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KALIDAS

'Shakuntala' the Masterpiece

'Malavikagnimitra' is Kalidasa's first play. The author shows his humility and is   uncertain whether people would accepts play. He pleads 'Puranamityeva Na sadhu   sarvam,Na chapikavyamnavamityavadyam' (Everything old is not good, nor is every thing knew badly). There may be some thing, which may not be of much use in the  old, and the new may also be good. The theme of the play is the love-story of Agnimitra and Malavika.

Kalidasa's second play 'Vikramor -vashiya' is about the loves and tribulations of king
Pururava and the heavenly damsel 'Urvashi'.

'Abhijnana Shakuntala' is Kalidasa's greatest creation. This literary masterpiece has been translated into several languages around the world.

The story of Shakuntala appears in the 'Adiparva' chapter of the epicMahabharata.
King Dushyanta, whiles on a gaming expedition (safari), and arrives at the hermitage of sage Kanva. The latter was away and his adopted daughter Shakuntala looks after the distinguished guest's needs. Dushyanta, immediately on seeing her, is struck by her beauty and offers to marry her. Shakuntala lays down a condition that the king should promise to hand over the kingdom to the son born to her and Dushyanta agrees. They marry and spend some happy days, after which the king returns to the capital. Shakuntala, in course of time, gives birth to a son who is named Sarvadamana.

Six years pass and still Dushyanta does not send for his spouse and son. Sage Kanva voluntarily decides to send Shakuntala to the nalace. When she arrives at Dushyanta's abode, he refuses to recognize her. Shakuntala is grief- stricken. Then amidst her lament a heavenly voice commands Dushyanta:  "He is your son. Accept him." The king then takes him in and the boy later comes to be renowned as Bharata.

Kalidasa weaves a great play basing on this Mahabharata theme. The first meeting of Dushyanta and Shakuntala is a lively, 'colorful sequence in the play. Dushyanta, in the course of his hunting

Expedition arrives at Kanva's hermitage and there in the garden he sees Shakuntala engaged in watering the plants along with her maids. Mesmerized by her beauty, he desires to marry her while Shakuntala also is deeply impressed by the sight of the royal dignitary. They then marry in the 'Gandharva' style. The king returns to the capital while Shakuntala, left behind does not directly ask for the king's promise to make her son the prince consort to succeed him. It is supposed to be understood. After the king returns, sage Durvasa comes to call on sage Kanva. The latter was away and Shakuntala was so lost in her thoughts of king Dushyanta that the sage's words: " 1, a guest, have come" fell on her deaf ears. The sage is enraged and always quick to anger, curses her: "May the person about whom you are thinking forget you!" Later, he relents and says: "When he sees an object, which he has given you and recognizes it, he will remember you."

Unfortunately, Shakuntala loses the ring given by Dushyanta who just forgets her.
Kanva sends Shakuntala, now pregnant, to the court of Dushyanta along with his
disciples. (Mahabharata pictures her child, about six now, who is very active.) Kalidasa portrays the farewell of sage Kanva to Shakuntala very touchingly. The whole ashram is plunged in sorrow. Kanva, Shakuntala's maids, all shed tears at departure; even the trees, plants, and birds bow down with grief.

Upon her arrival, king Dushyanta cannot recognize Shankuntala. He even thinks it
improper to eye a damsel who is astranger to him. He could not believe that this woman is his wife. The ring is lost on the way and Shankuntala, overcome with grief after being rejected by Dushyanta, collapses and is then carried away by a divine light. After a few days, the ring is found in the stomach of a fish and Dushyanta, upon seeing it, remembers everything. He feels sad that he rejected Shakuntala. Later, on his way back from Heaven where he had gone to assist Indra on an errand, he visits the hermitage of
Mareecha. There he sees a boy daringly attempting to bare the jaws of a lion's cub. On inquiry, he learns that he is none other than his own son Sarvadamana.Dushyanta, his consort and their son are happilyunited.

At the end of the play, one feels sad at the sufferings of Shakuntala and we are at a loss as to whether we should blame Dushyanta or the 'Divine Power' for these happenings. In the last act, we see Shakuntala wrapped in a very ordinary saree, but she is a picture of grace and dignity. Though young in age, she speaks but a few words in a profound sense.
She is a real Tapaswini (one who wants to sacrifice life for eternal salvation). One
wonder at the manner in which she has transformed herself from a pleasure- seeking young girl into a young woman imbued with a sense of total renunciation and service. Through portraying scenes of Shakuntala's maids teasing her, sage Kanva's far-sightedness, the King's paining for Shakuntala’s love when she is away, Shakuntala's unsullied sense of love, the divine grace which brought about the happy reunion, the playwright presents before us a large canvas on which all the vicissitudes of life are touched upon.

'Meghaduta' is a beautiful love-lyric. A 'Yaksha', who is forced to be separated from his mistress for a year, sends her a message. The lady is residing at Alakanagari. 'Go and tell her that I told so', instructs the Yaksha to the cloud who becomes his messenger. The very fact that a cloud ('Megha') is chosen to be a messenger of love is something unique. The poet fascinatingly describes the travels of the cloud from Ramagiri to
Alakanagari. The rivers, hills and mountains, cities and towns, vast fields, farmers' daughters as well as girls in the cities, the birds and the bees -- are all described by the poet vividly. It is a total picture of a beautiful world. His descriptions of Alakanagari, the Yaksha's house and the garden around, theYaksha's wife playing the Veena and her grace and beauty are captivating.

'Ritusamhara' is a somewhat small-scale poetical creation depicting the six seasons. However, it is equally appealing. The poet here sees beauty in everything. Each different facet of nature he sees in each of the seasons fascinates him; it is a romantic sight.

In sum, it gives us great aesthetic pleasure to read Kalidasa's works. His descriptions
enthrall us. With him we are in the company-cultured a highly civilized, cultured personality. It is like a flower which, in bloom, spreads its fragrance all around. And a man's mature, ripened mind and intellect brings pleasure to those around him. In Kalidasa's creations, we enter the world of people pure in mind and body and who are graceful. We learn here the manner in which man's nature can reach high, moral levels. It pleases us deeply to come into contact withcharacters like Parvati, Dileepa, Raghu, Aja, Shakuntala, Dushyanta and Kanva. It is for this wonderful experience that we as well as people in other countries read Kalidasa.

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Dushyanta rejoins Shakuntala and Sarvadamana at the hermitage of Mareecha
About Kalidas
Introduction
A Great Scholar - Poet
'Kumara- sambhava'
'Raghuvamsha'
You are Here! 'Shakuntala' The Master piece
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