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Character Sketch of Padmini in Hayavadana

by Litinbox

Hayavadana” is one of the most famous plays of Girish Karnad, which was published in 1972 and was later recognised as an important piece of drama in Indian literature. This article is a character analysis of Padmini in Hayavadana by Girish Karnad.

Hayavadana is a tragedy with Padmini as one of the main characters. She is a determined and intelligent woman with certain inner conflicts that arise from her emotions and struggles to fulfill societal expectations.

The character of Padmini has many layers and sides, and her personality embodies various aspects of human nature and intricacy of human relationships.

Character Sketch of Padmini in Hayavadana

As one of the central characters in Girish Karnad’s play Hayavadana, the character Padmini has an important role to play to take the plot and action forward.

In each and every turn of the play, Padmini in Hayavadana has a change of character. At the beginning of the play, she is a character full of love, desire, loyalty, and at the end, she turns out to be a tragic character. The tragic turn of events is mainly because of her internal desires and inner conflicts for wholeness.

Here is a detailed character sketch of Padmini in Hayavadana:

Physical Appearance

Padmini in Hayavadana is portrayed as a beautiful young lady of marriageable age. The appreciation she gets from both Devadatta and Kapila underlines her physical beauty. Nevertheless, she is a beauty queen, this external appearance dramatically contrasts with her internal struggles.


Padmini is portrayed as a character who is sexually adventurous at times and mostly motivated by emotions. She has feelings for both Devadatta and Kapila though she is inclined towards Devadatta and attempts to follow societal norms. Padmini’s feelings can be described as intricate since she has to deal with the realities of her life and relationships.

It’s evident that she is sensitive as well as caring who is deeply affected by the tragic events that unfold in the play.

Love and Desire

The passion defines Padmini’s character as she is depicted as a woman who has intense feeling and desire. She deflowers herself to Devadatta and later agrees to be his wife though she still harbors feelings for Kapila.

Padmini’s attraction for Kapila can be depicted in terms of sexual desire since she admires his physical might and looks at his muscular build while they are on the road.

Padmini’s desires and her emotional struggles form the central focus of the play and contribute to a string of misfortunes.

Loyalty and Devotion

Even though she feels both love and hatred towards her husband, she continues to be loyal to her wedlock with Devadatta. She is faithful to the agreement and attempts to perform her duties of a loyal wife.

However, as the plot moves on, Padmini’s fidelity is challenged, and she cannot control herself and her longings for Kapila.

Tragic Circumstances

Padmini’s character development becomes tragic when both Devadatta and Kapila commit suicide by beheading themselves. This event results as a consequence of her inner turmoil and the effect of her passion.

Padmini’s efforts to make things right end up in swapping the heads of the two men that leads to more calamity.

Maternal Love and Sacrifice

Gentle and selfless, Padmini proves herself to be the perfect mother to her child. She wants the best for her son, regardless of the fact that it will cost her own joy.

That is why her choice of Sati, leaving her child with the hunters and Devadatta’s father, can be considered as the last act of sacrificing.


Padmini’s character symbolises the struggle between lust and love, between good and bad. She wants affection from Devadatta and physical strength from Kapila thereby representing the duality of human desires and the inability to find complete satisfaction.

In conclusion, it can be stated that Padmini faces a number of challenges and misfortunes which lead her to the tragic end. She is a rather conflicted female character who struggles with her feelings, vices, and the conventional norms of how a woman should behave. Padmini also symbolizes love, desire, sacrifice and tragedy as well as the frailties of people in face of adversity.

Let’s see some of the frequently searched questions on internet about Padmini in Hayavadana.

Q: What is the significance of Padmini’s dream in Hayavadana?

Padmini’s dream is torn between the two men, Devadatta and Kapila. She is attracted towards the intellectual and emotional qualities of Devadatta and the physical might and vitality of Kapila.

Padmini’s dream represents her subconscious desire for a perfect partner. Both Devadatta and Kapila have certain flaws and strengths. Her internal struggle to fulfill her desire for completeness remains unfulfilled till end.

In addition to this, her dream serves as a metaphor for larger societal issues, such as the quest for wholeness and the search for identity.

To be brief, Padmini’s dream is a powerful symbol that summarise the play’s themes of desire, identity, and the quest for wholeness.

Q: What is the relationship between Padmini and Devadatta in Hayavadana?

Padmini marries Devadatta because he is intellectual. After marriage, she comes to realise that Devadatta is very sensitive which she doesn’t like.

She meets Kapila and begins to love his physical strength. Even during her pregnancy with Devadatta’s child, she continues to yearn for Kapila’s muscular physique.

At one point of the play, she is able to switch the men’s heads and get the best results. However, this doesn’t last long when the men gradually revert to their original state.

At the end of the play, the two men kill each other and Padmini is left alone again. Leaving her son at the care of Bhagavata, she throws herself on the funeral pyre and commits suicide.

Q: What is “The Fortunate Lady Flower” in Hayavadana?

“The Fortunate Lady Flower” is a flower that Kapila shows to Padmini. The marks in the flower can be identified with a married woman (a typical Indian woman), including the bindi on the forehead, the division of petals resembling the parting of the hair, and a delicate necklace.

The name of the flower, The Fortunate Lady Flower, is ironical as Padmini is never fortunate in the play.

Q: What is Hayavadana inspired by?

Girish Karnad’s Hayavadana is inspired by Thomas Mann’s ‘The Transposed Heads,’ and Sanskrit “Kathasaritasagara” tales.

Q: Did Padmini mix the heads on purpose?

No, Padmini didn’t mix the heads on purpose (or, we don’t know whether she did it with a secret desire). However, the result was what she was desired of. She might have hurriedly switched Devadatta’s head and Kapila’s body and Kapila’s head and Devadatta’s body.

Q: How does goddess Kali help Padmini?

When Devadatta and Kapila die by beheading each other, Padmini quickly decides to commit suicide with the sword. However, Goddess Kali’s terrible voice stops her.

On Goddess Kali’s approval, Padmini requests to revive the men. Kali instructs to put the heads on their respective bodies and press the sword against their necks to revive them.

Unfortunately, Padmini switched the heads to their irrespective bodies in a hurry that adds to her tragedy further.