Naga mandala By Girish karnad, Summary and Theme



One of the most eminent figures in the chronology of Indian dramatists, Girish Karnad, had clamored through his extraordinary endeavor. He was not only a thespian but a play writer and filmmaker. He is reckoned as the doyen of concurrently Indian theatre. Most of his plays are credible introspections of social predicaments and ways to reconcile them. He dauntlessly portrayed the municipal stigmas, raising his voice against them exceptionally. His sports mostly encompass political, democratic, and economic issues. He even subsisted against hot topics like patchy and sexual assaults. His crusade is ingrained in Indian mythology and yore. He is an ambassador of legalism and modernity. He indeed has proved his revolutionary and insurgent thoughts through his erudite works. He incredibly utilizes folktales, fallacies, and ancient parables to convey emotions linked with human life.


Nag mandala is one of the unprecedented plays by Girish Karnad in which he amazingly exposes a sarcastic verity of male chauvinism. He raises cognition against the daily intimidation females to have to confront in a patriarchal population. He denies the concepts of gender hegemony and resists male supremacy (which indeed is monopolized in Asian civilizations), infidelity, and orthodox practices.

 Nag mandala is based on fidelity tales. These folktales and lore together forge a domestic drama that aspires to the liberation and empowerment of women.


  • Appanna (a spoiled male who regales his wife miserably).
  • Rani (wife of Appanna).
  • Naag (a black cobra that can revamp human morphology).


The play is founded in a pastoral setting, and the anecdote mainly revolves around the life of Rani, a trivial Asian woman who was walked down the aisle by her parents, without her coalition, to an affluent man named Appanna. Rani, a naive virtue, goes to Appanna's house, yearning for a joyous and content life, as every woman aspires. But the circumstances she endures are despicable. Her husband, an orthodox character, who surmises in masculine preeminence, locks her on the first night of their weddings and leaves to see his paramour. This intimidation and coercion become a daily routine in Rani's vitality, who condones this as her fortune. 

As Rani's sentimental and carnal longings aren't met, she envies an eagle, which might carry her to Appanna's life, giving her the affection she invariably had strived for. 

Despite her needs, she restrained her urges and stayed serene. As a scapegoat of radical solitude and subjugation, she stumbles upon Kurudava, who bestows her with an enchanted plant, which eventually will provoke Appanna to love her, stimulating him to disregard the mistress. While cooking this magical plant, Rani discovers the red pigment that it develops, and she consequently disposes of it. However, a Naag glances at it and devours the potion, ultimately stumbling in love with Rani.

At night Naag alters into Appanna and raves her protracted hairs, eavesdropping on her long tales and filling her venereal desires. Being enchanted by the love of Naag, she falls for Appanna.

However, she was amazed at the disparity in their demeanor, Appanna day and night. But being a dame, she never implores him. Soon Rani is parturient. However, her husband declares her a whore, repudiating that he's the father. He snatches her to the town and lets panchayat for an abstinence test to prove her celibacy. Her hand is plopped in a serpent pit (if virtuous, the snake won't poison her, but if guilty of infidelity, she would be slain by venom). 

As soon as Rani puts her hand, the snake (the same Naag devoted to Rani) wiles to her shoulder. The panchayat, stunned by the panorama, declares Rani not only innocuous but also a Divinity. Her husband, Appanna, also comprehends her deity and impetrates her exoneration. 

 The play concludes with the rectification of Rani with Appanna and the suicide of Naag on seeing their reconciliation.


The play Naag Mandala shows women's detention and exploitation in a patriarchal society. He also disparages the idea of virginity tests, raising the flags for women's empowerment. The play incredibly sheds light on dilemmas females have to encounter in a patriarchal society.

The play is summarized by, Syeda Rabia Batool Naqvi, one of the permanent contributors to the SOL Community.  

Interesting Thing! 

The play, written by Virginia Woolf, under the title 'To the Lighthouse' and Joseph Andrews by Henry Fielding also represent male dominance in society. You can read the summaries of both plays here.

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