoon (1965). The Miracle Seed (1973). The Doldrummers (1960). Asif Currimbhoy. Valley of the Assassins (1966). Inquilab (1970). The Dumb Dancer (1961). And Never the Twain shall Meet (1964). Thorns on a Canvas (1964). The Restaurant (1960). Those plays staged after the pre-independence phase were greatly influenced by the models and techniques of the West. which may increase the knowledge of the plays in theory. Currimbhoy gave more importance to the performing aspects of drama. and This Alien… Native Land (1975). as it is a visual aid to understand the events and the people than the literary aspects. Goa (1964). The Captives (1963). The Temple Dancers (1967). The Hungry Ones (1965). Om (1961). Angkor (1973). . The Kaleidoscope (1964). He uses monologues. but ironically prime importance was given only to Western plays and Indian English drama suffered for want of proper stage. could be singled out. He has written a total of thirty plays within fifteen years and they “… are substantial in context and rich in theatrical devices” (Shanta Gokhale 340). ‘India’s first authentic voice in the theatre’. The Great Indian Bustard (1970). The literary career of Asif Currimbhoy may be divided into two periods. In the second period appeared An Experiment with Truth (1969). The Refugee (1971). The Clock (1959). During the first period he wrote The Tourist Mecca (1959). Sonar Bangla (1972). the first from 1959 to 1968 and the second period from 1969 to 1975. The Lotus Eater (1967). Darjeeling Tea (1971). Abbe Faria (1968) and The Mercenary (1968). Om Mane Padme Hum (1972).mostly plays in Indian languages.

that the ban was lifted and the Little Theatre group in Delhi staged it. From the epic Mahabharata the playwrights.choruses. It was only in 1969. His play Goa was produced at the University of Michigan in 1965 and in 1968 it was staged at the Martinique Theatre on Broadway. mime and anything that catalyses the dramatic purposes. Currimbhoy has ventured. Sadar-Joshi and Keshvadasji. Swami Avyaktananda through his work India Through the Ages (1947). The Hungry Ones was performed at the Theatre Company. won and therefore is honored among contemporary Indian dramatists. notably Thakur. slide projections. chants songs. Shanta Gokhale has revealed that Currimbhoy was “… emerging more and more clearly as a playwright of international stature” (341). Boston and at Café La Mame. . He is a deeply compassionate playwright who gives his characters room to reveal themselves. his achievements in the field of drama is highly impressive and distinctive and is touched with a hallmark of significant achievement. But he was ignored in India until the news of the reputation he enjoyed in the United States reached the country. The Doldrummers were given a try out at the actor’s studio but it was banned in India. culled out themes for their plays. after writers like Khushwant Singh and Mulk Raj Anand wrote letters of protest to the Times of India. sound effects. A few playwrights of this phase also have made an attempt to extend ancient myths to modern times and interpreted them from the contemporary angle. The dramatic medium served as a source to portray the religious fervor and cultural turmoil in India by another figure. Though he had to cross all these hurdles.

through their dramatic art. He courageously makes use of blank verse. “… modern Indian Drama in the Indian languages notably in Bengali. As Naik opines.Few playwrights have tapped their sources from history and current politics. despite its heavy shortcomings. Murder at the Prayer Meeting (1976) wherein he has used the expressionist method in characterization and has made the character universal. Translation. Manohar Malgonkar.K. rhymed verse. accords a greater reach to the Indian plays written in regional .Srinivasa Iyengar. sex. This enabled the regional writers to venture into this field and they have become visible through translations. other dramatists like Gurucharan Das. the first prominent three-act play was Janaki’s (Bhavan’s journal competition winner) The Siege of Chitor (1960) in which the playwright ennobles the character of Akbar. The conflict between the past and the present.Gokak have developed around the nucleus of political situations. Kannada and Hindi has during recent years successfully increased its artistic hemoglobin count” (201). untouchability. T.V.Lobo Prabhu. Gujarati. V. The minor playwright Lakhan Deb portrays the last days of Gandhiji’s life in his recent two–act verse play. Chronologically. and metered prose and thus his plays appear to be obscure.Subba Rao and Nissim Ezekiel. Apart from the historical dramatists. and V. It is a play with brisk action and it is stage worthy. Marathi. the old and the new concepts and customs has continued in our society and playwrights like V. power and wealth. have tried to tackle the contemporary social problems like intercaste marriage. Ezra Pound’s statement that a great age in literature is perhaps always a great age in translations is applicable to Kannada literature.M.

. actor. no learning. Mohan Rakesh. Meanwhile he received the prestigious Rhodes scholarship and went to England for further studies and it was there he had the opportunities to watch the world theatre. Vijay Tendulkar. There is no maxim.languages. happiness. It teaches one’s duty and relieves ones sorrows. no art or craft that is not found in drama. This phenomenon has become prominent due to Sahithya Akademi. director and recipient of various awards. his translations sparkle with ‘eye catching’ novelty and he pecularises the trends either from mythology or from history. especially that of Brecht. entertainment. As Moutushi Chakravartee points out. Lalji Misra also reveals that To Karnad. Katha and other organizations. hailing from a Saraswati Konkani family. drama serves as instruction. peace and moral upliftment. enlightenment. They are marching to build up a national theatre movement capturing the imagination of the Englishspeaking world by bold innovations and fruitful experiments that go into the history of the Indian drama as a significant mark of achievement. is a significant name in the Indian literary scenario. and Karnad being a translator. a popular playwright. Born in Matheran. “… the difference between a mother tending her baby and a wet nurse engaged for the purpose may be a good analogy in describing the author as translator and an outsider as one” (94). Girish Karnad– the living legend and a recipient of the Gnanpith Award can be singled out as he shows a greater promise. Among them. Badal Sircar and Girish Karnad are the offspring of the new resurgence of their own areas. (248) Girish Karnad. he had his graduation from the University of Karnataka. scriptwriter.

Naga-Mandala was staged at Leipzeg and Berlin for the Festival of India in 1992. In 1987. University of Chicago. Hayavadana was directed by Vijay Mehta and presented at the Berlin festival of Drama and Music in Germany. Naga-Mandala. Karnad established himself as a noted and talented dramatist after the publication of Yayati (1961) and Tughlaq (1964). felt it was difficult to sort out the cultural equivalent in English. Tughlaq was translated into Hungarian and German languages. originally written in Kannada and after their translation by Karnad himself. He himself translated Tughlaq. At present he is a travelling cultural artist and Ambassador of India. became rich contributions to Indian English Drama. Hayavadana (1971). Tale-Danda and The Fire and the Rain but Lalji Misra has projected the view that “Karnad. Tale-Danda (1990) and Agni Mattu Male (1995) were published. Gutherine Theatre in Minneapolis performed his play . he was awarded Fulbright Scholar–in– Residence at the Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations. therefore. Hittina Hunja (1980). These plays. be seen as approximation to the original” (238). he joined Oxford University Press. Anjumaliga (1977).He cultivated a keen interest in art and culture and on his return from England to India. he was appointed as the Director of Film and Television Institute. Pune. Hayavadana. as a translator. Madras in 1963 and in 1974. It was renamed Divided Together and was staged in New York in 1993. NagaMandala (1988). his translation must. But his plays were equally appreciated in India and abroad and they received universal praise in the European countries as well as in the United States of America. His creative currents went on and as a result.

madness. folklore and theatres and according to Lalji Misra: … it carves cut a new face of modern man struggling for a new horizon with a new identity. Karnad. On the contrary. Analyzing the contributions made by the dramatists of the Pre-independence and Postindependence phase. quest for perfection and completeness. reveal the fact that they had influenced Karnad to a great extent. we find that except for Asif Currimbhoy and Girish Karnad. folktales and histories not only for literary purpose but also as a surrogate to portray the contemporary situations. The earlier dramatists have failed to exploit the potentialities of traditional Indian dramatic modes and there has also been a disastrous failure to make a creative use of the rich fund of myth. His plays are a vehicle for communicating man’s desires. the modern dramatists have successfully made use of such modes and myths. playwrights like T. As literature reflects the society. like his predecessors. The plays of such a popular and creative artist deal with the themes of Indian myths. In the Indian theater tradition there has been a strong impact of mythology and history though it has not produced anything of permanent worth. history. An in-depth study of the playwrights who contributed to Indian dramatic scenario. traditions. as . eternal conflict of passions and are successful in giving a local habitation and a name to man’s aspirations and desires. none of the plays of the other dramatists catered to the demands of the stage. jealousies.P. namely Sri Aurobindo and Rabindranath Tagore. which catered to the taste of escapist theatre and occupied themselves with all sorts of romanticism and comic attitude to life. Kailasam and Harindranath Chattopadhyaya has made use of the sociological aspects. legends. In this respect. Karnad was a dramatist with a difference as his plays were exclusively written for the stage.The Fire and the Rain in 1993. makes use of myths. (236) Earlier the Indian playwrights attempted to write plays. Karnad was aware that this tradition has a tremendous potential. which motivated Karnad to portray the society in his plays.

makes an eclectic and synthetic approach to Indian drama. Though the contemporary playwrights. . impotent and despairing” (137). Though several studies on the plays of Karnad have been undertaken. So Karnad makes use of such myths and legends as metaphors for contemporary situations and this has induced the present researcher to make a study of his plays. so far no full-length research has been undertaken to consider his conceptualization of Reality. Due to his materialistic aspirations. mechanical life. the Pulitzer Prize winner. the aim of the researcher is to find out how far these elements have been exploited by the dramatist to portray the socio-cultural problems and the evils of the society. Man in the mundane world leads a kind of monotonous. man tends to loose his moral values but an understanding of the realities of life ultimately anchors him to those values. problems and paradoxes.the elements of myth and history are very common to Indian audiences. Karnad shifts his attention to broader issues and tries to project the crisis of values in India. Fantasy and Myth and so the researcher proposes to make a study of his selected plays in this angle. fantasy and myth. a helpless sheep. are preoccupied with the modern Indian and visualize him as “…a caged object. He has succumbed to the humdrums of life. In order to pull him out of this mire. As Karnad’s plays abound with the elements of reality. Girish Karnad. as stated by Prabhakar Machwe. A study in this angle will help man to understand his own realistic condition and realize the illusory world in which he exists quite complacently. A time has come in India for the playwrights to realize that drama must reflect and project the contemporary life and situations.

At the end of each chapter. viz. CHAPTER II TREATMENT OF REALITY: INDIAN ETHOS . In the final and concluding chapter. events and characters. archetypal. “Conclusion”. and ‘myth’ are analyzed and reported in the next four chapters. is devoted for a sum up of the dissertation. cross-references are made to the works of other writers drawing parallels in situations. the present researcher proposes to make use of the sociological. Karnad’s treatment of the three of the elements of drama chosen for this study. the arguments of all the preceding chapters are neatly tied up dovetail fashion and suggestions for further research are given. Wherever necessary. ‘fantasy’. At the beginning of each of the four main chapters that follow this introductory chapter. a brief sum up of the arguments of the concerned chapter is given. The study is divided into six chapters including this introductory chapter. ‘reality’. The element of ‘reality’ is split into two categories as ‘Indian Ethos’ and ‘Evil’ forming Chapters II and III respectively. the chosen concept is explained in general followed by a thorough investigation of the author’s selected works to exemplify his conceptualization of the same. Chapter IV and Chapter V are devoted to an analysis of his treatment of ‘Fantasy’ and ‘Myth’ respectively. and Chapter VI. mythological and realistic approaches.For an interpretation of the works of Girish Karnad.

the . “there is a close parallel between life and theatre and quite often life is theatre-like and vice-versa.” (154) Realism in India is confined within the social problems.H. As Sarat Babu has pointed out. of real life. which thrives on social themes. is inherently social and contemporary drama. “Art speech is the only truth. What D. which is governed by the existing social processes. will tell you the truth of his day” (123).H. Drama should reflect life. Therefore they extend the same reference to the theatre as well. It deals with the problems of the present day society or creates a futuristic society. but his art. in India. at the living moment” (126). there really has never been the bourgeois class of people who had true faith in individualism. An artist is usually a damned liar. For. He tries to bring about peace of mind to those afflicted by the ills of the world and its numerous problems. Banker has aptly commented that the modern drama reflects “the traditional Indian conception of human life.Anniah Gowda 10) Drama. through stage production. The modern dramatist aims to present the ways of the mundane world and enlightens the audience through entertainment. (H.Literature is an offprint of life. comes directly in contact with the people and its study is partially literary and partially sociological. Westernization is an alien term and therefore they define themselves in terms of their relationship to other members of their own family. As Lawrence further says. in spite of the large urban population. Girish Karnad. Lawrence says in the context of the modern novel can be extended to apply to the modern Indian drama the business of which is “to reveal the relation between man and his circumambient universe. a co-operative concern. caste or class. if it be art. is a genre. a form of art.” (37) Drama.

Tughlaq. is “modern and he deploys the conventions and motifs of folk art and curtains to project a world of intensities. what surprises us is how traditional his plays are. Kirtinath Kurtoki has said. madness. Hayavadana. uncertainties and unpredictable denouement. Karnad is regarded as one among the three great dramatists of contemporary India. entertain. “Drama is an effective means of communication besides being an entertainment medium” (15). jealousies.V. could authentically be called as a true artist. the other two prominent dramatists being Vijay Tendulkar and Badal Sircar who deal with the problems of the middle class. an outstanding playwright and an adept practitioner of the performing arts. a sympathetic affirmation of the fleshly and worldly life and an incisively insightful contemporary social relevance. Commending his plays. has said. drama serves to instruct. It teaches one’s duty and relieves one from his sorrows. and give happiness. It is evident that his plays evince a profound concern for man. “Karnad’s plays are thoroughly modern in outlook and spirit”(239). completeness and eternal conflict of passions. quest for perfection. peace and moral upliftment. It is quite true in the case of the scriptwriter Girish Karnad.Srinivasa Iyengar.R.Gnanam. Hittina Hunja. Karnad’s approach.most renowned media personality. Girish Karnad on the other hand takes refuge in the Indian legends and myths and tries to show the absurdity of modern life through his notable plays Yayati. according to K. Dr. former Vice-chancellor of Madras University. Naga- . When all his plays are analyzed. His plays serve as a vehicle for communicating man’s aspiration.” (736) For Karnad. enlighten.

becomes violent. the first play. Yayati is unable to bear this. conveys the message of performance of duty and acceptance of responsibility. is from the first book of the epic “Adiparva” and The Fire and the Rain is from the third book of the epic “Vanaparva”. Hayavadana is indirectly based on the epic with reference to the episode of the abandoned child Shakuntala. Karnad’s Yayati.Mandala. adamant and refuses to accept the old age. Once a conflict arises between Devayani. forms the source for two of the complex plays of Karnad. curses Yayati to become old. and the latter pushed Devayani into a well and escaped. the guru of the assuras. He received the state award for his first play Yayati. Yayati. But Sharmistha develops secret relationship with Yayati and when Devayani comes to know this she complains to her father. which is “an inexhaustible. Mahabharata. (1961) initially written in Kannada. King Yayati who came there saved her. Since then. the King of the assuras. Karnad presents the age-old story of the mythological King Yayati who was the tenth in the line of the Brahma’s family. was sent to King Yayati’s kingdom along with his bride Devayani. . With the consent of Shukracharya the marriage between Devayani and King Yayati was solemnized and Sharmistha as a result of her punishment. Devayani started loving Yayati and Sharmistha was punished with serving Devayani forever along with her maidservants. he loses control over himself. the daughter of Shukracharya. In this play. who in turn. and Sharmistha the daughter of Vrishparva. The Fire and the Rain and Tale-Danda. Fortunately. literary reservoir” (Naik 47).

deserted even by your kith and kin.” (41) In the process he feels disillusioned and looses faith.e. Though Yayati succeeds in transforming his old age and his sins to Puru. i. In the play Yayati. Though his sub-conscious mind tells him that it is not fair on his part. The mediocre is one who complies when told by his father. he acts in the most irresponsible way by usurping the happiness of his son and daughter-in-law.When his son Puru informs that Yayati can be redeemed if some person accepts his old age. Our mythology is replete with parental figures demanding sacrifices from their children. but when you are in sorrow you will be alone. he becomes very happy. a very Indian theme of a self-denying son indulging the whim of his unreasonable father. So he feels that if somebody accepts it at present he would relieve him from his old age within five or six years. Yayati feels very much disheartened because old age had not come to him in its normal course but by a curse. Puru proves to be the best son as he gladly accepts the curse inflicted on his father and willingly exchanges his youth for the old age of his father. The lowest type is he who obeys but with irreverence. Rajinder Paul has commented that “the protagonist in Yayati asks for eternal youth which his son sacrifices at the altar of paternity. when you laugh the world will laugh with you. he justifies that it is only for his people he . Karnad has portrayed the contours of the real world. The best son is he who accomplishes the task in anticipation of the expectation of his father. he is unable to accept the reality as he is of the wrong notion that all his subjects would readily accept his old age. But when Puru informs that nobody is willing to take up his old age.

It is pathetic that King Yayati and his son Puru realize their evil deeds only at the cost of a life.is doing like this. her husband Puru is astonished. by willingly sacrificing their lives. In the end Puru’s wife Chitralekha commits suicide. make the members of their family to realize their nobility. He also asks Sharmistha to accompany him to the forest. When Chitralekha dies. Only when he regains his youth he repents for the disastrous blunder he had committed. through the portrayal of the character of Yayati. Chitralekha. He finally says that he has spent his youth in the city but will spend his old age in the forest. only after the suicide of his daughterin-law and he readily owns the responsibility for the havoc that befell the family and returns the youth of his son Puru and retires to the forest as a hermit. In actuality King Yayati exchanges his old age with the youth of his youngest son for the satisfaction of his own youthful urges. Yayati asks Puru to take back his youth and be a good king as he felt that there could be no better lesson than Chitralekha’s death. as he has to wash his sins by doing penance in the forest. Through this action the dramatist makes Yayati to accept his responsibility for the sin he had committed. but he does not shed even a drop of tear. The dramatist portrays the selfless nature and the helpless plight of the Indian women who. Yayati realizes the horrors of his selfish action of exchange of youth in the later period. Thus Indian women serve as a contrast to Indian men. Through the life . The dramatist. focuses on the theme of attachment to life and its pleasures.

brings a curse upon her husband King Yayati. and whichever he chose. Karnad himself in his interview with Meenakshi Raykar has revealed that Every character in the play tries to seek escape from the consequences of its actions. the dramatist brings out the fact that selfish paternal authority and blind filial loyalty could bring ruin to a family when it is misappropriated. Yayati. and runs away irresponsibly when he is visited by the ugly consequences of the curse. He is caught between the devil and the deep sea -filial loyalty and conjugal felicity. his son. Devayani acts impetuously. Puru. commits suicide instead of fighting to restore her rights. Devayani and Puru all of .of Yayati. he would still be caught in the web of irresponsibility. unable to bear the consequences of her husband Puru’s exchange of youth with his father. The only character that is willing to accept the responsibility for the consequences of what she does is Sharmistha. Even Puru does that. Almost every character except Sharmistha is irresponsible. The purpose and theme of the play are revealed through the character of the Sutradhara. Yayati who is cursed for his adultery transfers the burden most irresponsibly to his son. equally irresponsibly vitiates her marital bliss by exchanging his youth with his father for the sake of preserving the latter’s happiness. Chitralekha. who is married to Chitralekha and owes a dharmic responsibility to ensure her happiness. The Sutradhara says that neither a scholar nor an ordinary person can escape the burden of responsibility.

the twentieth century poet. It is a classic in Kannada literature” (103). Yayati. which comprises outstanding. And miles to go before I sleep.”(143) Each and every individual. Girish Karnad has artistically integrated the two aspects. in the fascinating character of Muhammad Tughlaq. Sharmistha is the only character who accepts the consequences of her action. Commenting on the greatness of the play Sethumadhava Rao remarks as follows: “No play in Kannada is comparable to Tughlaq in its depth and range. the temporal and the timeless. R. (406) Parasuram Ramamoorthi’s comment that “the central issue of responsibility of the old versus young assumed a new turn ” (3). Anantha Murthy says. contemporary Indian plays. And miles to go before I sleep.them try to avoid facing the consequences. “Yayati is a self-consciously existentialist drama on the theme of responsibility. Karnad’s second play Tughlaq is the first in the series New Drama in India. the historical and the universal. In this famous play Tughlaq. one of the most idealistic and intelligent . is quite apt to what happens in the play. It will be relevant to consider what Robert Frost. (340) As U. has said in “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”: But I have promises to keep. must have a sense of responsibility in his journey of life. whether he is an old man in search of lost youth or a saint lost in the wilderness or whoever he may be.

Ghosh: “Karnad’s magnum opus is a veritable link between received history and its relevance in the contemporary frame of reverence. to interpret contemporary problems. “I shall build an empire which will be the envy of world” (149). very well resembles Martin Luther King and Jawaharlal Nehru. which prevailed in the Nehru era of idealism in the country.”(111) An interesting and dominating character. to work out ideas or theses through historical material and which establish the modern Indian relation to history. was at the dawn of youth. (14) It is a tragedy that depicts the struggle and spectacular failure of a personality who dreams of becoming an ideal ruler and establishing a utopia. which go back to history (and Myths) to establish modern man’s relationship to history. In the opening scene he declares. The eponymous and enigmatic character. it will be apt to remember the comment of Nibir K.kings to ascend the throne of Delhi. a brilliant but spectacularly unsuccessful fourteenth century Islamic Sultan of Delhi popularly known as mad Muhammad. and heartfelt hopes and dreams. when he took over the reins of power. The play greatly appealed to the Indian audience because it reflected the political mood of disillusionment. whose dreams were also shattered by destiny. He is always . Ramamurti has complimented as follows: Tughlaq is a genuine history play in English and that it is an answer to criticism which deplores the absence of Indian play in English. glory. the doomed dreamer. marked by zeal. In this context.

but treats everyone alike before justice. “Tell me. (2.preoccupied with thoughts of his state. Let me share your joys. He feels restless and keeps awake during nights. Acutely aware of the short span of life and the stupendous task before him. His preoccupation with the idea of establishing a utopia for the welfare of his people does not allow him to sleep. he seems to dedicate his life for the well-being of his subjects. like Asoka the great.148).. This is evident from the announcement made to restore the property of Vishnu Prasad. this tremendously capable personality is shattered to pieces and all his dreams lie deflated. whose “land had been seized illegally by the officers of the state”(1. The King appears as a ‘carnivorous animal’ and as he fails to realize the limits of the human power.155). he wanted to be an ideal King. he pays an unexpected penalty in the end. He not only strives for the impossible – Hindu-Muslim unity. Come! I am waiting to embrace you all. Within a short span of twenty years.155) Muhammad claims that a king is no king unless he is one with his people. Confide in me your worries. Unlike other rulers. He wants to climb up to the tallest of the trees in the world and call out to his people: Come my people. Let’s laugh and cry together and then let’s pray…. I am waiting for you. Karnad projects the sufferings and mishaps endured by the people under the rule of this daydreamer. He takes great pain to correct all the errors committed by the past Sultans of Delhi in order to spread the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. a Brahmin of Shikar. He tells his stepmother. The Sultan’s sense of justice and . how dare I waste my time in sleeping? And don’t tell me to go and get married and breed a family because I won’t sleep” (2.

Every living soul in Delhi will leave for Daulatabad within a fortnight. The ruler who hopes to establish an empire. he just wants to fulfill his ambitions and desires. due to his lack of foresight and inability to steer clear through the situations falters and resorts to solving all the problems with a dagger. This man of justice and personality is miscarried by a feeling that whatever he does is perfect. The Sultan fails to make allowances for the innovations he makes and so with the best of intentions. i. I can see that now. I want Delhi vacated immediately. he hopes to win the confidence of the Hindus and help foster the Hindu – Muslim unity. By shifting his capital to the city of the Hindus. Being despotic and devoid of human concern. the end justifying the means. The schemes of relocating the nation’s capital from Delhi to Daulatabad and introducing the copper currency causes a lot of havoc and hardship among the people. No advice is sought.185-186) Like Marlowe’s heroes namely. Being an idealist and in order to fulfill his dream. They’ll only understand the whip. he foolishly announces. Tughlaq. . which he fails to realize. “Later this year the capital of my empire will be moved from Delhi to Daulatabad” (1. Everyone must leave… Nothing but an empty graveyard of Delhi will satisfy me now. I was too soft . His principle is similar to that of Machiavellian’s principle.impartiality is further revealed when he offered the said Vishnu Prasad a post in the civil service to ensure him a regular and adequate income. Doctor Faustus and Jew of Malta. no consultation takes place. is fully convinced that he alone knows what is good for others and he alone is capable of achieving it for them. which will be the envy of the world.149). he arrogantly and inhumanly says.. like a megalomaniac. Tamburlaine. But in actuality it leads to disastrous problems. Though he is blind towards reality.e. (6.

but no balance and patience. at times he resembles Camus’ Caligula who wishes to get the moon and whom. his tortured inner self and corruption combat at their very source and the country is plunged into a political chaos. Religion has become the dominant basis in power politics. too. religion and politics have become so deeply intermingled that they are threatening the very unity of the nation. On account of the ambiguities of Tughlaq’s character. his life ends in a transcendent failure. The seeds of communal riots caused by disharmony have already been sown centuries ago. Secularism. even today. absolute power corrupts absolutely. Life of the people is corrupted by the nexus between the saints and the politicians. Rajagopalachari and Anil Krishna rightly say: “Tughlaq’s idealism clubbed with his Machiavellian craftiness causes a split in his personality and led to his precipitous fall” (21). equality and unity in a country like India are the concepts very much ahead of the times.excellent ideas. masquerading as a saint. In the recent years. The greatest truth is that religious saints cannot wash away the filth from the society and when Aziz. is . become victims and they suffer as they suffered during the reign of Tughlaq. These seeds that were in dormancy have sprouted due to violence and hatred and recently it led to the demolition of Babri Masjid. People. It aims at showing that the idealism of the ruler will fail and will ruin the idealist. Mahle has said that “the people in India are led away by the saints and religious heads who muddle politics which is a game of see – saw” (135). Tughlaq’s tragic tale reflects the problems of the Indian society. The Muslim Saints like Bokhan of Delhi and the Iman of Garib Nawaz of Ajma have been going round propagating the views of their party and so the people tend to believe them more than a politician. In his acts of cruelty. the dhobi.

Ghosh aptly says that the chief architects of India – Mahatma Gandhi. and more than a study of historical events. According to Rai. makes the play contemporary and realistic. by being a mere idealist without understanding the present context.exposed. his ideal and understanding of life made even his failure seem glorious. Though the deranged monarch failed to be a responsible ruler of the capital city. no saint is a match for a dhobi. the play symbolizes “the crisis of the character of present day politicians who are skilled in the art of gaining power and the craft of retaining it even at the cost of national unity and integrity” (15). in another play. for one to reach the visionary heights will become a Himalayan task. Karnad. through the idealistic and visionary politics of Tughlaq. “it is not a mere historical play. Naga-Mandala. “When it comes to washing away filth. Satish Bhattacharyya aptly says. it is something more. Nibir K. Jawaharlal Nehru.” (13. he pleads with the Sultan for his life and says. Many honest and great leaders of India have failed to sustain their vision in politics. the undeniable fact about Tughlaq’s life and career is that he failed to be a responsible ruler. . However. the play provides an interpretation of human character in its width and depth” (121). Karnad. and many others being idealists were “reduced to mere footnotes on the margins of contemporary Indian history”(120). also projects the lack of responsibility of his cruel hero Appanna who barely and brusquely talks to his captive wife Padmini during the day and goes away at night to his concubine after locking the wife in.218) It has been proved that.

Just for a year. is undoubtedly a valuable addition to the body of Indo . After the death . He is born with a horse’s head as his mother married a stallion. This play portrays the lack of responsibility of Hayavadana’s parents. Though in reality it is highly difficult for a man to be an Adam or Samson it is quite possible for one to be at least a human being.Indian women think of their husbands to be the be all and end all of their life. he satisfies the desire of his wife Vishakha and then leaves her secluded to her fate for seven long years. while he visits his concubine regularly thus resulting in a meaningless wedlock. Similarly in The Fire and the Rain. But Karnad’s protagonist fails in his duty as a husband. The male protagonist Devadatta also fails to realize his responsibility as a husband as he leaves his newly wedded young bride Padmini in the thick forest with his friend Kapila on their way to Ujjain fare. The girl is completely ruined by an elderly man.English drama. The mother doesn’t care about her son who is striving to become complete through various religious penances and social services. her past lover. Paravasu fails to realize his responsibility as a husband. a cursed Gandharva. failing to understand the feeling of his beloved whom he had strove hard to marry. The young maid is even ignorant of sex. as he does not even satisfy the needs of his newly wedded wife Rani. performed under the title of The Jumbled Heads at the Michigan State University in East Lansing. Yavakri from whom she seeks comfort and solace. The female protagonist Padmini also lacks the responsibility of a beloved mother. and a young man. Girish Karnad’s Hayavadana. He goes to the Kali temple and beheads himself. her own father-in-law Raibhya.

But he guards the women from all this. then the whole family has to suffer. If men fail to perform their duty women become the victims ultimately. If the chief in the family shirks the responsibility. and always hardened. the ruler of the divine .all fail as husbands. she performs sati ignoring her son. or subdued. the inevitable error. often he must be wondered. which mean. The Indians consider man to be the head of the family and responsible for the welfare of all. the offense. (71) The above view of Ruskin is very much in tune with the Indian ethos. Vigneshwara. Siddhivinayaka. like Hayavadana’s mother. In his symbolic and spectacular play Hayavadana. respectively. Thus Padmini. Like the theme of responsibility. Ruskin in his Queens Gardens says as follows: The man in his rough work in the open world must encounter all peril and trial: to him therefore must be the failure. Appanna in Naga-Mandala. Paravasu in The Fire and the Rain. another aspect that one will find highlighted in the plays of Karnad is the belief and faith the Indians have in the Gods and Goddesses. Padmini’s son and Hayavadana who do not have a choice in the matter are left to suffer as a result of the parents’ irresponsible act. he exposes the belief the Indians have in the elephant-headed Gajavadhana. often misled. Devadatta in Hayavadana. leaves her son to the vagaries of fortune in an irresponsible manner. Ganapathi known as Lord of Obstacles and Lord of Wisdom also has epithets like “Adivinayaka. Puru in Yayati.of her husband and his friend. According to Vinod.

Even theatrical performances in India begin after worshipping Ganesha and. accompanied by his musicians: O Elephant – headed Herambha whose flag is victory and who shines like a thousands suns. .139).industry and other affairs.a grandson to a grandfather. and along with it a little bit of sense. Ultimately the elephant – headed Ganesha “fulfils the desires of all. Give the rulers of our country success in all endeavours. He fulfills the desires of all” (2.73). seated on a mouse and decorated with a snake O single – tusked destroyer of incompleteness .139).139) In the city of Dharmapura. Bhagavata sings verses in praise of Ganesha. comely in appearance.” (1. the God who can assure achievement – the remover of obstacles. science . good rains . Devadatta endowed with all the accomplishments expected of a Brahmin youth. the first God to be worshipped. good crop.. O husband of Riddhi and Siddhi. (1.aspects of Shiva.”(18) The Indians have a staunch belief that by worshipping Gajavadhana all their troubles will come to an end: “Unfathomable indeed is the mercy of the elephant headed Ganesha. in Hayavadana.. (2. ruled by King Dharmasheela. prosperity in poetry . a smile to a child.we pay homage to you and start our play. The play ends with a prayer so as to give the rulers of the country …….73) It is on the basis of the hope that Vigneshwara would “remove all hurdles and crowns all endeavours with success. a neigh to a horse” (2.

sadhus with beards – sadhus in saffron. gyrating . . . singing. I’ll sacrifice my two arms to the Goddess Kali.85). Magicians. Frustrated from all sides Hayavadana is advised by Bhagavatha to try the Kali of Mount Chitrakoot as the “Goddess there is famous for being ever–awake to the call of devotees” (1. under water. maharshis.fakirs. rotating. quickwitted. unrivalled in intelligence and the only son of the Revered Brahmin Vidyasagara.fair in colour.81) but of no use. beautiful and vivacious girl Padmini. the Grotto of Our Virgin Mary-I’ve tried them all. under the ground … I’ve covered them all (1. who advises him to “go to Banares and make vow in front of the God there” (1. fell in love for the seventeenth time with an extremely agile. saints and sadhus – sadhus with short hair. Gokarn. This proves the Indians’ blind faith in the Gods and Goddesses.on the spikes. When incompleteness bugs the horse-headed man who wants to attain perfection. sadhus in the altogether – hanging . superstitious belief of the Indians in Gods and Goddess in a humorous.81). in the air. Gaya and Kedarnath not only those but the Dargah of Khwaja Yusuf Baba. Rameshwar. his blind faith in God makes him to swear: “If I ever get her as my wife. inoffensive way.81). Haridwar. To this Hayavadana replies that he had already been to Banares. Hayavadana narrates his pathetic story to Bhagvata. the daughter of the leading merchant in Dharmapura in whose house “the very floor is swept by the Goddess of wealth” (1. Love has blinded him and instead of taking effort to arrange for the marriage.90). I’ll will sacrifice my head to Lord Rudra” (1. Karnad projects the reality of the blind. mendicants.

perform a yagna for seven long years persuading Lord Indra to send showers to their land. Bijjala. moral and ethical facets. Though women in India are denied the emotional. and the wielder of the thunderbolt. Their individuality is shunned in totality and they are deemed to be at the mercy of men folk who dominate them. Karnad expresses the faith the people have in the King of Gods. and Paravasu. In Yayati. the son of Bharadwaja. is killed as he leaves the Linga and believes the liar. women are considered to be the weaker sex. in the same manner without Lord Indra. rituals and penance seem to be meaningless. the eldest son of Yavakri. the king. as long as he clings to the Linga. The people instead of tracing out the causes and effects.Similarly. For nearly ten years. In Tale–Danda also Karnad projects the staunch faith the Indians have in the mythical Lord Shiva. In reality no young girl could tolerate an aged man to be her . who protects Bijjala. Karnad as a humanist has a profound concern for them. it has not rained adequately and drought grips the land. This is also indicative of the fact that the evil forces cannot work inside the shrine of Lord Shiva. Girish Karnad portrays the sufferings undergone by a young girl Chitralekha whose husband Puru sacrifices his youth whole-heartedly but foolishly for the sake of his father. also devotes seven years of his life to please the same God through fire sacrifice. goes for ten years penance in order to get blessings from Indra. Without rains. Right from the days of Adam and Eve. Yavakri. Karnad has vividly portrayed the Indians who seek refuge at the feet of Gods and Goddesses. in the The Fire and the Rain. the Lord of Rains. lands lose their fertility. the King. One who is sincerely dedicated to the service of Shiva can never be unsafe.

Her father-in-law. Failing to realise the value of time. fails to think about the life of the young maiden and he just consoles her and asks her not to shed tears as she is sensible. Having no alternative choice. she doesn’t have any other alternative than to depend on him. Then he orders she should follow him (Puru). He even advises her to behave as the daughter-in-law of the Bharatha family. she pleads with her husband to reconsider his decision but he doesn’t pay heed to her words. Chitraleka is unable to tolerate this and when she raises her voice. he promises his daughter-in-law that he will not keep Puru’s youth for many years. She too is in the same pathetic situation. her father-in-law controls her. They were not even given the liberty to express their feelings.husband. in spite of her being the daughter-in-law of the Bharatha family. whether it is home or forest. He compels her to accept the old Puru and for that sacrifice. Being an Indian. is not an exception. she decides to leave the Kingdom and he interrogates her as to why she married and whether she has forgotten the pledges that were taken at the marriage with fire-God as witness. Yayati compels his . She is absolutely stunned and scared to see the face of old Puru and yells at him to go away and not to come near her or touch her. she is compelled to tolerate all the evil deeds. Such a situation as this embodies the pathetic state of Indian women. Like most women in India. a self centered person. as he will return it as soon as his target is achieved. Even Chitralekha. So. the Bharatha family will be obliged to her. The fate of Indian women in ancient days was such that they were confined within the four walls. When the young maid bluntly refuses. he exercises his power both as father-in-law and King and orders her to obey him.

Najib’s politicking proves more effective than the stepmother’s affection. how idealistic. Despite his claim that he has never extended comparable love to anyone else. It’s become a kitchen of death. The dramatist establishes the concept that the plight of the Indian women is such that they are doomed to be always at the mercy of the men folk. with certain exceptions. In a male dominating society.” (10.204) On the other hand. How glorious you were then. the stepmother plays the role of a composite mother preceptor figure. Through the mythical story. Look at your kingdom now. In Tughlaq. “It’s only seven years ago that you came to the throne. She repeatedly counsels him to exercise restraint over his excessive desire for power and indulgence in violence. Her anxiety over his health and concern for his well-being speak volumes for her affection. till the present. most women do not have any other alternative than to commit suicide. she apparently keeps the totally estranged Muhammad humanly related. Chitralekha is not an individual. but a representative of the early twentieth century Indian woman. the situation has remained the same. Unable to tolerate . Karnad authentically reveals the plight of ancient Indian women in the male dominating society.daughter-in-law to rise above petty considerations and therefore the only solution for her is to commit suicide. She is like a delicate fragile thread. Najib tries to abet his contrary tendencies. how full of hopes. Right from the ancient days. She pleads with Muhammad and says. her affection for Muhammad remains genuine throughout.

Devadatta. she seeks the assistance of Barani. it remains intact and is to be suffered. Padmini. a gentle scholar. Ultimately the two families were brought together by the toll of marriage bells.205). In Hayavadana. realizes that Devadatta “Can’t bear a bitter word or an evil thought”. but Padmini is “fast as lightening – and sharp” (1. Tughlaq has turned out to be a monster to be accepted as fate: what cannot be changed must be tolerated. calls her as an adulteress and orders “I want her stoned to death publicly tomorrow morning” (10. But Tughlaq becomes furious. an ironsmith and figure of impressive physical stature acting as a matchmaker.90). . Thus Tughlaq appears to be a Machiavellian ruler perpetuating his view and subduing women in all aspects. A marriage in the Indian context is not something that takes place between two individuals but something that brings two families together. As he too proves helpless she has Najib assassinated. who is a symbol of wisdom imbibed through history. he is unable to do anything and so he is committed to obtain her in marriage for his dear friend Devadatta. Karnad vividly portrays that most Indian women are not given the privilege to act on their own or reveal their anxieties or their feelings and if they do. if not eliminated. Though Kapila realizes that Padmini needs a man of steel. they are to face drastic consequences. inevitably like fate” (2). But as Nayak comments that “the monster in Muhammad cannot be eliminated by him or by others.this. Bhagavata also describes the marriage of Devadatta and Padmini as two families coming together. Karnad exposes how women are exploited in the family. falls in love with a beautiful and vivacious girl. His friend Kapila.

. their marriage takes place leading to the utter failure of their life. as the two families decide. wages a war against the patriarchal order of command and ultimately she too becomes a prey to the tyranny of the patriarchal society. which are indispensable to the growth of her personality. who is a rich adulterous youth. This helpless Indian village girl simply stands perplexed. unable even to weep. Appanna is involved in an extra-martial relationship and has lost interest in his dutiful. though an enchanting woman. For her. obedient. entertainment and freedom. “Well then. enjoyment. Though Kapila realizes that Devadatta is not a suitable partner for Padmini. the position of Rani is the same. leaving her lonely in the house. because it offers her salvation through her service to her husband. She is a simple and ignorant girl. quiescent wife and goes gallivanting. I’ll be back tomorrow at noon. goes out every night just uttering.Women in India are taken for granted as men have failed to realize that she too has feelings and emotions. She has grown physically but not mentally. chastity is superior and preferable to life itself. imprisoning his wife at home. I shall eat and go” (1. After marriage. But her husband. She lives with her parents until she reaches womanhood.27). It is the undeniable reality that Indian culture considers marriage to be the supreme blessing for a woman. Padmini. In Naga-Mandala. She is exploited simply because she is a woman and no one cares to ask for her consent. she is denied love. But. she goes to live in the village house with her husband Appanna. Keep my lunch ready. Karnad portrays the way marriages are fixed in India.

expects his wife to serve him as a robot with absolute obedience. she is inescapably trapped. and locks it from outside and goes away. He exercises absolute supremacy over her and arrogates to himself the power of spending the night with other women without any qualms of conscience. which are indispensable for the growth and the sustenance of human mind. finds it locked. No one will bother you!” (1. was once loved . Her husband Appanna who comes the next morning warns her against idle chatting and orders. Rani looks at him nonplussed.28). his wife. “She runs to the door. Rani is the very image of an ideal Indian woman. Her fateful situation remains the same everyday. Paravasu. He pays no attention to her.”(21) Rani is allowed only to cook lunch for him. A newly wedded Indian bride is left in the house. He is gone” (1. He. while he enjoys in the arms of his concubine. “Listen. She is just reduced to the status of a housemaid and there is no choice of freedom for her. he retorts. Evam Indrajit. the son of Raibhya. This solitary confinement of Rani indirectly results in the inhibition of women’s talent for housework and in the negation of women’s right for enlightenment and enjoyment. “What is there to be scared of? Just keep to yourself. His attitude to women reminds us of Sircar’s play. Vishakha.28). shuts the door.demure. The empty house Rani is locked in symbolizes the chain of restrictions placed round women.(fumbling for words) Listen – I feel – frightened – alone at night” (1. pushes it. with not even the freedom and courage to express her fear of loneliness. He mercilessly keeps her starved of affection and love. a great sage and the chief priest. She is one among the passive victims of a male dominant society while her husband Appanna is a very dominating and cruel husband who exercises absolute supremacy over his innocent and naïve spouse. which denies even her legitimate rights and hinders her natural growth even today. unquestioning and uncomplaining. “Do as you are told. goes out. She struggles for words and when she hesitantly says. Men can do what they like but women must be obedient.27). peers out of the barred window. you understand“ (1. where it is said that “Girls must follow the rules. In The Fire and the Rain.28). is conducting a fire sacrifice for seven long years in the King’s Palace in order to propitiate Lord Indra. the God of rains. Rani has to remain locked all alone in her house throughout the nights. She has neither voice nor choice of her own.Karnad through Rani portrays another problem faced by Indian women. as a male chauvinist.

rootlessness and humiliation reveal the pangs of such pathetic women in the modern world. Maya has rightly said. And he did.by his cousin Yavakri. her husband realizing that his newly wedded wife didn’t wish to marry him. “Vishakha is left like the drought-hit land. Then on the first day of the second year of their marriage. Her father-in-law. the girl’s father felt relieved. Exactly for one year (1. she urges Yavakri to have sex with her.16).” (1. he says that he will make her “happy for a year. In order to take revenge upon the Brahmanic society. but when he left for the forest to seek enlightenment. Ultimately she becomes a prey to Yavakri who seduces her just to take revenge against her father-in-law and her husband. Vishakha feels very lonely and “become[s] dry like tender. Ready to burn into flames at a breath. Though the girl “didn’t want to” marry Paravasu. suffering the pangs of loveless marriage like most women in contemporary society. made use of the opportunity and married his daughter to Paravasu. she acquiesces herself to the reality of her helpless situation and tells her father: “but that did’nt matter”(1. But in all those seven years he never came back. he puts an end to this and just leaves her accepting the invitation from the King to be the Chief Priest. dried up without a drop of love” (71).16). The site of the fire sacrifice is only a couple of hours away from his home. She is a lonely figure. the great sage Raibhya. boredom. also seduces her in order to gratify his lust. He plunged her into a kind of bliss and made her feel heavenly. . lovelessness. Through Vishakha. On the night of the wedding. who is disgusted. Her loneliness. Finally she is left without anybody even to share her agonies with.16) The happy married life of this helpless woman lasts just for a year.

quarrel among themselves and make their life miserable. Taught to repress her own desires and trained to practice self-effacement. servile and silent. So. and acquire voice were scared of the wide. unequal demands made by the other are stillborn and reborn. and gratifying the sexual needs of their husbands. everyone irrespective of socio-economic status is exploited and oppressed. bearing and rearing children. Literature is replete with examples of women who meet with destruction because they try to cross the threshold. Men are content with their power in the house. crushed. They do not try to eradicate the morbid culture that led to the pathetic state. unfulfilled desires and aspirations. while women are content with their power on children and daughter-in-law. they fail to realize the reality. Therefore when she speaks.both at home and in the society. But a large number of them remain committed. animalistic devouring world outside and beat an undignified retreat to get inside the threshold. woman has come to articulate a male constructed definition. Those who happened to cross so. Elements of discontent. Whereas in the case of men those who are devoid of power and value are exploited and oppressed in the society. Men and women imbibe the exploitative and oppressive culture and perpetuate it. She is not expected to go out and perform. . dark. but efficiently lurk around the threshold supporting the male endeavor. exploited and humiliated. in the case of women. passive.suppressed. the playwright shows the plight of most Indian women in a male dominating society. They blame one another. it is patriarchy that speaks through her. which she has internalized.

Though Karnad’s women are full of desires and dreams. is quite apt here. Women bear and bring up children.64).” (431) Indian society. none has a genuine interest in the welfare of the woman. “Get in (to my hair). Subash Chandran’s comment that “it reveals the great sacrificial role played by the women in our familial and hence cultural survival” (195). She is considered inferior and not fit to be independent. Now stay there. Ambedkar has pointed out that “woman under the laws of Manu is subject to corporal punishment and Manu allows the husband the right to beat his wife. will you?”(2. Let me get used to you. Women are ill treated and tortured by their husbands and in-laws for various reasons. Women are oppressed and exploited more than men in our society and it remains culturally patriarchal in spite of democracy. It is rather a veiled form of male dominance under the pretext of protecting her. they cannot lead a life of their choice happily because they are denied their right to live with a man of their . do all the household work and some of them do jobs additionally. Her father protects her in childhood. denies women’s education and thus mental growth. which has accepted the laws of Manu. women are allowed to be educated so that they become sophisticated slaves.Karnad is particularly provoked by gender discrimination in Indian society. You don’t know how heavy you are. Manu says women have no right to study the Vedas. And lie still. In Naga-Mandala Rani volunteers to bear the burden and invites the cobra. Are you safely in there? Good. husband in middle age and children in old age. But in modern India. This is a reality.

plainly tells her son. “What am I to do? Do you think your father ever listens to me?” (1. told to mind their own business or worse still. In Tale–Danda.2. She has to wail and cry and shed tears to persuade Bijjala to leave sharana alone. the Queen. He turns his bad temper on me and I can’t take it any longer” (1. Rambhavati.they are docile. that’s all. self-effacing. When Sovideva accuses her of being under the spell of the sharana’s mystic–saint leader Basavanna. when King Bijjala’s son Sovideva is raging against the Sharanas who have made a fool of him in the treasury episode. honoring their husbands even under the most unpleasant circumstances. rejected and packed off to their parents. “Do as you wish. But the deep-rooted patriarchal attitude makes him feel superior and behave in a rude manner. She might be the queen of the kingdom but the reality is that she is no better than any other servant of the palace as far as the King is concerned. He is fond of her and cares for her.8). According to Subash Chandra: Her very existence is defined and concretized with reference to her husband. There is hardly a hint of equality in the husband – wife relationship.8). shouted at. Indian housewives are quite submissive. Rambhavti seems to be devoid of a self or a will of her own. Karnad’s women characters are expectedly stereotypical. she says.2. It is not that he does not love her. (296) .choice. faithful. Her not minding her inferiorized position is the outcome of the centuries of internalization of the patriarchal postulate by women in society. Just don’t upset your father.

Sovideva neglects his wife. the voiceless woman. frigid bitch though she is” (3. Sovideva’s wife also remains in the same situation.. But even in this condition Bijjala remains brusque with her. Her husband unceremoniously brushes aside her fears and objections though she justifies them as follows: Till the other day our daughter ran around bare foot. she willingly provides emotional succor to the suffering and tormented Bijjala when her son Sovideva incarcerates him and his cohorts.Though she is scolded and berated for interference in the father–son antagonism. And see our Queen again! She is our Queen after all. confused and in dire need of help after beheading Madhuvarasa and Haralayya. and does not bother to bring her back. Women are valued not because she is a human being but only for her functional utility. Sovideva answers: “Yes. She was told it was unclean to touch any leather except deer. The most important event in the play is the marriage between a Brahmin’s daughter and a cobbler’s son. Indrani.skin ? How can she start skinning dead buffaloes tomorrow ? Or tan leather? ------------------- . who wantonly revels in the arms of a prostitute.11. sends her to her parents. Lalitamba points to the practical problems besetting the alliance of a Brahmin girl with a cobbler boy. But Sovideva’s wife.When Manchanna says to Sovideva that the queen’s “support may come in handy”.80). She does not interfere with her husband’s matter. The girls mother Lalitamba’s reluctance to the marriage is not given due importance because it is her husband Madhuvarasa’s decision which matters. acquires value when Sovideva is scared.

She is so … so … tender. In the dichotomy between man and woman the former holds a superior position. Gundanna reveals that she has come four times since the previous day but Jagadeva haughtily says. she will attend to her mother– in– law but Jagadeva forgets his responsibility towards his own mother.5. Women’s slavery leaves men free to pursue their wishes. Jagadeva’s wife repeatedly comes to meet her husband to inform him about his mother’s illness. His refusal to meet her is emblematic of the voicelessness of women even among the sharana’s.----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------It’s my child’s life! She gets a splitting headache if she so much as smells burning camphor. without voice.5.” (3. She knows I have sworn not to look upon a woman’s face till we have achieved our goal… She has to attend to her mother – in – law. Women. without protesting. Of course.9. “I can’t see her.71 – 72) In patriarchy. I said hold your tongue” (2.40 – 41) In response to this the man thunderingly says. without power and even without a consciousness of their . Thus he acts as the representative of the stereotypical male in putting the women’s voice under the erasure. Woman is treated as a worm that can be trampled upon.41). controlling the subordinate. Thus the play depicts the condition of Indian women in the traditional Indian society. “Woman. man commands and it is woman’s duty to obey silently. until their death remains the marginalized and suppressed group. Tell her to go away. (2.

Chastity is a word. But she is denied every privilege that a man enjoys. Yayati. Through the character of Padmini in Hayavadana. In a male dominant society. Karnad’s plays mostly have their origin in Indian myths and so the Indian situations and cultural norms are prevalent in his plays. Yayati’s first wife Devayani. The real crux of the problem is that society in its present form will never accept it. This. Women’s position in the society is static. ‘Chastity’ and ‘loyalty’ are concepts limited to . As a normal young wife. the protagonist of the play. dumb and they are neither able to write. Karnad visualizes another problem faced by Indian women. glorifying the women characters that treat them as slaves and this tradition is being observed faithfully. becomes furious and brings the curse of old age on him. This reduces her to a non-living commodity. Dodiya has pointed out that “No Indian woman will accept to be with other man” (49). Chitralekha wishes to bear a child. but then realizing the blunder she commits suicide. No Indian woman would tolerate to see her husband with some other woman. Yayati is about an ancient myth from the Mahabharat. The dramatist portrays the problems faced by the women in the Indian family.energy. under some niceties of dharma. she should not be suppressed or dominated. on seeing her husband with a co-wife. Puru’s wife Chitralekha. forced. Sharmistha. Extra-marital enjoyment is a taboo only for women even in this age of women’s enlightenment and liberation and not for men. is unable to prevent it. Jayadipsingh K. it is not the fate of Chitralekha alone but of all women. Though men commit the worst kinds of sexual crimes. mute. marries a lowborn girl. people blame only the women. in her fit of anguish she even wishes to offer herself to Yayati. But Karnad’s view is that woman being the “Sakthi”. the words of the women do not have any value. in reality. speak or even see the truth. So. Women are expected to do the household work and satisfy her husband’s sexual desire. There has been enough literature-oral and written. though she opposes her husband exchanging his youth for the old age of his father. confined exclusively to women only.peripheral position in society.

Every mother along with father and other elders enslaves her daughter to patriarchy by teaching her verbally and non-verbally that chastity is more important than life and that its loss. In Indian mythology we have examples of women characters. Sheelavati and so on. there is not any hard and fast rule for men folk. Celia refuses to do so. Carvina has a very beautiful wife called Celia. This shows that the concept of chastity is not merely enforced by patriarchy but exists in women as an internalized virtue having been hammered into their psyche for long. which brings an unbearable social stigma.women alone. In Ben Jonson’s Volpone there is an incident similar to that in Naga-Mandala. But. she is not only looked down upon but also culturally excommunicated. It is clear that the concept of chastity is gender biased and that women care more for chastity than men. He locks her in when he goes out. The Ramayana in which Sita undergoes the fire ordeal to prove her chastity to Rama has been a cultural guide to Indians for more than two thousand years. When he sends her to sleep with Volpone in order to inherit his property. is worse than death. If any brave woman violates these values. According to the Indian tradition. a woman should lead a chaste life until her death and it is a great evil for her to cohabit with a man other than her own husband. who symbolize chaste womanhood. namely Sita. Many women lose their lives to protect their chastity and many other women bear in silence all the oppression and violence of their sadistic husbands. The women . Tara. Chastity is such a value invented by patriarchal culture and it is one of the most powerful yet invisible cultural fetters that it has enslaved women for ages since the dawn of patriarchy. Savitri.

So. when Kapila repeats his argument. No man in India would tolerate his wife having relationship with another man.do not even have the freedom to talk with other men and express their feelings and emotions. Padmini becomes frightened.106) The dramatist portrays the mind of the Indian woman and the culture in which she is living. “ Now do as I tell you. seeing the plight of the grief–stricken maid becomes compassionate and says to her. At first the three are elated by their revival but this euphoria is short lived and replaced by confusion as to who is the husband of Padmini. Kapila sacrifices his head too. So Devadatta dejected by his wife’s unconcealed amorous attraction for his friend follows the way of the men folk in India and unable to control himself. in a sudden outburst of emotion.” (1.102). The reality is that the people by talking ill of him would spoil his reputation. Attach them to their bodies and then press that sword on their necks. They’ll come back alive” (1. the primordial deity. as he likes to tell himself. She was in no position to brook any delay and in a fit of excitement she fixes the head onto the wrong bodies. The young maid Padmini in Hayavadana is travelling with her jealous husband Devadatta and his friend Kapila and the husband unable to bear the capricious actions of his wife beheads himself with his sword at the altar of the Goddess Kali. Kali. His friend Kapila becomes impatient after waiting for his friend and so goes to the Kali temple and he gets terrified to see his friend’s severed head before Kali. you have to be my wife. A sense of mortification arising out of his wife’s faithlessness and unconcealed amorous attraction for his friend. Put these heads back properly. Kapila now thinks he is on a safe wicket and so he demands that Padmini must come home with him: “I have Devadatta’s body now so. but only to avert the possible ignominy. she seeks refuge in the arms of the man with Devadatta’s head since he is the rightful . Padmini too is scared only of the scandal and finding herself in the unenviable position and the chilling sight of the headless bodies in the darkness of the temple prepares to kill herself. decides to sacrifice his head to Kali. he chooses this extreme and disastrous end. not out of his love for his friend. the circumstances compel her to have affinity towards Kapila’s strong body and Devadatta’s clever head. Though Padmini is a dutiful wife to Devadatta.

the dramatist reinforces the Indian concept of marriage and one woman for one man. and wanting both. but Kapila insists on her to go back to Devadatta saying.110). Go. But due to societal compulsions she is forced to embrace only one at a time. brains and muscles.”(2. so is the head among human limbs” (2. Therefore the man with Devadatta’s head is indeed Devadatta and he is the rightful husband of Padmini. Padmini lives with her perfect man. Devadatta returns from the Ujjain fair with dolls.113) Through this episode the dramatist portrays her as a woman torn between two ideals. for a short period. (2.125) Through this episode. Devadatta and Padmini! Devadatta and Padmini! A pair coupled with the holy fire as the witness. she gets disillusioned when the transposed Devadatta reverts to his original Brahmin shape and therefore she forces her husband to go to Ujjain fair to purchase new dolls because “it’s unlucky to keep torn dolls at home“ (2. she leaves for the forest with her child in her arms seeking the embrace of Kapila. I beg of you. Though. No salvation – So go. Padmini and Devadatta are overjoyed by the verdict and Devadatta scores a point over Kapila and in accordance with Reeta Sondhi’s comment. he gets wild and goes to Kapila’s place with sword in one . but when he comes to know of Padmini meeting Kapila. Padmini “hankers for the virile body of her husband’s friend Kapila a black Smith” (53). no peace.I have no place there. she feels happy to have her “fabulous body – fabulous brain – fabulous Devadatta. He is your husband – the father of this child. When he has gone away.120).husband of Padmini according to the verdict passed by Bhagavata: “As the heavenly Kalpa Vriksha is supreme among trees.

embraced and died. The two men will not accept each other when it comes to sharing the wife and therefore they kill each other. “No grounds for friendship now.” (2.hand and dolls in the other. But an Indian playwright like Girish Karnad cannot make a Padmini walk out to choose a life of her choice. Then a large funeral pyre is made for the bodies of Devadatta and Kapila. and Padmini performs sati jumping into it expressing her grief and helplessness thus: . We must fight like lions and kill like cobras” (2. which is more close to reality. They cannot live like the Pandavas and Draupadi in the Mahabharata because they are not epic characters. wives who dedicate their whole existence to the service of their husbands.130). lived. They talk of their transformation and both of them acknowledge their love for Padmini. Padmini’s extra marital relationship with Kapila or accepting Kapila.130). but characters in legend. fought. perhaps they would have been alive yet. She herself utters: “If I’d said . Finally Devadatta says. A Norwegian playwright like Henrick Ibsen can write a play A Doll’s House with the heroine walking out of her family. But I couldn’t say it .I couldn’t say. which are personifications of abstract ideas. ‘Yes’” (2. as India is known for pativritas. as her second husband will threaten the order of a society well entrenched in conservative patriarchal norms. No question of mercy. ‘Yes. I’ll live with you both’. Both of them realize that they could not live together with Padmini and therefore they “burned.130) In fact Padmini is fascinated towards both of them but a civilized society with a moral code will not accept such a woman.

Let’s be together –like brother and sister. He then let’s her drop” (Epilogue 58). is invested with such a surfeit of good qualities that it gives use to the unworthy suspicion that she may be Karnad’s equivalent of the noble savage” (12) is quite apt as she herself says the following in a serious voice: Arvasu. But her husband and her brother do not understand the truth and out of suspicion kill her: “[…] the brother knocks Arvasu down and pins him to the ground. (2. Nittilai proves to be an Indian woman as she feels that in no circumstances she should spoil the reputation of her husband.131) Thus ends the sad story of the pathetic Indian woman Padmini. due to fate. it is totally unacceptable for a married woman to be with another man. Chandrasekar’s compliment of Nittilai as “the young hunter girl. You haven’t left me even that little consolation. she comes running away from her husband. you must have your joke even now. But when she learns the problems of her past lover Arvasu.like lovers or husband and wife. .Kali.”(3. You marry any girl you like. I don’t want to disgrace him further. The husband pulls out a knife. Mother of all Nature. marries the man her elders choose for her. Other woman can die praying that they should get the same husband in all the lives to come. when I say we should go together – I don’t mean we have to live together. family and everything only to lend a helping hand to him. I have been vicious enough to my husband. Nittilai in The Fire and the Rain. grabs Nittilai by her hair and slashes her throat in one swift motion.42) In India.

She does this unknowingly. According to Jaganmohana Chari men are favored because “ the concept of ritualistic purity of the metaphysical tradition has structured the hierarchical vertical line-up of gods at the top. men below and women still underneath.52) . When he comes to know that she has become pregnant. which is favorable to men. did you? And you think I’ll let you get away with that? You shame in front of the whole village. and yet you managed to find a lover! Tell me who it is. you darken my face. But the man shouts. the young helpless maid pleads that she is innocent.This is very much in tune with the ethos of a society. kicks and curses her.” (124) The play exposes male chauvinism and the oppression of women and the great injustice done to them by men and patriarchal culture. He yells at her. Karnad questions the gender-based justice. Who did you go to with your sari off?” (2. To this. As a male chauvinist. which cannot accept a woman being in love with two men at one and the same time. But Appanna ignores Rani and visits his concubine regularly without any sense of shame. which follows his oral instructions.52). the cobra. In Naga-Mandala. Just pumped air into it. Naga. takes the shape of Appanna. visits Rani during the night and makes love to her. “I locked you in. he is infuriated and he pushes. You haven’t? And yet you have a bloated tummy. he has utter contempt for his wife. The protagonist Appanna treats his wife Rani as if she were a non-human thing without any feeling and a robot-cook. you Slut’-(2.

He finally makes her suffer the humiliation of being questioned by the village panchayat comprising the elders of the village.He is unable to stand the shame that she has caused him. Though men commit the worst sexual crimes. an old woman. Appanna’s violent reaction to his wife’s infidelity does not make him consider for a moment his own infidelity towards her. which escapes into the anthill. Afraid of the consequences of this horrible mess she pours the magical potion into the anthill in which lives a King Cobra. Her husband who accuses her of infidelity torments Rani. Then he drags her out and tries to throw a huge stone to smash her illegitimate child to be born. The scene of Rani’s trial reminds us of Sita’s trial in the Ramayana. which emphasizes loyalty of a woman to her husband but does not question the frailty of a man. Rani at once escapes into the house and locks the door.36). He swears that he will abort the bastard. At that moment. to prove her chastity. The aphrodisiac potion works on the Naga and he turns into her lover. Naga . She undergoes Agni pariksha to prove her chastity. Kurudavva. Rani finds herself in a similar situation like Sita who has to pass the test of fire. detects the presence of Rani in the locked room. Appanna throws the stone on the snake. She sympathizes with her and sensing the seriousness of her problems offers her some roots with pseudo – magical powers and says. the cobra comes out and hisses loudly. “Feed him this larger piece of root” (1. only women are accused of violating the moral codes of society. Karnad here exposes the patriarchal moral code. which instantly turns red. Following her advice and instructions she prepares the paste of this magical root and pours into the curry.

The husband comes to know of her secret eventually and accuses her of infidelity. Appanna. The young maid Vishakha in The Fire and the Rain is trapped by her own family members and their relatives. in order to prove her innocence. The terms ‘pativrita’. (152) The treatment meted out to Rani throws light on the mindset of the patriarchal society which has not changed significantly even in the contemporary times. his daughter-in-law. pull the cobra out. . But as instructed by Naga. That is. A man is permitted to keep as many wives or mistresses as he wishes. most dreadful option. who is the patriarch of the family.begins to visit Rani in the shape of her husband in the nights and makes love to her. When Appanna neglects his newly wedded child-like wife and commits adultery no question of morality is raised. Rani becomes pregnant and she thinks she has conceived for her husband. The oath she has to take before the panchayat is either holding a redhot iron in the hand or plunging the hand in boiling oil. but women are forbidden to such a privilege in the contemporary society. Jaganmohana Chari points out that This vulgar display of power instead of love and treating woman as a disposable object accrues to him owing to the post colonialist ethos and mystique of tradition. is lustful and gets his lust fulfilled through Vishakha. she chooses the snake ordeal. Raibhya. take her oath by the cobra and speak the truth. the father-in-law. she should put her hand into the anthill. ‘loyalty’ and ‘chastity’ are terms restricted exclusively to women in India to pin them down under male domination. But Rani is put to test in the presence of the village elders.

He even calls her as a whore forgetting that he himself has committed the shameful. the external world comprises the friends.But when the young girl becomes a victim of the ascetic Yavakri. the father-in-law forgetting his shameful act. Karnad. “Why are you so filthy? You look like a buffalo that’s been rolling in mud” (1. In Karnad’s plays. Karnad has exhibited two worlds -. Woman in a traditional society is not even permitted to express her feelings of love to another man. The internal world is that of the husband and the wife. In the three plays. beats her and kicks her. Only in a fit of jealousy. and tortured by man” (230). in his plays. misbehaved with. Appanna tries to shame Rani in public and Parvasu leaves the sacrifice incomplete and comes looking for revenge. illegitimate act. She is accused and punished whereas men doing the same crime escape from the accusation and punishment. The husbands try to exert their monopoly over their wives in various ways and try to retain their hold over them and if they fail.internal and external. “In Karnad’s plays. she has to seal her heart within herself like a body within a grave. they get emotionally charged and destructive. woman has a precarious position. He then grabs her by hair. Choudhury has aptly commented. The Fire and the Rain and the Naga-Mandala. brothers.19). the one who suffers for the choices and actions of others is . father and even concubines. has portrayed the harsh and realistic situation faced by women in India. Devadatta kills himself. namely Hayavadana. She is dominated. asks his daughter-in-law. The wife is isolated and kept aloof from the external world.

he is unable to be self-centered and therefore he has to cremate the body of Yavakri. she is the only soul who has to bear the burden of her husband’s anger against his heredity. as her lover Arvasu does not come in time to meet the elders who are waiting for him under the banyan tree. analogous to her position in the Hindu society. to bring their affair to an end. Rani has become a passive sufferer in a fit of circumstances that are beyond her. Hardly does she step into her husband’s palace as a bride before her husband barters his youth for his father’s old age. As Ramachandran has pointed out that women are …. suffering mutely in the background the consequences of the action of her husband or lover or son. Padmini in Hayavadana is also a victim of the forces that she can neither control nor understand.always a woman. Arvasu comes to know that Nittilai is to be married in the next . Nittilai of The Fire and the Rain. But Nittilai’s brother does not pay heed to his words. even in terms of space on the stage. Similarly in Naga-Mandala. the denial of the same and the consequent frustration leads her to a tragic end. She has to undergo barbaric ordeals and through this Karnad makes a severe indictment of the male dominated Hindu society. Though she yearns for a complete man as a husband. As Arvasu is stung by conscience. marginalized. a hunter girl. she never occupies the center stage.(28) Though Chitralekha in Yayati is almost a minor character. Unlike Sophocles’ Antigone or Kalidasa’s Shakuntala. and he grabs him by the scroll of his neck. and suicide is the only recourse left to her. Rani has been portrayed as a helpless woman shut up in an old and huge house for most part of the day and the night. also suffers a lot.

Rani in NagaMandala and Nittilai and Vishakha in The Fire and the Rain are the passive and stereotypical sufferers who according to Ramachandran are “Caught up in a whirlpool of Hindu patriarchy and are sucked down helplessly. She gives Rani the piece of a root. Shall I serve him this? That women is blind.34). Though Arvasu is not at fault. he stumbles back home. And watch the results. As it turns red and looks sinister she dared not pour it into the curry. So. Once he smells you he won’t go sniffing after that bitch” (1.couple of days. this poisonous red? And then – even if he does’nt see it – how do I know it is not dangerous? Suppose something happens to my husband ? What will my fate be? That little piece made him ill. the women are truly affectionate towards them. When Appanna comes as usual for his lunch. She exclaims: Oh my God! What horrible mess is this? Blood.” (29) Though men in India ill-treat their wives. Rani in Naga-Mandala is so innocent that she is completely unaware of sex. saying. “Take it! Grind it into a nice paste and feed it to your husband. which was given to her by a mendicant.37) . Who knows …. Thus Padmini in Hayavadana. Kurudavva feels very much concerned for Rani’s miserable plight. Rani mixes the paste of the aphrodisiac root in the curry. Perhaps Poison. How could he possibly not see this boiling blood.? (1. The old lady Kurudavva has been the best friend of Appanna’s mother. his actions lead Nittilai to marry someone else. but he is’nt.

Rani is a typical wife who does not want to cause any harm to her husband though he ill-treats her. She says. He. As Raymond Williams has said. all the characters of Karnad are greatly influenced by the society. The society doesn’t consider this as a matter of concern at all. thinks he has the right to do whatever he likes and feels he is right. Appanna as a typical husband punishes her severely even for a small thing like her going out though she has been serving him without any grudge since he has brought her home. He is insensitive to the feelings of others. Karnad’s characters are portrayed as prisoners who are unable to escape from their miserable existence.6). as a male chauvinist. Tennessee Williams’s . The picture of modern man portrayed in contemporary literature is that of an individual tormented and haunted by the established conventions of society and religion. The ethos of the Indian society do not permit any violation of female chastity and loyalty to their husbands in their pre as well as post marital phases that Nittilai in The Fire and the Rain doesn’t permit her lover even to touch her. Until then the girl is not supposed to touch her husband to be. People live in wretched unhappiness and this seems to be the largest mystery of human existence.In a fit of dilemma she throws it into the anthill in front of the house. Karnad thus vividly portrays the customs followed exclusively by women in India. But for women in India their husbands are everything though their husbands neglect them and go in search of other women. “ Every aspect of personal life is radically affected by the quality of the general life”(584). “Not until we’re married. That’s our custom” (1. Suspecting her. her husband slaps her so hard that she falls unconscious on the floor.

Realistic situations form the warp and woof of all literature. is quite true regarding the characters of Karnad. Karnad’s mark of genius is quite evident from his portrayal of real characters in real situations. and their depiction in depth and variety proves to be the mark of genius. CHAPTER III TREATMENT OF REALITY : EVIL . “we’re all sentenced to solitary confinement inside our own skins”(7).comment.

an offshoot of the Hindu myth associated with the origin of four Varnas – Brahmins. They look down upon the servants and workers and exploit them. Gross atrocities are committed on Sudras and Panchamas by the so-called high-class people even now in the modern age of democracy. The Panchamas are in a pathetic situation and as they are considered to be untouchables. including an inter-caste marriage. teachers.” (45) The gradation of laborers prevents them from being united and makes them easily exploitable. “India is not able to lead the other nations on account of the divisive effect of the system” (27-29). caste and religion remain even today as two crucial evils that plague the nation in all spheres of life. The caste system. The playwright deals with the social evil of casteism that eats into the vitals of the social fabric of India. good and bad. Caste system has given the Brahmins and other high caste people a privileged position and they have never tolerated any violation. poets. “Caste system is not merely a division of laborers – which is quite different from division of labour–it is an hierarchy in which the division of laborers are graded one above the other. successfully exposes the unavoidable consequences of this undesirable system. This is the most inhuman practice of the Hindu culture. but the evil in the society causes a lot of havoc in the life of each and every individual. which is considered as an insult to the higher-class people. there are four major social classes. ministers).Literature is highly moralistic in nature and it shows what is right and wrong. This condition has not changed till now. According to one of the great epics of India. has become a very important phenomenon of evil in the Indian society. The evil in an individual destroys his happiness and that of others with whom he comes into contact. The moral goodness possessed by an individual elevates him to the level of a noble human being and the evil in him drags him to the level of a beast. each and every individual must understand the evil within him and in the society and must guard against its corrupting influence. Shudras (craftsmen) and Panchamas (menial workers). they are oppressed and exploited. arms. Hence. the Mahabharata. In India. a Brahmin may compel a Sudra to do servile jobs and he is given the privilege even to punish him if he reads the Vedas. Karnad. Kshatriyas. According to Ambedkar. They are Brahmins (priests. The people of higher castes enjoy several privileges at the cost of the people of lower castes. Ramakrishna opines. high and low. in his play Tale–Danda. thighs and feet respectively of Brahma. Kshatriyas (Kings and warriors). the evil will gain complete mastery over him. Vaishyas and Shudras issuing forth into this world from the mouth. Regarding casteism. otherwise. Vaishyas (tradesmen). According to Manusastra. The lower class people accept their humiliation as a way of life and this is psycho- .

which took place in Jaitsar. tied around the Durga temple and beaten with sticks all the time by the upper caste men. anger and displeasure of the orthodox community which came down heavily on them. In the modern age also. upper caste-lower caste. mystics and social revolutionaries who intended to awaken the society against the age-old evil practices of caste system. One man even pushed hard a stick into her genitals. So. Unable to bear the heinous torture. There are many Prakash Kaurs who end their life tragically. Simply because she was a lowborn.culturally programmed. she finally died. how to think and. Finally the movement ended in terror and slaughter. father-son. she was subjected to such inhuman treatment. A situation like this leads man to lose sight of humanity and as Steiner says. Karnad deals with one of the most sensitive issues of all times–the ugly face of castesystem of India that was in the past hailed as an ideal one. when the Mandir and Mandal movement was in full swing in India. This movement accentuated Karnad to mould his theme of Tale-Danda so as to serve his present needs. Aryan-non-Aryan. Hot water and kerosene were poured into her mouth.. in Tale-Danda.”(30) The Hindu society is based on the Varnashrama system and this system has been in existence for more than two thousand years resulting in the degradation and exploitation of half the society. her face was blackened and she was paraded on a donkey in the market. They do not raise their voice even if they are paid low. Karnad highlights the problem of Varna system through Bhakti movement. a village of Rajasthan. In order to save the boy. always privileging the first in each pair. etc. Our society comprises a few people who are clever enough to be superior to a vast majority of people who are ill fated to be inferior. Then her head was tonsured. Because of their committed and constant opposition to the caste system they had to face humiliation. we fail to realize that superiority and inferiority have been defined wrongly for long and it is psycho-culturally programmed. dragged by her legs. The dramatist wrote Tale-Danda in 1989. The dramatist has taken up the historical and political backgrounds for his plot from an important historical movement that took place in the city of Kalyan in North Kanara in 1168 A. philosophers. we loose track of who we are and what we really want. Ramachandran has aptly said that “… the Hindu mind grasp(s) the world in terms of binary division. . “In our mad scramble to the top we forget how to love. man-woman.D. She was stripped naked. The movement was started by a group of enlightened poets.” (187) This reminds us of an incident. In this play. his mother Prakash Kaur volunteers to suffer the punishment. A twelve-year-old Sudra boy allegedly broke the glass shell of akhand jyoti on 28th May 1994.

the King’s officer and the great poet philosopher.a scavenger. united all the brilliant and enlightened people and raised a voice for equality. It is through the sharanas that the dramatist advocates this philosophy. Finally their noble movement ended in a disaster when the marriage of a Panchama boy with a Brahmin girl led to a fateful war between Sharana’s and the orthodox movement.”(153) The people of Kalyan like the great saints Kabir.14 -15) This is the situation in India even today. You can peel it off top to toe. Mira and Mahatma Gandhi struggle to remove caste barriers but their ceaseless efforts become futile. “One’s caste is like the skin on one’s body. but when the new skin forms.” (1. a royal princess was his wife and Sovideva was his son. a Sudhra.15)” reveal the insulting attitude of the orthodox Hindus towards the low caste people. The Sharanas believed in this. Basavanna. the evils of casteism led to bloodshed and violence. neither Brahmin nor cobbler. Hence. A fresh outlook is inevitable to analyze the social and political concept. he was like one who had originated from the arms of the mythical Brahma. Shukla has aptly stated the comment of Arun Shouri that “In each tradition there is much that is valuable but also much that is malignant” (124). So. In the words of Kakkayya “… there is no caste among Sharanas. Bijjala. Caste consciousness runs throughout the play. Added to this they also believed in equality of sexes and hard work with dedication.” (2. Sharanas concept of work without caste created a cultural problem. For them. They condemned all inhuman traditions and had staunch faith in social and gender equality. Finally.a shepherd. need to be reassessed and reviewed. Though he was not a Kshatriya by birth.2.5. Basavanna. Rambhavati. They opposed the caste system. All of them discarded their castes and became Sharana’s or devotees of Lord Shiva. His court was a galaxy of great poets and scholars. was the King of Kalyan. the only people who have looked me in the eye without a reference to my lowly birth lurking deep on their eyes are the sharanas: (1.Bijjala. Shariyats or Vedic mantras. “… they are dedicated people indispensable to the system. there is a need for a new religion which can treat all human beings as equal. The Sharana’s deserve the credit for bringing economic prosperity to Bijjala’s land. aptly says. The higher caste people do not give due respect to Bijjala though he is the King of Kalyan. their body was the very abode of God and idol worship was considered to be meaningless. not just in theory but in practice also. Mukar Nand has rightly said. They talked to their people about God in their own language.a barber by caste. the King.2. there you are again. the great sharana poet and the . His pregnant words ”In all my sixty–two years.38) Ancient sayings in the form of commandments. a barber.

There are widespread riots. He says. Basavanna wanted to abolish the caste structure and annihilate the Varna system. For the manipulators of the political system. Yet Sovideva is not satisfied. with the moral support of Basavanna and Bijjala’s protection the marriage is performed. The greatest evils have been perpetuated in the name of God and deadliest wars have been fought in the name of religion. Basavanna. If this is impossible. but the boy hesitates as he feels that “ the girl can’t stand the smell of leather”(2. visionaries… All hard working people form the common stock. a cobbler boy.5. the son of Haralaya.noble-minded King Bijjala serve as the mouthpieces of Girish Karnad.” (49) As a result of the decisions of the power–politician’s. The Brahmin girl has no objection in marrying the cobbler boy. the fathers of the bride and groom are caught.40). their eyes gouged out. Madhuvarasa. As Dhanvel comments.16. They sit together. a Sharana poet.89). Though Sovideva. The parties concerned and a few other sharanas assemble at Basavanna’s residence for his blessings.38). stampedes. and tied to elephant’s feet they are dragged through the streets of Kalyan. mystics. hesitates to bless the couple.2. fires. rapes and looting. indifferent to caste. “The sharana’s too are out to destroy me-that tribe of snakes! Crush their progeny!” (3. eat together. He says. “The King is father to his people and the people shall love him and obey him like his offspring. The whole city burns. the son of King Biijala says. However. The whole city of Kalyan is bathed in the blood of innocent people. Meanwhile. No tongue shall wag against the King or his family or his retinue or his officers” . is inclined to give his daughter Kalavati in marriage to Sheelavanta. argue about God together. men and women are merely pawns to be sacrificed at will for self–interest and grabbing power. is also against this because “the orthodox will see this mingling of castes as a blow at the very roots of varnashrama dharma” (2. nor can it reduce anyone from being a human being. The power hungry rulers and the obscurantist politicians suffer from a pathological hatred of the lower castes and this leads them to behave beastially. murders. Look at those he has gathered around him. treat everyone as a human being is the concept that the dramatist stresses through Tale-Danda. In Tale-Danda. (1. poets. After a prolonged and heated discussion among themselves they all agree that the wedding should take place. an elderly sharana. “Bijjala supports the inter-caste marriage because the sharanas are the backbone of the economy. Kakkayya. the King arrives on the scene and warns against the marriage as it will create an uncontrollable bloodshed.15). birth or station. Religion cannot ill-treat anyone. a Brahmin by birth.5.

Basavanna fails to inspire sharanas to stand by the King during his bad days. Basavanna yearns to eradicate the castestructures. search for him and unable to find him. Sovideva.90). So. His message is akin to that of Ananda. a Buddhist monk in Tagore’s Chandalika. so also are you.16. but most of them. They rush to the palace. following the evil advice of Damodara Bhatta and Manchanna. ignoring the request of his fellows not to kill the king. “As I am a human being. On the other hand. Govinda Rao says. he and his accomplices. Bijjala comes out of the Shrine. As long as the king is clinging to Lord Shiva none can dare to touch him. who tells a low-caste girl Prakrita.” (1. Believing this. Gandhi and Ambedkar in various aspects.(3. The caste system separates people into layers devoid of communal feelings resulting in an unhealthy growth of patriotism. communal segregation and gender discrimination of Karnataka. Buddha. all of which are unnatural and immoral” (20). The picture of Basavanna portrayed by the dramatist is highly comprehensive as it gives due importance to all the major aspects of Basavanna’s liberal and humanistic philosophy. Damodara Bhatta and Manchanna. “Tale–Danda makes us sit aghast and stunned by the painful awareness that man’s life is but the repetition of the story of hate and suspicion and violence. The play conveys the message that a unified fabric of Indian society is an impossible dream by highlighting the saintly figure Basavanna’s idealism which only ends up in bloodshed. St Augustine. stabs him to death mercilessly. political authoritarianism. Jagadeva and other sharanas having been enraged decide to avenge on Sovideva. It is a realistic presentation of a life of struggle and ethical nobility against the backdrop of religious dogmatism. enter the shrine of Shiva where the old King Bijjala is found firmly embracing the Linga so as to keep himself safe. turn a deaf ear to his requests. Basavanna himself visits him and advices him to cling to Lord Shiva who alone can safeguard him from danger. conspire against the King and imprison him for defying him at the treasury. slaughters the sharanas violently and mercilessly. scared of Sovideva. and Jagadeva. Karnad’s Tale-Danda shows Basvanna’s efforts at ensuring the progress of human enterprise which end in terror and bloodshed.148) . But Jagadeva succeeds to convince him that Basavanna has sent him and his fellows there. It has been aptly said that the life of Basavanna depicted in Tale-Danda may be compared and contrasted with the lives of Jesus Christ.

the play induces us to take a second look at the efficacy of the laws of Hindu religion with regard to the hypergamous marriage. murder. “We may touch a cat. Indra never appears. Karnad. has a unique caliber to create beauty out of evil. Karnad has rightly said that even after eight hundred years the problems still exist and we are back exactly where we have started. we may touch any other animal. debates” (Prologue 2). treachery. metaphysical speculations. It is obvious that the priests are tired of their performance and they do not relish the dreary sacrifice. ‘Tollugati’. one of the foremost media persons of the contemporary times. which are destroying the vitals of our society. In The Fire and the Rain. Waiting endlessly for Indra who doesn’t appear makes their performance a failure. he should not adhere to casteism. otherwise even rain will desert the nation. but the touch of these human beings is a pollution” (Gokhale 93). the unprivileged classes of people are prohibited to take part in the fire sacrifice performed to propitiate Lord Indra so that he sends rain. we may touch a dog. The unpriviledged class has no right to watch the performance or even listen to the mantras. Karnad has distinctly made the words of Kailasam come true. Kailasam in one of his Kannada plays. Most of his plays end unhappily and violence. as he is not pleased with the vicious performer Paravasu. it is a must that we should take into account the services rendered by those classes of people whom we call as lower class. He seems to say that if our country is to progress. as he has distinctly reflected the evil effects of casteism through his dramatic piece Tale-Danda. Though Karnad does not offer any specific solution to the problems. What has happened in Tale-Danda is still happening. impersonation. A great tragedy in our society is that a section of human beings with similar bodies and feelings like the other are condemned to a life of wretchedness. In Tale-Danda the message is that Indian society has built a trap for the untouchables. bribery . If a person longs to emerge out of the slough in which he has been sinking. bloodshed. calls the playwright a ‘camera man’ and claims that it is his duty to portray reality and expose the follies and foibles of mankind.Karnad is of the opinion that Tale-Danda is relevant to the Indian context even today for religious fanaticism has claimed thousands of lives in today’s world. mental and moral degradations simply because they belong to lower class. The spectators for this performance are people of higher caste and no one is allowed to enter the sacred space. It doesn’t rain and the other priests become tired and they feel “sick and tired of these endless philosophical discussion.

(11. idealistic but sometimes thoughtless actions precipitated his downfall. “Tughlaq’s hasty. is debased since it is dragged into the domain of power politics. Food’s only in the palace Its prayers for us. prosperous and the rulers can pray in peace. killing. The citizens gather outside the fort of Daulatabad and vent their anger and displeasure as follows: First Man. A man with unshakable faith in himself and his mission. In his play Tughlaq also.” (28) Tughlaq is not only dried up of human emotions. but it is not an end itself. But. Initially. Here was a supremely intelligent King driven to disintegration when he fails to face the unidealistic realities of power and politics. evil is manifested through violence.reach his own vision. bloodshed. His ambition for power and money vitiates his noble objectives and afflicts the prayer and the body politics.208) Tughlaq is a usurper and he ascends the throne after getting his father and brother murdered during prayer time and has blood on his hand at such a young age. First Man. Prayer is used as a means to an end. (Rajinder Paul 41) Due to the willful implementation of his policies. sobs and sighs. It becomes highly impossible for the people even to pray. and wanting to carry along with him the unvisionary and pretty people around him. he is emptied of spiritual sentiments also. Religion defies politics because it preaches morals and expects morality from . “Prayer has been used as a leit–motive in Tughlaq” (Satish Kumar 23) and the atmosphere is full of atrocities. According to Satish Kumar. trying to out. Tughlaq was a man imbued with lofty idealism. Sultan Muhammad Bin Tughlaq of the fourteenth century was “Certainly the most brilliant individual ever to ascend the throne of Delhi and also one of the biggest failures” (27).and adultery seem to have an upper hand in his plays. In this way prayer. Ask them to give us some food. Only the powerful. According to Karnad. impersonation and treachery. murder. growing relentlessly into an impatient and ferocious animal. his career ended in bloodshed and chaos. unfortunately with his bare hands. There is no food. which is to be left to the discretion of the individual. Prayer! Prayer! Who wants prayer now? Second Man. wailing and tears. cruelty. though far-sighted they were.

Tughlaq also tries to control and release his metaphysical anguish by an exercise of tyrannical power. the leader of a rebellion. But coolly and publicly he announces that Shihab-ud-din died a martyr. Then mercilessly his flesh is cooked and sent to his wife and children. is an act of cruelty though rising from his anguish. No. This ghastly incident reminds us of Atreu’s action in the story of Agamemnon. he has his skin stuffed with straw and exhibits it in the important cities of his kingdom. send them round my kingdom.185). his subjects suffer from starvation. which is deeply allied to religion. His other fantastic actions include the introduction of copper currency and imposition of high taxes. famine. Gurushasp. The journey to Daulatabad becomes a nightmare. is used for murder in the play. unsatisfied. politics thrives on craftiness. is symbolic of the fact that his life is corrupted at its very source”(103). intrigue and deceit. According to . whereas. He did not pollute prayer. the prince of Denmark. It has been aptly said by Sethumadhava Rao “that prayer. Again. Later.the people. He orders the flaying of Gurushasp. Let them hang there for a week. “stuff their bodies with straw and hang them up in the palace yard. At first he decrees religious punishment for failure to pray five times a day. Prayer. Let every one of my subjects see them …” (6. rebellions and economic chaos collapse his empire. He commits the greatest blunder of shifting his capital to Daulatabad and insisting on the people to vacate Delhi immediately. Prayer halls are being polluted with the discussions on politics. but Tughlaq foils the plot with the help of his Hindu guards and stabs the Sheikh who is known throughout India for his courage and integrity with such ferocity that his soldiers get terrified. did not kill his uncle at the prayer time. who had every reason to kill his uncle for the murder of his father and the incestuous marriage with his mother. In the end Tughlaq is left solely to contemplate in dismay. defending Tughlaq against the nobles who tried to kill him at prayer time. Still. Christine Gomez has commented: “Like Caligula in Camus play.” (143) The Sultan does not spare even his sister’s son. Tughlaq is not an exception. even after a span of five years. after sometime. insidiousness. alive. he bans prayer itself and punishes those who pray. Even Hamlet. The repeated frenzied stabbing of Shihab’s dead body with ferociousness makes even the soldiers holding the body turn away in horror and terror and the order. disease and death. punishment and cathartic violence. He is every inch a bloodthirsty murderer. But Tughlaq desecrates prayer by using it as a means for political ends.207). which is most dear to Tughlaq is vitiated by him as well as his enemies. He even assures that the Sheikh will be given a grand funeral. Tughlaq’s subjects suffer from a life of loneliness. Shihab-ud-din and the Amirs also conspire to murder the Sultan at prayer time. he announces that “henceforth every Muslim will pray five times a day as enjoined by the Holy Koran and declare himself a Faithful slave of the Lord” (10.

he maneuvers that people stay away at the point of bayonets. At the same time. Instead he is determined to rule his people with an iron hand. Tughlaq was “ intelligent.” (204) For Tughlaq. violence is no longer under his control. perhaps the ideal of building a Utopian empire. He knows that the very existence of the Imam is harmful to him. who long to wipe out the opposition. They’ll understand the whip. and also that of the opposition to throw out the rulers. Then he tactfully sends Sheikh Imam-ud-din to pacify Ain-ud-mulk who has revolted against him. He himself says. He gives up the method of rational explanation and persuasion. The craftiness of Tughlaq has a parallel in the arch-trickery and cunningness adopted by those people who are in power.186) Tughlaq is a formidable ruler who would not let anything or anybody come in his way of the pursuit or power. he orders mourning in the state.H. He begins to believe that the most powerful argument laid not in words but in the sword. by sending his courtiers. after independence and even in the eighties. Then the Sheikh getting depressed does not wish to speak to the bootlickers of Tughlaq. When he comes to know of his stepmother’s killing of the Najib. His answer to resistance is his sword. the longing to rule by all means was prevalent as it was during the reign of Tughlaq. violence and murder. “I killed them–yes–but killed them for an ideal” (10. in cruelty. Once he has tasted the exhilarating power of killing. religious. Sheikh Imam-ud-din is an archenemy and a great critic of Tughlaq. strength to recognize myself. Tughlaq banishes everyone who happens to be a stumbling block on his way. All these instances are the acts of cruelty and tyranny rising out of his existential anguish. After the death of Imam-ud-din. He has therefore to adopt a tyrannical way of life as a means to an end. Sheer treachery is involved in trapping Imam-ud-din and getting him killed. The cruelties of the Sultan find no end. strength to shape my thoughts.H. it has become a compulsion for him to act violently. When his stepmother taunts him for killing his father. And then he asserts that those deaths were not futile. This double facedness of Muhammad very much resembles the two faces of the politicians of today.“They gave me what I wantedpower. brother and Sheikh. he mercilessly orders that she should be stoned to death. cruel and hard hearted and took sadistic delight in seeing no lights in the empty city of Delhi on the night of its evacuation when he shifted the capital to Daulatabad” (3). He himself says. The rulers of the twentieth century are identical in all respects with the monarch of the fourteenth century India.Anniah Gowda. strength to act. which he considers to be his life’s mission.” (6. “I was too soft. Tughlaq claims that he has killed them for an ideal. a vehicle to fulfill his . I can see that now. In India.204). He arranges a meeting in front of the Big Mosque in which the Sheikh is to speak.

Since he is an officer he gives small concessions to the people. It is very difficult to accept this assessment of Gomez. (93) Christine Gomez is of the view that “Though he is in the whirlpool of violence and bloodshed. bribery and treachery. When the King attempts to revive the imperial economy by introducing copper currency. I have been your most devout servant. as a last attempt. the King tries to bring peace and legitimacy to his reign and invites Ghizas–ud–din Abbasid. He files a suit against the Sultan and gets five hundred silver dinars and a job in the civil service.mission. The central plot is filled with violence and blood–shed and the sub-plot is impregnated with impersonation. To have the reins of power firmly in his hands. But Aziz. a comic figure. In despair. followed every instruction. In truth. the upright saint like Sheikh Imam-ud-din and later the slightly independent stepmother have to be weeded out ruthlessly. the Brahmin and takes advantage of the royal law that all are equal before law and that the people can file a suit against the Sultan himself if his officers misbehave. When the people of Delhi move to the new capital Daulatabad. considered every measure of Your Majesty’s with the greatest attention. which has the same token value as that of the silver dinars. Aziz. I have studied every order.216). goes on impersonating one person after another. A poor woman’s child dies because she does not have money. all formidable foes are silenced one by one. I insist I am your majesty’s true disciple” (13. a descendant of the Baghdad Khalifas. he takes bribe from them mercilessly and in his Brahmin disguise exhorts money from the sick and dying travellers. Geeta Kumar aptly says that […] a discriminating study of power politics in Tughlaq would make it amply clear that to survive in the game of snakes and ladders. to visit and sanctify his new capital. now a highway robber kills Ghizas-ud-din and stands in front of the King disguised as Ghizas-ud-din. . the merely competent like Shihab-ud-din. At first Aziz impersonates Vishnu Prasad. he is able to maintain his objectivity and is not sucked into the vortex” (149). Tughlaq ultimately becomes every inch a bloodthirsty murderer and is drawn into the whirlpool of violence. modeled on Shakespeare’s Falstaff. Aziz becomes a counterfeiter. The Sultan identifies his masquerade but Aziz pleads for mercy: “Since Your Majesty came to the throne.

The roads are lined with skeletons. (11. He is unable to tolerate any criticism and feels confident that he can never go wrong. he cries for God’s help: God. he admits his mistake and the wisest fool in the empire that he has become. Only You … Only You…You… You(10. I can only clutch at the hem of Your cloak with my bloody fingers and plead. corpses and flies” (12. Barche rightly says. This can be labeled as abhinivesa. into unrelieved wickedness. Banquo and others who stand in the way of his establishing himself as the King of Scotland in Shakespeare’s play Macbeth. People even throng in at the butchers shop to catch and drink the blood spurting from the slaughtered beasts. Life is corrupted in all possible angles. Thus Karnad has projected a historical character. who though endowed with many good qualities. courts and luxury. The situation in the kingdom is also far from rosy as. the Sultan feels that there is no point in hanging on there and so he decides to quit forgetting all the wealth. Tughlaq being a master intriguer is never at peace with himself. In Doab. Please don’t let go off my hand.have pity on me. a Patanjali concept.211). cover me with Your Infinite Mercy. “this closed unidirectional way of life leads him to his all–round failure and . My skin drips with blood and I don’t know how much of it is mine and how much of others…. people are eating barks of the trees. Aziz goes to the extent of killing his bosom friend Azam and escapes from the law. namely Muhammad Tughlaq. it makes the Sultan think and act in only one direction and plunges him deeper and deeper into the quagmire of evil. That he has no concern for human relations is quite clear from the fact that the near and dear ones fall a prey to his evil designs.208). Murders don’t taunt him and he easily jokes about killing without any prick of conscience. However. In northern part it is “full of dead bodies. I can only beg. Clean me.Instead of punishing Aziz. Emboldened by the royal patronage. The scene in Tughlaq reminds us of Macbeth who kills King Duncan. Seeing all this. He is a betrayer for whom life brings only restlessness and mental agony. A man starved to death in front of his eyes. please help me. later on towards the end. due to certain whimsical infirmities. Yes and women have to make to do with the skins of the dead horses.205). slides. God in Heaven. He is so much overtaken by this passion that he remains unconcerned about the other possible sides or the effects of his actions and thoughts. I have no one but You now. the Sultan offers him a high position in the army.

she admires his ethereal shape and says. Kapila sparks off a raging conflict in Padmini’s mind. in Tughlaq. but mere passion for physical pleasure. evil dominates in the form of violence. every minute” (1. Devadatta tries to cancel the Ujjain trip with Kapila because he doesn’t want Padmini to be drooling over Kapila the whole day. pulled his dhoti up and swung up the branch. he had taken off his shirt.like an ocean with muscles rippling across -it and then that small. Before I could even say ‘Yes’. And what an ethereal shape! Such a broad back.suffering”(6). When Padmini enquires more about it. How he climbs. feminine waist which looks so helpless. Kapila feels crestfallen “as though the whole world has been wiped out for a whole week” (1. Kapila! Kapila!. The greatest irony is that fate and situation commingle together to make the mighty and powerful Sultan fall at the feet of a dhobi masquerading as Ghizas–ud–din Abbasid. In Hayavadana. for the satiation of her sensuality” (30) is true.95). Thus. The greatest politician of the day does fall at the feet of a religious man not knowing that the dust of the feet he is taking on his head is a very common man’s dust. Kapila immediately runs to fetch a bunch of flowers. Rani in Naga-Mandala cuckolds her husband by having sex with Naga. Padmini in Hayavadana commits adultery knowingly and Satish Kumar comments that “Padmini lives for herself. his politics fails. But in its final shape the theme transcends Muhammad Tughlaq of a specific period and encompasses man of all times. Kapila drives the cart smoothly on the uneven road and so Padmini appreciates him by saying. murder. Nayak’s comment that “politics of evil gives a new lease of life to evil and accelerates its momentum till it reaches a point where those who have initiated and fostered it are engulfed along with the others”(6) is quite apt. In Hayavadana and Naga-Mandala evil is manifested through adultery. treachery and impersonation. On their way to Ujjain. there are occasional references to Padmini’s infidelity in the play. (1.91). Their journey to Ujjain is a vital scene in the play. Dreams of the monarch are shattered. But there are indications in the play which uncover the fact that she makes love with Naga deliberately.94). On the way she happens to see a glorious tree covered with flowers called Fortunate Lady’s Flower.like an ape. the common man becomes more powerful than the Sultan and pathetically the royalty has to bow down to him to save himself.96) . Sometimes it seems that she is innocent of what she has been doing. “ twittering. The love of Padmini and Rani is not a spiritual one. As Kapila climbs the tree like an ape to procure the flower. “How beautifully you drive the cart Kapila” (1.

But remember that I’m going with your body” (2. This incident indicates that she enjoys phallic pleasures from both the men. Padmini having a desire for Devadatta’s clever head and Kapila’s strong body and exploiting the situation mixes the heads of Devadatta and Kapila in order to have a better husband – head of Devadatta and body of Kapila. which directly or indirectly hint at Padmini’s inclination towards Kapila.111). Devadatta notices her gestures and facial expressions. Why should love stick to the sap of single body? When the stem is drunk with the thick yearning of the many. she undertakes a hazardous journey to meet Kapila who has been in a state of amnesia. This is not proper and acceptable for an ideal wife. Since she is the wife of Devadatta. She . She hurts Devadatta’s fragile ego again and again by her outspokenness and obvious admiration for Kapila’s physical fitness. many flowered lantana. The following song of the female in Hayavadana. The scope and meaning of the Indian ethos which attributes a high value to the concept of ‘Pathiviratha’ is rendered a mockery. although she is fully aware that her living with two men would be socially unacceptable. A little later she remarks that no woman could resist him.96). his limbs curve – it’s dance almost” (1. Kali orders Padmini to put the heads of the two friends back properly and press a sword on their necks so that they will come back alive. Padmini does not suppress her desire for Kapila and wants both of them alive. mocks at the very concept. She waters her mouth looking at the charm of Kapila’s body. for their heads control their bodies. I have neither regret nor shame (2.petalled. she should consider him as her brother. A side for each arm. But she keeps an incestuous relationship with him. and shape them to their own likings. Unlike an archetypal Indian woman. The happy life is short lived.132).Padmini’s aside continues: “He is like a Celestial Being reborn as a hunter… How his body sways. it is utterly wrong on the part of Padmini to pine for Kapila. She is drawn towards Kapila and before parting from him in the forest. why should it be tied down to the relation of a single flower? A head for each breast. Kapila’s masculinity hypnotizes Padmini whose sensuality remains unsatiated. she cheers him up by telling: “ It’s my duty to go with Devadatta. The Goddess Kali also plays a foul game. A pupil for each eye. When Devadatta goes to purchase dolls for his son. She embodies sensuality and selfishness. Pathiviratha is the ideal of an Indian wife being singleminded in her devotion to her husband and always worshipping for his wellbeing. The friends are restored to their original selves. Since Kapila is Devadatta’s friend.

Devadatta and Kapila. how it takes me. Rani commits adultery. sets each fiber in me on fire!” (2. . Rani anxiously waits for Naga to arrive and wishes the night to last forever. in India. When she realizes what he has done to her. coaxes and wheedles her to come and she sleeps like a child in his arms. she asks Bhagvata to make a large funeral pyre for them and she jumps into it. among the Hindus. At night. smells her beautiful long hair. … It is there and there and there everywhere. The cunningness of Naga reminds us of Satan’s temptation of Eve in Paradise Lost. When Devadatta and Kapila die. which Naga provides her. sharks. tortoises singing soundlessly in the dark. Naga squeezes through the bathroom.45) She is thus coaxed into believing that there is nothing wrong in sex. In Naga-Mandala. Like Satan who stealthily enters Paradise. So. All these incidents substantiate that the play Hayavadana is impregnated with evil. Kapila proves to be a traitor and finally the two friends. The tiger bellows for his mate . crabs. As Padmini jumps into the common funeral pyre of both the men. “How it fills the house before he comes! How it welcomes him! God. every night. rattlers. so also Naga enters into the house of Rani and spoils the young maid. Centuries before. the King Cobra starts searching for his Queen. He tempts her as frogs croaking in pelting rain. she gets absolute satisfaction and thus Naga cunningly spoils her. she starts enjoying erotic pleasures and relishes every moment of Naga’s stay with her. She feels cheated into committing this horrible sin.. His intense and sincere love coaxes her. And stung by her smell..49) In fact.” Why don’t those birds choke on their songs? Who has given them the right to mess about others creatures night “(2. The way in which the Naga delivers this sermon on sex mesmerizes her to such an extent that when the birds announce the arrival of dawn she cries. She at once moves away from him and weeps in a corner. there was a custom that a widow should jump into the funeral pyre of her husband. it becomes evident that she has had illegal relationship with Kapila. foxes. swallows-even the geese! The female begins to smell like the wet earth.herself admits that her child has two fathers. Initially. kill each other. takes the shape of Appanna. Padmini is guilty of infidelity. Her ecstatic heart feels that her house is filled with the smell of the blossoming night queen and she wonders. ants. She yearns for love and affection. Rani is frigid and shy and abhors sex.45). Naga cures her of frigidity and consumes the long preserved virginity of Rani. she feels aghast. (2.

In our Hindu mythology the Naga represents several images. In South India, many houses have their own shrine which is often a grave reserved for snakes surrounded by trees, festooned with creepers, and situated in a corner of the garden; often a stone with a snake depicted on it is set up and those desiring children visit it. The ‘Shaiva Lingayats’ worship snakes, which are often depicted with Shiva. On the Naga–Panchami day, wrestling matches are organized and women pour offerings of milk and cereals into snake-holes. So, Indians consider Cobras as divine and worship them. Such a divine being plays the part of evil. Rani also has to be blamed for this. She has a good many reason to doubt that the Naga is not Appanna. Rani is sleeping in her bedroom; Naga moves near her and caresses her. Rani, not recognizing Naga disguised as Appanna, submits herself to Naga’s advances. Rani’s gesture is questionable because there are sufficient reasons to believe that Naga is not Appanna. On the night when the cobra enters the darkened front yard of Rani’s house she hears the sound of the dogs growling and fighting mixed with the hiss of the snake which ends shortly after the dog gives a long painful howl. In the night when she moves into his arms, she notices blood on the Naga’s cheeks and shoulders. She opens her mirror-box for the healing ointment. She screams in fright as she sees in the mirror a cobra in the place where Naga was sitting. The next morning when Appanna comes, Rani’s confusion is worst confounded. She says: “But last night … he had blood on his cheeks and shoulders. Now …” (2.48) Another episode is that of the cobra and the mongoose in which the cobra is badly bitten by the mongoose. Therefore, he could not visit Rani for fifteen days: “Rani spent her nights crying, wailing, pining for him” (2.49). When he comes again, his body is covered with wounds which have only partly healed. She applies ointment to the wounds and tends him. But she never questions him about them. She feels peaceful as he has returned. Needless to say, when her husband comes during day, there were no scars on him. These instances prove that the person who comes at night is different from the person who comes during the day. The story of Rani and Naga stand testimony to the fact that physical satisfaction even in its evilest dimension assumes greater importance than spiritual satisfaction, which is nobler and higher. She does not want to lose the forbidden pleasure that she has been enjoying at night. So, she says, “No, I won’t. The pig, the whale, the eagle – none of them asks why. So I won’t either. But they ask for it again – so I can too, can’t I.”(2.45) She is very stubborn that she will not trouble the Naga by asking questions as she wants only to fulfill her physical pleasures. She commits

adultery with full knowledge about it. Once at night she sees the wound on Naga’s body. But at noon, when her husband comes she is unable to see the scars, but deliberately she ignores it. When she combs her hair, a dead cobra falls out and she does not become startled. She just says calmly, “Oh Poor thing it is dead” (2.63). She never fails to remark that their son has been given the gift of life by the cobra, as by a father. The dead cobra gets a ceremonial burial, which befits her son’s father. In this play also, it is evil which triumphs. The watchdog and the mongoose are been killed by Naga, the evil incarnation which succeeds in making love with Rani. In The Fire and the Rain, Girish Karnad takes as his subject the concept of murder, revenge and jealousy within the learned families of Raibhya and Bharadwaja – a chain finally broken only by the nobility and generosity of Nittilai, a ‘Shudra’ girl, and her lover Arvasu. The central action of the play revolves round the motif of revenge, futility of superficial knowledge and the frailty of human nature. In this play, Karnad has projected the mystery of evil residing within human beings which does not allow him to progress further. Even after ten years of religious penance, Yavakri fails miserably to control his thirst for vengeance. His real motive is to avenge the humiliation meted out to his father by another learned sage Raibhya. So, his first move after he returns from the forest is to molest the wife of Paravasu so as to revenge against Raibhaya and his son Paravasu. After gaining spiritual powers and knowledge through ten years of penance and self-mortification, he comes to know of Vishakha’s marriage to Paravasu. He has been her lover and before going for penance, he has promised that he “would not look at another woman” (1.12) and he kept up his word. After ten years he meets Vishakha in a lovely place in the jungle where she goes to fetch water. He requests her to talk to him; she being an Indian woman says, “I can’t stay here chatting with a stranger” (1.12). Being a married woman she avoids her erstwhile lover’s company. But he somehow, succeeds to have a chat with her. She opens her heart and says,” you are hungry for words. And so am I. So let’s talk. Sit down “(1.15). Then they become attracted towards each other and unable to resist the temptation they go behind a dry champak tree on the banks of the river. She willingly yields to the basic demands of the flesh and Yavakri whom she had loved once enjoys her. In the mean time Arvasu and Nittilai come there and they recognize the footprints and the pot of Vishakha. Arvasu goes behind the champak tree into the bushes but rushes out with wonder and shock followed by Vishakha whose clothes are torn and her back covered with mud. She rushes into the hermitage when her father-in-law steps out. She gets horrified to see this thin but

physically active sage. He scowls at her. Seeing Arvasu follow her with the pot on his shoulder he mistakenly thinks that Vishakha and Arvasu have developed some illicit relationship as her husband has been away for seven years. Raibhaya becomes enraged, angrily grabs her by her hair and starts beating her. He even kicks her. Unable to bear all this Arvasu rushes to rescue her but Raibhaya says, “I want the truth and I’ll kill her if necessary” (1.20). Finally Vishakha reveals that it was Yavakri who came to see her. Then Raibhya leaves her to the decision of her husband, but for Yavakri he has made up his mind and tells as follows: Vishakha, go and tell your lover I accept his challenge. I shall invoke the ‘kritya’ and send a Brahma Rakshasa, a demon soul, after him. Let Yavakri save himself. He need only go and hide in his father’s hermitage. I loved my brother and will not desecrate his altar. Let Yavakri cower in there like a dog. If he steps out, he will be dead. Tell him this, too- that if he can manage to stay alive for another twenty-four hours, I, Raibhya, shall accept defeat and enter fire. (1.20) Vishakha comes forward for Yavakri’s defence, saying, “No please! Don’t do anything to him. It’s my fault. Please, don’t harm Yavakri. I’m willing to face the consequences punish me .Not him. Please.” (1.20). But Raibhya doesn’t pay heed to her words and so Vishakha sends Arvasu to warn Yavakri. She too runs in another direction so as to find out Yavakri. Meanwhile Raibhya opens his eyes, pulls out a strong hair from his head and throws it to the ground. The Brahma Rakshasa appears and he runs in the direction of Yavakri. Arvasu unable to find Yavakri in his hermitage asks the blind gatekeeper Andhaka to be vigilant and not to allow Yavakri come out of the hermitage. But Vishakha finds him under the banyan tree and warns him of Raibhya’s plan and determination. But Yavakri is so confident that he says, “… your father-in-law will die, Vishakha, Let’s see what your husband does then“ (1.23). But Vishakha slowly and calmly pours down the water from the kamandala and he now pines for “a drop – only a drop” (1.24). Ignoring her advice to go and run, he says, “I’m not here to run away- I’ve triumphed over Indra, the Lord of Gods. Who are you to order me around?’ (1.24). However, as soon as the Brahma Rakshasa appears, he starts running and when he is about to enter the hermitage, Andhaka not recognizing him jumps up and grabs Yavakri. Yavakri struggles to enter the hermitage but the Brahma Rakshasa comes and spears him. Yavakri collapses in Andhaka’s arms. The demon pulls out the trident and goes away. Thus Yavakri receives his punishment for molesting Vishakha. According to Naik, “The fire in the title is thus the fire of lust, anger,

This obsession. cruel and jealous figure. (1. That’s all gone.22-23) So. And I shouted back. he is led further into ignorance and darkness. Even the penance performed by Yavakri is ‘Tamasika’.vengeance. This venom. Raibhya appears to be a noble and generous personality. envy. Indra came to me and said: ‘You are ready now to receive knowledge.But that too went to Paravasu your husband …. All this is me. respected by the King and the Brahmin community and so he is invited to be the Chief Priest to . He becomes vicious like a fierce beast. His knowledge does not help him to get rid of his evil nature. Yavakri. he could not free himself from the bondage of selfhood. But knowledge involves control of passions.… One night in the jungle. hatred and lust. … . he is continuously burning in the furnace of jealousy and hatred. His superficial knowledge does not help him to conquer the evils residing in him.14) As Yavakri’s sole purpose is to destroy the happiness and reputation of Raibhya and his son Paravasu. Even after receiving knowledge. objectivity’. He fails to vanquish jealousy. He has become a slave of his selfhood and undesirable passion. His knowledge makes him even more miserable. violence. destructive. No. That’s suicide. His prime aim is to bring disaster to Raibhya and Paravasu as he is possessed by evil desires. (1. He openheartedly says to Vishakha as follows: What matters is that I hate your husband’s family. But Karnad has presented him as a lecherous. He becomes restless. I want knowledge so I can be vicious. his knowledge boosts his passion and pride for a desire to take revenge. God grants Yavakri his desires. My father deserved to be invited as the Chief Priest of the sacrifice. That’s not knowledge.. In the Mahabharata. This hatred. But you haven’t grown up! These ten years have not made any difference to your teenage fantasies. and death” (48). His son Paravasu is highly well versed in Shastras. He resembles Milton’s Satan as he carries his inward hell everywhere. Vishakha aptly points out that I can’t believe it! The whole world may be singing your praises. serenity. On the contrary. I’ll not deny anything of myself. He has given up his presence to good and has degraded himself. Karnad artistically highlights the futility of Yavakri’s knowledge which he has received directly from Lord Indra. that’s not the knowledge I want. The evil lying within him does not allow him to enjoy his reputation and life.

he is no better than Yavakri. he has become a slave of his self-hood. She further says.29).29) Though he is a learned Brahmin. Something died in your father the day the King invited you to be the Chief Priest. […] so you measured my life-span. Still here. ignoring all the norms of the religious ritual. he shoots an arrow at his father Raibhya. I shall live long enough to feed their dead souls. Though his father Raibhya is equally or even more learned. revengeful Raibhya invokes Kritya and sends Brahma Rakshasa to kill Yavakri. Tell the King I shall outlive my sons. the above words soaked in venom are pointers in that direction. But Paravasu asks who Arvasu is and from where he has come. Raibhya doubts that Paravasu must have been thrown out of the fire sacrifice because of the disrepute of his wife Vishakha. (2. there’s his sense of being humiliated by you. the jealous father says to his son. who instantly collapses without even a whimper. He commits the sin of incest also. He’s been drying up like a dead tree since then. did you-you and your King ? Tested the strength of my life line ? Well. . When Arvasu replies that his father had been killed by his own son and that it was Arvasu who completed Raibhya’s obsequies. returns home though for one night. To this. She reveals that she is generally alone with her father-in-law in the hermitage. No sap runs in him (pause). He actually comes to talk to his wife and she reveals to her husband the conditions that have forced her to move closer to Yavakri. They thought …a younger man safer” (2. A great sage that he is. On the other. the sacrifice is almost over and I’m still here . Despite knowing that he is committing an evil act. (2. he is not nominated because “…it was a sevenyear rite. On the one hand. He then asks his brother Arvasu to observe all the funeral rites of his father and before he goes back to the fire sacrifices advises. Every detail has to be right” (2. he cannot refrain from submitting himself to evil desires. there’s lust. Paravasu.”Don’t rush through the rites. Perform them with care.perform the Fire Sacrifice to propitiate Indra. Thus his own son Parvasu murders Raibhya. The enraged. Paravasu cries. Alive and kicking. And there’s no one else here to take his rage out on but me.35). It consumes him. After getting Paravasu’s blessings Arvasu performs the rites and returns to the fire sacrifice place. Raibhya finally uses his daughter-in-law to gratify his lust which consumes him. An old man’s curdled lust.32) Hearing all this. Raibhya’s elder son and the Chief Priest of the fire sacrifice.

Paravasu tells the assembly of priests and watchers: “As the sacrifice approaches its completion.I‘ll – I’ll push his face in it. It is a natural human weakness which stings man’s mind and it intoxicates him in a fit of madness and ultimately leads him to disaster and death. It is an act of jealousy and conspiracy of brother against brother. and turns them into foes. ritual against sacrifices. kicked him out. the learned sages and friends. Raibhya as a father becomes envious of Paravasu. wife against husband. According to Budholia. Thus the play is definitely one that is based on the fires of jealousy. the face of jealousy can be visualized as follows : between . remarks. I’ll make him pay. Jealousy acts as a natural catalyst to destroy everything. Over ambition has hit Bharadwaja and Raibhya. high caste against low caste people. man against God. jealousy and revenge lead to destruction and condemnation. Arvasu tries to meet his brother at night in order to know why he was thrown out.38). We must be on our guard” (2. a son. To safeguard himself from accusation. the demons come out. freedom against bondage. brother against brother.38). in order to be the chief priest of the Fire Sacrifice.“Patricide! patricide! What is he doing in these sanctified precincts? Throw him out – out! out! Demon!’ (2. the hunter girl. the whole family of learned men lies in shambles. Arvasu who has always worshipped his brother Parvasu as a father figure for his intellect and scholarship is shattered by his brother’s rude condemnation in public and not knowing what to do asks. father against son. Their sole aim is to disrupt the sacrifice. attraction against repulsion. man against man. sex and politics.43). Arvasu gets heavily shocked and so he says to his ladylove Nittilai. But two soldiers drag him out. passion against the truth and above all Vidya (Knowledge) against avidya (ignorance). Arvasu experiences that jealousy is an unavoidable evil and as Nittilai. She aptly says “Look at your family.I’ll revenge myself on him” (3. hate against love the fire against the rain. Yavakri avenges his .38). “I worshipped my brother. “ But why. Rakshasas. tore his scared thread and threw him out in the burial grounds. illusion against the reality. And Paravasu who has killed his father charges his brother Arvasu of patricide. This reveals the heartlessness of Paravasu who like mythical Cain kills his brother Abel in the story of Bible. (151) In the play. love. But once again the soldiers pounced on him. And he betrayed me” (3. Brother why? … Why?” (2. But Nittilai stops him from talking about and plunging into vindictive action.41) and “if he can’t justify his act.

“The Fire and the Rain in particular is full of violence and death. Out of jealousy. Women. he curses his friend to be killed by his elder son. Each citizen shall consider him soldier ready to lay down his life for the King. Men. looting and rioting.43) The story of Parvasu and Arvasu is the story of every home in modern society. Nothing is spared. creates a Brahma Rakshasa to kill Yavakri. treachery. Finally. the King’s son. rivalry.father’s shame by attacking your sister-in-law. caste and hierarchical taboos and so on. So he gets him killed immediately and instructs his men to Pursue them (Sharanas). Girish Karnad successfully presents the full concentration of truth through his imagination. (49) In Tale–Danda the concept of evil is projected through Sovideva. and impersonation. From his moment all Sharanas. Your brother kills your father. The screams of the victims and the coronation mantras could be heard simultaneously. Bharadwaja. Children – cut them all down .. Women and the lower orders shall live within the norms prescribed by our ancient tradition. or else they’ll suffer like dogs. a learned saint and a friend of Raibhya.. Your father avenges her by killing Yavakri. impelled by jealousy in family. bloodshed. and free thinkers are expelled from this land on pain of death. everybody is condemned and destroyed.90) Ultimately Sovideva is crowned amidst the wails and groans of the people of Kalyan. For the King is the God incarnate! (3. Raibhya misuses his spiritual powers. feels offended by the jealous acts of his friend and in revenge. When Sovideva learns from his messengers about the chaotic state in Kalyan.16. adultery. murder.all within his plots. He has successfully tested evil on the stage. Thus as Ralph Yadav has aptly pointed out. he accommodates murder.” (3. Maya has aptly commented that Paravasu recognizes both Yavakri and his father as characters who “were led on by the same blind fury flamed by the forces of jealousy” (72). betrayals. He presents an excess of evil on the stage not for theatrical effects but adhering to the Aristotelian dictum that an excess . Don’t let them escape. foreigners. Thus the play is impregnated with evil elements which serve as a primordial factor in destroying the happiness of the people of Kalyan. The prevailing evil is a natural vice which still continues with sharper sting without sparing anyone and intoxicating madness in the hearts of people. Paravasu falsely implicates his brother in a crime that he does not commit and presents him as a father-killer as well as a Brahmin killer. he holds Damodara to be responsible for rape.

of the tragic elements lead to catharsis. . His plays have universal appeal and they stand the test of time.

in themselves. satisfying and energizing. puranas and folk tales also are impregnated with examples of shape shifting. Indian epics. only the devil has this power and therefore the shape–shifters were usually evil. drama depends on shape–shifting which enables the characters to be someone else and thus create a make-believe world . one among the seminal minds of the modern era. who came alive the third day of his crucifixion. As any traditional tale is likely to present a combination of reality and fantasy. Paranjape has aptly said. Through his imaginative skill. commenting on the play of fantasy in imaginative literature. has observed as follows: The reality of the writers imaginative world. the Son of God. Girish Karnad has the potential to transport the performer as well as the spectator to a heightened form of pleasure. and many excitements which. love is more fulfilling. Karnad’s plays are impregnated with the elements of reality and fantasy. assuming the form of a serpent. but fantasy. Shape shifting takes place in non–realistic fantasies. he introduces shape–shifting of characters in his plays and thus entertains his audience. tempted Eve and brought about the expulsion of man from his blissful existence in the heaven. fables. has however very important consequences for the techniques of his art. and cruel. It takes place under unusual circumstances and at the behest of a powerful person or spell.”(92) Literature reflects the society and delights the readers. As a medium of entertainment. This is quite true as it is only the evil minded Satan. In traditional Christian belief. for many things which if they were real could give no enjoyment. unkind. can become a source of pleasure for the hearers and spectators at the performance of a writer’s work. (37) Freud’s observation is very much applicable to the plays of the multifaceted personality Girish Karnad. are actually distressing. there had been legitimate and good shape-shifting also but the same was reserved only for Christ. Though fantasy deals with events that are impossible by real life standards. like witches or vampires. can do so in the play of fantasy. art. “Reality is harsh. it subsides in one the anxiety and the fret and fever of the modern world.CHAPTER IV TREATMENT OF FANTASY Sigmund Freud. Of course. myths or folk–lore’s. Markaranad R.

Karnad makes use of this device in his plays not merely for entertainment or as a central structural strategy but as a means of reviving the ancient and sacred function of drama as ritual. but it recreates you.within the make-believe world that is drama. who has taken an extra–ordinary decision. it is impossible for such exchanges to occur. but when he discovers that no one is willing. Karnad’s next play Tughlaq. the dramatist through his imagination entertains and thus relieves the audience from their umpteen sorrows and humdrums of life. Though Karnad’s unheroic hero Puru is a challenging character. land and even a part of his kingdom. Although it appears to be absurd and baffling it delights the audience. this fantastic episode helps focus the attention of the audience on one of the old myths of Kannada that the filial loyalty of the son shall at times descend even into blind loyalty. Unable to be a mere witness to the pathetic condition of the King. Though according to Sinha. Shape-shifting need not always be physical. “Real entertainment doesn’t just refresh you or titillate you. Makarand R. consumes poison in order to escape from the frustrations and misery to which she has been exposed by the foolish action of her husband. Yayati. Though in reality. Puru’s young wife Chitralekha. the dramatist through his artistic skill succeeds in making the readers feel ill at ease over such blind loyalty as well as enthralling them. Karnad’s first play Yayati is a self-consciously existentialist drama which through shape–shifting entertains the audiences and illuminates the theme of responsibility. Yayati weeps bitterly and gazes pathetically at his youngest son Puru with folded hands. deals with . but Himalayan sacrifice by exchanging his youth with that of his old father. expected someone in his kingdom to volunteer to accept his old age. Even though it is temporary it seems to be a catalyst for entertainment. Shape–shifting is a device very cleverly and effectively used by Karnad. In compensation he is ready to part with money. Helplessly. he feels extremely dejected and hurt. Puru accepts the old age and its concomitant ills inflicted on his father. A young obedient son performs an unbelievable. 2) the loyalty of the subjects cannot be taken for granted and 3) all cannot be always foolishly and blindly loyal even if it is for the kingdom served on a platter. it also helps in highlighting the facts that 1) how disastrous one’s non-acceptance of his responsibility for his own evil deed can become.Paranjape has aptly said. finding it too much to bear this reality. It makes you anew” (89). the old King. Conversely. a person or animal assuming a shape other than that of his or its own. “Karnad’s interpretation of the familiar old myth on the exchange of ages between father and son seems to have baffled and even angered many of the conventional critics” (106).

in the Kali temple Padmini joins Devadatta’s head with Kapila’s body. By doing so. After fifteen years of human love. while Hayavadana’s father becoming a celestial being went back to his Heavenly . he returns to his original role – the rescuer. No one was able to dissuade her and so she married the white stallion. The major example of shape–shifting is the King’s attempt to shift his Capital from Delhi to Daulatabad. When he asked the Princess to accompany him to his Heavenly Abode. Though in reality it is impossible for such things to occur. to the utter shock of everyone she revealed that she would marry that horse. lies and hypocrisies—all these various forms of shape shifting. in the place of a horse a beautiful celestial being stood. The Prince of Araby was the last person to come and Hayavadana’s mother. Neither the death of the lovers nor the subsequent sati performed by Padmini is presented as a tragedy. wait for thoughts – it acts!” (2. Hayavadana’s mother didn’t like any of them. she said. Each becomes a blend of both.113). the death serves only to emphasize the absurdity of the situation. This shifting of roles continues till the end of the play. The prominent shape–shifting is the inter–changing of the bodies of Kapila and Devadatta. These strange unbelievable experiences undergone by the fragment creature makes one to feel ill at ease. So he cursed her to become a horse. He was Hayavadana’s father who had been cursed by the God Kuvera to be born a horse for some act of misbehavior. In actuality shape–shifting does not occur. In the sub-plot. In Hayavadana. shape–shifting occurs in the life of Hayavadana’s father and mother. as it illumines the characters. there is merely acting. But this body just doesn’t. She lived with him for fifteen years but one fine morning. When she woke up. Devadatta confesses: “You know. illusions. pretence and betrayal. He plays the role of a rescuer. But the people like Aziz exploit all his reforms thwarting his attempts at becoming a saviour and thus he is forced to do the role of a victim. shape shifting is instrumental.80). when it is shown to happen on the stage it amuses the audiences. Finally Hayavadana’s mother became a horse again and ran away happily. Both of them come back to life. He persecutes the people who try to obstruct his plan and by so doing he shifts his role to one of a persecutor. he has brought utter ruin to himself and as well as to his kingdom. In a fit of tension.dissimulations. the Princess at that time. I’d always thought one had to use one’s brain while wrestling or fencing or swimming. he became his original self again. had a look at that handsome Prince who had come on a white stallion and then she fainted. Soon. dissimulation. “she would come only if he becomes a horse again” (1. her father gave her the liberty of selecting her husband and so Princes from different parts of the world were invited. She was a beautiful Princess of Karnataka and when she came of age. instead.

The snake. She is unbelievably elevated to the status of a living goddess. gives everything Rani wishes for – a loyal husband and a beautiful child. When a new flame comes and joins the other flames. an object of veneration and worship. and I am going to be a mother.59). the story walks out of the old woman’s house. ignorant girl when you brought me here. Initially Rani becomes a passive victim of her husband’s oppression. she feels isolated. In Naga-Mandala. Though this episode has left Hayavadana in a plightful situation. flirts with a harlot. after consuming the charm. and a devoted husband and so he decides to spend the rest of his life in serving her. frail. Karnad makes Rani and Appanna transform into better human beings. through shape shifting. She tells her husband. Appanna now becomes Rani’s slave. The play Naga-Mandala has several examples of shape–shifting. it narrates a story of the old woman who knew a story and a song. archetypal Indian woman as an extremely bold person who is very well aware of the ways of the world. As the play opens Appanna is portrayed as a very dominating and cruel husband.Abode. who has been an ordinary village woman performing the domestic chores and living like a prisoner. Taking the shape of Appanna. and comes home everyday only for lunch separating her from male and female companionship. But with the ingression of the snake into her life. shape – shifting results in role-shifting. Similarly. I was blind …” (2. Yet another example of shape–shifting which takes place is the flames taking on human shapes and gossiping in the temple after they have been put out in the houses. the dramatist was successful in entertaining his audience. lonely and frustrated. . “I was a stupid. He locks his wife Rani in the house. “forgive me. Then she is compelled to prove her virginity for which she undergoes the snake ordeal. which is poured by her into the anthill. I am not a parrot. Naga. I am a sinner.51). The prominent one of course is the cobra assuming the form of Appanna in order to make love to Rani. a magical potion. The story becomes a young woman and the song a sari. utters. In addition. becomes her lover. now occupies an elated position as the head of the family. Wearing the sari. Rani. not a cat or a sparrow” (2. Appanna’s harlot who was present at the trial feels ashamed and as a mark of repentance volunteers to do menial work in Rani’s house. But when her pregnancy is revealed to her husband. But now I am a woman. a wife. Rani emerges from a very weak. As she is confined within the four walls. her transformation begins. By the shape–shifting of the Cobra. Appanna also changes and accepting his wife’s superiority. she is again tormented and accused of infidelity. Rani gets a servant also. it stealthily enters the house of Rani every night and its intense and sincere love satisfies her.

Usually there is death or destruction. According to Subramanian. Thus all the characters end their life tragically. Though actually no shape shifting in the physical sense occurs in Tughlaq. Freud’s view that “a happy person never fantasies” and that “The motive forces of fantasies are unsatisfied wishes and every single fantasy is the fulfillment of a wish.Thus strange and fantastic things happen in Karnad’s play. so he is propitiated at the beginning of every undertaking. He is considered to be the most popular Hindu deities.horse (Hayavadana) and two friends (Devadatta and Kapila) whose heads are interchanged. It also drives Devayani into madness and Sharmistha becomes a fallen person. Shape shifting served as a vehicle for the dramatist to project his ideas. In Hayavadana Karnad makes use of mask as a folktale convention in order to create a bizarre world. which always has a heavy price tag as Markarand R. Karnad’s profound skill is at its fullest play when he fantasies the exchange of ages between father and son in Yayati and mix-up the heads and the bodies of the friends in Hayavadana. and victim. “the artifice of shape shifting is traditional. This structural and thematic device is a kind of transgression. ritualistic. All this could happen only in dream. and Mangalamoorthy. Though he is called as Lord and Master of success and perfection. So. Yayati. reformer. . In Hayavadana all the three characters Devadatta. the daughter– in–law Chitralekha becomes a victim due to the exchange of ages between the father Yayati and his son Puru. the Image of purity and Holiness. according to Bhagvatha. this device permits a person to be someone else for a short while. It is believed that he is the remover of obstacle. the protagonist himself assumes various roles as a dreamer. a correction of unsatisfying reality” (38) is applicable to Rani in Naga-Mandala. he also introduces Lord Ganesha who is worshipped by all as a mixture of human. mythical. he. murderer. is the embodiment of imperfection. Paranjape has said. Role-play and disguise are alternatives to mask. ”… a mask can create fantasy and bizarre worlds”(97). In the mythical play. Along with those strange characters. Though the plays end tragically. animal and divine forms. Such fantasies introduced by Karnad may also bear witness to his neurotic desire for striking at the superstitious faiths and beliefs of his people at the very root. Therefore his plays are plays of fantasy and the dramatist has just tried to lift his audience from the thorns of life. the dramatist creates characters like a man . He is considered to be a God with a human body. Kapila and Padmini end their lives tragically and in Naga-Mandala. Naga dies. in order to provide recreation to the audience and scope for the dramatist to highlight that which is only fantastic and not realistic in certain myths. but the outcome is tragic”(91).

They feel their own arms. so they brought his head and it was planted on Ganesha’s shoulders. Parvati was overcome with grief and so Shiva sent out messengers to seek another head for him. as though blood . The first creature they found was an elephant. Then she presses the sword on their necks. Their movement is mechanical. one fine day she scraped the scurf from her body. In the unrealistic plot of Devadatta. The frightened Padmini lifts the sword and puts its point on her breast when. Padmini places the heads but in her excitement she mixes them up. She stands immobile. The Princess marrying a white stallion and living with it for fifteen long years and becoming a horse again is pure imagination. Ganesha. outside the bathhouse to guard. mixed it with oils and ointments. “What do you want? Tell me. and look around.101). It is unbelievable that the Kali appears and asks Padmini to open her eyes and asks. When Shiva tried to enter and finding his way barred. But this ideal . from behind the curtain. Their breathing comes loud and laboured. The story of the birth and parentage of Hayavadana is a fantasy somewhat similar to that of Lord Ganesha. does namaskara to the Goddess. walks downstage and stands with her back to the goddess. Attach them to their bodies and then press that sword on their necks”(1. Padmini is fully satisfied as she has a whole man as her husband. One version relates that Shiva was in the habit of surprising Parvati in her bath. Padmini freezes and though it is quite unbelievable. stiffly.The origin of the pot bellied elephant headed deity is a fantasy. They sit up. Then it says. formed it into a man’s figure and gave it life by sprinkling it with water from Ganges. the goddess’s voice is heard. Kapila and Padmini. she in her flurry attaches Devadatta’s head to Kapila’s body and Kapila’s head to Devadatta’s body. slowly. Rajendran has asserted that “the Hayavadana (horse – man) story that forms the sub-plot of the play is Karnad’s imaginative addition” (68). Padmini is permitted to enjoy both Devadatta and Kapila without violating traditional sanctions.circulation has not started properly yet. As she disliked this habit. A long silence follows. heads and bodies. “Put these heads back properly.103 –104) But while joining the severed heads to their bodies. her eyes shut tight. bewildered. There are many other versions regarding the origin and parentage of the elephant headed Ganesha. he chopped off Ganesha’s head. the two friends commit sacrificial suicide in Kali’s temple. the voice says “… put it down! Put down the sword!” (1. But she stops and then “shuts her eye in terror”. Padmini jumps in fright and throwing the sword tries to run out of the temple. I’m pleased with you”.102). Prompted by remorse at their dealings with each other. She then set this figure. The dead bodies move. Eagerly. (1.

It is a fantasy that the dolls converse and they feel that they “should have got a palace. At last they lie side by side panting. but it elevated itself to fantasy in a few scenes when the live dolls appear. Like a laborer’s.114). the play Hayavadana … tells a story embellished with the harsh truths of life and the incongruities of our existence capsuled in fantasy. a social satire and the . hitting each other. (31) Padmini then wakes up and she reveals to Devadatta “Kapila’s mother died this morning. biting.Their clothes get torn. with the play taking shape as unreal and farcial. scream and giggle. bursting with little giggles (2. As they fight. But Devadatta gets embarrassed and he orders his wife to “get the lime juice ready soon“ (2. and Padmini is again left unfulfilled.120). They roll on the ground. Kapila’s body succumbs to the sedentary life imposed on it by Devadatta. But now they are soft. A real palace and a Prince to play with. not her husband. Then they watch and they get baffled to see him climbing a tree and then diving into a river. The dolls. Through these dolls Karnad describes the sub-conscious images and dreams that cannot be represented visually. scratching.119). and for those who were familiar with the play there was a slight disappointment. has now become loose. which was so tight and muscular. is seldom possible for human beings and it could only be fantasized as a means of wish fulfillment. They discover that in her reveries she perceives a man. A real Prince” (2. It is simultaneously a grandma’s story.120) as the pundits are coming to see him. then fighting. it feels the change and says. As Kaushal opines. Poor thing! “(2. Doll II notices that his stomach. Devadatta’s transfiguration is also communicated through the dolls.116). the dolls are left in the house. When Devadatta and Padmini go out for swimming.situation does not last long.like a young girls (2. Meanwhile the dolls start arguing. Karnad seems to suggest that such wholeness. Finally the “wretched dreams – they just tickle and fade away“ (2. it was a very enjoyable drama. when he first brought us here. a child’s discarded playthings. although immensely desirable.sickly soft.119). Nagini has aptly commented: For those who wondered what it was all about. They shout. tattle and cluck like scandalized crones as they look into Padmini’s eyelids. “his palms! They were so rough. on top of each other. the giggles become louder and more frantic . When he touches Doll I. who looks rougher and darker.

the Sultan forgoes his physical comforts such as sleep. then a Princess. It is a comment on blind faith devoid of any reason (40) This opinion is quite true especially regarding the episode of the dolls. She doesn’t regret becoming a mare when the enraged Gandharva curses her. but it elevated itself to fantasy in a few scenes when the live dolls appear. With the prologue it sets the tone and mood of the play. Muhammad tries to do what he thinks is good for his people without their asking for it. prefers a stallion to a human Prince. with the play taking shape as unreal and farcial. For those who wondered what it was all about. He thinks that he alone can rescue his people from misery. “this play is all the . Nagini has aptly complimented as follows: Along with melody. rhythm and colour Karanth’s Hayavadana was meant to entertain and delight the audience and it did…. It has the ingredients present in dreams of every individual. All this could happen only in a dream. creed and class is a fantasy under the prevailing social order. It is highly unbelievable that Hayavadana the son of the Princess of Karnataka is possessed with a horse’s head but a man’s voice and body. It is a fantasy that Hayavadana’s mother. As Rangan has commented.psychological study of a woman. (20-21) It is a fantasy that in Karnad’s Tughlaq. He acts as a rescuer and since rescuing is not realistic. Unbelievably she lives with the stallion for fifteen years and when it becomes a Gandharva she requests him to remain a horse. It is a fantasy that he gets liberated from his incompleteness when the five-year-old son of Padmini makes him to laugh and the laughter soon turns into proper neighs. there was a very enjoyable drama. The audience is taken to a world of make-believe. He even dreams of building an ideal kingdom for his people. Karnad’s Naga-Mandala. Contrary to his longings to become human. and for those who were familiar with the play it was a slight disappointment . he never succeeds in reaching the goal. is a folk tale with love potions and metamorphoses belonging to the world of children’s fantasy. marital bliss and even his mental peace in order to rescue his people from misery. of equal justice to all without considerations of caste. he changes in the end to a full-fledged horse like his own mother. Karnad’s versatility as a director is evident in the dolls scene in the play Hayavadana. originally written as a family opera in the Lok Katha tradition of Karnataka. His policy of complete impartiality between Hindus and Muslims. This play presents a fantasy world.

It renders the impossible events that ensue in the course of the play quite probable. A folk mind conjures up many fanciful things. In Naga-Mandala. a dilapidated temple. and “ all that abused mass of sleep”(Prologue 23) has turned against him and becomes the curse of death. The fantasy element is enhanced when they speak like the humans invested with female voices and evoke an ambience of a magical world. for she has lived with her parents till she came of age. a broken idol. When the story begins narrating the tale we are told that she is an only daughter. If not he “… will die on the last night of the month” (Prologue 22). then takes her away only to lock her up in the house and goes gallivanting. shade more than image more image than shade” (Sridhar Rajeshwaran 37). These fantasies and dreams reveal her psychological development. Marriage is a milestone in a person’s life and since it presents a hostile environment. the naga or cobra creates a protective circle for Rani and from an innocent girl longing for her parents. “I don’t believe it! They are naked flames. manifested as a woman in a sari and at last he manages to spend a sleepless night and live. The various stages in Rani’s development of her personality are influenced by her fancies and daydreaming which are the projections of her suppressed persona. no lamps. on seeing the lamp speaking says. No wicks. A man in a morose stance is forced to “keep awake at least one whole night this month” (Prologue 22). It is a fantasy that "… flames begotten of flames all trying to save a dying man. Different flames like kerosene lamp flame and Kusbi lamp flame carrying images after the lights have been put out for the night escape from their houses to gossip and have some entertainment. In such a setting. It is pure imagination that he has been cursed because he has written plays and staged them. Her unbearable loneliness makes her weave stories about herself that express her deepest longings. which could be of any God. Just lamp flames on their own – floating in the air! Is that even possible?” (Prologue 23). they meet in the ethereal ambience in the sanctum of a ruined temple. her mind indulges in dreams in order to calm her troubled self.more fanciful” (28). nighttime with only moonlight creeping into the temple through the crevices of the walls and ceiling. At . The play opens in a surrealistic setting. Her husband Apanna a rich man. the non-human things are articulated. It is an unreality that a dying man is saved by the story clad in a song. No one holding them. A man. even a cobra speaks and fathers a human child. becomes a loving wife and is then transformed into the Divine Mother at the end of the play. Appanna too changes from a hostile husband into a doting one. a man shocked by the floating images. thereby causing many good people to fall “asleep twisted in miserable chairs“(Prologue 23). Hers has been a child marriage. the story itself becomes a dramatic person and gossips with the flames. she is changed into a woman.

She is afraid to accept her invitation and he replies.28). mixed with the herbal unction prescribed by Kurudavva. Once he smells you he won’t go sniffing after that bitch” (1. Then a big whale comes to Rani and says: Come. The girl-wife is not yet a woman. gets involved in an extra–martial relationship. the act goes adverse causing confusion and bringing together a grotesque pair of lovers. She refuses to go.first. which she does not fully understand. The water breaks down the door of the castle. She. which has been given to her by a mendicant. the herb of lure. It is a fantasy that the snake having tasted the curry with the herbal unction gets physically attracted to Rani and later that night it enters into the house through the bathroom drain and takes the shape of Appanna. Rani yearns to retrieve her straying husband and so she feeds him with a curry.34). like a hurt child. And watch the results. I am a prince” (1. Her story expresses her psycho erotic needs. the unconscious part of his personality or the projection of Rani’s fantasy about Appanna. obedient and quiescent wife Rani. circumstances make the love potion work differently. The old lady Kurudavva has been the best friend of Appanna’s mother. let us go…” (1. is a folk belief. “ Take it! Grind it into a nice paste and feed it to your husband. She sleeps between her father and mother. So. Then it rains for seven days and nights. This could be seen as the rich husband trying to take her away. vasikarana mulika. In both cases. in the case of Puck. Like Puck’s misdeed. Kurudavva’s action also brings an imposter. In her second day–dream she wakes up to find a stag with golden anklets at the door calling out to her. her deepest wish is to go back to her parents. Rani.35). “… the demon locks her up in his castle. having lost interest in his dutiful. The effect on him is minimal and he just loses his consciousness. dreams of a fairy land and in the seventh isle dwell her parents in a magic garden and the eagle carries her across the seven seas back home. She gives Rani the piece of root. an aphrodisiac. The act of Kurudavva using the root for bringing the husband and wife together is similar to the act of Puck in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream who uses love philter to unite the lovers. though the intention is good. In South Indian villages. Appanna in Naga-Mandala. Kurudavva feels very much concerned for Rani’s miserable plight. saying. Naga is considered as the shadow Appanna. “I am not a stag. The root. The next day she feels scared to feed the curry to her husband and so she pours it into a snake pit. women observe the custom of pouring milk into the holes of anthill encroached by cobras ritualistically on Nagulachaviti and . Her story grows and perhaps it is in her fantasy that she accepts a lover. The sea floods the city. In her next wish dream. It pours. love potion is a magical device which the simple folk believe in when human attempts fail.

She is projecting her fantasy about Appanna.“ All these days I was never sure I didn’t just dream up these nightly visits of yours” (2. It is unreal that Rani is unable to recognize Naga disguised as Appanna and submits to Naga’s advances. wailing. But mongoose gives a tough fight. there are no scars on him. she hears the sounds of the dog’s growling and fighting mixed with the hiss of the snake which ends shortly after the dog gives a painful howl. and the Cobra is badly bitten by the mongoose. when her husband comes during the day. Rani is puzzled whether she has been dreaming or she has gone mad. That night when she moves into his arms. The dramatist keeps the audience under a spell and creates the fantasy world wherein Rani continues to be under the impression that it is the same person who visits her twice a day and relishes every moment of Naga’s stay with her. It is unbelievable that it spends the night with her in her bed and as it dawns it goes to the bathroom. At the place where the Naga is sitting she sees a cobra. the Naga moves close to her and caresses her. She says: “But last night … he had blood on his cheek … and shoulders. One night when the cobra enters the darkened front yard of Rani’s house. But at night how – you talk!” (2.45) Rani has many reasons to believe that the Naga is not Appanna. She screams in fright as she looks at the Naga in the mirror. the mongoose dies in its fight with the cobra. She is confounded by the diametrically opposite behaviors of the Naga and Appanna. she notices blood on Naga’s cheeks and shoulders.48). The Naga therefore could not visit Rani for the next fifteen days. pining for him” (2. The Rani–Naga relationship is neither complete nor healthy.50). When Rani is sleeping in her bedroom. the former for getting good husband and the latter to become mother. She opens her mirror box in which she has kept the healing ointment. She without questioning him applies ointment to the wounds and tends him. unlocks the door. his body is covered with wounds. steps in. In the next episode relating to the cobra and the mongoose. . turns into his original self and slithers away. has his lunch and goes away. This is objectified when she is unable to reconcile herself to the two Appannas and she says. When he starts coming again.” (2. It goes on like this for many days. She says to Naga “Goodness! Goats have to be sacrificed and buffaloes slaughtered to get a word out of you in the mornings. which has only partly healed.. “Rani spends her nights crying. Rani’s confusion is confounded. So.Nagapanchami. It is believed that the cobra is a phallic symbol and so it is worshipped by unmarried girls and barren women.49). Rani is innocent and she is trapped in the fantasy world. The next morning when Appanna comes. Now . the fourth and the fifth day of the waxing moon. In the morning Appanna comes. Needless to say.

Then there are hosannas and cheers from the crowd. and then slips back into the anthill.a devoted husband and a happy life. For Appanna’s concubine. He questions her purity. let the Cobra bite me” (2. It is unbelievable that it slides up her shoulders. moves over her shoulders like a garland. I have not touched any one of the male sex. who was present at the trial.59) All disperse except Rani and Appanna. Since coming to this village . tender. spreads its hood like an umbrella over her head. . submits himself to the will of the villagers and accepts the wife and the child. The elders say to Appanna: Your wife is not an ordinary woman. my husband and this King Cobra. It is a fantasy that even the elders fall at her feet and the crowd surges forward to prostrate. She goes to the anthill. Appanna falls at her feet and begs her for forgiveness. Rani is baffled by the difference she experiences in the angry expression of Appanna in the morning and the gentle. Don’t grieve that you judged her wrongly and treated her badly. That is how goddesses reveal themselves to the world. In course of time Rani conceives. Nor have I allowed any other male to touch me. The villager’s become spell bound by the miracle. “She is not a woman. And this Cobra… Yes. Appanna becomes dumb founded. before her declaring. It is unbelievable that Rani gives birth to a son and she lives happily ever after with her husband. If I lie. (2. feels ashamed of her sinful life and volunteers to do menial work in Rani’s house as a penance. The couple is seated in a palanquin and is taken in a procession to their house. At the enquiry she prefers the option of swearing by putting her hand into the snake hole as per the advice of the cobra to prove her purity and innocence. caressing touch in the night. Except for these two.59). The Cobra doesn’t bite Rani.58). Appanna disowns any responsibility for the pregnancy and demands a local enquiry by headman of the village. pulls the cobra out and says as. plunges her hand into it. I have held by this hand. only two… My Husband and …. when she sees the glory. You were a chosen instrument for revealing her divinity. Rani gently takes him in her arms. She gets everything she wished for-. and unable to protest. She is a goddess incarnate. She even gets a life-long servant to draw water for her house. She is a Divine Being” (2. child and servant.She wishes the night to last forever and seems to be seeking the carpe diem like Tawhai in Douglas’s Stewarts The Golden Lover.

will you?” (2. Her husband. and so it changes its shape and merges into the locks of Rani’s hair.R. When Rani wakes up she feels that her head weighs a ton. her son has been given the gift of life by the Cobra. She feels that something is caught up in her tresses and tries to comb her hair. And I am still alive” (2. According to Rani. . It is unable to bear the scene of happiness and even thinks of killing her. and any wish of hers should be carried out. It is a fantasy that the cobra has fathered her son. It is Rani who manipulates a play and she plays the role cleverly. Then she says. You don’t know how heavy you are. The Naga taking the shape like Appanna and appearing only in the absence of Appanna are pointers to the fantasying inclination of Rani. When Appanna helps her. She tries to comb her hair but finds it difficult. “Good. She even requests Appanna to cremate the cobra ritually and she lets her son lit the fire. He wants to kill it and looks for a stick.Srinivasa Iynegar’s comment that “people needed relaxation and entertainment and if moral or religious instruction could consort with forms of drama and dance. When Rani further says that every year on that day their son should perform the rituals to commemorate its death.” (2. Appanna’s concubine serving her as a maid and Appanna accepting Rani as a deity are creative fantasies. But he is unable to oppose this view of Rani as he feels that she is the “goddess herself incarnate” (63). Her home. K. Naga finds Rani. for ever. But it is a fantasy that she asks the snake to climb into her hair. He feels. She will be asleep. Appanna tells her. This is the right time to visit her” (2. to the utter surprise. It is to the artistic credit of the dramatist that human feelings like jealousy get articulated in the play. It is unbelievable that she pats her hair and says. Her child. But I haven’t seen her … It is night. “I have given her everything.Days later. You are no common person” (2.61). “Your long hair saved us.63).64). they were welcome all the more” (24) is quite true in the world of fantasy created by Karnad in this play. And lie still. a cobra falls to the ground. Appanna too thinks that Rani is a goddess and he says. a live snake falls out of her hair and lies writhing on the floor. But the sense of gratitude holds it back from doing so. When Rani and Appanna are sleeping she suddenly moans and sits up as she feels her hair to be heavy. Let me get used to you. Even her maid. which Rani thinks have come true. “… this hair is the symbol of my wedding bliss. The Elders were right. When Appanna does. as by a father. her husband and the child sleeping peacefully.64) Everything in the play is from the perspective of Rani’s fantasy. “… that’s done only for one’s own father. the snake plans to take a look at Rani. Live in there happily. The birth of a child may be a reality and the father could be Appanna but Rani assumes or imagines that it is the child of Naga.63). She must be happy. Rani. Now stay there.

Rani’s confinement in a solitary house makes her dream about a fantasy world where she can have a doting Appanna. What she thinks about Naga is nothing but her fantasy. Arvasu. trying to save Yavakri.It is a fantasy that Raibhya meditates. The Yajna is a sacred performance with a social purpose for an audience and this is the key to an understanding of Girish Karnad’s The Fire and The Rain. Then only the yajna can be fruitful. Arvasu. Yavakri’s misdemeanor incenses Raibhya . There is a major officiating priest. purity of mind and integrity of character. From then onwards she seems to long for a loving Appanna and creates him in her world of fantasy. he is the master of ceremonies. It has the ingredients present in the dreams of every individual. “the play Naga-Mandala presents a fantasy world” (276). As Raibhya learns through his daughter–in-law the shameful outrage. the fire sacrifice is to be performed to propitiate Lord Indra. Yavakri. In the play. Theatre. So in her fantasy. She goes to bed and begins to sleep. accosts the daughter-in-law of sage Raibhya and violates her. He kills his father and puts the blame on his brother. the Cobra in the anthill becomes Naga. He even turns against his brother. is an attempt to get away from the dreariness of reality and the boredom of modern life as a means of entertainment. Paravasu. abstains from sex. He is a young man of twenty-eight. goes to his hermitage and finding him not there. he chants mantras and supervises the entire Yagna. and then opens his eyes. It does not rain and the purpose for which the yajna was conducted is thwarted.This play gives the public what it wants. the chief performer. it is a fantasy that Indra is not pleased with the vicious performer. calls him a demon and drives him out of the precincts of the sacrifice. called the Chief Priest. All the people involved in the Yajna are to follow strictly the codes of austerity and concentration. a ravaging beast with lust. She also fantasizes the two ends of Naga. The sacrificial yajna turns out to be a mockery because Indra never appears. as Veena Noble Dass says. pulls out a strand of hair from his head and throws it to the ground. He is a man well versed in Vedas and sastras and knows the rules and codes of conduct to perform the Yagna. The Brahma Rakshasa appears. Karnad allows his female protagonist to fantasize freely because. asks the blind gatekeeper Andhaka to be vigilant and not to allow Yavakri to come out of the hermitage once he returns . It is a fantasy that such a personality lacks basic goodness. The snake dies by getting embroiled in Rani’s tress and Rani allows the infant snake to hide in her tress. as explained by the actor-manager and the actors in The Fire and the Rani. He is known as Adhvarya. and even forgets that his wife exists. he is seized with implacable anger. and Paravasu is honored to be the Chief Priest. When Rani is unable to attend to the call of her husband he beats her and then goes off.

as they were merely children of imagination. What follows is a comedy of errors. Mc. “Wind blows. his magical haven of safety. The Brahma Rakshasa comes and spears him. Familiar examples of fantasy are Tobias and the Angel by James Bridie. responds to Arvasu. We loved the way you challenged Indra and then pursued him…in the play. We are pleased with you…. “… the wheel of Time must roll back if Nittilai is to return to life. Andhaka not recognizing him. jumps up and grabs Yavakri preventing him from entering the hermitage. Indra who never responds to the fire sacrifice. Painfully the natural order is upheld in keeping with Nittilai’s spirit. finding Yavakri under the banyan tree. Lightening. The elements of fantasy have also given scope for the modern producers of television to relieve people from the fret and fever of contemporary life. freeing the Brahma Rakshasa from limbo and bringing rain for the villagers. People shout ‘Rain! It’s raining!’ ….to it. he dreams as though he has married her and imagines that he is surrounded by their children. But Yavakri is so confident that he impatiently waits for the Brahma Rakshasa. Ultimately. Indra tells Arvasu. Fantasies are purely in a world of the imagination and make-believe. Arvasu enters the sacrificial space. Vishakha for her part. People dance with joy” (Epilogue 62). Choose” (Epilogue 60). It is a fantasy that the voice of Indra from the skies is heard as follows: Know that all Gods are pleased with you…. In his Kamandala he has sanctified water. It is a fantasy that Arvasu sits clutching Nittilai’s body while it is raining. With the dead Nittilai on his shoulders. It must roll forward for the Brahma Rakshasa to be released. Imagination is an inherent quality of human nature. Thus Karnad through the elements of fantasy portrays as to how Yavakri receives his punishment for molesting Vishaka. Vishakha herself pours out the water and. Yavakri collapses in Andhaka’s arms. Mrs. which is enough to make him invulnerable to danger. The . Thus the element of fantasy predominates in the play The Fire and the Rain. Arvasu has to make a choice between bringing back Nittilai to life. (Epilogue 59). warns him of Raibhya’s plan and determination. Rejected by Anne Simmons. You can’t have it both ways. Blithe Spirit by Noel Coward and On Borrowed Time by Paul Osborn. Raibhya’s daughter-in-law. A classic example of fantasy building is Charles Lamb’s “Dream Children”. Suddenly the emotive atmosphere gets an ethereal colour. Thunder.Thing by Mary Chase. He wakes up from his dream and the children disappear. He projects the world as it might have been rather than as it is. The demon pulls out the trident and goes away.

It is an anonymous story rooted in primitive beliefs. not only in modern western culture. one among the literary genres. But Karnad’s drama serves as a collective feast for people of all ages and different kinds. “Myth seems to possess essential properties like their fantasy. Kirk considers myth as a “sacred or religious story” (26).stories of Panchatantra. their freedom to develop and their complex structure” (25). the first known user of the term. “Myth is primarily a certain type of story… The things that happen in myth are the things that happen only in stories: they are in a selfcontained literary world” (163-64). pleases all men with an infinite variety of taste.S. Myths are the tales that have been passed on from one generation to another and they have become traditional.Kirk opines. CHAPTER V TREATMENT OF MYTH Any traditional tale is likely to present a combination of reality and fantasy. Northrop Frye asserts. It is considered to be a common entertainment for people of different tastes. This is often masked as something that seems more worthy. mythology meant . They are sought by people all over the world and at all times. One of the reasons for the invention of tales and myths is that they act as a vehicle for relieving boredom. For Plato. Myth is imaginative and it is defined as that which has no real existence in French language. G. Thenali Rama and Birbal enthrall and captivate the children to a greater extent. Drama. Its power is that it lives in the borderline between fantasy and reality.

They represent the collective unconscious of a society. As Clyde Kluckhohn says. war. All his plays are literary excavations of the Indian collective past – the racial. Karnad’s creative genius lies in taking up fragments of historical-legendary experience and fusing them into a forceful statement. which can be the stuff of literature” (229-230). Karnad believes in the Jungian collective racial consciousness and so turns to the past habitually for the source materials. They deal with love. the archetypal and the real. sometimes to be cruel and sometimes to be just. the borrowed myths are “reinterpreted to fit pre-existing cultural emphasis” (58). (8) Indra Nath Chouduri affirms that “… myths are one of the segments which serve to determine the Indianness in our literature”(22). His childhood exposure to street plays in Karnataka villages and his familiarity with western dramas staged in Bombay have induced him to retell the secular legends of India to suit the modern context. It is a mode for expressing reality and it is logical and concrete. he took refuge in the myths and legends and made them the vehicle of a new vision. It attempts to interpret. parables and legends that pattern and define our culture offers immense scope for the dramatist. Issues of the present world find their parallels in the myths and fables of the past. tyranny. with different meanings and it reflects the contemporary issues. They form an internal part of cultural consciousness of the land. As Naik says. The myth is neither tragic nor comic.no more that the telling of stories but in actuality they have some serious underlying purpose beyond that of telling a story. he has likewise failed to make full creative use of his extremely complex historical heritage. the pre-eminent Indian playwright in the Kannada language. Our early playwrights writing in English like Sri Aurobindo and Kailasam selected their themes from the myths and legends of Indian Literature. The inexhaustible lore of myths. legendary and the historical and they have a strong contemporary relevance. myths provide flashes of insight into life and its mystery. A vigorous vitality that combs the past for apt myths to analyze the present has been the hallmark of Girish Karnad. at all events. create divinity and religion. is raw material. mythical. The inexhaustible lore of myths. “Myth.” (190). courage. Karnad links the past and the present. “… if the playwright in English has neglected myth. parables and legends that pattern and define our culture offers immense scope for the Indian dramatists as Harry Levin’s says. By using the ‘grammar of literary archetype’. Though Karnad’s themes appear to build castles in the air. . By transcending the limits of time and space. fate and with the relation of man to those divine powers which are sometimes felt irrational. it is only a perfect vehicle of embodying reality. giving new meanings and insights reinforcing the theme.

whose love for Kacha remained unrequited. Puru. Yayati.Paranjape has said that “Literature and Myth merely dramatize. Karnad delves deep into the traditional myths to spell modern man’s anguish and dilemmas that are created in his mind. Enlightened at the end. dreads old age. as it were. . he replied that his sole purpose was to narrate the particular story effectively and so. marries Yayati to spite Sharmistha for whom she nurses a childhood jealousy. Sharmishta’s son offers to exchange his youth for the age of his father. Karnad himself has revealed that Theatre can simultaneously be entertainment.By using these myths he tried to reveal the absurdity of life with all its elemental passions and conflicts and man’s eternal struggle to achieve perfection Markaranad R. Consequently. realistic and post modern forms …. His interest was not in recreating old myths and legends but in representing them to suit his artistic purpose. When Karnad was asked the reason for his handling of myths and legends. Devayani. which was a major success on the stage. A son is born to her out of her clandestine liaison with Yayati. Devayani brings a curse of old age upon him. Yayati was one of the six sons of King Nahusha. According to Sinha. which works wonders with his plays” (Chakravartee 36). he takes only fragments that are useful to him and the rest he supplements with his imagination to make his plots interesting. Karnad does not take the myths in their entirety. political commentary and artistic statement and can be composed in traditional. Sharmishta is deeply in love with Yayati and subjects herself to a lot of mental and physical torture for love. In the Mahabharata. Yayati gives up the throne and retires to forest to lead a life of renunciation with Devayani and Sharmistha. All his plays right from Yayati to Tale-Danda have a story line with which his audience is more or less familiar. Like masks worn by actors that allow them to express otherwise hushed truths. (331) Gifted playwrights have discovered source materials from myths and legends and have employed them creatively. he borrowed the myth partially from Mahabharata and other Puranas. manipulative representations of reality. blinded by his insatiable thirst for sensual pleasure. “the borrowed tales are given a turn of the screw. Realism in drama was a totally new concept and it was alien to theatrical conventions. For his first play Yayati. “Girish Karnad’s art can be described as a vision of reality” (123). Myths and legends serve as a surrogate for Karnad’s plays. Karnad’s handling of the sources of his plot in the plays makes it abundantly clear that his interpretation of the ancient Indian history not only differs substantially from his originals but also indicates a bold attempt at investing an old legend with a new meaning which has an urgent relevance to present day thinking about man and his world. heighten and highlight what is theoretically possible in nature and science (89). Indian theatre enables immediate. So.

In the Mahabharata Yayati recognizes the nature of desire itself and realizes that fulfillment does not diminish or end the sexual desires. which is quite relevant to present day thinking about man and his universe. to accept her may be a test to Yayati’s sensuality on the one hand and on the other hand it may be Chitralekha’s own selfishness. the one modern English playwright who has used them with imagination and creativity resulting in stage-worthy plays is Girish Karnad. on the one hand. It is a fantasy that Puru comes back and informs that Yayati’s curse can be redeemed if some young person exchanged his old age and the decrepitude it brings. who has become young by exchange of ages. dance and mask in his plays for spectacular effect. The symbolic theme of Yayati’s attachment to life and its pleasures and also his final renunciation are retained. (278) A theatre is a place where the spectators are transformed into a magic world. pleads for a life of responsibilities and self-sacrifice as represented by the King’s son Puru in the play. The technique of bringing together myth and legend to folk narrative style is the way in which he succeeds where many others have not. When Shukracharya curses Yayati of old age. Ramasamy compliments Karnad as follows: Talking of myths and legends. his son Puru willingly comes forward to exchange his youth. In reality nobody will opt to accept the burden of old age but. and also to show man’s eternal struggle to achieve perfection. In Karnad’s play. Puru starts feeling weak and is about to fall when Sharmistha holds him. After the exchange. rejects passionate attachment to sensual pleasures to which the King is a slave and on the other hand. Karnad’s handling of the sources in the plot makes it abundantly clear that his interpretation of the ancient Indian story not only differs substantially from the originals but also indicates a bold attempt at investing an old legend with a new meaning. he accuses Sharmistha and looses hope over his sons. When Sharmistha . Yayati recognizes the horror of his own life and assumes moral responsibility after a series of symbolic encounters with reality. His Yayati.Girish Karnad has given this traditional tale a new meaning and significance highly relevant in the context of life today. and so there is an extensive use of songs. Chitralekha’s proposal to Yayati. however. Thus the playwright takes liberty with the original myths and invents some new relationship to make it acceptable to modern sensibilities Karnad seems to have used this myth with a view to exposing the absurdity of life with all its elemental passions and conflicts. Ultimately Yayati succeeds in transforming his old age and his sins to Puru. Thus Karnad’s Yayati successfully conveys his message of disapproval of improper sensuality as well as performance of duty and acceptance of responsibility. quite unbelievably.

Karnad through this imaginative plot makes his audience feel free from boredom and monotony. It is a fantasy that so far she is not able to realize the reality but only after seeing his face she understands the misfortune which has befallen her. .tells Chitralekha the news that Puru has accepted his father’s old age. which is contemporary and highly imaginative. Karnad breathes into the mythical story a new consciousness. in Hayavadana Karnad has “made available the rich sources of both the “great” and the ‘little’ tradition. gives expression to Indian imagination in its richest colors and profound meanings. Finally she requests Puru to reconsider his decision but to no avail. which won the Natya Sangh Best Play Award in 1971. His use of the character of Bhagavata contributes to the drastic achievement of the play. which took several features of ancient Sanskrit drama. which is absent in the Yakshagana tradition. He does not merely borrow the character of Bhagavata from a typical Yakshagana play but increases the scope of the role by making the Bhagavata not a mere commentator–narrator but also making him one of the characters. though she gets absolutely stunned. As Tutun Mukherjee points out. Karnad combines the western techniques with Indian folk psyche. Hayavadana stands as an outstanding example for a play in which the playwright has used the folk form without diluting the contemporary appeal. in Hayavadana. She gets scared and tells him not to touch her or even come near her. The entire play is cast in the form of traditional Indian folk drama. In Hayavadana. He has also made use of the female chorus. fruitful experiments and new directions in the history of Indian drama. courageously she declares that she is lucky to be honored. she does not accept her husband’s sacrifice of his youth in the name of filial loyalty. The dramatist has presented his characters as representatives though they have been highly individualized and the names given to the characters are generic. Karnad. He has re-oriented the traditional forms by introducing contemporary themes. As a significant mark of achievement Karnad makes bold innovations. All this could never happen in reality. When Puru wants her to support him for the responsibility he has undertaken she gladly extends a helping hand. Though women are held compactly by the patriarchal society. the classical and the folk elements of Indian Literature” (9). One of the striking features of Hayavadana is the introduction of the device of making inanimate objects animate. socio-cultural and political reality. Karnad in Hayavadana strikes a significant note by exploring the dramatic potential of the ancient Indian myths. the source of the play. This device of Bhagvata helps enhance the psychological reality of the characters in the dramatic form. legends and folk traditions.

Left alone. Padmini discovers the corpses within the temple and so she decides to choose death. Devadatta. dolls. that is. It is the story of two friends. However. observing the plight of Padmini. the low caste. Integration cannot be . Goddess Kali comments that Padmini’s mistake is deliberate as she yearns for a whole man. curtains.101). The unrealistic plot allows Padmini to enjoy both Devadatta and Kapila without violating traditional sanctions. The supernatural plays a significant role in this play. Karnad suggests that such wholeness. reveals the truth that this is Woman’s vain attempt to unite Man as intellect and as flesh in order to further her creative purpose …. masks. Naik. which co-exists with the present audience. the Goddess Kali appears and assures Padmini that the men will come back to life if their heads are reunited with their bodies. the commentator–narrator. Prompted by remorse in their dealings with each other. too: “Kapila’s gone-Devadatta’s gone. Savita Goel comments. Padmini fixes the heads. songs. who embody the two extremes: intellectual and physical perfection. an amalgamation of human and non-human (half man half animal) in order to create a magical world. Padmini’s tragedy is that she is destined to live a life of sexual dissatisfaction as Devadatta’s wife. magnanimous Gods.Let me go with them” (1. and Kapila. He has employed folk-theatre strategies as a thematic and technical device in order to convey his ideas and explore different characters and situations. ecstasies and miseries of human beings. the Brahmin scholar and poet. a world apathetic to the longings and frustrations. are attractive but incomplete individuals. mime. “It is a play with a realm of incomplete individuals. horse-man. The dramatist employs the conventions of folk tales and motifs of folk theatre. Karnad suggests man’s cravings for wholeness through Padmini’s dissatisfaction of her marriage with Devadatta and her longing for Kapila. the two friends commit sacrificial suicide in Kali’s temple. of vocal dolls and mute children. The main plot (the transposition of heads) is set in the mythical past. But she tries to change her destiny only to fail miserably and finally jump into the funeral pyre of both the men she hankered after. (204 – 205) In this play Karnad uses poetry and music in order to evoke a sense of gaiety and celebration traditionally associated with the theatre. is seldom possible for human beings. though immensely desirable. but interchanging the bodies.He has drawn from the rich sources of the folk theatre Yakshagana and other folk forms with great deftness for his play Hayavadana. ingenious wrestling champion. but the frame postulates a reality. the story within the story.

the human body is a fit instrument for the fulfillment of human destiny and even the transposition of heads will not liberate the protagonists from their natural psychological demands. In his Hayavadana. The dramatist has proved that the traditional forms need not be treated as precious artifacts. Goddess Kali. She helps Padmini to revive the dead men. could never happen in reality. She gets vexed when she is disturbed in sleep and wakes up yawning and wonders why Devadatta should sacrifice his head to Rudra and his arms to her. a super natural element in the play.achieved by trying to reconcile the irreconcilable but by accepting cheerfully the fundamental disharmony in human life. Karnad’s presentation of the story of Kali. She does not allow him to complete his prayer for a complete man and so transforms him into a horse but does not remove his human voice. the confusion of the identities reveals the ambiguous nature of the human personality. Of all the mythical and legendary figures. She is indifferent to the suicides of Devadatta and Kapila but interferes in Padmini’s affair when she attempts to kill herself. Thus Padmini and Hayavadana are tortured by the Goddess for no specific reason of their own. For Karnad. But Karnad has relied on Thomas Mann’s reworking of the tale in The Transposed Heads. Karnad’s use of folk forms is neither casual nor incidental. Karnad examines the psychological and sociological problems of his characters but offers no cure. The Goddess plays a negative role in the case of Hayavadana.the half horse and half man. which hankers for the best of both the worlds through the character of Padmini in Hayavadana. While the Sanskrit tale poses a moral problem. which is a frequent feature in a folk play. Mann uses the story to ridicule the philosophy which holds the head superior to the body. It is a play of mythical wonder and is enshrouded in a realm of magic and supernatural. her mouth wide open with the tongue lolling out but possessing human attributes. is portrayed as a terrifying figure. The play Hayavadana is based on a tale from ‘Vetalpanchavimshika’ (also known a Vetal Pachisi). (196) Thus Karnad reveals the way of the contemporary world. For Mann. Padmini and her two men may serve as good entertainment to relieve the boredom and ennui of human beings in an indifferent and hostile world. he has made innovative experiment to offer a new direction to modern theatre. all this could exist only in a world of fantasy and myth. but can be adapted to treat modern themes suitable for the urban Indian audience. Goddess Kali of Mount Chitrakoot plays a decisive role in the plot of Hayavadana-. The Goddess .

is however. He must have known perfectly well he would be accused of killing Devadatta for you. rather “Kapila followed by Padmini and Devadatta. to signify the transposed heads. A cart does not appear on the stage. … through the use of folk theatre strategies. The rascals! They were lying to their last breaths. not taken in by these platitudes. Savita Goel says.who sees and knows everything. their masks are transposed. The action of the play is mimed when the three characters proceed to Ujjain. She spells out clearly what the audience might have only vaguely felt along. The Goddess continues. enter miming a cart. innovative and flexible dramatic form have gradually emerged enabling Karnad and his contemporaries to telescope different . In the beginning of the play. Initially Hayavadana appears wearing the mask of a man and in the end the mask of a horse. Miming makes the audience think about the problem in a more detached manner.103) The Goddess fully comprehends the motives behind the actions of the characters.wants to keep his word. namely to express the contemporary situation and its varied manifestation. Kapila is driving the cart” (1. (1. That fellow Devadatta – he had once promised his head to Rudra and his arms to me! Think of it-head to him and arms to me! Then because you insisted on going to the Rudra temple he comes here and offers his head. Lord Ganesha wears an elephant-headed mask and Kali. Later on.ride. Karnad also employs the ingenious folk device of Yakshagana to project the personalities of different characters. Nobly too. By employing this strategy the playwright stresses the fact that there are no smooth and practical solutions to human problems. he says-no other reason! (103) From this sarcastic statement it is fully evident that Devadatta has made his promise to the Goddess as an excuse for hiding his real motive. She tells Padmini. a terrible mask. It makes the universal framework easier. The main thrust of Karnad’s urge was not to revive the tradition but to understand and assimilate it for creative use.95). Then this Kapila died right in front of me – but ‘for his friend’… And what lies! Says he is dying for friendship. the contours of fresh. Devadatta appears on the stage wearing a pale mask and Kapila a dark mask. The play is replete with miming and for all these techniques. Karnad owes a great deal to folk theatre.

which the cobra possesses continually. The folk-tale element of the Naga-Mandala and the magical power. as Subhangir S. “one does not know whether the choice of the form determines the choice of the story or vice-versa. it revolves around a woman and a serpent. and Augustus Ceasar were all impregnated by serpents” (276). “We are forced to believe that there exists a theory that the mothers of great men in history such as Scipio. Lamaistic and Japanese writing. (212) Further. to bring in many levels of reality simultaneously or to negotiate them freely in any order. It is a threat to family and society. but Karnad’s choice of a folk tale for his play is very apt because it lifts the above limitations of time and space. often serve as a parallel system of communication among the women in the family. The play deals with a ‘self-involved’ hero. The title of the play is not the name of a human character. though directed at the children.points in time and space. but it is that of a snake. the story of the cobra suggests that the play is intended to dramatize not merely the folk tales. Therefore these tales. The psychological inadequacy he is trapped in causes acute lack of understanding and communication between him and his wife. Buddhism. remind the spectators that they are only watching a play. It is believed that snake myths are found extensively in Brahmanism. As the name suggests. Naga-Mandala is not only about the .” (61) Karnad’s Naga-Mandala is based on two oral tales from Karnataka as we know from what he says in his “Introduction” to Three Plays: … these tales are narrated by women. Alexander the great.Rayakar says. who undergoes a test put to him by his wife in order to survive. (16) The dramatist also attempts to instill an alienation effect by driving the material of the play from the folk tales.normally the older women in the family-while children are being fed in the evenings in the kitchen or being put to bed. The other adults present on these occasions are also women. Every man through adolescence faces this existential problem and so he must learn to overcome and this becomes more comprehensive in Karnad’s plays. The new form promises to restore the essential imaginative character of drama suitable for presenting complex human experience. but also to imply a deeper meaning at various levels. As this play is based on a folk tale it could be observed that the serpent plays an important role as in most such narrations all over the world. In Naga-Mandala. and also by using the ‘non-materialistic techniques’ of the traditional Indian theatre.

“… an Indian woman knows that motherhood confers upon her a purpose and identity that nothing else in her culture can” . The husband and the wife run towards each other. This existential crisis is treated in the folk tale in different ways. he gets the snake/magician killed and the Princess then sets him a riddle. In these stories the women’s experiences and inner feelings are not given importance. very different stages and psychological and cultural relationships are totally different from other less tradition-bound societies. The other villagers also ignore this lapse on his part but they emphasize the institution of marriage and the procreative function of the couple. This is another significant aspect of the Indian social and cultural life in its treatment of women. with a greater sense of relationship. The male assumption of keeping full control over the body. it seems to be about the socialization process of both men and women. It is a remarkable achievement of Karnad that he adapts this male-oriented folk tale in such a manner that it becomes a representation of the experience of man and woman in the psychologically transitional phase. In Karnad’s play. This stage of Rani’s social integration brings her a new sense of respect and her own worth. In Sudhir Kakar’s words. But this is achieved after upsetting the male egoism and exaggerated sense of power over women. enters the palace and woes the beautiful Princess. The transition from childhood into adolescence and then into adult roles has. where marriages is more often than not the first experience of sex and love for most people. Appanna’s violent reaction to his wife’s infidelity does not make him consider for a moment his infidelity towards her. there is a magician or a snake that assumes the form of the Prince. anxieties and psychological problems. If he fails to answer. In a folk tale. the story takes a happy turn. and their mature adjustment with the social roles appointed for them by the traditional society. locked up in the palace. The girl-bride now becomes the mother to be and as such gains a social recognition. When the Prince becomes aware of this. in India. They do not probe much light on women’s fears.male difficulty to trust and love women. The importance of the family and progeny are established. particularly in the Indian society. sexuality and virtue of women through the insinuations of family and values like chastity are mocked in the story. both Rani and Appanna adjusting to the family and community in a socially useful manner. Myths and folk tales in a patriarchal society represent primarily the male unconscious fears and wishes and are patriarchal constructs and male-oriented. he has to die. The NagaMandala probes into the female and male growth into selfhood.

his approach is realistic and existential. yet within her live the memories of the perfect lover who had given her first emotional and erotic experiences. The myth of Yavakri is a story of ambition to achieve the universal knowledge directly from the Gods but not from the human gurus.(57). The lover is always present. while on the other hand. within the family. moral code entirely. Brother. runs away one night. “But why. It is a reenactment of a puranic myth from the Mahabharata of Indra’s destruction of his brother out of jealous fury. Arvasu declares. Karnad treats the problem of amoralism in contemporary life. the young man.” (246) It is a play. according to Girish Karnad. why?” (2. Finally he is pulled away when the dreams become too powerful. In the alternate end to the play suggested by the playwright. he was trying to be a dutiful son carrying his old mother on his back. the daydreaming and fantasizing about love and she understands their power over the social and moral duties. It is a criticism of the Brahmin society on the one hand. Appanna even agrees to her rather strange demand that their son should perform an annual “pinda-daan” in the memory of the dead snake. Arvasu’s cry. These desires may haunt her or lie dormant within. In the Prologue. The eternal conflict of good and evil continues from the period of the Mahabharata to the modern contemporary society. borrowed from myths” (Prologue 4). The danger to male authority as a husband and patriarch lives on constantly at close quarters but mostly within the woman’s imagination. He has artistically and beautifully handled the power of myth. “… this is a fiction. long and cool tresses. which is based on the myth of Yavakri. Knowledge without . In The Fire and the Rain.38). The play has a complex framework with a central myth assuming the form of a framework of the story of Arvasu’s betrayal by his brother Paravasu. Rani is seen in the last part of the story to be in command of the household with some authority and decision making power. Rani has gone through these new desires. Rani can understand emphatically why Kappanna. He had been pursuing his dream of a beautiful woman. the chief priest performing a yajna to bring rain to the drought -stricken land. he lives with her. expresses a deep concern over “the fear of brother destroying brother where the bonding of brothers within the Pandava and the Kuru clans is as close as the enmity between the cousins is ruthless and unrelenting. The dutiful and loyal wife may observe the social. It is allowed by Rani to live in her dark. which is unjustified and immature. who was bound by filial duty to his old and blind mother. The Indian mythology. the snake does not die. Indra and Vritra. As a mother. Though he resisted the alluring voice and presence of the dream girl. rings throughout the play frequently voicing the puzzled fury and heart-rending agony of betrayal by a worshipped brother.

It is a fight for supremacy. that is rain. ‘Agni’. The play underlines the need for supreme human quality. Arvasu is a character in the original play and his task is to protect humanity. In this play. the beloved of Arvasu. Vritra by Arvasu. who plays the most vital role in the story of the play. The game of trickery and treachery adopted by Indra in order to kill Virtra in self-defence is the story of modern politicians in the realm of reality. Karnad has very intelligently incorporated the Indian myth of the slaying of the demon Vritra by Indra. it is presented for various purposes. that is mercy and compassion represented by Nittilai. This is in conformity with the Indra myth found in the Rig Veda as . Whether it is Yavakri or Paravasu or any one else like the King or the Action–Manager. It possesses the merits of morality with shades of reality and ideology. in order to be unrivalled in all the domains. Indra considers himself to be the legitimate son of Brahma. the chief priest of the seven years’ fire sacrifice conducted in the King’s palace in order to propitiate God Indra. his stepbrother. he cannot tolerate the existence of Viswa. who belongs to the Shudra class–the tribe of hunters. the son of Brahma from an earthly woman or Vritra. tells the sad aspect of jealousy. Nittilai as a ‘lamp into hurricane’ symbolizes the rains of human love. All the rituals and rites are to be performed in the presence of this deity. morality-oriented and thought provoking. The context of the mythical play in The Fire and the Rain is relevant. represents Indra in the play. all are seen trying their best to please Indra who grants the last will of Arvasu and gives rain to the world. Fire. an elitist Brahmin. He is severely wronged by his elder brother Paravasu and falsely accused by him as their father’s murderer. The mythical play within play is enacted in the last section of the play and depicts Indra’s attempt to destroy Viswa.experience is dangerous to humanity is the message passed on by Gods to Yavakri as well as to human beings on earth. And Rain is also equally important in this play. They are much superior to Gods even in their art of treachery. From the beginning to the end it is Indra. In the plot dealing with the myth of Yavakri. The myth of the Mahabharata is the story of modern hero of every family and the play through the myth of Yavakri. for warning Nittilai and for cremation of Raibhya. power politics. Viswa is played by the theatre manager. deceit and cunningness. Significantly enough at the end of the play rain occurs only when Arvasu’s mask of Vritra is removed from his face. Myth mirrors the contemporary reality of existentialist society. Paravasu. The play illustrates the use of myth in a powerful way. Fire is used as a myth in The Fire and the Rain. is worshipped as a deity in Indian mythology. and neglect of woman. such as for penance in the case of Yavakri. The drama of real life runs parallel to the myth. that is.

just after marriage. The love story of Devadatta. The importance of this deed to the Vedic culture is borne out by the epithet. The Epilogue very significantly presents the myth of the slaying of the demon Vritra by Indra.well as in the Mahabharata. the rivers flow out. Karnad in his “Notes” to the play says. because of his self-centered materialistic approach to life. Padmini and Kapila has been effectively presented in the mythical framework to drive home the lesson that man must find harmony in disharmony. Through the dramatization of the mythological episode of Arvasu’s love for a tribal girl. Naga-Mandala depicts the sex-starved. . Karnad has dramatized the myth of Yayati in his play Yayati with the specific purpose of glorifying the existential philosophy of the performance of duty and acceptance of responsibilities. in spite of himself being an embodiment of imperfection and incompleteness is worshipped as the destroyer of incompleteness. she represents young maids who. ( 68) Thus Indra is the source of all actions in The Fire and the Rain. the God of Rains. by killing him. ‘Vritrahan’ or the slayer of Vritra. pitiable condition of Rani. Summarizing this myth. Indra. In the Rig Veda. fall victim to the ill treatment and atrocities of their husbands. The mythical Paravasu represents modern man. which has been a social stigma for ages. seeks progress even at the cost of his own father and brother. In Hayavadana he significantly projects the myth of Ganesha who. by which Indra is repeatedly hailed. Yavakri undertakes penance for ten years and Paravasu for seven years in order to please Indra. “… the shoulderless one (a serpent) swallows rivers and hides the waters inside him. who. releases the waters and ‘like lowing cows’. To sum up. religious and philosophical purposes. Karnad very significantly condemns and ridicules the caste system. Vritra. Thus Karnad in The Fire and the Rain has made use of myth for social.

Tale-Danda is a dramatic representation of the undesirable complications caused by the Hindu myth of origin of varnas. By projecting Bijjala, a Sudra, a barber by caste, as the King of Kalyan, Karnad challenges the myth of Varnas which declares that Brahmins have come from the mouth of Brahma and therefore they are fit to be priests, poets, teachers and ministers, Kshatriyas emanated from the arms were Kings and warriors, Vysyas who came from thighs were tradesman and, therefore, fit to be tradesmen and shudras have derived their existence from the feet of Brahma, and therefore are supposed to do menial work. The play The Fire and the Rain represents the myths of Yavakri, Bharadwaja, Raibhya, Paravasu, Arvasu, Vritra and Indra. Fire, that is ‘Agni’, is known as a deity in Indian mythology and ‘Rain’ represents Indra himself. Thus myths constitute the major theatre idiom of Karnad -the myth of Yayati in the play of the same name, of Indra in The Fire and the Rain and of Ganesha in Hayavadana. Ancient legends and folk tales too have formed the basis of some of his plays like the story of the horseman taken from Vetal Panchavimshati and Somadeva’s Brihat Kathasaritsagara and the story of Naga in Naga-Mandala. Subhanghi S.Rayakar has rightly pointed out that Karnad takes leap from the original story and develops it further. This further development is the play of the artist’s imagination and it challenges the glib solutions offered in the original stories. (48)

In fact Karnad has taken this leap in order to provide new meaning to the myths and legends and has examined them from the vantage point of the present. Karnad himself has justified that he has gone back to the old myths, histories and oral tales not because he does not have an amazing inventive power, but because they are very much relevant even in the present context. Thus, “Karnad’s use of myth and folk elements to deal with a theme which has a striking contemporary relevance is wholly authentic and salutary and has the weight of experiment successfully made in contemporary world literature” (Devindra Kohli 15). The purpose of drama is solely to depict the life of the whole universe and Girish Karnad through the element of myth has effectively portrayed the contemporary world making his portrayal universally appealing. There is no wonder that he has been hailed as one of the most appealing and successful dramatist of the contemporary Indian theatre.


One can have roots, and roots can grow into flowering trees. And on those trees are birds ready to spread their wings and fly. That is the completeness of life and its representation is called theatre. (Mahesh Dattani 4) Theatre has always been a mirror for man, a reflection of the world, of the eternal conflicts that plague him, through which he has experienced the gamut of human emotions. This complex language of theatre has the ability to redefine the natural concepts of time, space and movements. The aim of the theatre is to represent the ways of the world, both good and bad; to instruct and delight; and to bring peace of mind to those inflicted with the ills of the world

and its problems. Drama, as against other genres, has an affinity to theatre. . It is a social literature. As Abha Dahibhate has said, “Drama was expected to comprehend the whole arc of life, ranging from material to spiritual, the phenomenal to transcendent and provide at once the relaxation and entertainment, instruction and illumination” (70). Drama was a subtle means of communicating the truth of life. The aim of drama is to add grace to precept and teach virtue by multiplying delights. The development of drama was a slow process but in the recent decades it could safely challenge comparison with other genres, as it is highly influenced by the classical tradition and western techniques. In the introductory chapter the researcher has focused on the origin and development of Indian Drama. At a time when Indian drama was in its infancy, Sri Aurobindo and Rabindranath Tagore emerged as prominent playwrights. Although their plays dealt with sociological, historical and legendary themes, the dramatic companies never staged them as they failed to cater to the demands of the stage. Apart from Tagore, Aurobindo and other playwrights of the pre-independent phase, there was a host of playwrights who wrote plays, which were highly lyrical, allegorical and symbolical. The economic depression of the 1930’s and the struggle for independence paved the way for Indian English drama towards a new mission and a vision to be fulfilled. As a result of these impacts, drama of social realism initiated by A.S.P.Ayyar, Harindranath Chattopadhyaya and J.M. Lobo Prabhu emerged. They portrayed the problems like untouchability, widow remarriage, the custom of dowry, and exploitation of the poor by the rich and the practice of conventional moral outlook. Though their portrayal of social evil is considerably appreciable, the lack of stage worthiness is highly regrettable. Among the early playwrights Kailasam has a stage sense but not to the extent of Asif Currimbhoy of the post-independence phase who has achieved national and international recognition for writing the stageable plays in English. Apart from these playwrights many playwrights have tapped their sources from history, current politics and they have made an attempt to extend ancient myths to modern times. Translations also accorded greater scope for the Indian plays written in regional languages. Among the contemporary playwrights like Mohan Rakesh, Vijay Tendulkar and Badal Sircar, Girish Karnad is a prominent dramatist who belongs to the Indian theatre tradition and ethos of Indian life. Karnad, though highly influenced by his contemporaries, differs from them to a great extent, as he understood that the purpose of literature is essentially the enhancement of life and the propagation of human values. Karnad’s aim is to bring about a co-existence between man and all creatures. The present in-depth study of Karnad’s selected plays, entitled

the down-trodden. He is expected to perform his task. This ascetic code of values is realized and it is considered to be nobler than the Brahmanical. the oppressed. To be a man is to be responsible. and how the selfless love of another alone generates in him a faith in moral values. Fantasy and Myth in the Select Plays of Girish Karnad”. the inarticulate. While Puru appears to be great in sacrificing his youth for the sake of his father. The play also reveals the predicament of man in the nihilistic modern world devoid . drama. Of all forms of literature. though a considerate son. Yayati. Ultimately Yayati is forced to lead a life of renunciation with Devayani and Sharmistha. Chitralekha mocks both Puru and Yayati for their ingenious notions when she commits suicide. “Yayati’s final realization implies not a check on pleasure but an awareness that calmness may be achieved through giving up desires. Chitralekha. Each and every individual is an architect of his own future. almost all the characters are irresponsible. it has been highlighted in this study that the characters created by him are not just carbon copies but lifelike characters reflecting the issues of contemporary India. Winternitz distinguishes between the Brahmanical code of values and that of the ascetic. Tughlaq. is an irresponsible King and father. The play presents the agony that Yayati undergoes in the absence of a firm moral base. The protagonist.Danda. he drives his wife Chitralekha to death. the exploited and the abused. the trapped. though irresponsibly chooses to commit suicide by consuming poison. shirks his responsibility as a husband. doesn’t want to die at the very last minute. This is the prominent message revealed by Karnad through his plays. follies and foibles of mankind. Drama as a form of art is inherently social and what the audience derives from it is a shared communal experience. affords greater scope for realism.“Treatment of Reality. Naga-Mandala. Hayavadana. She affirms life by her own death. the neglected. as he is quite aware of the perennial human problems.” (151) M. The former deals with the pursuit of power and pleasure and permits man enjoyment only in accordance with his means and status while the latter deals with renunciation. Shirking responsibility leads to drastic consequences. entitled “Treatment of Reality: Indian Ethos”. Chapter II. He has reflected the mores and ethos of the Indian society in a convincingly realistic manner through his notable plays Yayati. the handicapped. The Fire and the Rain and Tale. Puru. Since a playwright is a cameraman who projects the reality. has proved that he has directed his attention to the helpless.in the past and the present as well.a performing art. which is based on inner image. In Yayati. As Santosh Gupta asserts. deals with Karnad’s handling of the beliefs and ideas about the social behavior and relationships of the people of India.

you are known the world over for your knowledge of philosophy and poetry” (8. Though several historians. intelligence.of clearly defined moral values. talent” (3. critics and readers have referred to his impatience. writers. He himself reviews. Barche has interpreted this concept as follows: A man. India.220) This conversation brings to our mind Lord Krishna’s instruction to Arjuna in the Bhagwad Gita that the latter should participate in the war simply as an ‘instrument’ as He (Lord Krishna) himself is the one who performs the . A close study of Karnad’s second play.. He is quite unlike Babar who. Lord! why am I wandering naked in the desert now? I started in search of You. D. intelligent Sultan of a vast country. then there is fall and suffering.e. the saint admits:” God has given you everything–power. Through his failures. the temporal and the timeless. according to an Indian philosopher and psychologist Patanjali.” (13. Gradually this passion or notion enters deep down into the psyche of a person and gets settled there. and if not. Barani. This passion then assumes the role of a horse and the person that of the rider. cruelty and over.160). But the irony is that such a high and mighty personality has failed to control his passions. Tughlaq. is responsible for his tragedy. the Sultan is elevated to a man of wisdom and maturity and this becomes evident when he says to the historian Barani as follows: “But I am not alone. Your majesty. He has become a victim of passion though all the characters admit that he is not a common man. He himself gets puzzled as to what has happened to him. His step–mother reveals to Barani that “… he is such an intelligent boy” (2. proves it to be a unique one interfusing the historical and the universal. impulsive nature. even a wise man. “But you are a learned man. Thank heaven! For once I am not alone. praying for his son’s recovery from illness was willing to lay down his own life for the sake of his son. passion or notion. has an innate interest. lunacy.confidence. says. An able emperor like Muhammad Bin Tughlaq fails and suffers.. passion. a close study of his plays makes us to understand that a very different factor named ‘abhinivesa’. G. the sensible man. learning. through some well-directed guidance then there isn’t any tragedy. Barani. The prevailing moral confusion and man’s difficulty in accepting given values is portrayed through the character of Yayati.195).164).205). (1) Tughlaq is a learned. Why am I become a pig rolling in this gory mud” (10. Now if the person acquires control over this horse i. I have a Companion to share my madness now – the omnipotent God. Sheikh Imam–ud–din. Yayati’s selfish demand of his son’s youth reveals that he doesn’t stand as a model father. ponders and reveals his tragic tale thus: “I started in Your path.

As Muhammad Tughlaq reveals that he has God as his companion. It is clear that he is so much overtaken by passion that he evades the other possible sides or effects of his actions and thoughts. The outcome of this way of life leads him to an all-round failure and suffering. equality and unity in a country like India are the concepts that are very much alien and ahead of the times. which alone can save. People are swung to and fro by their fiery speeches and vote for or against the rulers. Ultimately the message conveyed by the dramatist is that God alone is the Supreme Being and not man: Alla – Ho – Akbar! Alla – Ho – Akbar! Ashahado La Elaha Illilah. (13. Karnad makes use of symbolism and allegory to focus the contemporary history and reality. The fictional Muhammad evokes in our minds not one but many political figures of the colonial and post–colonial India by embodying their different . Mohammad Tughlaq was a transcendental failure” (125). Life of the people is corrupted due to the interaction of the saints and politicians. In the play Tughlaq. The drought in Doab causing cracks in the soil is symbolic of a fragmented King and his fractured kingdom. Muhammad claims. The beginning of prayer and its rise and fall symbolize the fact that life is corrupted at the very source.220) The Sultan’s awareness that life is short and the stupendous task before him make him to dedicate his life for the well being of his subjects. Politics deprives the man of prayer. Ultimately people suffer as they suffered during the reign of Tughlaq. the more he becomes diverse and fragmented. Secularism. one can understand that the idealism of a ruler can fail and ruin him. The greater the struggle he undergoes to define himself as a unique King. In another couplet Lord Krishna says that God is omnipresent and it is He who directs the course of life of the people. it becomes evident that he is revealing a deeper understanding of life though he is drowned in the whirlpool of ‘passion’. no sense of proportion. excellent ideas. if he is not one with his subjects. But it is pathetic that the Indians are led away not only by self-serving politicians but by the saints and religious heads also who meddle with politics which is a game of sea-saw. Lane Poole aptly says that “the Sultan made no allowance for the native dislike of innovations and so.action. The handling of the theme suggests that it transcends Muhammad Tughlaq of a specific period and encompasses men of all times. but no balance or patience. as people blindly believe them even more than believing politicians. The Muslim saints like Bokhari of Delhi and the Imam of Garib Nawaz of Ajmer go round talking about the parties they propagate. A King is no King. with the best intentions. Reading this play.

Puru (Yayati). Devadatta (Hayavadana). which help predict the aspects of human nature. brother. Padmini in Hayavadana. The state of affairs of today’s India is in no way different from that of the conditions that prevail during the reign of Tughlaq. In Tughlaq. and her serious reformative urges made her the most controversial political figure of her time. the longing to rule by all means and the urge of the aspirants to put an end to the incumbent rulers was and is as true as it was during the reign of Tughlaq. manipulative’ and brilliant leadership quality is reflected in the Sultan. Even in the present times. Karnad’s view is that woman being the creative principle should not be suppressed or dominated over. Hayavadana and Naga-Mandala. But the male protagonists of Karnad’s plays attempt to condition the mind of woman. Nehru and Indira. His hopes of building a new future for India remind the readers of the anxiety of Nehru to ‘give (Independent India) the garb of modernity’. In India after Independence. Karnad’s protagonist lends contemporary relevance to the multiple aspects of his personality. especially in the eighties. The men in the Indian society are conditioned by the age-old and customary mindset that women from their very birth should be cared either by their father. and Vishakha in The Fire and the Rain . It is paradoxical that the ethos of the Indian society even while according a place of preeminence equating her to Goddess Sakthi tries to delimit her role within the narrow confines of family as a daughter. he represents Gandhi who experimented with truth. Appanna (Naga-Mandala) and Paravasu (The Fire and the Rain) try to have complete control over their women partners. Rani in Naga-Mandala. husband or son. Moreover the dual role played by Muhammad convincingly resembles the politicians of the contemporary world. The craftiness of the Sultan is similar to the trickery and meanness adopted by those in power to demolish the opponents. the administrators behaved indifferently and caused a lot of inconvenience to the subjects by demanding bribes from them. offer adequate scope for Karnad’s imagination. but their condition remains the same as most of the money is swindled by the politicians and administrators. and also that of the opponents to destroy the rulers. wife. Nehru who aimed at cultural modernity and Indira who chose ‘self-destructive authoritarianism’ for their respective concept of national well-being. Her yearning to modernize and discipline India. and mother out of which she should never play any other independent role.impulses. millions of rupees are spent to check the natural calamities and for the upliftment of poor and the depressed. At times. By evoking Gandhi. Indira Gandhi’s ‘mercurial. the tales drawn from the written and oral traditions of Kannada. Karnad effectively portrays this predicament of women through his women characters like Chitralekha in Yayati.

In Tale-Danda. which have been plaguing the Indian society for long. for religious fanaticism . Padmini is repressed by the power of patriarchal values of the ruling class ideology. She does not play the part of a demure wife and refuses to accept the passive feminine role. Karnad successfully picturises the predicament of a modern. She succumbs like Vishakha but she does not permit herself to be abused by the designs of man. Through Padmini. Surprisingly Rani gives life but it corrupts the human heart. joys and sorrows of human beings. Therefore fire is necessary to burn up the corrupt heart for obtaining further life. the corruptibility of evil and the susceptibility of man to the same have been analyzed in detail. She is brave and forthright unlike the archetypal Indian women. After the exchange of heads.who are the victims of post-colonial dialectic. In The Fire and the Rain. The world is indifferent to the desires and frustrations. murder. She affirms her life in fire. Though she falls a prey to the patriarchal society. as experimental as Rani (Naga-Mandala). Padmini experiences the best of both men. She is as witty and vibrant as Gangambika (Tale-Danda). but slowly she becomes aware of the reality. impersonation and treachery in Tughlaq. Like Nittilai she risks herself to make Kapila a complete man. revenge and jealousy within the learned families of Raibhya and Bharadwaja is projected prominently. She does not suppress her desire for Kapila and wants both of them alive. In Chapter III. bloodshed. Karnad exposes the ugly face of the caste – system and the ills of marriage laws. free and bold woman who is torn between polarities. In his plays. “Treatment of Reality: Evil”. although she is fully aware that her living with two men would be socially unacceptable. as courageous as Sharmistha (Yayati). violence. Karnad is of the opinion that Tale-Danda is relevant. she proves her worth and viewpoint before she enters the fire. She is both a challenging personality and a dutiful wife to Devadatta. But her circumstances compel her to drift towards Kapila and then to mix up the heads of Devadatta and Kapila. a woman who loves her husband as well as some one else for two different aspects of their personalities. Throughout the play she appears as a symbol of emancipated woman. and as compassionate as Nittilai (The Fire in the Rain). In the end the two friends die and Padmini performs Sati. The only possibility for man is to find harmony in disharmony. Karnad deals with some perennial evils that have been plaguing the Indian society from times immemorial like casteism in Tale-Danda. and adultery in Hayavadana and Naga-Mandala. From this we learn the ultimate truth that one man cannot possess all the good qualities and that the world is full of incomplete individuals. But she appears to be relatively freer and more capable of distancing herself from the hegemonisitc contexts. when she cannot do it in rain. the concept of murder.

But soon he becomes blood thirsty and brutal. At first Aziz impersonates Vishnu Prasad. the Brahmin. the play induces us to think about the efficacy of the laws of Hindu religion with regard to the hypergamous marriage. the sub plot accommodates impersonation. it is a must that we should take into account the services rendered by those classes of people whom we call as lower class also. The truth is that if our country is to progress. When the people of Delhi move to the new capital Daulatabad he takes . He is every inch a bloodthirsty murderer.has claimed thousands of lives even in today’s world. a comic figure. If the central plot is filled with violence and bloodshed. Initially Tughlaq is presented as a man imbued with lofty idealism. and takes advantage of the royal decree that all are equal before law and that the people can file a suit against the sultan himself for the misbehavior of his officers. which create intolerable tension and frustration. A great tragedy in our society is that human beings are condemned to a life of wretchedness. mental and moral degradation simply because they belong to lower classes. He files a case against the Sultan and gets five hundred silver dinars and a job in the civil service. Though Karnad does not offer any specific solutions to the problems which are eating into the vitals of our society. He sets out to banish everybody who happens to be a stumbling block in his way. Sheikh Imam–ud–din is an archenemy and a great critic of Tughlaq. when he comes to know that she has got Najib killed. Aziz. He is so cruel that he kills his father and brother to usurp the throne. He cunningly invites his friend Shihab–ud–din to take charge of the kingdom in his absence and hacks him to death when he rebels against him. What has happened in Tale-Danda is still happening. Sheer treachery is involved in trapping Sheikh Imam and getting him killed. bribery and treachery. the message is that the Indian society has built a trap for the untouchables. It is he who decrees his stepmother to be stoned to death. goes on impersonating one person after another. In Tale-Danda.

There are occasional references to Padmini’s infidelity in the play. She herself admits that her son has two fathers. The scope and the meaning of Padiviratha are being questioned here. mixes the heads of Devadatta and Kapila in order to have a better husband: head of Devadatta and body of Kapila. When Devadatta and Kapila die. When Kali asks her to put the heads of the two friends properly she. According to the Indian tradition a woman should be chaste until her death and she should consider it evil to cohabit with a man other than her own husband. He even goes to the extent of killing Ghijas–ud–din and presents himself before the Sultan in the guise of Ghijas–ud–din. She is drawn towards Kapila.bribes from them mercilessly. Padmini in Hayavadana commits adultery knowingly. which has the same value as that of the silver dinars. evil dominates in the forms of violence. When the King introduces copper-currency. and Rani in NagaMandala cuckolds her husband by having sex with the Naga. Thus in Tughlaq. Both Rani and the Naga pine for the ‘forbidden fruit’. treachery and impersonation. exploiting the situation. But the love of Padmini (Hayavadana) and Rani (Naga-Mandala) is not a spiritual one but mere passion for physical pleasure. This is not fair on the part of an ideal wife. Thus she tries to enjoy the phallic pleasures of Kapila and the intellectual powers of Devadatta. which proves that she has had illegal . he makes counterfeit coins. He also kills his bosom friend Azam and escapes from the eyes of law. she asks the Bhagavatha to make a large funeral pyre for them and she jumps into it. murder. She waters her mouth looking at the charm of Kapila’s body.

squeezes through the bathroom. which Rani pours into the anthill. which creates a hellish world for them and to repent as cursed beings. ‘ kama’ and ‘moksha’ as the four ethical goals of human existence. Yavakri is involved in fulfillment of his ‘kama’ with the wife of Paravasu and finally. a symbol of ‘artha’–political and economic power. The watchdog and the mongoose are killed by the Naga. Naga-Mandala also is a story of adultery in which Rani commits adultery with full knowledge about it. hunters and man–made classification of caste war as a tool of achieving the height of superiority and power. ‘artha’ relates to political and economic power. ‘artha’. rishis. Karnad focuses on the evil of caste war. But their ‘dharma’ becomes ‘adharma’ for achieving the post of chief priest of the fire sacrifice. He also concentrates on ‘purusharthas’ like ‘dharma’. takes the shape of Appanna. But it is comical that the evil always triumphs. actors.relationship with Kapila. The King Cobra consumes the curry. Thus Padmini is guilty of infidelity and Kapila proves to be a traitor. Unable to find any liberation from human bondage. The characters Bharadwaja and Raibhya. Brahmins and low–caste people. In The Fire and the Rain. the guilty Rani successfully completes the ordeal of facing the village panchayat and in the end is considered as a goddess. propound the quest for supremacy of knowledge. the two saint friends. and the Naga succeeds in making love with Rani. ‘Dharma’ governs the spiritual sphere. the evil incarnation. Paravasu and Yavakri are also a part of such political ambitions. Thus Karnad succeeds in portraying evil on the stage in a convincing manner and this element of make-belief gives his plays a universal appeal and the test of time. they all deviate from the moral standards of purusharthas. ‘kama’ to the sexual and aesthetic gratification and ‘moksha’ to the final liberation from human bondage from the cycle of births and deaths. She has many reasons to doubt that the Naga is not Appanna but she hesitates to lose the heavenly bliss that she has been enjoying night after night. This play mirrors the growing war between saints. they . and thus the worm consumes Rani’s long preserved virginity.

14). sub-standard and un–Brahminic acts of jealousy.13). It is not caste that upholds the society. “… you can’t cross a full stream on a bridge of sand” (1. Even Indra has appeared before him and has said that. talented and meritorious people of the upper strata of society exploit the underprivileged men and women. and after the rehabilitation of values. direct” (1. but condemns the evils like priesthood and inhuman acts of fire sacrifice at the cost of human life. These characters represent the men of contemporary society who are trying to achieve their goal of political heights without caring for dharma. and ruthless curses for total ruin of each other. Raibhya. The story of Yavakri is a lesson to people that knowledge should be acquired in the right manner. Yavakri is a symbol of an ambitious person who wants to get knowledge without maturity and experience. Such short–cut of knowledge for supremacy is a dangerous act and it may lead humanity to disaster. The Gods again come and suggest. but virtue that maintains the quality of life on earth. a criticism of the Brahminic society while on the other hand.10). You must move through these dimensions” (1. It is space. Yavakri. He deals with the merits of Brahminic qualities such as goodness.9) and “the whole world is at its feet” (1. The greatest tragedy in the contemporary society is that the educated. It must come with experience. gentlemanliness.become victims of their attitudes. This moral consideration is greatly important as it has ensnared mankind from the onslaughts of evils. you can’t master knowledge through austerities. “No. Yavakri represents the contemporary scholar of knowledge who tries to remove all ladders of experience and to reach the peak of knowledge and seat of learning with less experience and less knowledge. In this play. Yavakri. Bharadwaja and Arvasu belong to a high Brahminic class and their quest for spiritual power and universal knowledge does not bring them to the state of supremacy as they are involved in the sub – human. Knowledge is time. Karnad’s approach is to realism and existentialism. truth and sacrifice. not “knowledge from human gurus” (9) but “knowledge from the Gods. Brahmins are considered to be the torch–bearers of society but they themselves are lost and misguided in the way of ignoble deeds. Paravasu. on the one hand. power hankering. It is a story of modern pundits of the intellectual society that Karnad has beautifully narrated through Yavakri in The Fire and the Rain. It is immorality or vice which is attacked and criticized. The Fire and the Rain is. the face of contemporary society emerges in its triumphant design of richer human and moral values. which doesn’t spare anyone. . Karnad emphasizes that ‘Brahmanism is no Godism’. The prevailing evil in man is a natural vice.

cousin Yavakri are revived. Fredrick J. kindness. (3) The men like Yayati in Yayati. the Blood which runs in humans is devoid of humanity No elbow. Rain falls like gentle mercy and kindness. Hoffman reveals the truth that “lack of belief poses great . the ultimate desire of man on earth takes place because of ‘purushartha’ of Arvasu and sacrifice of Nittilai. humanity. It is a great sacrifice of Arvasu and Nittilai for the sake of humanity. sister or son All are same. Sudra and state– manager represent the greater virtues of goodness. Men do not trust the women in the family and so Karnad has mocked the fragile hold they have on the woman’s mind. heart and body. These minor characters are represented as the makers of a humanistic society while major characters represent a class of higher status who lack impassioned hearts. after the sacrifice of Arvasu and Nittilai all condemned souls are released and ‘moksha’. Appanna in Naga-Mandala. shattered and condemned as evil acts. Nittilai. lover. propounds the values of love. The final note of the play is the quest for humanity since. hunger. Andhaka.room for love and emotions of a mother. Arvasu forgets and forgives everybody and on his prayer to Sun God. according to Ambika Ananth. power and jealousy are defeated. love. and Yavakri in The Fire and the Rain seek sexual satisfaction only and they deny the importance of love as they are unaware that “Love is the purest form of human emotion” (Rabindranath Menon 7). kindness and humanity as the rarer virtues of mankind. the brother of Paravasu and the chief priest. the son of Raibhya. a superior Brahmin in the play. and all fires of sex. rulers are same in the game of gunning pandemic violence. broad mindedness and sense of human touch and human belonging in the play. brother Paravasu.Arvasu. Finally. everybody including his father Raibhya. Love is the immediate need of man for lack of it leads to many maladies.

K. the play arouses our critical faculties. if the cobra is regarded as a totem possessing magical powers. “… the hardest fibre must melt in the fire of love” (35). But Naga understands that a life of loneliness could be destroyed by the fire of love since it is the purest form of emotion. The need to provide great space to the women is accepted by the village elders. But if the Naga alludes to Rani’s paramour.cracks in the human landscape and this crack in human landscape is induced by lack of genuine love for fellow human beings.Gandhi has said. Rani is compelled to undergo the trial to prove her innocence. and our minds and thoughts are aggravated by many problems. Since neither Appanna nor Rani nor the Cobra is chaste. who respect the procreative role of woman. As M. but Appanna could afford to indulge in adultery. It is an extremely comic moment in the play when Appanna is left holding in public another man’s child and asked to respect his wife as a ‘Goddess’. lack of values and meaning in life. the spectators may assume that in this world dominated by compromise. the play is a folk drama.” (145) Appanna locks up Rani in the house and she is forced to lead a life of loneliness. Rani gets consolation through the Naga. It leaves the audience to reflect on the efficacy of the social laws which discriminate a woman from a man and which demands a wife’s faithfulness even to her callous husband. compel the man to accept and respect his wife and change his egoistic and violent behavior. happiness is . In Naga-Mandala.

The unsatisfied impulses seek their appeasement through the secret window of imagination or dream and Chapter IV of the study. deals with this aspect. or at least. and if this means telling things which are not literally true.incompatible with purity. or in the case of the . they accept it as their own. According to the classical poet Ovid. As David Daiches says. entitled “Treatment of Fantasy”. They probably think it better to let the secret remain buried in their hearts and keep the family together. Thus Karnad’s plays have a universal appeal and have stood the test of time. the untruths can either be interpreted allegorically as ways of representing an underlying general truth. Imaginative literature can be justified if it communicates historical or philosophical or moral truths in a lively and pleasing manner. it is unable to yield satisfaction to the impulses. Literature or art reflects the mind of the depressed person. They do not share the secret even with each other. An analysis of the plays of Karnad reveals that evil reduces an individual to the level of the beast. unlikely to succeed without that. Uniquely. The real world is full of sufferings and hatred for one another. the mission of poetry is ‘docere delictends’ –to teach by delighting. Though Appanna and Rani know that their child has not been born out of their wedlock. the primary aim of literature is to give pleasure to the reader and any moral or didactic element is necessarily either secondary to that.

In Yayati. instead he elevates his characters. Though these plays end tragically. fables. Karnad’s profound skill is highly .realistic fantasies. it seems to be a catalyst for all entertainment. and through imagination. Karnad through his artistic skill makes the reader feel at ease and enthralls them. Shape shifting takes place in non. stages unbelievable things making his audience forget their own selves and thus fulfills his task as a dramatist. These strange unbelievable experiences undergone by the characters make one to feel at ease and have a good laugh. the device permits a person to be someone else for a short while. In Naga-Mandala. (53) Karnad through his imaginative skill makes his characters shape-shift and thus entertains his audience. as plausible reconstructions of what might well have occurred. shape shifting occurs in the life of Hayavadhana’s father and mother. there are several examples of shape shifting and the prominent one is the cobra assuming the form of Appanna in order to make love to Rani. The prominent shape shifting is the interchange of the bodies of Kapila and Devadatta. shapeshifting illuminates the characters. In Hayavadana.historical poet. Yet another example of shape shifting is the flames taking on human shapes and gossiping in the temple after they have been put out in the houses. in order to provide recreation both to the audience and to the performer. Though in reality it is impossible for such exchanges to occur. Puru sacrifices his youth for King Yayati. But Karnad does not stop with this. In the sub-plot. myths or folklore. Thus strange and unimaginable things happen in Karnad’s plays. Though it is temporary.

tantalizing when he fantasizes the exchange of ages between father and the son in Yayati. “Rani in Nagamandala is allowed to fantasize freely as the play itself presents a fantasy world. Karnad seems to suggest that such wholeness. But this ideal situation does not last long. Padmini is fully satisfied after the mix up of heads as she now has a whole man as her husband. The dolls are made to converse and through them. Though Rani is innocent she is trapped in the fantasy world. The Princess marrying a white stallion and living with it for fifteen long years and becoming a horse herself at the end is pure imagination. The birth of a child may be a reality and the father could be Appanna but Rani assumes or imagines that it is the child of Naga. In Hayavadana. The Naga taking the shape of Appanna and appearing only in the absence of Appanna are pointers to the design in the mind of Rani. although immensely desirable. and Padmini again is left unfulfilled. Karnad’s Naga-Mandala also presents a fantasy world.” (Veena Noble Dass 276) . the story of the birth and parentage of Hayavadana is presented with all the elements of fantasy. Karnad describes the sub-conscious images and dreams of Padmini that cannot be represented visually. In the sub-plot. the unconscious part of his personality or the projection of Rani’s fantasy about Appanna. Naga is considered as the shadow Appanna. Appanna’s concubine serving Rani as a maid and Appanna accepting Rani as a deity are fantasies. is seldom possible for human beings and it could be thought of only as a fantasy. Devadatta’s transfiguration is also communicated through dolls in Hayavadana. Kapila’s body succumbs to the sedentary life imposed on it by Devadatta. and mixes the head and the body of the friends in Hayavadana.

but it is a living reality. It is a well-known fact that the themes of Karnad’s plays are mythical. Ian Watt. an analysis has been made to find out as to what extent Karnad was able to interpret the present in the light of the mythical past. (159) Karnad takes refuge in the Indian myths and legends and uses them as a vehicle for a new vision. Therefore. in the following account of Malinowski’s description of primitive myth. believed to have once happened in primeval times and continuing ever since to influence the world and human destinies. “Treatment of Myth”. He is the only modern playwright who uses them imaginatively and creatively resulting in stage-worthy plays. By using these myths. such as we read today in a novel. All this could never happen in reality. . he explicitly portrays the absurdity of life with all its elemental passions. The fantasy element is enhanced when they speak like the human beings in female voices and evoke an ambiance of a magical world. historical or legendary but his treatment of them is quite modern.It is pure fantasy beyond any iota of belief that different flames escape their houses to gossip and have some entertainment in the sanctum of a ruined temple. A cobra not only speaks but also fathers a human child. conflicts and man’s eternal struggle to achieve perfection. Karnad’s plays are plays of fantasy and the dramatist has tried to lift his audience from the fret and fever of the modern world through imagination. elucidates myth as something … not of the nature of fiction. In Chapter V.

Regarding the use of myths and legends it can be said without any hesitation that the one modern playwright who used them with imagination and creativity resulting in stage–worthy plays is Karnad. Myths and legends serve as metaphors for contemporary situation in Karnad’s plays. The myth becomes so relevant to the puzzled sensibility of the dramatist that it reflects his own anxieties about his future. The immediate cause was a particular incident. In Yayati the selfish tendency of the King is revealed when he willingly exchanges his old age with the youth of his youngest son for the satisfaction of his youthful urges. which later on when he became a writer might have influenced him to deal with this theme. his own resentment with all those who seemed to sacrifice his future. Karnad was awarded a prestigious scholarship for studying abroad. The anxieties are not the anxieties of Karnad alone but a perplexing issue to all the people of his generation. Modern theatre directors also choose . The gradual increase in generation gap has heightened its intensity.Karnad’s use of the myth of Yayati reveals the perennial clash between the expectations of parents and the aspirations of younger generation. They are used as subterfuges to discuss socio-cultural evils. His parents were reluctant to permit him go there as they were of the notion that he might settle down there forever. which took place in the young age of Karnad. This was an extremely puzzling situation to the young mind of Karnad.

which is devoid of humanism. an uplifting of heart. It is hoped that the present study.myths. A study of Karnad’s plays affirms the view of Indra Nath Choudhuri that Theatre has. an awareness and understanding of what he is up against. It helps him not only to reflect the fret and fever of the contemporary world. (184) From an in-depth study of the plays of Girish Karnad it is evident that Karnad as a dedicated writer has seen the whole arc of life with unflinching uprightness and has presented the utter truth of life in a language that is destined to survive and move and rule man’s heart forever. By a clever manipulation of the old myths and folktales. will be helpful to the society of our times. but also enables him to prepare his readers and audience to face the problems without simply existing quite complacently. . Karnad is able to serve a slice of reality mixed with fantasy. A study of the plays of Karnad also reveals the humanistic concern he has for his fellow human beings. courage. in all its history and greatest moments. brought to man hope. which has made a genuine attempt to highlight Karnad’s treatment of these elements for the purpose of delight and instruction. as these myths have elements of modernity and relevance to the present day audience. a vision towards better times to come and a determination to battle for them.

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