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Shakuntala and other writings--The finest works of India's greatest poet and dramatist
Shakuntala and other writings--The finest works of India's greatest poet and dramatist Author:Kalidasa Kālidāsa (Devanāgarī: "servant of Kali") was a renowned Classical Sanskrit writer, widely regarded as the greatest poet and dramatist in the Sanskrit language. His floruit cannot be dated with precision, but most likely falls within the Gupta period, probably in the 4th or 5th century or 6th century. — Synopsis — Although Kalid... more »asa makes some minor changes to the plot, the play elaborates upon an episode mentioned in the Mahabharata. The protagonist is Shakuntala, daughter of the sage Vishwamitra and the apsara Menaka. Abandoned at birth by her parents, Shakuntala is reared in the secluded, sylvan hermitage of the sage Kanva, and grows up a comely but innocent maiden.
While Kanva and the other elders of the heritage are away on a pilgrimage, Dushyanta, king of Hastinapura, comes hunting in the forest and chances upon the hermitage. He is captivated by Shakuntala, courts her in royal style, and marries her. He then has to leave to take care of affairs in the capital. She is given a ring by the king, to be presented to him when she appears in his court. She can then claim her place as queen.
The anger-prone sage Durvasa arrives when Shakuntala is lost in her fantasies, so that when she fails to attend to him, he curses her by bewitching Dushyanta into forgetting her existence. The only cure is for Shakuntala to show him the signet ring that he gave her.
She later travels to meet him, and has to cross a river. The ring is lost when it slips off her hand when she dips her hand in the water playfully. On arrival the king refuses to acknowledge her. Shakuntala is abandoned by her companions, who return to the hermitage.
Fortunately, the ring is discovered by a fisherman in the belly of a fish, and Dushyanta realises his mistake - too late. The newly wise Dushyanta defeats an army of Titans, and is rewarded by Indra with a journey through the Hindu heaven. Returned to Earth years later, Dushyanta finds Shakuntala and their son by chance, and recognizes them.
His place in Sanskrit literature is akin to that of Shakespeare in English. His plays and poetry are primarily based on Hindu mythology and philosophy.