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Abhigyan Shakuntalam In Sanskrit Language Essay

Kalidas has an unparalleled reputation as a poet not only in India, but also all over the world. Globalisation opened up its doors to Kalidas’ works in 1789 when Sir William Jones translated his play Abhigyan Shakuntalam. These facts will bring you closer to history as well as Kalidas’ brilliance.

8. Separation and Reunion of Dushyanta and Shankuntala in Seven Acts

The seven act play is about the Recognition of Shakuntala or Abhijana Shakuntalam. King Dushyanta marries Shakuntala, but has to leave for Hastinapur to fulfil his commitments. Dushyanta gives Shankuntala a ring, to be shown to the king when she goes to his courts, to claim her place as the queen.  Shakuntala is lost in her thoughts and fails to attend to the sage Durvasa. The angry sage curses her by casting a spell over Dhushyanta to forget about her existence. The King can be freed from the spell only if Shakuntala shows him the ring. The encounter, marriage, separation and reunion of Dushyanta and Shankuntala are what we get to see in this play.

7. India was named After ‘Bharat,’Shakuntala’s Son

Abhigyan Shakuntalam is a play which revolves around the love story of King Dushyanta and Shakuntala. Shakuntala was the daughter of sage Vishwamitra and the Apsara Meneka. Abandoned at birth by her parents, Shakuntala was brought up in the secluded hermitage of the sage Kanva http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kanva, and grows up into an attractive, but innocent maiden. Shakuntala married King Dushyanta and gave birth to Bharat, after whom India was named Bharat.

6. King Dushyanta Met Shakuntala by Pure Stroke of Luck

Dushyanta was out for hunting when he was interrupted by a hermit when he was about to shoot an antelope with his arrow. The King was told that the antelope belongs to the sage Kanva and the sanctity of the place should not be violated by killing the antelope. The King abstained from killing the antelope and was invited to the hermitage. It was here that the King had his first encounter with Shankuntala.

5. King Dushyanta Lost and Regained Memory of His Marriage

A fisherman discovered the ring in the stomach of a fish, which he caught. Shakuntala had lost the ring in the river when she ran her hand through the water while crossing it. The ring was shown to the king by the policemen, who had caught the fisherman for theft. The king then regained his memory of marrying Shakuntala.

4. The Play Was First Translated by Sir William Jones

The first Indian drama ever to be translated into a western language was Abhigyan Shakuntalam. The translation was done by Sir William Jones in 1789. Till 1889 the play was translated in 46 languages.

3. No Tragedy Love Story

The unique feature of the play is the absence of tragedy. Since the play is a love drama the only negative emotions introduced in the play are worry, anxiety, sorrow and heartburn, but these emotions are just momentary.

2. The Play Is Not the Same as Described in Mahabharata

The version of Abhigyan Shakuntalam in the famous epic of Mahabharata is slightly different from the original version. In the Mahabharata, Shakuntala had to stay apart from her husband, King Dushyanta, for a very long time. It is only when their son Bharat was born that Dushyanta found him playing in the forest with a couple of lion cubs, opening their mouth with his bare hands, trying to count their teeth. Seeing a little boy playing with such courage amongst lions, Dushyanta becomes curious about the boy and asks him about his parents. The little boy then takes him to the sage Kanva’s ashram where Dushyanta meets Shakuntala and remembers everything.

1. It has been Translated and Narrated By Several International Communities

The musical adaption of the play was done in many countries including Austria, France, Italy, Hungary and Norway. It has also been staged internationally. The play gained a lot of international acclaim after its translation and was admired by many great philosophers and theater personalities.

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For other uses, see Shakuntala (disambiguation).

In HinduismShakuntala (Sanskrit: Śakuntalā) is the wife of Dushyanta and the mother of Emperor Bharat. Her story is told in the Mahabharata and dramatized by many writers, the most famous adaption being Kalidasa's play Abhijñānaśākuntala(The Sign of Shakuntala).[1]


RishiKanva found her in forest as a baby surrounded by Shakunta birds (Sanskrit: शकुन्त, śakunta). Therefore, he named her Shakuntala (Sanskrit: शकुन्तला), meaning Shakunta-protected.[2][3]

In the Adi Parva of Mahabharata, Kanva says:

She was surrounded in the solitude of the wilderness by śakuntas,
therefore, hath she been named by me Shakuntala (Shakunta-protected).


King Dushyanta first encountered Shakuntala while travelling through the forest with his army. He was pursuing a male deer wounded by his weapon. Shakuntala and Dushyanta fell in love with each other and got married as per Gandharva marriage system. Before returning to his kingdom, Dushyanta gave his personal royal ring to Shakuntala as a symbol of his promise to return and bring her to his palace.[4]

Shakuntala spent much time dreaming of her new husband and was often distracted by her daydreams. One day, a powerful rishi, Durvasa, came to the ashrama but, lost in her thoughts about Dushyanta, Shakuntala failed to greet him properly. Incensed by this slight, the rishi cursed Shakuntala, saying that the person she was dreaming of would forget about her altogether. As he departed in a rage, one of Shakuntala's friends quickly explained to him the reason for her friend's distraction. The rishi, realizing that his extreme wrath was not warranted, modified his curse saying that the person who had forgotten Shakuntala would remember everything again if she showed him a personal token that had been given to her.[1]

Time passed, and Shakuntala, wondering why Dushyanta did not return for her, finally set out for the capital city with her foster father and some of her companions. On the way, they had to cross a river by a canoe ferry and, seduced by the deep blue waters of the river, Shakuntala ran her fingers through the water. Her ring (Dushyanta's ring) slipped off her finger without her realizing it.[citation needed]

Arriving at Dushyanta's court, Shakuntala was hurt and surprised when her husband did not recognize her, nor recollected anything about her.[5] She tried to remind him that she was his wife but without the ring, Dushyanta did not recognize her. Humiliated, she returned to the forests and, collecting her son, settled in a wild part of the forest by herself. Here she spent her days while Bharata, her son, grew older. Surrounded only by wild animals, Bharata grew to be a strong youth and made a sport of opening the mouths of tigers and lions and counting their teeth.[citation needed][6][7]

Meanwhile, a fisherman was surprised to find a royal ring in the belly of a fish he had caught. Recognizing the royal seal, he took the ring to the palace and, upon seeing his ring, Dushyanta's memories of his lovely bride came rushing back to him. He immediately set out to find her and, arriving at her father's ashram, discovered that she was no longer there. He continued deeper into the forest to find his wife and came upon a surprising scene in the forest: a young boy had pried open the mouth of a lion and was busy counting its teeth. The king greeted the boy, amazed by his boldness and strength, and asked his name. He was surprised when the boy answered that he was Bharata, the son of King Dushyanta. The boy took him to Shakuntala, and thus the family was reunited.[1]


An alternate narrative is that after Dushyanta failed to recognize Shakuntala, her mother Menaka took Shakuntala to Heaven where she gave birth to Bharata. Dushyanta was required to fight with the devas, from which he emerged victorious; his reward was to be reunited with his wife and son. He had a vision in which he saw a young boy counting the teeth of a lion. His kavach (arm band/armour) had fallen off his arm. Dushyanta was informed by the devas that only Bharata's mother or father could tie it back on his arm. Dushyanta successfully tied it on his arm. The confused Bharata took the king to his mother Shakuntala and told her that this man claimed to be his father. Upon which Shakuntala told Bharata that the king was indeed his father. Thus the family was reunited in Heaven, and they returned to earth to rule for many years before the birth of the Pandava.[citation needed]

Vasanth Kannabiran, the founder of Asmita Resource Center, wrote a female empowerment version of Shakuntala Recognized in 2013. The play variation added the recognition of emotional abuse and violence against women. Manaka is regarded a victim of the cultural tendency to portray women are dangerous seductresses. The most radical difference from the original legend is that Dushyanta is not the victim of a curse. Instead, he purposefully abandons Shakuntala in the forest after impregnating her because he prioritizes his duties as king over his duty to protect his new wife. Dushyanta does not experience the legendary change of heart which sent him begging Shekuntala for forgiveness. Instead, he briefly returns to take their son, his only male child, as the heir to the throne.[8]


Theatre, literature and music[edit]


Main article: Shakuntala (play)

The Recognition of Sakuntala is a Sanskrit play written by Kalidasa.[citation needed]


See also: Sakuntala (opera) and Sakùntala

Sakuntala is an incomplete opera by Franz Schubert, which originated late 1819 to early 1820.[citation needed] Italian Franco Alfano composed an opera named La leggenda di Sakùntala (The legend of Shakuntala) in its first version (1921) and simply Sakùntala in its second version (1952).[citation needed]


Ernest Reyer (1823–1909) composed a ballet Sacountala on an argument by Théophile Gautier in 1838.[citation needed] The Soviet composer Sergey Balasanyan composed a ballet named Shakuntala[when?].[citation needed]

Other literature[edit]

Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar created a novel in Sadhu Bhasha, Bengali.[citation needed] It was among the first translations from Bengali and is a bit difficult to understand now-a-days[editorializing].[citation needed]Abanindra Nath Tagore later wrote in the Chalit Bhasa (which is a simpler literary variation of Bengali) mainly for children and preteens.[citation needed]

By the 18th century, Western poets were beginning to get acquainted with works of Indian literature and philosophy.[citation needed] The German poet Goethe read Kalidasa's play and has expressed his admiration for the work[original research?] in the following verses:

Willst du die Blüthe des frühen, die Früchte des späteren Jahres,
Willst du, was reizt und entzückt, willst du was sättigt und nährt,
Willst du den Himmel, die Erde, mit Einem Namen begreifen;
Nenn' ich, Sakuntala, Dich, und so ist Alles gesagt.

— Goethe, 1791[9]

Wouldst thou the young year's blossoms and the fruits of its decline
And all by which the soul is charmed, enraptured, feasted, fed,
Wouldst thou the earth and heaven itself in one sole name combine?
I name thee, O Sakuntala! and all at once is said.

— translation by Edward Backhouse Eastwick[10]

In 1808 Karl Wilhelm Friedrich Schlegel published a German translation of the Shakuntala story from the Mahabharata.[11]

French poet Guillaume Apollinaire mentions Shakuntala (Sacontale) in his poem "La Chanson du mal-aimé",[when?] as a model of fidelity.[citation needed][relevant?– discuss]

Other music[edit]

Károly Goldmark, the Hungariancomposer (1830–1915) wrote the Sakuntala Overture Op.13 in (1865).[citation needed] The Norwegian musician, Amethystium, wrote a song called "Garden of Sakuntala" and it can be found in the CD Aphelion[when?].[citation needed]

Film and TV[edit]

The earliest adaptation into a film was the Tamil movie Shakuntalai featuring M.S.Subbulakshmi in the role of Shakuntala. Bhupen Hazarika made the Assamese film Shakuntala in 1961. It won the President's Silver Medal and was critically acclaimed. Shakuntala was also made into a Malayalam movie by the same name in 1965. It starred K. R. Vijaya and Prem Nazeer as Shakuntala and Dushyanta respectively. Rajyam Pictures of C. Lakshmi Rajyam and K. Sridhar Rao produced a Shakuntala film in 1966 starring N. T. Rama Rao as Dushyanta and B. Saroja Devi as Shakuntala. It is directed by Kamalakara Kameswara Rao.[12] V. Shantaram also made a Hindi film titled 'STREE' on this story. On Marathi stage there was a musical drama titled 'Shakuntal' on the same story.


Camille Claudel created a sculpture Shakuntala.[13]

See also[edit]



External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Shakuntala.
Shakuntala writes to Dushyanta, painting by Raja Ravi Varma.
Shakuntala despondent, painting by Raja Ravi Varma.
  1. ^ abc"Shakuntala - the Epitome of Beauty, Patience and Virtue". Dolls of India. Retrieved 2016-03-08. 
  2. ^"The Mahabharata, Book 1: Adi Parva: Sambhava Parva: Section LXXII". www.sacred-texts.com. 
  3. ^"The Mahabharata in Sanskrit: Book 1: Chapter 66". www.sacred-texts.com. 
  4. ^Miller, Barbara Stoler (1984). Theater of Memory: The Plays of Kalidasa. New York: Columbia University Press. p. 122. 
  5. ^Glass, Andrew (June 2010). "Vasudeva, Somadeva (Ed. and Tr.), The Recognition of Shakúntala by Kālidāsa Olivelle, Patrick (Ed. and Tr.), The Five Discourses on Worldly Wisdom by Visnuśarman Mallinson, Sir James (Ed. and Tr.), The Emperor of the Sorcerers..."Indo-Iranian Journal. 
  6. ^Kalidasa (2000). Shakuntala Recognized. Translated by G.N. Reddy. Victoria, BC, Canada: iUniverse. ISBN 0595139809. 
  7. ^Yousaf, Ghulam-Sarwar (2005). "RELIGIOUS AND SPIRITUAL VALUES IN KALIDASA'S SHAKUNTALA". Katha. Retrieved March 8, 2016. 
  8. ^"Contemporary Mythology - Menakaa, Shakuntala and Ahalya retold | The Alternative". The Alternative. Retrieved 2016-03-08. 
  9. ^"Goethe - Gedichte: Sakontala". www.textlog.de. 
  10. ^Pratap, Alka (2 February 2016). "Hinduism's Influence on Indian Poetry". 
  11. ^Figueira 1991, pp. 19–20
  12. ^Shakuntala on IMDb[unreliable source?]

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