Sakoontala – Kalidasa (1894)


Sakoontala – Kalidasa (1894)


Title: Sakoontala
Author: Kalidasa, Sir Monier Monier-Williams (trans.)
Publisher: George Routledge & Sons, 1894. Part of Sir John Lubbock’s 100 books.
Condition: Hardcover, cloth. Spine sunned and tanned. Edges tanned. Inscription to endpapers. Text clean, binding tight.

About Sakuntala (from Wikipedia):

In Hinduism Shakuntala (Sanskrit: शकुन्तला, Śakuntalā) is the wife of Dushyanta and the mother of Emperor Bharata. Her story is told in the Mahabharata and dramatized by Kalidasa in his play Abhijñānaśākuntala (The Sign of Shakuntala).

Kalidasa’s Sakuntala is the best-known Sanskrit drama, and widely considered a masterpiece. It is based on an episode from the Mahabharata, though Kalidasa takes significant liberties in his version.

Shakuntalā was born of the sage Vishwamitra and the Apsara Menaka. Menakā had come at the behest of the King of the Heaven, Indra, to distract the sage Vishwāmitra from his deep meditations. She succeeded, and bore a child by him. Vishwāmitra, angered by the loss of the virtue gained through his many hard years of strict ascetism, distanced himself from the child and mother to return to his work. Realizing that she could not leave the child with him, and having to return to the heavenly realms, Menakā left the newborn Shakuntalā in the forest. It was here that the new born child was found by Kanva Rishi surrounded by Shakunta birds . He thus named her Shakuntalā. Kanva Rishi took the child to his ashram, on the banks of the Mālini River which rises in the Shivālik hills of Himālayas and lies about 10 km from the town of Kotdwāra in the state of Uttarākhand, India.

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. Dushyanta left for his kingdom, promising to come back soon and take Shakuntala with him.

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.

About the translator (from Wikipedia):

Sir Monier Monier-Williams, KCIE (12 November 1819 – 11 April 1899) was the second Boden Professor of Sanskrit at Oxford University, England. He studied, documented and taught Asian languages, especially Sanskrit, Persian and Hindustani.

Monier Williams taught Asian languages, at the East India Company College from 1844 until 1858, when company rule in India ended after the 1857 rebellion. He came to national prominence during the 1860 election campaign for the Boden Chair of Sanskrit at Oxford University, in which he stood against Max Müller.