GIRISH KARNAD YAYATI PDF

The volume reviewed here is the english translation by the author himself. A small play in four acts, it uses the mythological theme of King Yayati that appears in the Mahabharata as a construct. Based on this construct, the playwright dissects and lays bare the psyche and inner recesses of the human mind. The impact is overwhelming. The play happens on the night of Pooru bringing his bride home. In a series of conversations between Devayani and Swarnalata, Devayani and Sharmishta and Devayani and Yayati, we are informed that before her marriage Devayani and Sharmishta were close friends.

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The volume reviewed here is the english translation by the author himself. A small play in four acts, it uses the mythological theme of King Yayati that appears in the Mahabharata as a construct. Based on this construct, the playwright dissects and lays bare the psyche and inner recesses of the human mind.

The impact is overwhelming. The play happens on the night of Pooru bringing his bride home. In a series of conversations between Devayani and Swarnalata, Devayani and Sharmishta and Devayani and Yayati, we are informed that before her marriage Devayani and Sharmishta were close friends. A mis-understanding leads to a quarrel and Sharmishta pushes Devayani into a well. Yayati rescues and marries her. A reason cited for the marriage is that Yayati held Devayani by her right hand as her pulls her out and hence, he has no choice but to marry her.

Yayati rushes to stop her only to realise that in doing so, he has held her by the right hand! Unable to resist, he beds her and wants to marry her, making her the second queen. Devayani is distraught on realising this.

All this happens while they are waiting for Pooru to arrive with his bride. The distraught Devayani complains to her father and Shukracharya curses Yayati with premature old age and decripitude. Pooru who is disinterested in the affairs of state and disillusioned with his own existence, agrees to take on the curse in place of his father.

The young bride Chitralekha demonstrates to Yayati his shortcomings and he realises his foibles. But it is too late, for Chitralekha has killed herself. Realising the futility of it all, Yayati takes back the curse on himself, restoring Pooru to youth and goes away to the forest with Sharmishta.

There are several changes compared to the narrative in the Mahabharata, but that is not relevant for this review. In each of the conversations: Devayani-Swarnalata, Devayani-Sharmishta, Sharmishta-Yayati, Chitralekha-Swarnalata and Chitralekha-Yayati, we are given a peek into the recesses of each of their psyches. And it is revealing. In a manner that I have never experienced before. For example, when Sharmishta tells Devayani that Yayati is not lusting for his wife, but for the secret of immortality that Shukracharya has.

I snarl because I want to retain a particle of my original self. But the world only cares for the embers there. No, it is living and dying we have to choose between. These, have to be read, to be experienced. Overall, a masterful piece of writing that lays bare the inner recesses of the human mind for public consumption as Karnad says in a different context.

It may seem obscene, violent. But then, that is why this play is a masterpiece.

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Yayati: A Play Translated from the Original Kannada by the Author

Chandra gave rise to the lunar dynasty or the Chandravanshi Dynasty. Pururavas ruled over the city of Pratishthana. He married Apsara Urvashi and had many sons, of whom Ayus was the eldest. Ayus completed his education from Sage Chyavana and married the Asura princess Prabha.

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