Page:A Brief History of the Indian Peoples.djvu/75

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LATER HINDU LITERATURE. 71 mitted in the royal family. Doubts arise in his heart as to his wife's purity while in her captor's power at Ceylon. He accord- ingly banishes the faithful Si'ta, who wanders forth again to Valmfki's hermitage, where she gives birth to Rama's two sons. After sixteen years of exile, she is reconciled to her repentant husband, and Rama and Sita and their children are at last reunited. Later Sanskrit Epics. — The Mahabharata and the Rama- yana, however overlaid with fable, form the chronicles of the kings of the Middle Land of Hindustan (Madhya-desa), their family feuds, and their national enterprises. In the later San- skrit epics, the stories of the heroes give place more and more to legends of the gods. Among them the Raghu-vansa and the Kumara sambhava, both assigned to Kalidasa, take the first rank. The Raghu-vansa celebrates the Solar line of Raghu, King of Ayodhya, and especially his descendant Rama. The Kumara-sambhava recounts the Birth of the War-god. These two poems could not have been composed in their present shape before 350 a.d. The Sanskrit Drama. — In India, as in Greece and Rome, scenic representations seem to have taken their rise in the rude pantomime of a very early age, possibly as far back as the Vedic ritual ; and the Sanskrit word for the drama, ndtaka, is derived from nata, a dancer. But the Sanskrit plays of the classical age which have come down to us probably belong to the period between the first century b.c. and the eighth century a.d. The father of the Sanskrit drama is K&lidasa, already mentioned as the composer of the two later Sanskrit epics. According to Hindu tradition, he was one of the ' Nine Gems,' or distinguished men at the court of Vikramaditya, King of Ujjain, in 57 B.C. But as a matter of fact there were several king Vikramadityas, and the one under whom Kalidasa flourished appears to have ruled over Mdlwa in the sixth century a.d. Sakuntala. — The most famous drama of Kalidasa is Sakun- tala, or the Lost Ring. Like the ancient Sanskrit epics, it divides its action between the court of the king and the hermit- age in the forest. Prince Dushyanta, an ancestor of the noble Lunar race, weds a beautiful Brahman girl, Sakuntala, at her