Page:A history of Sanskrit literature (1900), Macdonell, Arthur Anthony.djvu/367

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.

race. The piece consists of seven acts, and belongs to the class of drama by native writers on poetics styled nāṭaka, or "the play." In this the plot must be taken from mythology or history, the characters must be heroic or divine; it should be written in elaborate style, and full of noble sentiments, with five acts at least, and not more than ten.

After the prelude, in which an actress sings a charming lyric on the beauties of summer-time, King Dushyanta appears pursuing a gazelle in the sacred grove of the sage Kaṇva. Here he catches sight of Çakuntalā, who, accompanied by her two maiden friends, is engaged in watering her favourite trees. Struck by her beauty, he exclaims—

Her lip is ruddy as an opening bud,
Her graceful arms resemble tender shoots:
Attractive as the bloom upon the tree,
The glow of youth is spread on all her limbs.

Seizing an opportunity of addressing her, he soon feels that it is impossible for him to return to his capital—

My limbs move forward, while my heart flies back,
Like silken standard borne against the breeze.

In the second act the comic element is introduced with the jester Māṭhavya, who is as much disgusted with his master's love-lorn condition as with his fondness for the chase. In the third act, the love-sick Çakuntalā is discovered lying on a bed of flowers in an arbour. The king overhears her conversation with her two friends, shows himself, and offers to wed the heroine. An interlude explains how a choleric ascetic, named Durvāsa, enraged at not being greeted by Çakuntalā with due courtesy, owing to her pre-occupied state, had pro-