Written and modified for the public good by firstname.lastname@example.org . Do not forget to tell this story to your children during bedtime suitably modified as per their age and sentivity …………………. OM SHANTI …….. OMSHANTI
by Shanti Pappu
In 1789, Sir William Jones translated Kalidasa's Sanskrit play Shakuntala into English.This translation not only played an important role in bringing about a renaissance inIndian literature, but also greatly influenced European literary traditions. Jones first cameto hear about Indian Natakas during his sojourn in Europe, in 1787. These Natakas werethen considered to be Brahmanical histories with a mixture of fables and myths. Hisinterest aroused, Jones began to investigate them on his return to Calcutta and was soonconvinced that these were popular works far removed from being 'histories'. Thesimilarity of these Natakas with English plays staged in Calcutta, was pointed out byPandit Radhakant; and as an example of a Nataka, Jones was given a Bengali recensionof Shakuntala.Ramlochan, a Sanskrit teacher at the University of Nadia, helped Jones read the play andin 1789, Joseph Cooper published the English translation of Shakuntala.The impact of this work was soon felt in Europe when Edwards London editions appeared in 1790 and1792. By 1791, Shakuntala was translated into German by Forster and by 1792 intoRussian by Karamsin. Translations in Danish (1793), French (1803) and Italian (1815)appeared soon after. In particular, Goethe was deeply influenced by the play to the extentthat the prologue of Faust was inspired by that of Shakuntala(Pachori 1993;Raychaudhuri 1994-95). So inspired was he by the play that he wrote in 1791:
"Wouldst thou the young years' blossoms and fruits of it'sdecline,And all by which the soul is Charrmed, enraptured,feasted and fed,Wouldst thou the earth and heavenitself in one soul name combine?I name thee, O Sakuntala, and all at once is said"
(quoted Roychaudhuri 1994-95:75-76)At this point it is notable to remember a comment by Sir William Jones in a letter addressed to Sir Joseph Banks in 1791 (Jones, Letters 2:894; quoted Pachori 1993:89),which is as follows:" I can assure you that the translation is as literal as possible; but I am not sure, that myown errors or inattention may not have occasional mistakes".We present this reproduction of Sir William Jones's translation of Shakuntala the onlyliberty taken, being the introduction of illustrations, based on popular conceptions of the play. The navigation structure for the play, follows that defined by Sir William Jones.