Abhijñānaśākuntalam

Abhijñānaśākuntalam

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Abhijñānashākuntala or Abhijñānaśākuntalam) (Devanagari
Devanagari
Devanagari |deva]]" and "nāgarī" ), also called Nagari , is an abugida alphabet of India and Nepal...

: अभिज्ञान शाकुन्तलम्), is a well-known Sanskrit play
Sanskrit drama
The earliest-surviving fragments of Sanskrit drama date from the 1st century CE. The Mahābhāṣya by Patañjali contains the earliest reference to what may have been the seeds of Sanskrit drama. This treatise on grammar from 140 BCE provides a feasible date for the beginnings of theatre in India.Its...

 by Kālidāsa
Kalidasa
Kālidāsa was a renowned Classical Sanskrit writer, widely regarded as the greatest poet and dramatist in the Sanskrit language...

. Its date is uncertain, but Kalidasa is often placed in the period between the 1st century BCE and 4th century CE.

The Sanskrit title means "pertaining to token-recognized-Śakuntalā", so a literal translation could be Of Śakuntalā who is recognized by a token. The title is sometimes translated as The Recognition of Śakuntalā or The Sign of Śakuntalā .

Synopsis


Although Kalidasa makes some minor changes to the plot, the play elaborates upon an episode mentioned in the Mahabharata
Mahabharata
The Mahabharata is one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India and Nepal, the other being the Ramayana. The epic is part of itihasa....

. The protagonist is Shakuntala
Shakuntala
In Hindu mythology Shakuntala 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 Abhijñānaśākuntalam .-Etymology:Rishi Kanva found her in forest as a baby surrounded by Shakunta birds...

, daughter of the sage Vishwamitra and the apsara
Apsara
An Apsara , also known as Vidhya Dhari or Tep Apsar in Khmer, Accharā or A Bố Sa La Tư , Bidadari , Biradali , Widodari and Apson , is a female spirit of the clouds and waters in...

 Menaka
Menaka
In Hindu mythology, Menaka is considered one of the most beautiful of the heavenly Apsaras.She was sent by Indra, the king of the Devas, to break the severe penance undertaken by Vishwamitra. She successfully incited Vishwamitra's lust and passion when he saw her swimming naked in a lake near a...

. Abandoned at birth by her parents, Shakuntala is reared in the secluded, sylvan
Sylvan
Sylvan, Silvan or Sylvian refers to an association with the woods. Specifically, that which inhabits the wood, is made of tree materials, or comprises the forest itself. The term can also refer to a person who resides in the woods or a spirit of the wood...

 hermitage of the sage Kanva, and grows up a comely but innocent maiden.

While Kanva and the other elders of the hermitage are away on a pilgrimage, Dushyanta
Dushyanta
Dushyant or Dushyanta was a great king in classical Indian literature and mythology. He is the husband of Shakuntala and the father of the Emperor Bharatha. He appears in the Mahabarata and in Kalidasa's play The Recognition of Sakuntala .-Historical king:According to the Mahābhārata, Dushyanta is...

, king of Hastinapura
Hastinapura
Hastinapur is a town and a nagar panchayat in Meerut district in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.-History:Hastinapur was the capital of the kingdom of the Kauravas, belonging to the Kuru dynasty of kings. The throne of this city was the prize over which the Kurukshetra War of the epic...

, 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
Durvasa
In Hindu mythology, Durvasa , or Durvasas, was an ancient sage, the son of Atri and Anasuya. He is supposed to be an incarnation of Shiva. He is known for his short temper. Maledictions or curses he gave in his rage ruined many lives. Hence, wherever he went, he was received with great reverence ...

 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 Asuras, and is rewarded by Indra
Indra
' or is the King of the demi-gods or Devas and Lord of Heaven or Svargaloka in Hindu mythology. He is also the God of War, Storms, and Rainfall.Indra is one of the chief deities in the Rigveda...

 with a journey through the Hindu
Hindu
Hindu refers to an identity associated with the philosophical, religious and cultural systems that are indigenous to the Indian subcontinent. As used in the Constitution of India, the word "Hindu" is also attributed to all persons professing any Indian religion...

 heaven. Returned to Earth years later, Dushyanta finds Shakuntala and their son by chance, and recognizes them.

Adaptation


In other versions, especially the original one found in the Mahabharata
Mahabharata
The Mahabharata is one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India and Nepal, the other being the Ramayana. The epic is part of itihasa....

, Shakuntala is not reunited until her son Bharata
Bharata (emperor)
Bharata was a legendary emperor of India, and is referred to in Hindu and Jain mythology. He was son of King Dushyanta and Shakuntala and thus a descendant of the Lunar Dynasty of the Kshatriya caste. Bharata conquered all of greater Greater India, uniting it into a single entity which was named...

 is born, and found by the king playing with lion cubs.Dushyanta enquires about his parents to young Bharata and finds out that Bharata is indeed his son. Bharata is an ancestor of the lineages of the Kauravas and Pandavas, who fought the bloody war of the Mahabharata. It is after this Bharata that India was given the name "Barathadesam". However, Kalidasa's version is now taken to be the standard one.

Translations


The play was the first Indian drama to be translated into a Western language, by Sir William Jones
William Jones (philologist)
Sir William Jones was an English philologist and scholar of ancient India, particularly known for his proposition of the existence of a relationship among Indo-European languages...

 in 1789. In the next 100 hundred years, there were at least 46 translations in twelve European languages.

English translations include:
  • Sacontalá or The Fatal Ring: an Indian drama (1789) by Sir William Jones
    William Jones (philologist)
    Sir William Jones was an English philologist and scholar of ancient India, particularly known for his proposition of the existence of a relationship among Indo-European languages...

     http://www.columbia.edu/itc/mealac/pritchett/00litlinks/shakuntala_jones/
  • Śakoontalá or The Lost Ring: an Indian drama (1855) by Sir Monier Monier-Williams
    Monier Monier-Williams
    Sir Monier Monier-Williams, KCIE was the second Boden Professor of Sanskrit at Oxford University, England...

     http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/12169
  • Translations of Shakuntala and Other Works (1914) by Arthur W. Ryder
    Arthur W. Ryder
    Arthur William Ryder was a professor of Sanskrit at the University of California, Berkeley. He is best known for translating a number of Sanskrit works into English, including the Panchatantra and the Bhagavad Gita. In the words of G. R. Noyes,-Life:Ryder was born on March 8, 1877 at Oberlin, Ohio...

     http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/16659


There are about 25 translations into Malayalam including,
  • Abhijnanasakuntalam by Kerala Varma Valiyakoyithampuran - the first translation
  • Malayaalasaakunthalam (1912) by A.R. Rajarajavarma
  • Abhijnanasakuntalam (1970) by K. S. Neelakantan Unni
  • Abhijnanasakuntalam (1999) by Thirunalloor Karunakaran
    Thirunalloor Karunakaran
    Thirunalloor Karunakaran was a renowned poet, scholar, teacher and leftist intellectual of Kerala, India.-Early life:...

  • Sakunthalam by Attoor Krishna Pisharody
    Attoor Krishna Pisharody
    Attoor Krishna Pisharody was a renowned Sanskrit scholar, teacher and writer of Kerala, India. He was born on September 29, 1875 in Vadakkancheri in Thrissur district to Narayanan Namboothiri and Pappikkutty Pisharasyar. He learned Sanskrit in the traditional way from Kodungalloor Godavarma...


Bengali translations include:
  • Shakuntala (1854) by Iswar Chandra Vidyasagar
  • Shakuntala (1895) by Abanindranath Tagore
    Abanindranath Tagore
    Abanindranath Tagore was the principal artist of the Bengal school and the first major exponent of swadeshi values in Indian art. He was also a noted writer, particularly for children...


Title


Manuscripts differ on what its exact title is. Usual variants are Abhijñānaśakuntalā, Abhijñānaśākuntala, Abhijñānaśakuntalam and the "grammatically indefensible" Abhijñānaśākuntalam.

Productions


In Koodiyattam
Koodiyattam
Koodiyattam or Kutiyattam is a form of Sanskrit theatre traditionally performed in the state of Kerala, India. Performed in the Sanskrit language in Hindu temples, it is believed to be 2,000 years old...

, the only surviving ancient Sanskrit theatre tradition, performances of Kalidasa's plays are rare. However, legendary Kutiyattam artist and Natyashastra scholar Nātyāchārya Vidūshakaratnam Padma Shri
Padma Shri
Padma Shri is the fourth highest civilian award in the Republic of India, after the Bharat Ratna, the Padma Vibhushan and the Padma Bhushan...

 Guru
Guru
A guru is one who is regarded as having great knowledge, wisdom, and authority in a certain area, and who uses it to guide others . Other forms of manifestation of this principle can include parents, school teachers, non-human objects and even one's own intellectual discipline, if the...

Māni Mādhava Chākyār
Mani Madhava Chakyar
Guru Mani Madhava Chakyar was a celebrated master performance artist and Sanskrit scholar from Kerala, South India, considered to be the greatest Chakyar Koothu and Koodiyattam artist and authority of modern times...

 has choreographed a Koodiyattam production of The Recognition of Sakuntala.

A production directed by Tarek Iskander was mounted for a run at London's Union Theatre in January and February 2009.

The play is also appearing on a Toronto stage for the first time as part of the Harbourfront World Stage program.

An adaptation by the Magis Theatre Company http://www.magistheatre.org featuring the music of Indian-American composer Rudresh Mahanthappa
Rudresh Mahanthappa
Rudresh Mahanthappa is a New York-based jazz alto saxophonist and composer.Mahanthappa was born in Trieste, Italy, and grew up in Boulder, Colorado. He graduated from Berklee College of Music in 1992 and received his Master of Fine Arts degree in jazz composition from Chicago's DePaul University...

 had its premiere at La MaMa E.T.C. in New York February 11–28, 2010.

Musical adaptions

  • Austrian composer Franz Schubert
    Franz Schubert
    Franz Peter Schubert was an Austrian composer.Although he died at an early age, Schubert was tremendously prolific. He wrote some 600 Lieder, nine symphonies , liturgical music, operas, some incidental music, and a large body of chamber and solo piano music...

     left an incomplete opera, Sakuntala
    Sakùntala
    La leggenda di Sakùntala is a three-act opera by Franco Alfano, who wrote his own libretto, basing his work on Kalidasa's 5th-century BC drama Abhijñānaśākuntalam .-Première, Loss, Reconstruction, Rediscovery:...

    , which has been completed and recorded.

French composer Ernest Reyer
Ernest Reyer
Ernest Reyer, the adopted name of Louis Étienne Ernest Rey, was a French opera composer and music critic .- Biography :...

 composed a ballet, Sacountalâ, in 1858.
  • Italian Franco Alfano
    Franco Alfano
    Franco Alfano was an Italian composer and pianist. Best known today for his opera Risurrezione and above all for having completed Puccini's opera Turandot in 1926. He had considerable success with several of his own works during his lifetime.- Biography :He was born in Posillipo, Naples...

     composed an opera
    Opera
    Opera is an art form in which singers and musicians perform a dramatic work combining text and musical score, usually in a theatrical setting. Opera incorporates many of the elements of spoken theatre, such as acting, scenery, and costumes and sometimes includes dance...

    , named La leggenda di Sakùntala
    Sakùntala
    La leggenda di Sakùntala is a three-act opera by Franco Alfano, who wrote his own libretto, basing his work on Kalidasa's 5th-century BC drama Abhijñānaśākuntalam .-Première, Loss, Reconstruction, Rediscovery:...

    (The legend of Sakùntala) in its first version (1921) and simply Sakùntala
    Sakùntala
    La leggenda di Sakùntala is a three-act opera by Franco Alfano, who wrote his own libretto, basing his work on Kalidasa's 5th-century BC drama Abhijñānaśākuntalam .-Première, Loss, Reconstruction, Rediscovery:...

    in its second version (1952).
  • Hungarian composer Karl Goldmark
    Karl Goldmark
    Karl Goldmark, also known originally as Károly Goldmark and later sometimes as Carl Goldmark; May 18, 1830, Keszthely – January 2, 1915, Vienna) was a Hungarian composer.- Life and career :...

     composed a Sakuntala overture, op. 13 (1865).
  • The Norwegian musician, Amethystium
    Amethystium
    Amethystium is an Ambient/Electronica/Neoclassical music project created by Norwegian producer/composer/multi-instrumentalist Øystein Ramfjord...

     wrote a song called "Garden of Sakuntala" and it can be found in the CD Aphelion.


According to Philip Lutgendorf, the narrative of the movie Ram Teri Ganga Maili
Ram Teri Ganga Maili
Ram Teri Ganga Maili was a hit 1985 Bollywood movie directed by the legend, Raj Kapoor. This movie stars Mandakini and Rajiv Kapoor, son of the director-producer Raj Kapoor. It was Raj Kapoor's last film. The songs of the films were of high meolody...

 recapitulates the story of Shakuntala.

External links

  • Abhijnana Sakuntalam - Transliterated text at GRETIL
    GRETIL
    The Göttingen Register of Electronic Texts in Indian Languages is a comprehensive repository of e-texts in Sanskrit and other Indian languages.It contains several texts related to Indology, such as philosophical texts...

  • Complete translation by Arthur W. Ryder
    Arthur W. Ryder
    Arthur William Ryder was a professor of Sanskrit at the University of California, Berkeley. He is best known for translating a number of Sanskrit works into English, including the Panchatantra and the Bhagavad Gita. In the words of G. R. Noyes,-Life:Ryder was born on March 8, 1877 at Oberlin, Ohio...