Submitted to the university of jammu for the award of the degree of doctor of philosophy


Download 50.49 Kb.
Date conversion03.05.2018
Size50.49 Kb.
Eros and Thanatos: A Study of Women in the Selected Works

Of Girish Karnad







Supervised by: Submitted by:

Prof. Sucheta Pathania Pallavi Gupta



JAMMU – 180006



Karnad being a Modern writer doesn’t create ideal or real characters but subjects, who can be understood only through the interpretation of them as a construct and a construct is only a plurality of possibilities. The age of modernism brought many changes, its advent began somewhere in between the end of 19th century and the beginning of 20th century. It broke away with the traditional ways of viewing the world. There were no agreed principles. There was a cultural shift and the reason behind this was change in society, politics and technology, weakening of family ties. Modernist writers were dissatisfied with the world wars that shed blood, spirit and money and shifted their concentration in the inner part of the mind. Marx, Freud and Nietzsche, fathers of atheism were read. The modernist writers started writing about the deeper changes in the lives of the people that were brought about by numerous inner as well as outer influences (Alexander 323).

Karnad belongs to this era and his writings present a diverse world of multiple selves exploring themselves in both the inner and the outer world. Karnad belongs to the third phase of literary modernism which stretched from 1950-1980. India was divided and was undergoing successive realignments, followed by the establishment of a republic (1950), though there was still a massive internal division in states along linguistic lines (1956 onwards). “The number and variety of important writers mushroomed rapidly during the first three decades of post-colonialism, with the growth of multilingual national public sphere under democracy and the simultaneous expansion of a large number of public spheres in the indigenous languages ‘regionalized’ within the new nation” (Dharwadker 132).

After Independence, the writers developed identity crisis on the one hand and they lived with racial unconsciousness and talked of idealism & spirituality and on the other hand. They felt trapped between the inner regress and restrictions and the external imposition of a free and progressive existence (Choudhari 40). Belonging to a generation which hit a sense of maturity only two after five decades of Independence, Girish along with other playwrights worked his writings in a way of reshaping Indian theatre from the clutches of western thought. Karnad on his challenges as a post Independent playwright writes

My generation was the first to come of age after India became independent of British rule. It therefore, had to face a situation in which tensions implicit until they had to come out in the open and demanded to be resolved without apologia or self- justification. Tensions between the cultural part of the country and its colonial past, between the attraction of western modes of thought and our own traditions and finally between the various visions of the future that opened up once the common cause of political freedom was achieved (Karnad 1:301).

The writers of this generation probed into the internal conflicts of the human mind representing their own dilemma. The challenge before Karnad was to reclaim our past from the clutches of ideology where the past of India had been devalued. There was this tendency of granting superiority to what is European and Western and inferiority to whatever is Indian. Most of the Indian writers looked towards west and rejected their own past. They suffered from a lamentable spectacle of Culture Amnesia. But in a vast- culture like India, past doesn’t go away, rather it’s a guide that constantly provides example of how to live the present, an alternative that reflect our present in various disguising synthesis. Both past and present are inter-dependent, their growth and decay are equally proportionate to each other. This led these writers to rediscover India in term of tradition (Dharwadkar). Tradition meant opting for a historical sense. As Eliot in his influential essay Tradition and the Individual Talent stated that tradition can be obtained only by those who have the historical sense. The historical sense is not only of the pastness of past, but also its present. According to him, it is the sense of the timeless and temporal, as well as the timeless and temporal together. It is this historic sense which makes a writer traditional. A writer with the sense of tradition is fully conscious of his generation, of his place in the present, but also acutely conscious of his relationship with the writers of poverty (Eliot).

Karnad was in the dilemma of how to revive the Indian tradition, and he found the answer in Indian Mythology. To portray one’s unique reality, one has to look for methods indigenous to one’s own culture. It is in the ancient myths that Karnad found a method to reflect the anxieties, resentment of the present and articulate a set of values. He found in myths the way to nail the present to the past. Karnad is not a stranger to the “World of Indian myths, including the epics and Puranas.” (Dhanaval 57) also Vijay Tendulkar, his contemporary writer, stated that Karnad is “groomed his mythology” (Ramnarayan: 15). Karnad had been exposed to the world of plays and Oral tradition of theatre at a very young age. According to him, he was born in a country where it was a tradition to go to bed with stories of grandmother has exposed him to lot of myths very early in life (Chakraborti 48). Karnad spent his childhood in a small town called Sirsi near north Karnataka where his father was posted. Born on 19Th May 1988 at Matheran near Mumbai, he wanted to be a poet in early life but turned out to be a dramatist. Karnad is not only known for his dramas but he is also a famous Actor and Director. He is a Jnanpith Awardee and multi awards holder and is considered as one of the leading lights of the contemporary Indian drama. He used to visit Company Natak performances with his father, but as Yakshagana performances weren’t up to taste of his parents, he used to go there with his servants. Later in life, he was exposed to the western world, his strong network as a scholar, critique, translator, actor, director, only expanded his vision in the realm of art and honed his skills as a verger of collective aspirations of innumerable generations with indigenous concept of modernity that finds acceptance with contemporary audiences. All this made him “A Culture Smith” (Vanashree Tripathi), but the ultimate happiness to him is being a Playwright. Nonetheless, Girish Karnad has always been regarded as one of the pillars of contemporary Indian drama along with his contemporaries as Vijay Tendulkar, Badal Sircar, Utpal Dutt, Dharmvir Bharati, Mohan Rakesh, Habib Tanvir, G.P. Deshpande but Karnad is a playwright, whose work reveals a determined and self-conscious effort towards a new Indian drama, reshaping Indian theatre with old values under the shade of western models.

This was recognized well as he was awarded heavily, Jnanpith Award that he got in 1999, speak volumes of him. Though interested in Nataks in the early age, these Nataks began to appear silly to him by the time he reached his adolescence. But after many years, when in a state turmoil he found himself writing a play Yayati, to his greater surprise the theme of the play was from ancient Indian mythology from which he believed himself to be alienated. Thus, Karnad in the form of myths brought the aid from past for the diseased present. He amalgamates the stories of the ancient past in the present. This amalgamation makes one sense the presence of the ancient past in one’s contemporary world of both the personal and public life. The ancient text of Mahabharata is considered to be the one largest of the world epics and it embodies the very essence of Indian culture and has set values for Indian life and society which shape the texture of Indian life. Large numbers of stories have been taken from Mahabharata these stories serve as parables and reveal the secrets of human nature and explain the need for ethical life. Karnad returns to this mythology again and again that has seeped in his veins since childhood for bringing out the good and evils in essential human nature. The Fire and the Rain and Yayati are the result of this fascination that trace common men’s blind pursuit of pleasures, where he mistakes momentary animal pleasure for eternal happiness. Mahabharata covers all the domains of civilization from law and order to commerce and profit from art and craft of poetry to poetry and wisdom. It’s a book that through its stories teach Indian doctrine of life called Purushartha.

But with such a rich past in hands there was no dramatic structure for Karnad to utilize these traditional in order to revitalize his work in the urban context. Karnad laments:

While my past had come to my aid with a ready- made narrative within which I could contain and explore my insecurities, there had been no dramatic structure in my own tradition to which I could relate myself. Indeed this contradiction haunts most contemporary play writing and theatre in India. Even to arrive at the heart of one’s own mythology, the writer has to follow sign post planted by west, a paradoxical situation for a culture in which the earliest extant play was written in AD 200! (Karnad 1:304)

Though the tradition of Drama in the Indian continent is old but when Karnad started his career as a dramatist, he had no established theatrical tradition to begin with, reason being the stage-ability of Drama. Another handicap in front of him was the language. The Natyashastra, a Sanskrit handbook, most complete and only text on dramaturgy, attributed to Hindu sage Bharatmuni was completed sometime around AD 200 and since then it has been under study by scholars as traditional Indian theatre and as in all traditional art forms, it too has close association with religious beliefs and rites. Taking it as a guide the earlier theatrical performances took place in palaces & temples, where the audiences were never expected to pay to see a show. Later in the end of 200 BC, great playwrights emerged in Sanskrit literature making Sanskrit Drama rich. The Sanskrit theatre had been an “elitist phenomenon” even in its glorious days and had restricted itself to a group of wealthy and educated courtiers lacking general appeal. The Sanskrit drama declined by the end of 7th century AD after the Muslim invasion. And the rise of vernacular language took place, which obviously has no national appeal in a multilingual country like India. In the 18th century, India became colonized and the drama took new shape. By 20th century drama was coloured in the fight for freedom and political protest came into being. East India Company brought English drama with it to entertain its English officers. Indian English drama did not develop in India at a fast speed, it lacked behind, because of the increasing attraction in audience for regional place in vernacular languages. Moreover English, being a foreign language, was not intelligible to the masses and the playwrights too found it difficult to write crisp natural and graceful dialogues in English, which was not the language of their natural makeup. Also the actors found it difficult to deliver the dialogue with natural ease. After independence government encouraged Arts, Drama, but it only flourished in regional languages and did not welcome Indian English drama. And with the advent of films, theatre was virtually decimated (Tandon).

By the time Karnad came into the field of playwriting, theatre had become a commodity to entertain and earn profits. Parsi theatre produced nothing fruitful as he mentioned:

The audience that patronized the Parsi Theatre professed values, it made no effort to realize in ordinary life. Where as in public accepted the western bourgeois notions of secularism, egalitarianism and individual merit, at home it remain committed to the traditional loyalties of cast, family and religion. Only a society honest enough to face squarely the implications of this division within itself could have produced meaningful drama out of it. But as a new bourgeoisie claimed to be ashamed of the domestic lifestyle to which it nevertheless adhered tenaciously, the theatre certainly would never be allowed to acknowledged and project these contradictions.(Karnad :306)

Apart from no meaningful drama and with vernacular languages holding their position tight on the popular form, Indian Drama in English suffered a great deal. Karnad catered to this problem by first writing his plays in Kannada and later by translating them into English by himself.

Though Karnad’s mother language is Konkani, Kannada is his second language. But Karnad as a young man in his provincial Karnataka in Dharwar, harnessed the dream of winning the world by going to London and writing in English. He confessed in an interview that he wanted to be internationally famous like Shakespeare and T.S Eliot. When he landed in Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar from 1960-1963, it was not English but Kannada, that surfaced from his pen. Many a times, he has declared that his imagination finds creativity in Kannada (Dharwadkar). In the play Tale-Danda, Karnad has put his emotions in the mouth of one of his Characters:

To my ever-lasting shame, that’s one of my indulgences in my tongue. Sanskrit is a language engraved on diamond, unchanging, austere, Eternal truths can be captured in its in mutability. Kannada, our mother tongue however is pure flux. It changes from mouth to mouth, from caste to caste, from today to tomorrow. It is geared to the needs of squabbling couples, wheedling beggars, prostitutes spreading their saris out. It can only speak in inconstant moods. Its sensuality is addictive and the Sharanas use it to pimp for their vulgarities. (Karnad 1:64)

For almost three decades Girish has declared his love with Kannada as a playwright, despite his relationship with English.

In an interview that appeared in the Sunday Herald on 21 February 1999, Karnad restated that: a language is something you need to develop over a whole lifetime. After having written in Kannada for about 25-30 years, I feel I know how to write in Kannada now …. I don’t have time to go into a new adventure, looking at mastering an entire new subject because to be able to speak is not enough. You have to go into the language, you have to go into possibilities. (Dharwadker 2:xx)

Literary translation is a tough battle to win, it is a complex activity. Writing in foreign language is easier than translating into it, as one becomes aware of his limitations, one need to swim deep in order to provide his translations with a depth, a greatness that the language demands without betraying the other. Even Tagore’s translations of the Bengali play Raktakarabi into English play Red Orleanders haven’t been much of a success. Only an efficient writer can achieve the feet of converting a translation into transcreation. “ Infact, while replacing SL (Source language) to TL (Target language), it is but obvious that inevitable modification in the meaning will take place generally associated with some degrees of loss and gain” (Choudhari 96). Karnad himself has declared- “What happened to his plays after composition and initial publication was a matter not of his intention but of that multilingual conditions of print and theatrical performances” (Dharwadker 2: xx). And by bringing Robert Frost’s maxim that poetry is what gets left out in a translation, he further enhances the despair that the whole work faces in the process of Translation.

Still, Karnad being an accomplished writer in his own field and with his immaculate English has achieved a rare feat of appealing to national as well as international audiences. His English versions of Kannada plays are considered to be better than the originals. That makes him one of the major Indian contemporary dramatists. However post-1994 plays, Karnad has emerged as a bi-lingual practitioner with his Dreams Of Tipu-Sultan (1997), Broken Images (2004) and Flowers (2004) as these were originally written in English and then translated by him in Kannada (xxxi). His this shift, is considered to be determined by his understanding and demands of the new Urban Indian audiences, where the growing multi-lingual India is united by the imperialism of English in all sectors of life, as well as his personal life where his wife and children were brought up by speaking English alone. But the shift has only benefitted him in his international appeal as a playwright: “As the plays after Agni Mattu Male demonstrate, this versatility opens up a whole new range of subjects for Karnad, and diversifies his dramas both formally and thematically (xxii).

Karnad approached playwriting as serious literary action, he obviously identified the constraint of commercialized theatre that didn’t dare to be different from commercial Bombay cinema, but to him drama is something more than mere a piece of entertainment. To him, it should create a space for vigorous searching, a space that disturbs, stirs audience into taking. Movement beyond their everyday world and habitual modes as delight itself is theatre’s way of knowing. But he grieves:

To my generation a hundred crowded years of urban theatre seemed to have left almost nothing to hang on to, take off from. And where was only one to begin again. Perhaps by looking at our audience again by trying to understand what experience the audience expected to receive from the theatre? (Karnad 1; 311)

This made him look back at the traditional form Indian theatre. Literature been a study’s struggle and aspiration, but in India this struggle is about knowing the inner self. Human being is not only a material entity but strives to go beyond in search of inner experience, and Indian literature has sought to realize this synthesis and harmony between the worldly and other – worldly. According to Bharata, the writer of Natya- Shashtra, the theatre is a presentation of human nature and he doesn’t allow one to forget that the world of actuality forms the basis of theatre. In further says that though theatre is not an exact representation of life, but represent human nature in different modes through forms of theatrical communication. It uses the raw material of life and then transforms it. He also lays stress on the fact that drama must provide pleasure of education. According to him, the knowledge derived from theatrical experience itself is pleasure. These two are not counter-opposite but result of the sale cause and consequences of emotive situation. According to him theatre is pragmatic and metaphysical, realistic and spiritual. Influenced by traditional theatre, Karnad’s plays represent the emotional knowledge. His plays are a result of, the belief that the world is a stage and ‘life is a dream’ and thereby combining realism and unreality or involvement and detachment or illusion and non- illusion, his plays became meaningful to the spectators in an intellectual way which gives pleasure to them. His plays create a magic where the audience form an identification with the represented emotions that is neither other – directed not entirely directed at oneself, thus enabling the mind to contemplate the situation at once with involvement and detachment. Involvement develops an emotive situation and detachment leads the audience to search for meaning. While many critics have attributed the Brechtian influence on Karnard, regarding ‘Alienation Effect’, which he dismissed on the grounds that Brecht only sensitized us to the techniques available already in Indian Traditional Threatre. Like Bharata, Brecht’s theatre too advocates the principle of pleasure. As Bharata backs the use of conventions of stylization in order to make man aware of watching a theatrical version of life, Brecht’s theatre too uses theatrical convinces like songs, projections, visible lights, musicians and stage machinery to prove to the spectacle that he is watching a play and not a slice of life (Tandon).

This effect, Brecht said, is used by dramatists to make familiar aspects of the present social reality seem strange, so as to prevent the emotional identification or involvement of the audience with the characters and their action in a play. His aim was instead to evoke a critical distance and attitude in the spectators, in order to arouse, them to take action against, rather than simply to accept, the state of society and behaviour represented on stage. (Abrams 5)

But according to Karnad, Indian theatre has never approved of a unified spectacle. Whereas Brecht only limits his audience to understand the social implications of theatre, Indian theatre on the contrary makes the audience understand the principles of eternity and overall view of life including both the metaphysical and routine. Though Karnad’s stories and characters took birth from Indian civilizations and grew on Indian epics and philosophies but the influence of western writers in the form, in his dramaturgy is self-confessed. When he found himself writing his play Yayati based on a myth, he owed the form of play to the western playwrights whom he read in print or seen on stage in Bombay: Anouilli (his Antigone in particular) and Sartre, O’Neil, Camus, Beckett, Pinter and Greeks. The influence of folk-tales and oral tales can also be seen on Karnad. His theatre defines the ‘Indianness’ after Independence and to achieve it, his plays testify a larger cultural matrix. He understood the deep-rootedness of folk-theatre in Indian culture with the gaze of an outsider and exploited it with the projection of his own vision. He was convinced of the similarities between theatre conventions of classical drama and those of folk theatre. He found folk tradition valuable because of its reflection of certain life styles, cultural values and exploration of people’s psyche.

Commenting on the flexibility of folk-tales Karnad says:

The energy of folk theatre comes from the fact although it seems to uphold traditional values, it also has means of questioning those values, of making them literally stand on their head. The various conventions-the chorus, the masks, the seemingly unrelated comic episodes, the mixing of human and non-human worlds-permits the simultaneous presentation of alternative points of view, of alternative attitudes to the central problem.(Karnad 1:314)

Karnad plays open up new vistas of interpretation with their background of folk-tales and myth with philosophical content in it. It provides a new avenue to study the instincts of woman and the purpose of the present thesis is to study these instincts in woman in their primacy with the Indian philosophy as the driving force behind it.

The thesis projects the following pattern of presentation


Chapter I : Eros: A Drive for Union

Chapter II : Chaos: A State of Flux

Chapter III : Thanatos: Breaking Rules

Chapter IV : Void: A Space to Meditate


Selected Bibliography


In the first part of the Introduction a brief history of instinct is given. This part chronologies the development of instincts as a concept in their present state. From ancient myths to Charles Darwin to Freud, this part discusses how instincts of Eros and Thanatos came into being.

The second part of the introduction discusses the problems Karnad faced as a modernist playwright and how there wasn’t any set tradition in front of him to follow and how this handicap made Karnad move to folk-tales and myths for writing his plays.

The third part of introduction includes the review of literature and the problem of the thesis.

The fourth part discusses doctrine of Indian philosophy and the line of approach adopted in the thesis and the theory of archetypal criticism and archetypal feminism.

The last part of Introduction discusses the central idea of each chapter.

Chapter—I: Eros: A Drive for Union

The thesis is divided into four chapters. In the first chapter, Eros as a concept is discussed. The concept of Eros is not limited to the romantic love, it has with time evolved into a primal force that leads to the discovery of passion and in passion thrive life. It has come to be known as a life-force whose purpose is to form and create. It not only engenders life, but infuses energy in it as well. It is the source of all the creative energy. It leads the personality through growth. Whereas intellect is the result of the experiences from outside world, Eros springs from the inner realms of unconscious, which determines that the cycle of life keeps on rotating. In Indian culture the archetype equivalent of Eros is Goddess Lakshmi.

In this chapter, the history of Eros is traced from being a God in various mythologies of the world to its evolution as a concept. Philosophers from antiquity to psychologists and anthropologists of present era are cited to support the argument of Eros being a concept. It discusses how Karnad’s heroines are an archetype of Goddess Lakshmi, which is an embodiment of Eros. Jung’s Collective Unconsciousness sees man’s unconsciousness as a product of whole mankind and this unconscious manifests itself in multiple form of god or goddesses and these gods have different forms and different names in different cultures of the world, but somewhere the underlying idea they all represent, remains the same. They became archetypes that are metaphors, that can be seen as embodiments of specific functions and each metaphor can be personified by giving it a name.

This chapter discusses that how through personification, archetypal criticism takes up a meaningful relationship these gods and goddesses have with the internal world of human beings. These gods and goddesses are present as archetypes in everyone’s psyche all the time, some are dominant in one particular phase and others are dominant in other phase and decide the course of one’s life in that phase of life. For example, in the play Hayavadana, Padmini is the archetype of Lakshmi. Eros is related to youth, beauty and fertility and the archetype of Lakshmi embodies all these characteristic. When Padmini in the play Hayavadana is first introduced, her beauty is described in the most sensuous way.

DEVADATTA (slowly): How can I describe her, Kapila? Her forelocks rival the bees, her face is.... a white lotus. Her beauty is as the magic lake. Her arms the lotus creepers. Her breasts are golden urns and her waist... I was blind all these days. I deceived myself that I understood poetry. I didn’t. I understood nothing. ....The Shyama Nayika---born of Kalidasa’s magic description-as Vatsyayana had dreamt her. Kapila, in a single appearance, she has become my guru in the poetry of love. Do you think she would ever assent to becoming my disciple in love itself? ......If only she would consent to be my Muse, I could outshine Kalidasa. I’d always wanted to do that- but I thought it was impossible...But now I see it is within my reach (120).

Her beauty and sexuality is exalted when Devadatta compares her to the women of Vatsyayana. Vatsyayana is considered to be the author of Kamasutra, an Indian doctrine on human sexual behaviour. He has classified women in different types and Padmini is one of them. “Padmini is Vatsyayana’s trope for a most desirable woman, a paragon of beauty. Padmini with ethereal beauty and name (lotus)-the sacred flower displays raunchy desires” (Tripathi 72).

Chapter-II: Chaos: A State of Flux

In the previous chapter, it is studied that how the underlying Eros of unconscious finds a way out in the consciousness and becomes desire. The second chapter explores how Chaos occurs in the lives of these heroines when their Eros is left unsatisfied. This chapter studies that how these desires, when are not in align with the moral codes of society, create chaos in the psyche of Karnad’s heroines. Chaos is about confusion, muddle and undifferentiatedness. This chapter explores how “Lakshman Rekha” is the archetype of Chaos. It is a metaphor for the ‘in between’ stage and dilemma that Chaos represents. In the modern context this archetype of ‘Lakshman Rekha’ has come to mean a strict convention or rule, not to be broken so that one stays within the ethical limits created by society. Transgressing this line may lead to repercussions. This chapter talks about how within the limits of Laksham Rekha, society allures woman to protection and how transgressing it becomes a state of wilderness. It is the threshold between repressed instincts and social restrains. A place where one rejects certain things and accepts another, a place of separation and incorporation. It symbolizes a decisive moment. The Chaos in the psyche of Karnad’s heroines evokes this image of Lakshman Rekha where they can’t decide between the demands of social codes and the relationships of heart. Female body has always been inherited as a source of pleasure as well as threat. Maureen says, “Women access their spirituality through movement and body awareness, so a denial of the body inhibits the heroine’s spiritual development” (Murdock, 24). So when a woman’s bodily instincts are repressed because of sociological pressures, the outcome is always a conflict in the psyche; a state of Chaos.

This chaos can be seen in Padmini in the play Hayavadana. She had been attracted to the virility of Kapila against the fragility of Devadatta. Devadatta, disturbed by this fact cuts off his head and gifts it to Goddess Kali. On finding Devadatta dead, Kapila out of guilt cuts off his own head. Padmini horrified at the action of both laments in front of the Goddess. Padmini laments in grief as she can’t go back home, or else people will hold her responsible for the death of two. The world of seducer is not so much the world of dread as the society itself. Annis Pratt says, “Visions of hell are not needed here, nor even is very much the gothic: the iron hand of the patriarchy constitutes the evil force against which the women heroes struggle in vain” (Pratt 77).

Chapter III: Thanatos: Breaking Rules

In previous chapter, it is studied that in Nature there aren’t any rules, but Culture establishes itself by taming Nature. The rules of society don’t take into account the desires of women. In this chapter, the focus is on how and when these desires don’t find an outlet, deposit themselves deep into the discarded, devalued part of the unconscious and conspire about how and when they shall make a break for freedom.

This chapter traces the history of Thanatos from being a God in various mythologies of the world to its evolution as a concept. Philosophers from antiquity to psychologists and anthropologists of present era are cited to support the argument of Thanatos being a concept. It discusses how Karnad’s heroines are an archetype of Goddess Kali, which is an embodiment of Thanatos.

This chapter discusses how the repressed desires of the heroines seethe in their unconscious, burble down and at one time come to a point of boil and no matter how she tries to seal them, they explode with a bang and direct outwards with a will of their own. This chapter explores how when rules are made too tight, there is bound to be a friction, a reaction, a chance of collapse and imbalance and how Thanatos symbolizes this destruction. It discusses how Thanatos represents the ‘shadow’ aspect of an individual. A darker side of one’s unconscious self that one always wants to suppress, as it is considered inferior and unpleasing side of the personality.

This chapter studies the shadow aspect in the heroines of Karnad. In Indian pantheon, the goddess that represents this dark side of a female is Kali. She in her most raw form is the archetype of Thanatos in the females of Karnad. She comes into being to shrug off all the rules that confines and restrain its energies and liberate itself from the shackles of patriarchy. For example, Devyani in the play Yayati becomes the archetype of Kali. Devyani wanted a relationship with Yayati that would satisfy her core need for love. The desire of Yayati to make Sharmishtha his queen is resented by Devyani. Sharmishtha’s presence in the palace is already a reminder to Devyani for her baleful act and exalting her to the position of a queen, will make Devyani question her self-worth. All this had a profound impact on Devyani’s ego consciousness. When her inflated ego suffered at the hands of both Yayati and Sharmishtha, her archetypal defences got activated. In her uncontainable rage, Devyani becomes Kali and brings the Thanatos. Sharmishtha and Swarnlata try to dissuade Devyani, but her rage knows no bounds. “I have nothing to do with this lot. I’m finished with them” (31).

Chapter IV: Void: A Space to Meditate

In the previous chapter, the destruction of ego that takes place when one crosses the threshold is studied. In this chapter, the focus is on the Silence that pervades when the Thanatos subsides.

This chapter discusses the Void. It’s the calm after the thunder. It is a period and a space to meditate in the journey of heroine, where she descents deep into her psyche and tries to integrate the elements of both the consciousness and the unconscious. This space is both dark and enlightening at once. It is filled with confusion; one can get lost in it or attain wisdom. This chapter explore Goddess Aditi as the archetype of Void in the Indian ethos. She symbolizes the energy of Void. She is a goddess that grants the ultimate knowledge of eternal truth of life in death and death in life. This chapter discusses the symbolical significance of Aditi. Her symbol is a pot. In archetypal psychology, pot symbolizes both a womb and a tomb. Womb is a place where one re-enters (a soul taking a human shape) and tomb is a place of decomposition. Therefore, the zone of Aditi is a place where all the hierarchies are abolished.

Also this chapter explores another form of Aditi, Dhumavati. She is as her name suggests, what is left after the smoke; the smoke and darkness of Thanatos. She is the goddess of primordial darkness. In this chapter, it is studied how the heroines are archetypes of this silence and how some of them emerge out of it and how some surrender to it. For example, Sharmishtha in the play Yayati becomes the Aditi archetype in the life of Yayati and makes him ponder on his lustful intentions and its consequences. She tells Yayati, “So here is the foundation of your glorious future, Your Majesty. A woman dead, another gone mad, and a third in danger of her life” (68). Sharmishtha makes him realize the consequences of untamed lust. It is in the darkness brought by the death of Chitralekha, madness of Swarnalata that Yayati finds the light.


In a society ruled by men, woman is a marginal being. Karnad’s woman protagonists make their journey from a submissive being to a being with authority. His women are pluralities of possibilities. His women aren’t ideal but real beings of the everyday lives. Karnad’s woman is the archetype of Shakti with all her profiles. Karnad’s world is a loop of Eros and Thanatos, where rights and wrongs are abolished. Eros and Thanatos in his plays are not two different things, but intertwined and one. His heroines are the nature manifestation, Prakriti, in which good and evil isn’t much of an external force but where Dharma and Adharma are part of the divine design and co-exist in order to keep the cycle of Samsara going that is the cycle of Creation, Preservation, Transformation and Diffusion.


The list of selected bibliography includes the works of Girish Karnad as well as the diverse published secondary criticism, of the work related to the author.


The database is protected by copyright © 2017
send message

    Main page