Hayavadana

by

Girish Karnad

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Padmini Character Analysis

Padmini is the spark that ignites the rivalry between Devadatta and Kapila. She marries Devadatta because she loves his mind, but she quickly realizes how sensitive Devadatta is when she makes harsh, teasing comments (a fact that Kapila understood when he met her for the first time). Even while she is pregnant with Devadatta’s child, she begins to pine for Kapila’s muscular body, and it is her split desire which causes Devadatta to kill himself, followed quickly by Kapila. When Padmini switches the men’s heads accidentally, she appears to get the best of both worlds now that Devadatta’s head is attached to Kapila’s body, but as the men’s bodies slowly return to their former states, she begins to yearn again for a different life. When the two men kill each other at the end of the play, she laments that they have once again left her all alone. She tells the Bhagavata to take care of her son and performs sati, throwing herself on the funeral pyre. Her storyline dramatizes the ways in which the mind—and tools of rationality more generally—can be irreconcilably at odds with the desires of the body.

Padmini Quotes in Hayavadana

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

Why should love stick to the sap of a single body? When the stem is drunk with the thick yearning of the many-petalled, many-flowered lantana, why should it be tied down to the relation of a single flower?

Related Characters: Female chorus (speaker), Padmini
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

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:

DOLL II: Especially last night—I mean—that dream…

DOLL I: Tut-tut—One shouldn't talk about such things!

DOLL II: It was so shameless…

DOLL I: I said be quiet…

DOLL II: Honestly! The way they…

DOLL I: Look, if we must talk about it, let me.

DOLL II: You didn't want to talk about it. So…

Related Characters: Dolls (speaker), Kapila, Padmini
Page Number: 51
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

Padmini Character Timeline in Hayavadana

The timeline below shows where the character Padmini 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
...two friends, Devadatta and Kapila, who are of “one mind, one heart,” met a girl (Padmini) and “forgot themselves” as a result, but ultimately neither of them could “understand the song... (full context)
The Mind vs. The Body Theme Icon
Indian Culture and Nationalism Theme Icon
...on the door to try and find out who lives there. When the girl (named Padmini) answers the door, he is immediately love-struck. Padmini asks him what he wants, outwitting him... (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... (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... (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... (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 she drools over him, and was unhappy when she invited... (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... (full context)
The Mind vs. The Body Theme Icon
The three of them set out in the cart, and Padmini remarks how smoothly Kapila drives the cart. She relates an anecdote about how, soon after... (full context)
The Mind vs. The Body Theme Icon
Padmini spots a tree with beautiful flowers, called the Fortunate Lady’s flower, and Kapila immediately dashes... (full context)
The Mind vs. The Body Theme Icon
Kapila returns with the Fortunate Lady’s flowers. Padmini asks why the flowers are called that, and he explains that the flowers have all... (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... (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 happily together. Remembering his... (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... (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
In despair, Padmini asks how the two of them could have left her alone. She worries that if... (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 has happened. At first they are... (full context)
Identity, Hybridity, and Incompleteness Theme Icon
The Mind vs. The Body Theme Icon
Metatheatre and Storytelling Theme Icon
...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 been so violent. Padmini begins to... (full context)
Act 2
Identity, Hybridity, and Incompleteness Theme Icon
The Mind vs. The Body Theme Icon
...his 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... (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... (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 him to... (full context)
The Mind vs. The Body Theme Icon
...the baby gets all the attention. They confess that they should have been wary of Padmini when she was pregnant, swelling up with the baby. They comment on how ugly she... (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... (full context)
The Mind vs. The Body Theme Icon
Metatheatre and Storytelling Theme Icon
Padmini sings a lullaby to her son about a rider on a white stallion, and falls... (full context)
The Mind vs. The Body Theme Icon
Metatheatre and Storytelling Theme Icon
...the actor who originally portrayed Devadatta now returns to that mask/role. The dolls imply that Padmini’s dreams have become particularly sexually explicit, and they fight over who gets to tell the... (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 the “witching fair,” making up stories... (full context)
Identity, Hybridity, and Incompleteness Theme Icon
The Mind vs. The Body Theme Icon
...Bhagavata is surprised to see him living in the jungle. The Bhagavata tells Kapila that Padmini has given birth to her son, and notices how angry Kapila looks by the way... (full context)
Identity, Hybridity, and Incompleteness Theme Icon
The Mind vs. The Body Theme Icon
Padmini finds Kapila in the forest. He confesses that he has worked hard to get his... (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 Bhagavata is surprised to see him, and reluctantly reveals... (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 asks if... (full context)
The Mind vs. The Body Theme Icon
Metatheatre and Storytelling Theme Icon
Padmini is once again left behind. She wonders whether she should have said she would live... (full context)
Identity, Hybridity, and Incompleteness Theme Icon
Metatheatre and Storytelling Theme Icon
...reacts violently when someone tries to touch his dolls. The Bhagavata realizes that it is Padmini’s son. (full context)
Identity, Hybridity, and Incompleteness Theme Icon
Metatheatre and Storytelling Theme Icon
Indian Culture and Nationalism Theme Icon
...national anthem ruins people’s voices. Instead he and the boy sing together the lullaby that Padmini had sung to him about the rider on the white stallion. (full context)