Hayavadana

by

Girish Karnad

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Hayavadana Character Analysis

Hayavadana’s name is apt, as it literally means “horse face.” Hayavadana interrupts the main action of the play to explain his origin story to the Bhagavata. He is the product of a marriage between a princess and a Celestial Being in horse form. He is desperate to try and get rid of his horse’s head and become a whole man. He travels to the goddess Kali’s temple to ask to become a complete man, but instead she turns him into a complete horse. He is happy to be a complete being, but laments that he retains his human voice. When a young boy enters the scene and begins to laugh at him and sing with him, he is able to lose his human voice, and thereby becomes a complete horse.

Hayavadana Quotes in Hayavadana

The Hayavadana quotes below are all either spoken by Hayavadana or refer to Hayavadana. 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

BHAGAVATA: Hayavadana, what's written on our foreheads cannot be altered.

HAYAVADANA: [slapping himself on the forehead] But what a forehead! What a forehead! If it was a forehead like yours, I would have accepted anything. But this! I have tried to accept my fate. My personal life has naturally been blameless. So I took interest in the social life of the Nation—Civics, Politics, Patriotism, Nationalism, Indianization, the Socialist Pattern of Society. . . I have tried everything! But where's my society? Where? You must help me to become a complete man, Bhagavata Sir. But how? What can I do?

Related Characters: The Bhagavata (speaker), Hayavadana (speaker)
Page Number: 9
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 2 Quotes

That’s why I sing all these patriotic songs—and the National Anthem! That particularly! I have noticed that the people singing the National Anthem always seem to have ruined their voices—So I try.

Related Characters: Hayavadana (speaker)
Page Number: 69
Explanation and Analysis:

What’s there in a song, Hayavadana? The real beauty lies in the child’s laughter—in the innocent joy of that laughter. No tragedy can touch it.

Related Characters: The Bhagavata (speaker), Hayavadana, Boy
Page Number: 70
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Hayavadana LitChart as a printable PDF.
Hayavadana PDF

Hayavadana Character Timeline in Hayavadana

The timeline below shows where the character Hayavadana appears in Hayavadana. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1
Indian Culture and Nationalism Theme Icon
...the audience. Accordingly, two stage hands hold up a curtain. At that moment, the creature (Hayavadana) enters and stands behind the curtain. The audience hears the sound of someone sobbing. The... (full context)
Identity, Hybridity, and Incompleteness Theme Icon
Metatheatre and Storytelling Theme Icon
The Bhagavata remains in disbelief and chides Hayavadana for trying to scare people with a mask. He asks Hayavadana to take off his... (full context)
Identity, Hybridity, and Incompleteness Theme Icon
The Mind vs. The Body Theme Icon
The Bhagavata asks Hayavadana who he is, and what brought him to this place. Hayavadana answers that all his... (full context)
The Mind vs. The Body Theme Icon
Indian Culture and Nationalism Theme Icon
Hayavadana continues his story, saying that no one could dissuade his mother from her decision, and... (full context)
The Mind vs. The Body Theme Icon
Indian Culture and Nationalism Theme Icon
Hayavadana asks the Bhagavata how he can get rid of his head, but the Bhagavata replies... (full context)
Identity, Hybridity, and Incompleteness Theme Icon
Metatheatre and Storytelling Theme Icon
The Bhagavata suggests that Hayavadana go to various temples and try to make a vow to a god. Hayavadana says... (full context)
Act 2
Metatheatre and Storytelling Theme Icon
...second actor who screams that he has seen a horse (who turns out to be Hayavadana) singing the national anthem. (full context)
Identity, Hybridity, and Incompleteness Theme Icon
The Mind vs. The Body Theme Icon
Metatheatre and Storytelling Theme Icon
At that moment, Hayavadana returns, this time with a horse body as well as a horse head. He explains... (full context)
Identity, Hybridity, and Incompleteness Theme Icon
Metatheatre and Storytelling Theme Icon
Indian Culture and Nationalism Theme Icon
The young boy starts laughing at Hayavadana, startling the Bhagavata and the actors. Hayavadana remarks that he was trying to sing the... (full context)
Identity, Hybridity, and Incompleteness Theme Icon
Metatheatre and Storytelling Theme Icon
The Bhagavata remarks how beautiful the child’s laughter is, though Hayavadana is skeptical of that kind of sentimentality. As the boy and Hayavadana continue to laugh,... (full context)