Hayavadana

by

Girish Karnad

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Devadatta Character Analysis

Devadatta is one of the two heroes of the play’s main storyline. His name means “god-given,” and the Bhagavata describes him as “fair in colour” (the actor who portrays him wears a white mask) and “unrivalled in intelligence.” He is the son of a Brahmin (i.e., a religious teacher) and he is unrivaled in his skill as a poet and pundit. He and Kapila start the play as close friends, but when he falls in love with Padmini, a rivalry starts between the two men. After he and Padmini marry, he grows jealous of the affection she shows toward Kapila, which drives him to cut off his head. When his head is swapped with Kapila’s, he is happy to have his mind, Kapila’s strength, and Padmini by his side. But when his body begins to revert to its old form (i.e., soft and weak), he once again feels dissatisfied and worried that Padmini feels that something is lacking in their relationship. Ultimately, he realizes that he will always be incomplete, and he attempts to end his cycle of frustration by ending both his and Kapila’s lives. The two of them kill each other with swords as an act of mercy, forgiving each other for their rivalry in the process.

Devadatta Quotes in Hayavadana

The Hayavadana quotes below are all either spoken by Devadatta or refer to Devadatta. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Identity, Hybridity, and Incompleteness Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Oxford edition of Hayavadana published in 1976.
Act 1 Quotes

Two friends there were—one mind, one heart. They saw a girl and forgot themselves. But they could not understand the song she sang.

Related Characters: The Bhagavata (speaker), Devadatta, Kapila, Padmini
Page Number: 11
Explanation and Analysis:

[Devadatta enters and sits on the chair. He is a slender, delicate-looking person and is wearing a pale-coloured mask. He is lost in thought. Kapila enters. He is powerfully built and wears a dark mask.]

Related Characters: Devadatta, Kapila
Related Symbols: Masks
Page Number: 11
Explanation and Analysis:

DEVADATTA: Kapila, with you as my witness I swear, if I ever get her as my wife, I’ll sacrifice my two arms to the goddess Kali. I’ll sacrifice my head to Lord Rudra…

KAPILA: Ts! Ts! [Aside.] This is a serious situation.

Related Characters: Devadatta (speaker), Kapila (speaker), Padmini
Page Number: 14
Explanation and Analysis:

Devadatta, my friend, I confess to you I’m feeling uneasy. You are a gentle soul. You can’t bear a bitter word or an evil thought. But this one is fast as lightning—and as sharp. She is not for the likes of you. What she needs is a man of steel.

Related Characters: Kapila (speaker), Devadatta, Padmini
Page Number: 19
Explanation and Analysis:

Why do you tremble, heart? Why do you cringe like a touch-me-not bush through which a snake has passed?

The sun rests his head on the Fortunate Lady’s flower.

And the head is bidding good-bye to the heart.

Related Characters: The Bhagavata (speaker), Devadatta, Kapila, Padmini
Page Number: 24-25
Explanation and Analysis:

What a good mix!

No more tricks!

Is this one that

or that one this?

Related Characters: Devadatta (speaker), Kapila (speaker), Padmini (speaker)
Page Number: 35
Explanation and Analysis:

KAPILA. [Raising his right hand.] This is the hand that accepted her at the wedding. This is the body she’s lived with all these months. And the child she’s carrying is the seed of this body.

Related Characters: Kapila (speaker), Devadatta, Padmini
Page Number: 36-37
Explanation and Analysis:

Of all the human limbs the topmost—in position as well as in importance—is the head. I have Devadatta’s head, and it follows that I am Devadatta.

Related Characters: Devadatta (speaker), Kapila, Padmini
Page Number: 37
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 2 Quotes

You know, I’d always thought one had to use one’s brains while wrestling or fencing or swimming. But this body just doesn’t wait for thoughts—it acts!

Related Characters: Devadatta (speaker), Kapila
Page Number: 43
Explanation and Analysis:

Kapila? What could he be doing now? Where could he be? Could his body be fair still, and his face dark? [Long pause.] Devadatta changes. Kapila changes. And me?

Related Characters: Padmini (speaker), Devadatta, Kapila
Page Number: 43
Explanation and Analysis:

KAPILA: The moment it came to me, a war started between us.

PADMINI: And who won?

KAPILA: I did.

PADMINI: The head always wins, doesn’t it?

Related Characters: Kapila (speaker), Padmini (speaker), Devadatta
Page Number: 55
Explanation and Analysis:

Isn’t that surprising? That the body should have its own ghosts—its own memories?

Related Characters: Kapila (speaker), Devadatta, Padmini
Page Number: 57
Explanation and Analysis:

I know it in my blood you couldn’t have lived together. Because you knew death you died in each other’s arms. You could only have lived ripping each other to pieces. I had to drive you to death. You forgave each other, but again—left me out.

Related Characters: Padmini (speaker), Devadatta, Kapila
Page Number: 62
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Hayavadana LitChart as a printable PDF.
Hayavadana PDF

Devadatta Character Timeline in Hayavadana

The timeline below shows where the character Devadatta appears in Hayavadana. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1
The Mind vs. The Body Theme Icon
Metatheatre and Storytelling Theme Icon
...He first introduces the setting, the kingdom of Dharmapura. He then introduces the two heroes, Devadatta and Kapila. Devadatta, who is fair and handsome, is the son of a Brahmin and... (full context)
The Mind vs. The Body Theme Icon
Metatheatre and Storytelling Theme Icon
...providing a short summary of the plot that is about to unfold: the two friends, Devadatta and Kapila, who are of “one mind, one heart,” met a girl (Padmini) and “forgot... (full context)
The Mind vs. The Body Theme Icon
Indian Culture and Nationalism Theme Icon
Devadatta and Kapila then enter the stage. Devadatta is described as a “slender, delicate-looking person” and... (full context)
Identity, Hybridity, and Incompleteness Theme Icon
The Mind vs. The Body Theme Icon
Kapila asks his friend why he didn’t come to the gymnasium the night before. Devadatta is distracted and responds that he was working. As Kapila describes a wrestling match that... (full context)
Identity, Hybridity, and Incompleteness Theme Icon
The Mind vs. The Body Theme Icon
Devadatta, convinced that his friend actually does understand him, tries to explain his love further. When... (full context)
Identity, Hybridity, and Incompleteness Theme Icon
The Mind vs. The Body Theme Icon
Kapila offers to try to find the girl for him. Devadatta tells him that he had followed her home from the market the previous evening, so... (full context)
The Mind vs. The Body Theme Icon
Kapila eventually asks Padmini if she knows of Devadatta. She asks what Devadatta is to Kapila, to which Kapila replies that he is the... (full context)
The Mind vs. The Body Theme Icon
The Bhagavata explains that a match between Padmini and Devadatta had no obstacles because both families were of high status: her family was very wealthy,... (full context)
The Mind vs. The Body Theme Icon
The plot skips forwards six months. Padmini is pregnant and she, Devadatta, and Kapila are taking a trip to Ujjain. Devadatta reveals that he is he is... (full context)
The Mind vs. The Body Theme Icon
As they talk, Devadatta reveals his jealousy of Kapila and of the attention Padmini gives him. He thinks that... (full context)
The Mind vs. The Body Theme Icon
Padmini tries to appease Devadatta and suggests that they cancel the trip and spend the day together instead, assuring Devadatta... (full context)
The Mind vs. The Body Theme Icon
...Kapila drives the cart. She relates an anecdote about how, soon after they were married, Devadatta tried to drive her to a lake outside the city, but failed to steer the... (full context)
The Mind vs. The Body Theme Icon
...of the flowers for her. She remarks to herself how muscular Kapila’s body is, and Devadatta notices Padmini staring at Kapila. He burns with jealousy as he observes her, but doesn’t... (full context)
The Mind vs. The Body Theme Icon
...the parting of her hair, and dots that look like a necklace. Padmini turns to Devadatta and says that he should use those descriptions in his poetry. Devadatta tries to shift... (full context)
The Mind vs. The Body Theme Icon
Kapila and Padmini decide to visit the temple of Rudra, but Devadatta, still upset, says that he doesn’t want to go and will watch the cart. Kapila... (full context)
Identity, Hybridity, and Incompleteness Theme Icon
The Mind vs. The Body Theme Icon
Metatheatre and Storytelling Theme Icon
Devadatta says goodbye to Padmini and Kapila, and says to himself that he hopes they live... (full context)
The Mind vs. The Body Theme Icon
Padmini and Kapila return from the temple of Rudra. They begin to worry about Devadatta when they cannot find him, and so Kapila follows his footprints to Kali’s temple. When... (full context)
Identity, Hybridity, and Incompleteness Theme Icon
The Mind vs. The Body Theme Icon
Metatheatre and Storytelling Theme Icon
Indian Culture and Nationalism Theme Icon
...if Padmini places their heads back on their bodies. Padmini, in her excitement, accidentally switches Devadatta’s and Kapila’s heads (in the play, this is accomplished with the masks). (full context)
Identity, Hybridity, and Incompleteness Theme Icon
The Mind vs. The Body Theme Icon
Metatheatre and Storytelling Theme Icon
When Kali revives Devadatta and Kapila, they (along with Padmini) quickly realize that something is wrong. Padmini explains what... (full context)
Identity, Hybridity, and Incompleteness Theme Icon
The Mind vs. The Body Theme Icon
Metatheatre and Storytelling Theme Icon
The argument between the two men begins to heat up. When Devadatta pushes Kapila aside to take Padmini home, Kapila asks Padmini if Devadatta would ever have... (full context)
Act 2
Identity, Hybridity, and Incompleteness Theme Icon
The Mind vs. The Body Theme Icon
...question about the solution to the problem of the mixed-up heads. He describes how Padmini, Devadatta, and Kapila consult a rishi (i.e., a sage) about their problem. The rishi tells them... (full context)
Identity, Hybridity, and Incompleteness Theme Icon
The Mind vs. The Body Theme Icon
Back at Padmini and Devadatta’s house, the two are happier than ever. Devadatta buys dolls for their unborn child at... (full context)
The Mind vs. The Body Theme Icon
...children stared at them at the fair with desire. They also comment on how rough Devadatta’s hands are, and say that he doesn’t deserve the dolls. (full context)
Metatheatre and Storytelling Theme Icon
Time passes and Devadatta and Padmini’s baby is born. Devadatta addresses the Bhagavata directly for the first time, inviting... (full context)
The Mind vs. The Body Theme Icon
...comment on how ugly she looked, though they remark that she is not ugly to Devadatta. (full context)
Identity, Hybridity, and Incompleteness Theme Icon
The Mind vs. The Body Theme Icon
Another six months pass, and Padmini and Devadatta are fighting over how to treat their son. Padmini wants to take him to the... (full context)
The Mind vs. The Body Theme Icon
Metatheatre and Storytelling Theme Icon
More time has passed, and Devadatta has returned to his original form: soft-bodied and lacking muscle. A stage direction notes that... (full context)
The Mind vs. The Body Theme Icon
While Devadatta travels to get new dolls, Padmini goes into the forest with her son. She imagines... (full context)
Identity, Hybridity, and Incompleteness Theme Icon
The Mind vs. The Body Theme Icon
...back into shape, almost torturing himself. He is also haunted by memories that belonged to Devadatta’s body—memories of things he never experienced, like being intimate with Padmini. He is distressed that... (full context)
The Mind vs. The Body Theme Icon
Metatheatre and Storytelling Theme Icon
Devadatta, who has returned with new dolls, searches for Padmini and runs into the Bhagavata. The... (full context)
Identity, Hybridity, and Incompleteness Theme Icon
The Mind vs. The Body Theme Icon
Devadatta finds Padmini and Kapila, and the three are forced to confront their situation together. Kapila... (full context)
The Mind vs. The Body Theme Icon
Metatheatre and Storytelling Theme Icon
...once again left behind. She wonders whether she should have said she would live with Devadatta and Kapila both, but acknowledges that they could not have lived together. She decides to... (full context)