Why do you think Kalidasa adopted the story of Shakuntala for his play Abhijnansakuntalam?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that there might be several reasons for the attraction to the narrative of Shakuntala.  One of the first is that Kalidasa enjoyed writing about the Hindu Puranas and philosophical tenets.  In writing in Sanskrit, he would have learned about the narrative of Shakuntala in theMahabarata, and this would have provided him an excellent opportunity to delve into the nature of dharma and adherence to structure in the drama that is Shakuntala's narrative.  At the same time, I think that the poetry involved in the retelling enables Kalidasa to explore so much in way of aesthetic inquiry.  The myth and the drama that he is able to construct around it show how the most powerful of men such as Sages and Kings must deal with the very basic of human reactions such as love, separation, and the hope for reconciliation with that which defines human identity.  These are elements that Kalidasa is able to evoke and bring out in his analysis.  In the process, there is much within his writing that is able to delve into an aesthetic appreciation of the concepts within Hinduism.

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