Answer any ten of the following questions :2×10=20

(a) Write a short note on ‘Rupaka’ with reference to Sudraka’s Mrichhakatika.

Ans. Rupakas primarily deal with satvika temperament and other abhiyanas. Bodily gestures andmusic occupy a secondary position in Rupaka. The Bhavaprakasana very clearly staes that Rupakas were rastamaka or which are dependent on sentiments. Ther are ten types of Rupakas namely, Nataka, Prakarana, Samavakra, Thamrga, Dima, Vyayoga, Anka, Prahsana, Bhana and Vithi.

(b) To which category of dramatic composition does Mrichhakatika belong?

Ans. Mrichhakatika belongs to the category of Prakarana play.

(c) Which is the main source of Sudraka’s play, Mrichhakatika?

Ans. The main source of Sudraka’s play, Mrichhakatika is a play written by Bhasa Charudutta in Poverty.

(d) Mention any two qualities of the dhirodatta protagonist in Sanskrit drama.

Ans. Bharata talks about the Nayaka in his chapter on prakriti. This chapter is on Prakriti the nature of human beings or characters/paatras. He begins by laying them into three main categories: 1. Uttama, 2. Madhayama, 3. Adhama. Then Bharata goes on to mention the four types of Nayaka. All the four natyaka types have been identified amongst the uttam and madhyama. Thery have been divided into the following:

1. Dhirodhata – brave and haughty, 2. Dhiralata – Brave and sportive, 3. Dhirodata – Brave and magnanimous, and 4. Dhirashaanta – brave and calm.

(e) Translate into English the title of Sudraka’s play Mrichhakatika. Name two major English translations of this play.

Ans. The title of the play Mrichhakatika could be The Little Clay Cart two major English translations of this play are – Arthur W. Ryder and Horace Hayman Wilson.

(f) Who steals the jewels from Charudatta’s house and why?

Ans. Sharvilaka stole the casket of jewels from Charudatta’s house to earn the freedom of Madanika.

(g) What is Maitreya’s impression of Vasantasena in Act V of Mnichhakatika?

Ans. Maitreya was highly impressed by the palatial building of Vasantasena and accepted her to be a gracious Idy and not just a harlot as he used to think of her earlier.

(h) How does Charudatta address Vasantasena in the darkness in Act I and what does he ask her to do?

Ans. Charudutta mistakes Vasanatasena for Radhanika and asks her to take his son Rohasena inside the house.

(i) In which state was the baby Shakuntala found and by whom?

Ans. Baby Shakuntala was just an infant when she was found by Rishi Kanva and his wife Goutami.

(j) What was the curse of Durvasa and what provoked him to curse Shakuntala in Kalidas’a play?

Ans. The curse of Durvasa is that Shakuntala will be forgotten by the person about whom she was thinking. Durvasa was calling Shakuntalal but she was unmindful of him so in rage he cursed Shakuntala.

(k) Name the biological and the foster-patents of Shakuntala in Kalidasa’s play.

Ans. The biological parents of Shakuntala are – Menaka and Vishwamitra and her foster parents are – Rishi Kanva and Goutami.

(l) How did Shakuntala lose her signet ring? By whom was it found?

Ans. Shakuntala lost her signet ring while bathing. It was found by a fisher man.

(m) Identify the principal bhava and the rasa of Kalidasa’s play Abhijnanashakuntalam.

Ans. The principal rasa of Abhijnanashakuntalam are sringaram and karuna and he principal bhava are rati and soka.

(n) Mention the place of action of the first and last Acts of Kalidasa’s Abhijnanashakuntalam.

Ans. The place of action of the first act is Rishi Kanva’s hermitage and last Act is set at asharama of Rishi Marica

(0) Reporduce in your words Kanva’s advice to Shakuntala as she proceeds towards the house of Dushyanta in Abhijnanashakuntalam.

Ans. Kanva advises Shakuntala to serve her elders in her in laws house with diligence. She should be friendly towards her co-wives and should not cross her husband even if the husband wrongs her. She should be good to her servants and should not be swelled with pride of wealth and pleasures. A woman who does otherwise is a curse on their families.

2. Answer any four of the following questions :5×4=20


(a) Briefly discuss the reaction of the plants and animals when Shakuntala prepares to leave the forest for Dushyanta’s palace.

Ans. The cakravaka does not answer the call of his love and the cakravaki not finding her love calls for him frantically. The cakravaka is sad due to the departure of Shakuntala. He keeps looking at Shakuntala rapt in thought. Even the plants and trees offer their sorrow at the departure of Shakuntala.

(b) Narrate how Dushyanta recognizes Sarvadamana as his own son and how he is reunited with his wife Shakuntala.

Ans. Dushyanta fins his son playing with a lion cub and sees a spark of royalty for it plays with a lion cub without being afraid of its mother. He also observers that the palm of the hand of the child bears the mark of a king. The hermitess corrects the king when he says that the child is the son of a hermit. The child has facial similarities with the king and does not shy away from him though he was a stranger to him. Dushyanta his mother is the daughter of an ‘apsara’

. The king also comes to know that the boy’s mother’s name is Shakuntala. Finally the king picks up the amulet on Sarvadamana’s hand which only the boy himself or his parents could pick up. This proved to be the final proof of the fact that Sarvadamna was Dushyant’s child.

(c) Briefly recount the episode of Vasantasena meeting Rohasena and also comment on her attitude towards Charudatta’s son.

Ans. In order to divert Rohasena’s attention, Radhanika takes him to visit Vasanatasena. Immediately Vasantasena recognises a glow in the face of the little boy. She asks for the identity of the boy. She takes him up in her lap and pets him and remarks that he looks exactly like his father. When she is informed that Rohasena is crying for his golden cart, she gives her ornaments on his clay cart and asks him to make a golden cart for himself with the ornaments. It is quite clear that her attitude towards Rohasena is very affectionate. She does not bother about her ornaments but only about the happiness of the little child.

(d) Explore the significance of the Court Scene (Act IX) in Mrichhakatika.

Ans. Act IX provides an insight into the judicial administration of Ujjayni. The Judge was assisted by two assessors, and justice appears to have been both impartial and speedy. Yet the proper procedure of the courts seems to have been hardly followed in this speedy dispersal for the dead body wasn’t recovered which is one of the chief evidences in a case like this. Yet the presiding judge had to follow well formulated rules of evidence and procedure in recording facts and well-examined witnesses; but he could give his decision only in the form of a recommendation.

The passing of the final order lied with the sovereign. If the facts were not clearly established by evidence recourse had to be taken with four kinds of ordeals – ‘poison, water, balance and fire. A trail by ordeals was fairly common in the ancient times for a serious offence. A criminal awarded a capital punishment could be set free if someone paid a heavy ransom. Further a son might be born in a king’s household and al the convicts might be set free on the happy occasion. An elephant might break the bondages and in the commotion a convict might escape and ultimately a king might pardon all the convicts. The last category came to be true for Charudutta.

(e) Briefly analyze the symbolic significance of the Assembly Hall of the Mahabharata (Book II).

Ans. Arjuna had saved Maya from a fire and as a token of his gratitude he built a huge palace in the honour of the Pandavas. The edifice itself symbolizes the zenith of Pandava power and prowess. It symbolizes that the Pandavas have achieved supreme glory. Ironically however, it also signaled their downfall. The palace became the symbol of jealousy as wel which Duryodhana feels towards the Pandavas. The Apollonian construction did attract the Dionysian counter part of destruction. The assembly hall in a nutshell is the total significance of the book, i.e., with great success looms the clouds of greater distress.

(f) Distinguish Katha from akhyayika. What does Bana say about his ancestors and about himself, and where?

3. Answer any two of the following questions : 10×2=20

(a) (i) Discuss how the Book of the Assembly Hall debates the concept of dharma.

Ans. With arms uplifted, loud I cry: But no one deigns to hear. Pleasure and wealth from duty flow, Duty why not revere?

The entire epic hinges on the single theme of Dharma as the most predominant motif. In fact so pervasive is the theme that a character, one of the chief protagonists – Yudhishthira is actually called Dharmaraja. According to the lore, Yudhisthira was the son of the god of justice – Dharma. However, the concept of dharma is seen from larger points of view than just the nomenclature of a character.

The entire epic works under the larger signifier of dharma and its obedience by the characters or not. The concluding parts of the second book or the Sava Parva set the stage for the ultimate battle between dharma and adharma. While the Pandavas are on the side of dharma and the kauravas are on the side of adharma.

However, things are not so clear when we peer deeper in to the text. We are often confused between dharma and adharma. Someone’s dharma becomes adharma for others and vice-versa. Arjuna exemplifies kshatriya dharma by saving the demon Maya who builds the place for the Pandavas. Thus a good deed comes back as a reward. This oversimplification is however soon questioned. All good deeds do not yield good results. For example, Krishna did much good to Sisupala but Sisupala’s hatred against his kin remained the same and actually led to the demise of Sisupala.

There is an ensuing abstract discussion on Dharma as well. When Narada enters into Yudhisthira’s palace and asks him several questions eliciting his responses regarding his concept about being a good king. Narada Muni lays down the rules for dharma of the king and Yudhishthira agrees to follow them for a prosperous kingdom. As a part of the raja dharma, Krishna convinces Yudhisthira to observe the rajasuyya yajna so that he could be declared as a proper emperor.

Yudhisthira observes the dig vijay procedure where the four brothers set out to win many nearby kingdoms. While this could be seen as completely normal, it could actually be an argument in favour of imperialism. Imperialism however, was the order of the day and to engulf another kingdom was just of the many duties of an everyday king. Yet whichever kingdom is defeated isn’t annexed but rather (and judiciously thus) made to pay a tribute and accept the suzerainty of Yudhisthira. Seen from the contemporary perspective it will be wrong for a nation to be made war upon but if we look at the issue from the perspective of the ancient world then what Yudhisthira did was the right dharma.

Following the lines of royal dharma Yudhisthira invites and honours each and every nearby king. Yet after the yajna is complete when Yudhisthira conveys the greatest honour to Krishna (after consulting with Bhishma), Sisupala intervenes and calls Krishna’s conduct and status into question. After putting up with the insult Krishna beheads Sisupala. Yudhisthira’s dharma came into question. Wasn’t he responsible for the safety of his guests?

He turned a blind eye to the incident. A similar questioning of the dharma could be raised in the encounter between Jarasandha on one hand and Bhim, Arjuna and Krishna on another. Krishna convinces Yudhisthira that unless Jarasandha is defeated, Yudhisthira could not be the sovereign he wishes to be. The trio – Krishna, Bhima and Arjuna enters the kingdom in disguise. However, Bhima though Bhima uses no unfair means to defeat Jarasandha it was Krishna who gives the clue to his weakness from outside hence committing an adharma. Yet it was Jarasandha who had imprisoned hundred kings to be sacrificed thus committing a huge injustice.

The real dilemma of dharma arises in the episode where Draupadi is disrobed. After Yudhisthira loses al he has in the game of dice, he bets his wife. Inevitably he loses and Duryodhana becomes the owner of Draupadi. She becomes the ‘dasi of the Kauravas. Duryodhana tries to avenge his insult in the hands of Draupadi in the palace of the Pandavas. He orders Draupadi to be brought to the assembly hall and be disrobed publicly. Draupadi pleads with her husbands but they being bound by the laws of the court can’t protect her.

Then she asks something that puts the subtle nature of dharma into focus. She asks that if Yudhisthira has lost himself and has become a salve then how can he bet his wife? While most of the people had remained mum on the issue it was suggested that even a slave can ‘own’ a wife and can do whatever he likes with her. Here many concepts of dharma come at conflict with each other. Isn’t it the dharma of the husband to protect his wife? And Isn’t it the dharma of the guardians of the court to protect the hapless?

Isn’t it the dharma of the Kshatriyas to protect the women? None of these concepts of dharma was given any importance. The husbands did not protect the wife, the elderly did not stop the horror, the khatriyas did not help the hapless, the host tried to disrobe the guest. If the Kauravas committed a sin or adharma, then the Pandavas did no better. The same could be said about the elders present in the court.

They didn’t raise a single finger to stop the injustice. The very name of dharmaraja fell into shame. However, ultimately the honour of Draupadi was saved by Krishna. What is important for us to note is that since this adharma was committed the war of Mahabharata was fought. This adharma led to the cleaning of the soil of the Aryans. It became ready for a new crop. Perhaps this was the way in which the dharma really works.

Thus much before Milton had written paradise Lost and had tried to justify the ways of god to men, Mahabharata has already tried to make the readers understand the subtle ways in which dharma works.

Or, (ii) Analyse the character of Draupadi in the light of her outburst during her disrobing in the Book of assembly Hall of the Mahabharata.

Ans. Draupadi was a heroic princess of the Hindu epic of Mahabharata. One who was firm and a woman with an unbending will. The Proud and angry heroine of the epic Mahabharata, Draupadi has remained an enigmatic woman of substance.

Draupadi was the daughter of Drupad, the king of Panchala, and the wife and queen of the five great Pandavas, renowned alike for her loveliness and her granite will. Volcanic, she reduced her enemies to the ashes. This fiery princess bent on vengeance could be compassionate and generous, too. Draupadi had developed the strength to bear the trials of life. She had resolved firmly not to harm the good people, and not to bend before the wicked. Draupadi was a woman, but she became as famous as the heroic Pandavas because of such determination.

Her personality was one of lightning and thunder. This unforgettable heroine is in no way less than Bheema or Arjuna in strength and spirit, valour and virtue. Her story is a saga of suffering and disgrace but she took everything in her stride and vanquished each one of the perpetrators of her humiliation and agony. Draupadi finds her five husbands discarding her repeatedly: each takes at least one more wife; she never gets Arjuna to herself for he marries Ulupi, Chitrangada and has Subhadra as his favourite. Yudhishthira pledges her like chattel at a game of dice; and finally, they leave her to die alone on the roadside like a pauper, utterly rikta – drained in every sense.

Draupadi, meaning daughter of Drupad, was known by several other names as well. As the princess of the kingdom of Panchal she was known as Panchali. As the granddaughter of Prushata she was known as Parsati. [ Draupadi is ayonija, not born of woman. Draupadi is born of fire and therefore, often referred to as Yagnyaseni. She is also called Krishnaa because she was copper skinned, fiery eyed and had long, black hair.

She was gifted with blue-lotus fragrance wafting for a full krosha (2 miles) and hence was called Yojanagandha (she whose fragrance can be felt for miles). [Draupadi alone enjoys the unique relationship of sakhi (female-friend) with her sakha (male-friend) Krishna. She was a true virgin, and has a mind of her very own.]

Draupadi was extremely beautiful, intelligent and virtuous woman, with her body smelling like a fresh bloom lotus. There are few women in Hindu mythology who were aggressive and who spoke their mind in a world of men. Draupadi was one of them. She is considered by many as the first feminist of Indian mythology. At the time of her birth, a celestial voice had proclaimed: “This unparalleled beauty has taken birth to uproot the Kauravas and establish the rule of religion”. The circumstances leading to her birth began to take shape while her father was yet young.

Duryodhan ordered Dusshasana to drag Draupadi by her hair to the royal court before the great assembly of people and then to disrobe her completely. Karna calling her a public woman whose being clothed or naked is immaterial. Draupadi looked at all elders in the court – Dhritarashtra, Bheeshma, Drona, Kripa and Vidura – with her eyes shouting for help. But all elders were silent. The subjects were stunned. Her husbands sat with their heads bowed.

Draupadi had a marvelous blend of intensity that suits kshatriyas and forgiveness that fits devotees. She was very intelligent and knowledgeable. She had a brilliant mind, was utterly “one-in-herself” and did not hesitate in reprimanding the Kuru elders for countenancing wickedness. When Dusshasana was dragging her by the hair

to the court, she ridiculed him to show his prowess against her husbands. She also boldly reprimanded the elders present in the court and appealed to them to do justice. She cried out to her silent husbands. But nobody came for help. Finding no response, with quicksilver presence of mind she seizes upon a social ritual to wrest some moments of respite from pillaging hands.

Her speech drips with sarcasm. The elders whom she ceremoniously salutes, deliberately using the word “duty”, have remained silent in the face of Vidura’s exhortation to do their duty and protect the royal daughter-in-law. At last Duryodhan’s brother Vikarna supported Draupadi but Karna derided him and questioned his support for her. Thus, despite being humiliated, Draupadi won morally. Nobody could refute her logic.

She said “where righteousness and justice do not exist, it ceases to be a court; it is a gang of robbers”. In response to Draupadi’s volley of harsh words, Dusshsana grinned and uttered wicked words. Bheema (the third Pandava) exploded like a volcano now. He thundered in anger, and promised to burn the hands of Dusshasana. Dusshasana should have respected Draupadi, his sister-in-law, like his own mother. But instead, the wicked Dusshasana began to pull at her saree. Draupadi’s weeping and wailing would have moved a stone to mercy.

Draupadi turned to Lord Krishna as her husbands bowed their heads in shame. She threw out both hands and with both hands in salutation she cried to Krishna, and miraculously the more Dusshasana pulled her robe, the more it was still there on her person. Several meters of the robes he pulled, yet it was still there. Dusshasana was tired drawing her saree but he could not find the end of it.

This shows us the bond between a brother and sister or the promise of security. Draupadi gave to Lord Krishna one small strand from her saree to tie on his injured finger, during a duel with the cruel Shishupala. At that moment, Krishna had promised Draupadi of constant security. Lord Krishna kept his promise during this trying moments of Draupadi and gave her an endless saree, one which could never be removed and thus protected her honour.

Draupadi succeeded in winning back freedom for her enslaved husbands. Karna paid her a remarkable tribute, saying that none of the world’s renowned beautiful women have accomplished such a feat: like a boat she has rescued her husbands who were drowning in a sea of sorrows.

(b) (i)The central issue of Mrichhakatika is the empowerment of womenDiscusss.

Ans. The main theme of Mrichhakatika is love and the love between Charudutta and Vasantasena is beautiful to observe. Yet Sudraka shows a courtesan to be in love with a Brahmin. Sudraka appears to have portrayed what was but only a common thing during his times though no one dared to talk about it. The fact that the same has been portrayed in a comedy gives it a license to be not taken too seriously. Yet within the moral radar of the society the comedy through the affair does show the truth of the society. Though Vasantasena is not a prostitute who sells her body yet the courtier accompanying Samsthanaka says,

Coutier: The wisest Brahman and the meanest fool. Bathe in the selfsame pool ; Beneath the peacock, flowering plants bend low, No less beneath the crow; The Brahman, warrior, merchant, sail along With all the vulgar throng. You are the pool, the flowering plant, the boat; And on your beauty every man may dote. (Act I)

In the same act Sanasthanaka abuses Vasantasena by various names. One can observe however, that a women need not be a prostitute to be awarded heinous epithets from the society. A woman is often made a punching bag for the frustrations of the males. Vasantasena rejects the advances of the fool Sanasthakana and thus she is chased by him. She can’t be bought with money nor can she be threatened with might. Vasantasena declares:

Vasantasena. Yet true love would be won by virtue, not violence. (Act I)

She truly does upload the virtues of love and individual freedom. Yet she does not fight the villain head on. She uses ploy which becomes of a heroine in a comedy. Just like Viola in The Twelfth Night (1602) Vasanatasena uses her feminine charms and disarming feminine weakness to get rid of Sansthanaka.

Vasantasena. Sir, I am a weak woman. (Act I)

Her wit is observed in her ploy to keep her casket of ornaments with Charudutta so that she can have a pretext to visit him again. Further, her witty repartee to Charudutta is also an example of her intelligence.

Charudatta: This house is not worthy of the trust. Vasantasena: You mistake, sir! It is to men that treasures are entrusted, not to houses. (Act I)

Vasantasena is a creature of charm, beauty and intelligence. In fact her name itself suggests Spring, the most beautiful of all seasons. The most fertile of all seasons. She truly is like spring which gives an aura of life to everything. For example, she gives the Shampooer ten golden pieces so that he could pay back his debts. He also helps Charudutta as far as she can. Ultimately, she grants Charudutta his life when she appears in person to save her beloved’s life.

Just like the season of love – spring, Vasantasena brings in the seson of love and prosperity in the life of Charudutta. She herself is lovelorn for Charudutta and longs to become his wife. In the end her heart’s desire comes true and she is granted the status of a ‘vadhu’ by the king Aryaka. Here however, a man grants permission to a woman. This seems to perpetuate the patriarchal hegemony that goes on without being explicitly.detected.

Vasantasena is wealthy. This goes against her in many ways. First, Charudutta finds him incompetent to vie for the love of Vasanatsena. Secondly, Sansthanaka alleges that Charudutta had killed Vasantasena for her jewels. Yet she uses her wealth to do good only. She helps the poor with her money and doesn’t care about it at all. In fact she is so unmindful of her jewels that in order to placate Rohasena, she gives her jewels on his little clay cart.

She has a place which has seven courtrooms. Maitreya goes through them and praises them which reminds the place of the Pandavas themselves. Opposed to this picture of opulence is her generosity and humbleness. She yearns to become a woman without the tag of a courtesan. Her behaviour towards Rohasena shows the milk of love in her breast. When she meets Rohasena she cries out of joy for the little child.

Though she has a lot of goodliness in her, she is passive like Charudutta. She doesn’t even try to resist her strangling by Sansthanaka. She does not even scream lest someone see her and she be found to be a help[less person. This exaggeration takes the character away from the plane of reality to the plane of ideal. Her character is subsumed under the duress of the necessities of the plot. Other than this aspect Vasanatasena is almost a perfect female protagonist.

Or, (ii) Write a critical note on the significance of the title Mrichhakatika.

Ans. The title of any work of literary art acts like an early hint to the work. The title often acts like the signpost for an area which gives us things to expect from it. the more associated the theme and the title is the more will the title be considered better but contrastive titles are no less attractive either.

The literal meaning of the title ‘Mrichhkatika’is ‘the little clay cart! Generally a play is named after the hero or the heroine in Sanskrit plays. This however is true with Shakespearean plays as well, especially in the case of the tragedies. His comedies however, weren’t named after the male/female protagonist other than Cymbeline (1623). Often a title is based upon the central theme of the play. However, these general conventions are not followed in the naming of the play. The incident which provides the play’s title occurs in the beginning of Act VI, i.e. the middle of the play.

Initially, it might seem as insignificant event but undoubtedly, it is the central incident of the play. It is noteworthy to say that the title of the play is ironic. The very first word of the title is ‘mrit’ that means ‘clay. But the story of the play revolves around the golden ornaments. For a very short time, Charudutta’s slittle son, Rohasena is shown with a clay cart. Here Rohasena’s desire for a golden cart becomes helpful in the development of the plot. However, the importance of the clay cart cannot be refuted and will be explained in the following paragraphs.

In Act VI, Rohasena, is not satisfied with an earthen toy-cart. He wants a golden toy-cart which he used to play previously with. Radhanika clarifies the issue in ActVI,

Radanika. He used to play with a gold cart that belongs to the son of a neighbor. But that was taken away, and when he asked for it, I made him this little clay cart. But when I gave it to him, he said “I don’t like this little clay cart, Radanika. Give me my gold cart.” (Act VI)

He wants his golden cart. Vasantasena gives him her ornaments by filing the cart to the brim. The title originates from this incident. Here, the nmoteworthy point is that the ornaments are the same that were given to Charudutta for safe-keeping in Act I. In reality, her purpose was to continue the acquaintance with him. In Act II, Sharvilaka stole those ornaments.  The same ornaments are returned to Vasantasena by him in Act IV.

The union of Vasantasena and Charudutta becomes possible because of the ornaments. It also proves helpful in revealing the noble character of the hero and the heroine in the play. In the first half of the play, the ornaments seem blessed for the main characters. On the other hand, in the latter half of the play, these ornaments seem blessed for the main characters.

On the other hand, in the latter half of the play, these ornaments prove unfortunate for Charudutta as he to be sent to the gallows. Thus, in the development of the whole play, the ornaments prove to be an ironical tool that presents both fortunate and unfortunate aspects of human life. The earthen toy-cart links these opposite states in the play.

Further, the final complication of the play arises out of the mixing up of the carts. The title thus includes a hint of the mixing of the carts. Perhaps we can comment that the ‘Little Clay Cart’ was a prelude to the actual carts. Moreover, Rohasena was crying because he was missing his golden cart and Vasantasena had to cry at the hands of Sanathanaka because she had missed the cart meant for her. Yet if Aryaka hasn’t boarded Vardhamanaka’s cart then perhaps Ujjayani’s woes under an evil king might have never be over. Though the carts are ‘real’ carts they do reverberate the clay cart.

There could be a yet religio-philosophic bend to the title. The title might refer to our own existential crises of identities. We are as brittle as little clay carts. In Hindu philosophy the body is often known to be made clay. We are just vessels of the ‘atman’ and as useless without it. Our dreams also share a same fate. They are fragile like the clay carts. Charudutta’s dream of uniting with Vasantasena almost flounders. Vasantasena almost dies.

Thus one could say that the title of the play is appropriate because in subtle ways the same reflects upon the many issues of the play. Besides its short and rings a musical charm. (c) (i) Discuss how Bana presents the hermitage of Jabali.

Or, Comment on Bana’s narrative art in Kadambari (from prescribed portion)

Ans. Just as we universally consider ‘Hamlet’ synonymous to ‘tragedy’ or ‘Lolita’ to the genre of ‘novel’ similarly in modern India in the languages Kannada and Marathi Kadambari’ has been recognised as the meaning of ‘novel, romance, fiction or tale’. The entire credit should go to the extent of acceptance and admiration that the novel has achieved through the passage of time.

And this achievement is a direct result of the beautiful method of narration of the love story of the Moon God and Kadambari. By bringing in several major and minor characters and many complex situations and co-incidents throughout the two lives of the central characters the long narrative keeps its reader amalgamated to the text in full attention. Probably this is the reason why Banabhatta is regarded as the storyteller par excellence for centuries in India.

Certain auto-biographical elements are beautifully inserted into the text when Vaishampayana, the parrot narrator of the story describes his own tragic situation of loosing his mother in his very childhood and being brought up by father in the Vindhya forest. That poor father too is brutally slaughtered in the hand of the hunters and the severely traumatised Vaishampayana looses all directions in life till he comes to the hermitage of Jabali. By virtue of such personal account at the very beginning the story told by the parrot narrator at once surpasses the boundaries of mere subjective narration and reaches to the inner palpable recesses of the readers.

The story-line of Kadambari may be described in short as follows. Pundarika is born as the son of the Goddess of fortune and the sage Svetaketu. Pundarika happens to fall in love with Mahasweta but owing to his ascetic’s vow, cannot come to a happy ending with his love. He attains the end of a dissatisfied life for his unfulfilled love hinting at the possible rebirth. The rebirth invariably takes place in the shape of Vaishampayana. The moon God also reincarnates as Candrapeeda. In this life Chandrapeeda woos Kadambari before succumbing to the curse and Vaishampayana courts Mahasweta, but unfortunately is cursed by her and dies to be reborn as a parrot.

One day the parrot who is former Vaishampayana and former Pundarika is brought to the court of the king Sudraka who is again by fortune the reincarnated form of Chandrapeeda. It is at the court of the king that the entire story is narrated and all the identities are revealed. Sudraka and the parrot narrator grieve to death at being separated from their beloveds in previous birth. At their death the body of Chandrapeeda revives by the grace of moon God.

Pundarika is also brought back earth from Haven and the two divine couple unite after a vivid waiting for more than two complete life-cycles. The beautifully arranged narration of the story is vibrant with the theme of rebirth, reinforced on several occasions by denotation, connotation and allusions, narrated in a way that sets up the theme and then reiterates it; with enormous suspense suggests, echoes the same and finally comes to rest just like the ocean involves into a chaotic and destructive phenomena in tumultuous tempest, but at the end of it becomes the same calm and soothing panorama of crystal blue water.

In order to maintain the suspense in the story not disturbing the unity of plot Bana has implemented several unique techniques which to define with Aristotle are, the ‘frame’ , the ‘prism’ and the time machine’. It is also to be noted that the story-teller is named ‘Vaishampayana’ who is the major narrator in the great Mahabharata as well. In the universally acclaimed texts like Decameron and Canterbury Tales the technique of ‘framing’ takes place.

It is the method of telling multiple stories within a story. Now, Kadambari is a story told to king Sudraka by parrot-narrator Vaishampayana about the story told to him by the hermit Jabali. Within this is a story told to Chandrapeeda by Mahasweta about a story told by Kapinjala. Ovid’s Metamorphosis and Indian Mahabharata are renowned for the use of the story telling technique called ‘prism’, which just like the dispersing of light leaves clues to certain events to come or the completion of the story at its beginning itself.

In Kadambari also Vaishampayana and the other subsequent narrators introduce their story with a series of questions, thereby causing more intense involvement from the reader. The third technique called ‘time machine’ reflects to an indigenous idea, as the name suggests, to a time travel by virtue of mere narration of the story. In Kadambari both the narrator and the prime listener are unaware about their own identity which will be revealed with the appearance of Goddess Lakshmi. But during the course of the story they have travelled to myriads of time zones effortlessly being completely ignorant that somewhere in those time frames is hiding their true relevance with the story itself.

In disguise of an oblivious parrot who can only repeat what he is taught and can never understand a bit of the same here in Kadambari the irony is intensified because the same parrot is honoured by being mythologically connected to the chief narrator of Mahabharata and at the end through stories within stories his actual identity is exposed as to be the pivotal character of the story. Hence both the narrator and the narrated are made one and the circle of their long longed love becomes complete.

(d) (i) Comment on the significance of the title of Kalidasa’s play Abhijnanashakuntalam.

Ans. The title of any work of literary art acts like an early hint to the work. The title often acts like the signpost for an area which gives us things to expect from it. the more associated the theme and the title is the more will the title be considered better but contrastive titles are no less attractive either

. It is important to note that the title does not have Dhusyanta in it but Shakuntala. Thus, emphasizing on the role of the female protagonist. However, we must remember that it was Dhusyanta that forgot Shakuntala and not the other way round. Thus even if the name of Shakuntala features, she is not the subject of the action but only the passive recipient of the mnemonic fault of the king. Yet naming a probable tragedy on the name of female protagonist could not be seen even in the renaissance but in the ancient Indian culture.

There is yet another aspect to the title. Since, the marriage was done in secrecy the emphasis on remembering was important. Sarngarva aptly comments in Act V:

Therefore, a marriage, specially one made in secret Should be contracted after careful scrutiny Affection quickly turns to hate in hearts That have known each other but slenderly. (Act V)

It was convenient for the king to forget and equally painful for Shakuntala to prove her honesty. Thus even through the title we can understand the force of patriarchy upon such institutions of social importance as marriage.

The word ‘abhijyana’ is the title signifies ‘a token of recognition’ (here a ring), which is instrumental in bringing about the final recognition of Shakuntala by the ring.

The play commences with king Dushyanta on a hunt. He soon finds himself in the presence of three women at an asharam of Kanva. One of these women at the ashrama of kanva is Shakuntala, whom Dushyanta immediately falls in love with. Their mutual attraction eventually blossoms into a romance, but one day after Dushyanta has to leave in a hurry to meet his mother, a hermit (Durvasa) puts a curse on Shakuntala.

She was too busy thinking of Dushyanta, the hermit told her friends that if Dushyanta was presented with a meaningful object (a souvenir) representing their relationship, he would regain his memory of her. Unfortunately as Shakuntala greeted Dushyanta once more he did not remember her. She remembers that he had given her a ring while they were together but as she looked down to give it to him she realized it had slipped of her finger, probably while she was in the Ganges river.

Later on a fisherman (who was taken a prisoner for theft) returned to the king the ring he had found in the belly of a fish. All of a sudden Dusyanta remembers everything by seeing the ring. Even then it is not he who actively searches for Shakuntala but the dues ex machine had to intervene to make Dushyanta come to Shakuntala. He is led to the ashrama and finds his long forgotten love Shakuntala and his son.

One can understand that pivotal plot of the play is incorporated very beautifully into the title of the play. The play is resolved when Shankuntala was recognised and the climax came when she wasn’t by her husband. Mnemonic remembrance thus plays a vital role in the play. It is important to note that ancient Indian culture and most of its scripts were mnemonic. To forget something could mean the destruction of a part of the culture.

It was a rather stern error on the part of the king to forget. It will not be out of context to bring in the issue of Phaedrus. In that text Socretes tells an abecdote to the king regarding the gift that a god brings for the Egyptian king. The king rejects the gift calling it posion. The gift was of writing’ which was supposed to aid memory. The king rejected the gift saying that rather than aiding memory it will destroy it because form now onwards the people won’t bother to remember anything if they get addicted to writing.

The ‘abhijayana’ occurs due to the ring. Had Dusyhanta not given the ring to shakuntala as a token of love, had the ring been never found, then the actual structure of the play would have been a trivial tale of love. But the ring binds the episodes of the play in such a manner that the play becomes a legendary tale of love beyond the ephemeral claws of time.

Thus we find that the title is short and appropriate for the play. It reflects the main theme of the play and the reason for the whole misunderstanding. It also carries a lot of significances which go outside the text of the play. Besides the title itself is graced with a lyrical charm.

Q.2. Comment on the first scene of Avijyanamshakuntalam.

Ans. According to Coleridge the first scene is said to strike the keynote of the character of the whole drama. While this could not be more true for Macbeth for which Coleridge has said so; the same could be true for the play. Perhaps the universality of the play is, along with, other devices, gained from the fact that the king enters the scene as a hunter and is soon hunted by the feelings of love for Shakuntala.

Then Shakuntala is questioned by the king himself when she appears in front of him and thus is struck with uncomfortable questions. Again, after the king realises his mistake he hunts for Shakuntala only to find her at last. Even this discovery is done through luck as luck is necessary for hunting.

The first scene establishes the background of the play. It gives the reason as to why The king has come to the ashram of Kanva.

The scene is also important for the portrayal of the descriptive powers of the playwright. The playwright beautifully describes the deer, the horses and the hunt. These are some of the most eloquent poetries in the play. Further as the poems issue from the king we can say that the king is a rather gifted individual who can compose poetry beautifully. Thus the opening scene and the lines therein are not only a herald to the entire play but also to the stylistic features of the play.

Kalidasa is the most eminent figure in Sanskrit literature. His poetic genius has gifted the literary world with unsurpassed dramas and lyrics like Avijyanamshakuntalam and Meghdutum. It goes without saying that Kalidasa’s Avijyanamshakuntalam is an outstanding piece of art. What makes the play more striking is the first scene of the play. The opening scene is noted not only for the beautiful foundation of love but also the scene of an unwanted ironical plot of the play.

In the first act we see Dushyanta, the hero of the play once went out on a hunting expedition, accompanied by a large retinue. He becomes exhausted and comes to the penance grove of Kanva in pursuit of some wild deer. He is then invited to receive such hospitalities as the ‘ashrama’ could offer. At the time sage Kanva was away but his daughter Shakunatala is there who would most surely look after the guests’ comforts.

Here hospitality is in this state a duty. That is why Kanva takes special care to appoint Shakunatala in his absence to receive the guests. The king accepts the invitation and enters the hermitage. There he finds three girls watering the flowering plants and shrubs. In this connection he falls in love with Shakuntala who is one of them the other two Anasuya and Priyamvada being her companions.

In the meanwhile Shakuntala is also struck at the king’s appearance and readily falls in love with him. The king thinks of the possibility of his being a suitable suitor of Shakunatala.

There is no shadow of doubt in the fact that the first scene of the play is a unique portrayal of scenic beauty and a serene, and calm ambience of Kanva’s hermitage. Again, the scene is also painted very beautifully with the colours of love at first sight. When Dushyanta looks at Shakuntala he becomes completely enamoured by the beauty of Shakuntala and her composed nature that he immediately falls in love with her. We are reminded of the famous line by Christopher Marlowe: “Whoever loved that loved not at first sight?”

It is to be noted that the scene is also full with the presence of the ubiquitous ‘fate’ in the form of that wild deer. It is as if the meeting of Dushyanta and Shakuntala was predestined and that wild deer made it possible. Apart from this, one cannot forget the humane quality in Shakuntala’s character as she takes care of Dushyanta when he becomes distressed and totally exhausted at the end of the day of his hunting expedition.

Or, (ii) Write a critical note on Kalidasa’s portrayal of King Dushyanta in Abhijnanashakuntalam.

Ans. According to Dhananjaya, in his Dasrupaka (10th century A.D.E.), a hero,” .. should be wel bred, charming, liberal, clever, affable, popular, upright, eloquent, of exalted lineage, resolute, and young; endowed with intelligence, energy, memory, wisdom, skilled in arts, and proud; heroic, mighty, vigorous, familiar with codes and a just observer of the laws.”

Dhusyanta is the sole male protagonist of the play. He is the prime mover of the plot of the play. Though unlike many tragedies (especially English) the title does not bear his name but of the female protagonist. Yet the play begins with the introduction of the king. He is shown to chase a deer on his chariot.

The very first scene is replete with the poems that Kalidasa fits in the mouth of the king. As the poems issue from the king we can say that the king is a rather gifted individual who can compose poetry beautifully. The king appears to be a curious person as he tries to understand various reasons behind the natural working of the hunt.

Allowing free play of irony the author makes the hunter become the hunted. The cruel fangs of love hunts down the king and he falls in love with Shakuntala. We could admire the similarity of his description of the deer and Shakuntala, while the deer was something that he was desiring to catch, Shakuntala becomes something that he desires to make his own.

The encounter with Shakuntala and her friends exposes the softer side of the rugged king who could slay monsters with his sword. The king continues his description of Shakuntala. Kalidasa was right to introduce the king as a poet as well otherwise the audience might have had wondered on the fine ability of the king to compose verses at the sight of his beloved. However, the sight of Shakuntala itself was enough to bring out a poet in anybody.

The king practices modesty as well as impatience in his approach to Shakuntala. It is interesting to note that all the characteristics of the king come to light in its context with Shakuntala. The true dilemma of the lover has been well presented in the character of the king. His approach to Shakuntala is rather full with soft love, respect and at the same time much yearning.

He also shows his kingly duties when he is called for to perform them. The king vows to protect the ashrama from demons who were disturbing the hermits from performing their yajnas. He quickly follows her mother’s summon when he is needed to return to the palace.

The king is shown to be over burdened with work in the palace. He is then the true picture of a good king who loses his calm of mind over the affairs of his kingdom. He also presented as a just ruler who knows how to dispense his daily duties. As an example of the same could be found when he gives a hefty reward to the fisher man who returns the ring to the king. Further, when he dispenses with a case about property he shows great graciousness.

However, when Shakuntala visits him and asks for his recognition he fails to under the curse of Rishi Durwasa. Here however, we can say that if his love was really that strong the how he could have had forgotten her in the first place? Mirakesi in Act VI says quite aptly,

“….a love such as this really need a token of recognition? How can that be?”

He turns away Shakuntala. He questions her incredulously and his sharp words fall harshly on the ears of the lady. But when he remembers her he is saddened beyond measure. So much so that he confuses the names of his other queens adding to their chagrin. He sulks in his grove until the supernatural forces asks him to be united with his lost love. What we can question is, however, that the king does not actively search for his beloved but rather spends time on brooding on his actions.

Thus we can find that Kalidasa does present Dushyanta to be a multifaceted character well worth remembering.







  1. Sir you did not answer the 6th question that is :- Distinguish Katha from akhyayika. What does Bana say about his ancestors and about himself, and where?


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