Comment on the relationship between Padmini and Devadatta in Hayavadana.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Devadatta and Padmini share a relationship that appears to be one way on the surface, but reveals subterranean elements.  The result is complexity, and a statement about the nature of relationships, in general.  On face value, the love between Devadatta and Padmini makes sense.  The wise and poetic Brahmin is married to the stunningly beautiful and chaste Padmini.  Yet, herein lies the dilemma.  While the Brahmin poet is wise, he is not physically appealing.  Padmini recognizes that her sexual attraction to Kapila is something that cannot be dismissed.  In this light, the play argues that relationships are predicated upon the understanding of "the other."  The hope and belief would be that Devadatta and Padmini exist for one another and consciousness rests only with them.  However, both recognize that there is "the other."  Kapila, the athletic wrestler with a chiseled body, represents both what Devadatta is not and what Padmini covets.  In this light, the gambit that Padmini wishes for in terms of replacing the head of one on the body of another seems to be a perfect solution.  Yet, Karnad might be pointing out another nuance in relationships.  The desire for perfection usually results in a hollow pursuit.  Padmini's solution might be the answer to her divided consciousness and her challenges in love.  However, it turns out to be a disaster, as Devadatta both declines in his work and his physique.  In this light, what was once thought to be perfection is actually destructive.  The end message, if there is one, might be that love succeeds when one recognizes that a perfect relationship might not be as effective as a workable or good one.  Practicality might be more worthwhile a pursuit than perfection.

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