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Abhijnana Shakuntalam KALIDASA

Ujjwal Pathak English (Hons.)

Q: Significance of the Ring and Curse in the play Abhijnana Shakuntalam.

Ans: Abhijnana Shakuntalam or the Loom of Time is a play which tells us the love story of Shakuntala and Dushyant. The play follows the outline of the epic drama but the whole structure of the play is a sophisticated Dramatic form. Before going further in details regarding the question I would like to specify how the ring justifies the title of the play, Abhijnana means recognition, therefore the title of the play is recognition of Shakuntala and the ring plays an important role in the loss of identity and the recognition of Shakuntala in the eyes of king Dushyant, our hero of the play. I would like to clarify what is the ring concept, what was the curse and how the ring and the curse relate to each other. The ring was the token of love given to Shakuntala by Dushyant. The curse was given by Durvasa rishi to Shakuntala that she will not be recognized by her beloved, later on this curse was diluted and she was recognized by Dushyant. Now this ring which was a token of love suddenly is transformed into an instrument through which Dushyant forgets and then recognizes Shakuntala later on thus fulfilling the curse of Durvasa. In short we can say that the curse acts as an impediment to the action and the ring acts as the token of recognition to resolve the problem. In this drama not only are nature, flora and fauna made into live character but even a ring appear as real character of play. When we closely observe a ring considering its geometry we can say that ring is in the form of circle, i.e. it ends from where it begins forming a circle, similarly in this text of Kalidasa the structure of the text also somewhat seems to form a circle. We can understand it better when I say that this

story begins with the romance of Dushyant and Shakuntala and ends with the same note, though the middle of text leads us to some sad notes when Dushyant fails to recognize Shakuntala. So we can see the whole incident of meeting Shakuntala and Dushyant and then the separation of the two and again their reunion seems to form a circle, thus we can say that the structure of the text is very much similar to the geometrical figure of the ring. Let us now shift our attention towards the curse of Durvasa as I already have said enough about the ring. I personally feel that Kalidasa intentionally had separated two of them and he had some strong reasons to do that. One of the reasons which I feel had dominated Kalidasa mind is Love. Love is a sacred feeling and one cannot recognize the importance of this feeling until and unless he/she looses it for a while in his/her life. The happiness that you gain when you find your lost love can not be expressed in the form of words. By separating Shakuntala from Dushyant Kalidasa enhances the beauty charm and the purity of love that was between them and made their love a priceless feeling which the audience would have definitely enjoyed. Thus we see that to give a special treatment to the two central characters of the play Kalidasa discovered the concept of curse. Now, how this curse was to play a role in the play was a question that might have disturbed the authors mind and he chose a Brahmin rishi to deliver this curse. We readers can ask this question to ourselves that why a rishi? Why not some one else whom the author have chose to deliver the curse? My answer to this question is very simple either Kalidasa was himself a Brahmin or was a strong advocate of Brahmanism thus by mentioning the Curse given by a Brahmin and its pitiable effect on Shakuntala he at one hand paid tribute to Brahmans and on the other hand he maintained the fear among the

spectators that what can happen if a Brahmin is not treated well and respected. The curse not only drags the sympathy of the audience towards Shakuntala but also successfully brings the pity of audience towards Dushyant and thus freeing Dushyant from any harsh comments or any hatred that he could have possibly faced if the curse was not implemented. The curse somehow also managed to save the dignity of Gandharva Vivah because if the whole play would have been written in the same manner excluding the curse episode then the Gandharva Vivah which is one of the types of marriage mentioned in Puranas would have been under the supervision of some intellectual minds that were present in that time, therefore this curse can be treated as an element which somehow managed to preserve the dignity of this type of marriage. I also feel that there is a scope for feminist approach towards the text. Why the author chose Shakuntala to face the curse when they both were equally in love with each other? Or was the intensity of love decreased from the point of Dushyant point of view after getting physical with Shakuntala? When we watch the proceedings of actions in this play we see that the author was partial towards male and I can prove it by mentioning the fact that the impact of curse in the mind of Dushyant made him forget a girl whom he loved so dearly and thus the author frees Dushyants mind from the pain of separation that Shakuntala had faced in the entire play.