"Shakuntala"–Its Tragedy


(Lecturer, Osmania University, Hyderabad, Deccan)

There are very few old dramatic pieces of the world on which such universal approbation has been bestowed for the sublimity and picturesqueness of artistic expression, loveliness and sweetness of elegant poetry–breathing pleasant and tender emotions, dainty and rapturous feelings, and deep and sorrowful sentiments–as the "Shakuntala" of Kalidasa. It is one of those great dramas which enjoy an international reputation. When Europe and the world at large knew practically nothing of the great artistic achievements of the stage in India, it was the "Shakuntala" of Kalidasa that gave evidence of the magnificent wealth of the dramatic composition that India so richly possessed.

It will not be any exaggeration to remark that the study of Sanskrit language and literature received a great impetus and opened up new vistas to progressive and extensive research work, not long after a translation of the "Shakuntala" into English by Sir William Jones reached the shores of Europe. Through this one drama, Kalidasa was able to secure a permanent place amongst the greatest poets and playwrights of the world. It is through such unique literary creations that a language, a nation and a country are truly enriched and made immortal.

A great work of art is a blessing to him who creates and to him who enjoys it. From age to age it is bequeathed with great pride as a precious and noble heritage to the great mass of humanity. The very feeling of joy begins to throb with life, gets adequately rewarded and sparkles in its full gleam and splendour when the charm of an artistic royal beauty is exquisitely realised in its consummate richness. If it is true to say that the highest creation of God is man, it is also equally true to say that the highest achievement of man is art. By means of art the very soul of man finds expression and lives through eternity.

The "Shakuntala" possesses, even after the lapse of many centuries, the same blooming freshness, radiant vitality, enrapturing grace, exhilarating delicacy and conspicuous originality, which it had when it first made its appearance. Though so much water has flowed under the bridges and so many upheavals have changed the face of the world, this drama of Kalidasa continues to have the same vigorous hold and to cast the same overpowering spell over the minds of men as it did on the day of its first appearance. The beauty of the "Shakuntala" is as much a source of delight to great poets and dramatists of the present day as it was to those of the past. Its appeal is so soul-stirring, its charm so transcendental, its poetry so unsurpassed and its pathos so touching that it is hardly possible to realise its full value, importance and significance even at this day. In it human passions, emotions and sentiments have found their exquisite reflection in their natural and universal colour. It is imbued with such an evergrowing adaptability and incisive liveliness, that every age is apt to regard it as peculiarly its own.

The "Shakuntala" presents a tale of love which on one side is innocent, chaste, unsophisticated and romantic, and on the other artful, frail, insidious and unimaginative. It strikes a note which is profoundly serene and immeasurably entertaining, but is at the same time oppressively tragic and inexpressibly tearful. Nowhere has love been portrayed in such attractive and repulsive colours. Love appears to be nothing but a shocking and painful contradiction in this drama. Just at the time when love desires to fulfill its destined purpose, it meets with a calamitous accident from which even its later fortunate escape does not enable it to rise to its natural altitude and secure its original position. It appears as if love, wearing its best apparel and laurels, is lustily on its way to the Court of Spring to display its full majesty, when unexpectedly it falls into a catastrophe, with all its clothes spoiled, flowers crushed and face disfigured, so that even its subsequent recovery does not restore it to its primitive charm. It is really tragic to find in this story that love has to go to knock at its own door and fails to get a spontaneous response, and when somehow the response comes, all its warmth, enthusiasm and spontaneity appear to have vanished.

It is generally affirmed by eminent scholars–Western and Indian–that tragedy was not known to Sanskrit dramatists. Tragedy presents a realistic view of life, and breathes emotions and passions of such a type as possess a swaying power to stir the inmost depths of the heart of mankind as nothing else can. The absence of this factor has led many critics to believe that Sanskrit Drama lacks aclose touch with real life. They also assert that Sanskrit Drama is more or less a conventional literary form presented in a most conventional manner. In their opinion, it is a creation of elaborate art and poetic ingenuity. Instead of laying bare to the view, with eloquent and forceful simplicity, the real aspects of human life, it endeavours to screen it from sight behind an ornamental veil which, however beautiful and inspiring, breathes an air of artificiality. It fails to bring forth any significant motif. At best it may prove a delightful treat, but it does not contain the true reflection of real life.

From one point of view there may be some truth in these assertions, but, when all is said and done, it may be found that the close acquaintance of a critic with one form of art so estranges him from other unknown or less known forms that his opinion is rendered generally defective. The deep appreciation of the one makes him unconsciously so one-sided and prejudiced that he cannot do full justice to the other to which he is more or less a stranger.

In Europe, drama has been chiefly divided into two classes–comedy and tragedy. In India, drama has been divided into nine classes. The class of a drama is determined by the Rasa or sentiment which the poet or playwright chiefly intends to embody in his drama. As there are nine Rasas or sentiments according to Sanskrit rhetoricians–drama also falls into nine classes. In these sentiments there is one called "Karuna-Rasa" or the sentiment of pathos. The drama which predominantly portrays and evokes the emotions or sentiments of pathos is a drama that belongs to this class. As tragedy invokes the feelings of pity, naturally it comes under the category of the drama of ‘Karuna.’ Bharata-Muni, the famous originator of "Natya- Shastra" in Sanskrit, discussing the origin of the sentiment of pathos, remarks:

"Pathos arises from the permanent mood of sorrow, and this sorrow results from curse, calamity, separation from relatives, loss of property, murder, defeat, disease and ill-luck."

And again:

"The sentiment of pathos springs up in seeing the process of one’s own dear ones being killed or in hearing some distressing news or such other causes."

Sharadatanaya repeats the same thing in his "Bhavaprakashanam," adding a few more sources of the sentiment of ‘Karuna.’ Sharadatanaya is supposed to belong to the early part of the twelfth century.

"Sorrow is the soul of pathos….."

"This sorrow springs from various causes, viz., the separation from one’s beloved and dear people, curse, catastrophe, murder of one’s beloved, death of a son and other relatives, loss of money, loss of kingdom and country, and other such calamities, misfortune, poverty, disease and such other causes."

Vishwanatha, in his "Sahitya-Darpana," sums up the whole thing in this way:

"From the ruin of the desired and from the happening of the undesired the sentiment of pathos springs."

Thus it is clear that what is characterized as tragedy in European criticism is in essence only a drama of Karuna-Rasa or the sentiment of pathos. There may be differences in details, in the technique or the construction, but to say that tragedy was absolutely unknown to Sanskrit dramatists is simply ignoring facts.

For further elucidation of this point, I quote Bharata-Muni again to show how "Maranam" or death should be enacted:

"Death may be brought about either by disease or killing. In killing also there are various types of representation. It may take place with a weapon, snake-bite, poisoning, falling down from the back of an elephant or the top of a mountain, mauling up by a beast. If death is inflicted by a weapon it should be enacted by the actor by falling on the ground, trembling, twitching, struggling, etc."

Giving detailed instructions as to the enacting of death in each of the cases mentioned above, he concludes:

"So death can be brought about by various agencies. The skilled actor should represent it with such sentiments and gestures as may perfectly harmonize with the occassion.

Many Sanskrit dramatists have introduced death in their dramas. Bhasa has shown the death of King Dasharatha in the III Act of his "Pratima-Nataka", the death of Duryodhana in his "Urubhanga," and the death of Bali in his "Abhisheka-Nataka".

Thus he has presented death in many of his dramas. In later dramas, efforts were made to present the shadow of death on the stage–though actual death was usually avoided. In the "Ratnavali," Sagarika, the heroine endeavours to commit suicide by placing a noose round her neck, and in the "Mrichchhakatika," Vasantasena is strangled by Shakar in the pushpakaranda garden, and left for dead. Other instances can be cited from other dramas.

It is true that some later authorities on Sanskrit Drama mention clearly that death should not be presented, but it does not appear to have been a universally accepted principle. Thus Ramchandra Suri says in his "Natya-Darpana": "Death should not be staged." Vishwanatha in his "Sahitya-Darpana" says, "Death is not brought forth, as it mars the development of a sentiment," and Sharadatanaya clearly mentions in his "Bhavaprakashanam" that certain scholars have precluded death from being shown on the stage.

So it is evident that it was not a universally accepted principle. Why later dramatists tobooed the presentation of death on the stage requires investigation. Whether it is due to Buddhistic or Jain influences, or to some artistic considerations, cannot be easily determined. But from the quotation given above from the "Natya-Shastra" of Bharata, urging clearly that "Death may be staged," and from what Ramchandra Suri, a Jain scholar, says in his "Natya-Darpana": "Death should not be staged," it is obvious that there must have been certain influences at work responsible for these diametrically opposed views on the question. I hope to deal with this subject on some other occasion.

From the above it can be said without any fear of contradiction that a drama which belongs to the class of Karuna-Rasa or the sentiment of pathos is a tragedy. It always revolves round a calamity which, though not necessarily fatal, is capable of exciting terror and pity, which according to Aristotle are the essence of tragedy. It may not be a tragedy in the full Shakespearean sense. But it cannot be termed by any other name.

In Greek tragedy we see the hero and Fate in conflict. In the drama of "Shakuntala," we see the heroine Shakuntala in conflict with her fate. In the original story of the "Mahabharata" the caprice of King Dushyanta is responsible for creating the tragedy of Shakuntala’s life; but in this drama, the poet by his skillfulness has changed the plot of the story, making the curse of Durvasa accountable for all the cruelty that was shown to poor Shakuntala, to culminate in a great disaster. This curse–as the fates would have it–is known neither to Dushyanta nor to Shakuntala. It becomes the pivot on which the whole tragedy turns. I have already made a reference to the fact that the curse is one of the agencies that go to evolve a tragedy in Sanskrit.

Many reviewers and commentators regard the "Shakuntala" as a drama chiefly of Shringar-Rasa or the sentiment of love. I differ from this view. This drama, though it deals with the sentiment of love, is predominantly a drama of pathos or Karuna-Rasa. The very feeling of love has received such a heavy blow in this play, which, though not fatal, is not therefore less tragic and fearful, If a cure, after all, is found for a fatal disease, it does not mean that because of that cure the disease becomes less formidable and less painful.

There is a traditional dictum the purport of which is that in developing the sentiment of pathos the "Uttar-Ramcharita" of Bhavabhuti is a drama of unsurpassed excellence. That may be so, but in our opinion, with all its remarkable wealth of soul-stirring poetry, the pathos of the "Uttar-Ramcharita" fails to come up to that climax to which the "Shakuntala" of Kalidasa leads. The pathos of this situation is inhuman and unkind. Although technically it may be called a comedy, it is a great tragedy. The happiness which comes in the end is not only unexpected but appears to be bereft of all its innate warmth and charm. Death is not the only agency that can turn a drama into tragedy. As a man could live a life of such abject misery compared to which death would at any time be preferable and more welcome, likewise a drama also without death can create such a wretched and shocking sorrow before which the affliction caused by death will pale into utter insignificance. When at last, in this play, love finds its wings of happiness, it is to come down to common earth rather than to go up into its cherished heaven.

Critics often say that the fourth Act of the "Shakuntala" is the finest and most touching. It is generally remarked with regard to this drama:

"Compared to "Kavyas" drama is beautiful; amongst dramas "Shakuntala" excels; in the "Shakuntala," the fourth Act, and in the fourth Act the four verses."

In this fourth Act the poet has depicted the scene of a girl when she leaves the house of her parents and bids them farewell. Undoubtedly this is a pathetic scene. On one side parents take leave of a "sweet limb" of their own, and on the other the girl bids farewell to her parents, friends, companions and the house where she spent all her childhood. This is one of the great pathetic moments in life and so there is hardly a man so stone-hearted as not to melt into tears on such an occasion. It is really doubtful whether any poet has succeeded or can succeed in presenting this scene in such masterful and artistic diction as Kalidasa has created. He is seen at his best in the presenting of this scene on the stage.

There is no gainsaying the fact that the fourth Act of this drama is one of the finest in the whole of Sanskrit Drama. But we hold that the poet has not exhibited that deep touch of pathos in this Act, which he has in the fifth Act of this drama. The fourth Act of the "Shakuntala" is undoubtedly pathetic, but the fifth Act is most cruelly tragic. In the fifth Act the pathos, which has its beginning in the fourth, reaches its climax.

When a girl bids good-bye to her parents, her parents, though sad, feel in the inmost depths of their heart a sense of satisfaction, as they know that she is going to the house of her beloved, or, in other words, to her own house. For this, blessings of continued "Soubhagya" from all quarters are bestowed on her. The girl also, while feeling uneasy and unhappy, experiences in a corner of her heart a thrilling sensation of joy in going to her beloved. This sensation brings her consolation and comfort, and instinctively makes all the pain and distress of parting from parents light and endurable. Of course, this parting brings sorrow, but this very sorrow whispers of a delight which for the moment remains veiled like the face of a very beautiful new bride. This is a sorrow which is the dawn of a new happiness that silently smiles across the corners of the tearful eyes. This is a sorrow, the end of which obviously appears to be in sight. But in the fifth Act the sorrow which has been let loose on the stage knows no hope, in those circumstances.

Perhaps it could not be ended on earth, and so the poet has had to end it in heaven. Even the smallest recollection of this sorrow makes the mind uneasy and disconsolate.

In this fifth Act, Shakuntala reaches the house of her husband–a husband who made her the sole empress of the great kingdom of his love, who regarded her as the very glory of his family:

"Though I have many queens–yet two alone amongst them are the glory of my line; the earth wearing the girdle of the ocean and Shakuntala, this friend of yours."

She has just bidden good-bye to her father, her companions and the ashram where she had passed all her life, The recollections of this parting scene are fresh and are weighing greatly on her mind. Along with two disciples of her father and Gautami, the matron of the Ashram, she goes to the court of King Dushyanta, Her heart is throbbing with sweet and happy emotions. She is on the way to the heaven-like place of her beloved. Who can guess her aspiring hopes and cherished feeling?

When at last she arrives at the court of King Dushyanta and is allowed audience, she feels broken-hearted to find that the king does not recongize her. Oh, who could imagine that the heart would retain its warmth and continue to work as usual even when its regular beatings had come to a dreadful stop! The king looks at Shakuntala and remains indifferent. Instead of according her a hearty welcome, he asks her bluntly who she is. And this to a woman with whom, forgetting all his kingly dignity and duty, he had played all sorts of love-sports just a few days before; with whom he had bound himself in holy matrimonial alliance without the permission of her father, offering his kingship as a guarantee for his sincerity. Today, his seed within her womb, she comes before him, and he remains completely unaffected, unconcerned, and looks askance at her and knows not who she is. The king, who used to think of her only to the exclusion of all other objects until yesterday, does not experience any sensation in his mind even when she comes before him. That deep sea of love with its mighty rolling waves had got so suddenly dried up that not a drop was left.

What pity! Even one’s own sweetheart is to be recognized and needs a formal introduction. The disciples who had accompanied her introduce Shakuntala to King Dushyanta and say she is Shakuntala, the latter’s lawful wife. But the king sits silent, is unable to know the reality and so ruthlessly puts the question "What is the matter?" Shakuntala cannot believe her senses, and is cut to the heart. "Is he speaking or emitting forth fire?" she contemplates in her mind. Poor Gautami, the matron of the Ashram, thinks that as the face of Shakuntala is covered with a veil–the king is unable to recognize her. How could poor Gautami imagine that in fact it was the intellect of the king that was wrapped in a shroud of forgetfulness? She desires to remove the veil from the face of Shakuntala, saying:

"Child, lay aside for a while your bashfulness. I remove the veil so that your husband may recognize you."

The veil is accordingly taken off, and the king sees Shakuntala, face to face. For a brief spell the beauty of the face of Shakuntala fascinates him but, with all its unblemished loveliness, it fails to lift the cloud off his mind, which alone would have made her recognition possible. Shakuntala now begins to deplore her fate. On the spur of the moment she recollects a token–the ring which was presented to her by the king–and a hope comes back to warm her heart. But sooner than she imagines, she is disillusioned to discover that the ring is no more on her finger–as perhaps it had slipped off while she offered homage to the water of Shachiteertha. Here her ill-fate also appears to have conspired with the curse of Durvasa to precipitate a disaster which otherwise could easily have been averted. If the poet had intended to make this drama a comedy, he would not have made Shakuntala lose that token of recognition, which shown, all misgivings about her would have been dissipated at once. It is clear that, by doing so, Kalidasa wanted to close all avenues of saving Shakuntala from the impending catastrophe. Hitherto Shakuntala was helpless, but now she becomes hopeless. "What is the use of recalling to his mind the recollections of our sweet love when I myself stand unrecognized and condemned?" she whispers. This hopelessness makes her desperate and bold. Shakuntala, taking courage, begins to unbosom the sweet tales of their love and his attachment for her, but it is to no purpose. It was all hoping against hope. The king remains absolutely unmoved, unconcerned and cold, and adds fuel to the fire, callously remarking that these are the fanciful fabrications of her own mind. With this he shows his utter inability to take her into his house under any plea.

Gautami feels greatly perplexed, and cannot decide as to what should be done. The disciples of the sage regard that their duty was only to take Shakuntala to her husband, and, it being done, that they had no right to interfere. It rests now entirely with her husband whether to give her shelter or not. After making this decision they set out for their Ashram without uttering a word of consolation to Shakuntala. Poor, helpless, broken-hearted Shakuntala, writhing with shame and agony, driven to utter despair, wants to follow them, but they also in their turn rebuke her at the top of their voice in such cruel, shocking and painful terms that she becomes horrified and benumbed:

"O, you wanton girl, do you wish to assume independence?"

"If you are such as the king says–you are a disgrace to the family of your father. What can your father do with you? But if you believe that you are true and your conduct irreproachable, it is up to you to pass your life even as a slave in the house of your husband."

In the first place, she is not recognized when she goes to him; then even after introduction she is not recognized; then the veil is removed from her face and the king sees her face to face. She fascinates him but is still not recognized. Then the ring on which she pins all her hopes is discovered to be missing. Giving way to despair and helplessness, and then, gathering courage, she unbosoms the tales of their mutual sweet love, without creating any impression on his mind, and he not only does not recognize her but also repudiates categorically all the ‘stories’ and refuses to take her into his house on any pretext; and finally her own kith and kin also repudiate her in a most appalling manner and are not prepared to allow her to accompany them; in this way the flood of pathos rises, till at last it overflows its banks sweeping away everything before it.

The unkindness displayed by Shakuntala’s own people in refusing to take her along with them is as unexpected as it is inhuman. Perhaps without it the whole scene would not have reached this height of cruel pathos. Theirs was "the unkindest cut of all." Now what should Shakuntala do? Wi1ere should she go? Neither her husband nor her own people are prepared to give her shelter. Shakuntala, who is pregnant, has been ruthlessly spurned by her husband and her people alike. Though she has a father, poor Shakuntala becomes worse than an orphan, and, despite the fact that she had her husband, she becomes worse than a widow. We do not know of any other poet who has depicted a scene of such miserable helplessness so touchingly. She has no place to live on this earth. She begins to cry aloud, throwing up her hands and praying to Mother Earth to open a grave for her. If she had been killed or had committed suicide, her condition would have been no worse. At long last, to relieve her of this unbearable agony, her mother, Menaka, descends like a flash of lightning and takes her child to heaven.

The poet has taken his heroine from a holy hermitage, so that her transparent innocence, unquestionable chastity, utter simplicity and total ignorance of evil or sin might make this story all the more pathetic. The description of her matchless beauty, the bewitching pictures of spontaneous love, and the fact that she was pregnant add to the pity that we feel for her. And on the top of it comes this cruelty which, being unintended, appears to be innocent, as it is the outcome of the curse of Durvasa. And therefore it operates with the force and blindness of a machine. It is really doubtful whether the king in his senses could ever descend to such depths of inhumanity willfully.

We have given this part of the story in detail in order to clearly set forth our view-point. Does the pathetic scene of the fourth Act bear any comparison to that of the fifth? The former appears to be nothing but a short prelude to the latter. The scene in the fifth Act is so shocking and horrifying that we can hardly conjure up a scene to match it.

When in the sixth Act Dushyanta gets the ring that he had presented to Shakuntala, and his memory of her comes back to him, he vividly calls to his mind that picture of Shakuntala when she stood condemned and deserted by all:

"When I had discarded her, she attempted to follow her relatives. But those relatives, the disciples of the sage, in burning wrath, bade her stop, and thus they also discarded her. Then again she cast a glance at my cruel self, her eyes dim with the flowing tears. It is this glance that haunts me and pains me, like the point of an arrow touched with poison."

This painful and haunting glance, full of tears, reflecting utter helplessness, is the "Shakuntala" of Kalidasa. This sorrowful figure, discarded both by her husband and her own relatives, receiving no support from any quarter and owning no place to live in this world, is the "Shakuntala " of Kalidasa. This "Shakuntala" is a magnificent living picture of the infinite helplessness and irremediable weaknesses of humankind. Having been visualized thus, the tears that spontaneously gushed forth from the eyes of the poet have become transformed into this pathetic drama. Nature has set certain limitations to woman, which man always takes advantage of, and poor woman is helplessly and hopelessly left to her sad fate. We are not sure whether, even in this age, woman has found out any effective remedy which, while providing a perfect safeguard for her inherent and inescapable weakness, may uphold her honour intact and inviolate.

It may be contended that, if Dushyanta could not recognize his beloved, it was due to the curse of Durvasa and so he could not be held responsible for all that followed. Of course, it is the curse which has chiefly played havoc in this play, which fact, as stated above, is one of the sources of the sentiment of pathos. In this article, we do not desire to deal with this issue, though from the study of the "Mahabharata," Dushyanta on no pretext can be exonerated from this guilt. In the ‘Adiparva’ of the "Mahabharata," it is clearly set forth that, though Dushyanta fully recognized Shakuntala, he disclaimed all knowledge of her.

"After listening to what she said, the king, in spite of fully recognizing her, disowned her."

But is it possible that such a love as this can ever be forgotten or eclipsed? And does it require any recognition? Does it call for evidence like that of a ring to evoke its sweet memory? It is just as if we should run for a small candle to see the brilliance of the sun. What else can be more surprisingly painful than to find that, when his beloved in person stands face to face before him, the chords of his heart remain untouched, but that with the recovery of the ring all the memory of her comes back to him? It is as though he could identify the ring but not his own sweetheart, The very necessity of a means to call back the memory of that ever-refreshing and unforgettable love proves it stale, untrustworthy and deplorable.

Kalidasa with his ingenious skill has so cast up the plot that the whole phenomenon assumes totally a different complexion. The curse of Durvasa figures as the most potent thing in this drama, but in fact it becomes a blessing in disguise. With the recovery of the ring the poet breathes a sigh of relief, brings their union into the pale of possibility, and the curse of the sage becomes ineffecive. In the sky of the mind of Dushyanta gathers a storm of the memory of Shakuntala, and there flows a heavy downpour of tears through his eyes. He weeps despairingly, without any solace. He cannot undo what he has done. He feels stunned, and cannot believe that he could be so cruel as to disavow his own self.

Dushyanta would never have been able to know the atrocity that he has so cruelly perpetrated on Shakuntala, had not the effect of the curse been removed with the recovery of the ring. It is through the intervention of Indra, the poet manages, that the re-action is not allowed to run its full course. Otherwise, it needs little imagination to guess what extremes this unending and irremediable sorrow would have led Dushyanta to. Matali, the charioteer of Indra, takes him to heaven, and there with the help of the gods and supernatural forces, the hope of the reunion, which to all intents and purposes had died out, comes to life again.

In the seventh Act, on the Hemkuta mountain in Heaven, in the midst of beautiful nymphs, Dushyanta sees first his own child and then Shakuntala with her uncombed hair tied into a pretty knot. He falls at her feet as if to beg for forgiveness. Shakuntala begs him not to. She accuses her own fate. In the course of their conversation, she wants to know how, after all, she, the unhappy being, was recognized. The king recounts the whole story, showing the ring, and requests her to wear that again on her finger. To this she gives a very significant reply:

"I have lost all faith in it. My lord should himself wear it now."

Thus she inflicts a hard punishment on the ring by refusing to wear it on her finger, though, if the ring had not been recovered, the curse of Durvasa could not have been revoked at all!

But when love itself can be forgotten, what trust can be reposed in petty articles like the ring? Love, which does not make itself felt, like one’s own life, can never be characterized as love. The proof of love should be the spontaneous joy that it brings to the heart, the colour that it lends to the cheeks and the lustre that it imparts to the eyes, and no proof are petty articles like the ring. Love which does not become itself a haunting memory and which is not its own proof, must be called by some other name. As light always reveals itself and in no way can conceal itself–likewise, love also always reveals itself, and in no way can it conceal itself. About love the following words of Kabir, a great saint and a great poet of Hindi, are remarkably true:

"When love once reveals itself, however hard one may try, it can never be concealed. If perchance the mouth speaks not, the eyes are swimming in tears."

In this drama this love has become eclipsed; and so the calamity that has played havoc would have gone to the farthest limit, if, with the abrogation of the curse, it did not spring back into life. And though in this way the calamity has been averted, yet the shock that it gives and the terror that it strikes are too painful to be set at rest. The poet, as though to cross the waters of this great sorrow, makes the curse of Durvasa a safe vessel. With the help of this vessel, he, on the other side, in heaven, has been able to bring about a happiness which, on this side, on earth, he would not have been able to build. In this happy union is, on one side, Shakuntala, the very image of pathos, and on the other Dushyanta, smitten with the grief of repentance. Between these two, the poet places their son, a gift of their love, and thus takes off the edge of the mortifying sorrow. Plainly speaking, this happiness appears to be more a heavenly phenomenon than an earthly one. Therefore its divine illumination, coming from above, lights up silently this horrifying great tragedy that has been enacted below. That is why, even after the union of Shakuntala and Dushyanta, we do not feel completely relieved of our sorrow, and that doleful melody continues to reverberate in our minds. We think that, although Shakuntala and Dushyanta are united, there is a possibility of such a calamity falling to the lot of others who are not so fortunate as the hero and heroine of this drama, and this possibility keeps ever fresh the tragic feelings of pity and terror. The question comes to us: if that ring had not been recovered, what would have been the result? Thus the poet presents before us the case of those poor, innocent women who have been–not through any fault of their own–cruelly treated by their own wicked and treacherous fate and are in a state of utter desolation and helplessness. Though this drama is apparently a comedy, the happiness that it brings in the end appears to be uneasy and dissatisfied with itself. It seems as though the outer body of this drama is constituted of happiness, but the soul that dwells in it is made of such tormenting sorrow as is "too deep for tears."