Revistes Catalanes amb Accés Obert (RACO)

Mythical Structure in Girish Karnad's Play Naga-Mandala

Dolores Collellmir Morales


Girish Karnad’s play Nāga-Mandala is consciously anchored in the ancient theory and tradition of Indian theatre. The play thus reflects Karnad’s respect for the technical elements of theatrical art and also for the Indian tradition of storytelling, even though he innovates and experiments by sharing twentieth century views. In Nāga-Mandala, the author brings his drama into line with the changes occurring in Indian society and mentality. This article analyzes his technique of using different narrative levels and shows how in Nāga-Mandala the superimposed stories lead to an exemplification of his vision of theatre as a unifying, total experience. It is shown how the overall structure of the interrelated stories and plots, the triangular relationships, and the triple ending can be visualized graphically as a mandala. The article ends by focusing on and discussing the three endings of the play, which have been the cause of surprise and controversy. It concludes that, though the last ending is not within the orthodoxy of Indian epic texts, the play must be studied and interpreted not only by keeping elements of Hindu philosophy as points of reference, but also by taking into account the cultural context of the Indian woman of today who seeks to fulfil her needs and aspirations.

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