Part 4 out of 5
KING. [_After deep thought_.
My dear friend, suggest some relief for my misery.
Come, come, cheer up; why do you give way? Such weakness is
unworthy of you. Great men never surrender themselves to
uncontrolled grief. Do not mountains remain unshaken even in a
gale of wind?
How can I be otherwise than inconsolable, when I call to mind the
agonized demeanour of the dear one on the occasion of my
When cruelly I spurned her from my presence,
She fain had left me; but the young recluse,
Stern as the Sage, and with authority
As from his saintly master, in a voice
That brooked not contradiction, bade her stay.
Then through her pleading eyes, bedimmed with tears,
She cast on me one long reproachful look,
Which like a poisoned shaft torments me still.
Alas! such is the force of self-reproach following a rash
action. But his anguish only rejoices me.
An idea has just struck me. I should not wonder if some celestial
being had carried her off to heaven.
Very likely. Who else would have dared to lay a finger on a wife,
the idol of her husband? It is said that Menaka, the nymph of
heaven, gave her birth. The suspicion has certainly crossed my
mind that some of her celestial companions may have taken her to
their own abode.
His present recollection of every circumstance of her history
does not surprise me so much as his former forgetfulness.
If that's the case, you will be certain to meet her before long.
No father and mother can endure to see a daughter suffering the
pain of separation from her husband.
KING. Oh! my dear Ma[T.]Havya,
Was it a dream? or did some magic dire,
Dulling my senses with a strange delusion,
O'ercome my spirit? or did destiny,
Jealous of my good actions, mar their fruit,
And rob me of their guerdon? It is past,
Whate'er the spell that bound me. Once again
Am I awake, but only to behold
The precipice o'er which my hopes have fallen.
Do not despair in this manner. Is not this very ring a proof that
what has been lost may be unexpectedly found?
KING. [_Gazing at the ring_.
Ah! this ring, too, has fallen from a station not easily
regained, and I offer it my sympathy. O gem,
The punishment we suffer is deserved,
And equal is the merit of our works,
When such our common doom. Thou didst enjoy
The thrilling contact of those slender fingers,
Bright as the dawn; and now how changed thy lot!
Had it found its way to the hand of any other person, then indeed
its fate would have been deplorable.
Pray, how did the ring ever come upon her hand at all?
I myself am curious to know.
You shall hear. When I was leaving my beloved [S']akoontala that I
might return to my own capital, she said to me, with tears in her
eyes: 'How long will it be ere my lord send for me to his palace
and make me his queen?'
Well, what was your reply?
Then I placed the ring on her finger, and thus addressed her:--
Repeat each day one letter of the name Engraven on this gem; ere
thou hast reckoned The tale of syllables, my minister Shall come
to lead thee to thy husband's palace.
But, hard-hearted man that I was, I forgot to fulfil my promise,
owing to the infatuation that took possession of me.
A pleasant arrangement! Fate, however, ordained that the
appointment should not be kept.
But how did the ring contrive to pass into the stomach of that
carp which the fisherman caught and was cutting up?
It must have slipped from my [S']akoontala's hand, and fallen into
the stream of the Ganges, while she was offering homage to the
water of [S']achi's holy pool.
Hence it happened, I suppose, that the King, always fearful of
committing the least injustice, came to doubt his marriage with
my poor [S']akoontala. But why should affection so strong as his
stand in need of any token of recognition?
Let me now address a few words of reproof to this ring.
He is going stark mad, I verily believe.
Hear me, then dull and undiscerning bauble!
For so it argues thee, that thou could'st leave
The slender fingers of her hand, to sink
Beneath the waters. Yet what marvel is it
That thou should'st lack discernment? let me rather
Heap curses on myself, who, though endowed
With reason, yet rejected her I loved.
And so, I suppose, I must stand here to be devoured by hunger,
whilst he goes on in this sentimental strain.
O forsaken one, unjustly banished from my presence, take pity on
thy slave, whose heart is consumed by the fire of remorse, and
return to my sight.
_Enter_ CHATURIKA _hurriedly, with a picture in her hand_.
Here is the Queen's portrait.
[_Shows the picture_.
Excellent, my dear friend, excellent! The imitation of nature is
perfect, and the attitude of the figures is really charming. They
stand out in such bold relief that the eye is quite deceived.
A most artistic performance! I admire the King's skill, and could
almost believe that [S']akoontala herself was before me.
I own 'tis not amiss, though it portrays
But feebly her angelic loveliness.
Aught less than perfect is depicted falsely,
And fancy must supply the imperfection.
A very just remark from a modest man, whose affection is
exaggerated by the keenness of his remorse.
Tell me:--I see three female figures drawn on the canvas, and all
of them beautiful; which of the three is her Majesty [S']akoontala?
If he cannot distinguish her from the others, the simpleton might
as well have no eyes in his head.
Which should you imagine to be intended for her?
She who is leaning, apparently a little tired, against the stem
of that mango-tree, the tender leaves of which glitter with the
water she has poured upon them. Her arms are gracefully extended;
her face is somewhat flushed with the heat; and a few flowers
have escaped from her hair, which has become unfastened, and hangs
in loose tresses about her neck. That must be the queen
[S']akoontala, and the others, I presume, are her two attendants.
I congratulate you on your discernment. Behold the proof of my
My finger, burning with the glow of love,
Has left its impress on the painted tablet;
While here and there, alas! a scalding tear
Has fallen on the cheek and dimmed its brightness.
Chaturika, the garden in the background of the picture is only
half-painted. Go, fetch the brush that I may finish it.
Worthy Ma[t.]havya, have the kindness to hold the picture until I
Nay, I will hold it myself.
[_Takes the picture_.
My loved one came but lately to my presence
And offered me herself, but in my folly
I spurned the gift, and now I fondly cling
To her mere image; even as a madman
Would pass the waters of the gushing stream,
And thirst for airy vapours of the desert.
He has been fool enough to forego the reality for the semblance,
the substance for the shadow.
Tell us, I pray, what else remains to be painted.
He longs, no doubt, to delineate some favourite spot where my
[S']akoontala delighted to ramble.
You shall hear:--
I wish to see the Malini portrayed,
Its tranquil course by banks of sand impeded;
Upon the brink a pair of swans; beyond,
The hills adjacent to Himalaya,
Studded with deer; and, near the spreading shade
Of some large tree, where 'mid the branches hang
The hermits' vests of bark, a tender doe,
Rubbing its downy forehead on the horn
Of a black antelope, should be depicted.
Pooh! if I were he, I would fill up the vacant
spaces with a lot of grizzly-bearded old hermits.
My dear Ma[T.]Havya, there is still a part of [S']akoontala's
dress which I purposed to draw, but find I have
What is that?
Something suitable, I suppose, to the simple attire of a young
and beautiful girl dwelling in a forest.
A sweet [S']irisha blossom should be twined
Behind her ear, its perfumed crest depending
Towards her cheek; and, resting on her bosom,
A lotus-fibre necklace, soft and bright
As an autumnal moonbeam, should be traced.
Pray, why does the Queen cover her lips with the tips of her
fingers, bright as the blossom of a lily, as if she were afraid
of something? [_Looking more closely_.] Oh! I see; a vagabond
bee, intent on thieving honey from the flowers, has mistaken her
mouth for a rosebud, and is trying to settle upon it.
A bee! drive off the impudent insect, will you?
That's your business. Your royal prerogative gives you power over
Very true. Listen to me, thou favourite guest of flowering plants;
why give thyself the trouble of hovering here?
See where thy partner sits on yonder flower,
And waits for thee ere she will sip its dew.
A most polite way of warning him off!
You'll find the obstinate creature is not to be sent about his
business so easily as you think.
Dost thou presume to disobey? Now hear me:--
An thou but touch the lips of my beloved,
Sweet as the opening blossom, whence I quaffed
In happier days love's nectar, I will place thee
Within the hollow of yon lotus cup,
And there imprison thee for thy presumption.
He must be bold indeed not to show any fear when you threaten him
with such an awful punishment. [_Smiling, aside_.] He is stark mad,
that's clear; and I believe, by keeping him company, I am beginning
to talk almost as wildly. [_Aloud_.] Look, it is only a painted bee.
Even I did not perceive it; how much less should he!
Oh! my dear friend, why were you so ill-natured as to tell me the
While all entranced, I gazed upon her picture,
My loved one seemed to live before my eyes
Till every fibre of my being thrilled
With rapturous emotion. Oh! 'twas cruel
To dissipate the day-dream, and transform
The blissful vision to a lifeless image.
Separated lovers are very difficult to please; but he seems more
difficult than usual.
Alas! my dear Ma[T.]Havya, why am I doomed to be the victim of
Vain is the hope of meeting her in dreams,
For slumber night by night forsakes my couch;
And now that I would fain assuage my grief
By gazing on her portrait here before me,
Tears of despairing love obscure my sight.
You have made ample amends for the wrong you did [S']akoontala in
Victory to the King! I was coming along with the box of colours
in my hand--
When I met the queen Vasumati, attended by Taralika. She insisted
on taking it from me, and declared she would herself deliver it
into your Majesty's hands.
By what luck did you contrive to escape her?
While her maid was disengaging her mantle, which had caught in
the branch, of a shrub, I ran away.
Here, my good friend, take the picture and conceal it. My
attentions to the Queen have made her presumptuous. She will be
here in a minute.
Conceal the picture! conceal myself, you mean.
[_Getting up and taking the picture_.]
The Queen has a bitter draught in store for you, which you will
have to swallow, as [S']iva did the poison at the Deluge. When
you are well quit of her, you may send and call me from the
Palace of Clouds, where I shall take refuge.
Although the King's affections are transferred to another object,
yet he respects his previous attachments. I fear his love must be
VETRAVATI. [_Entering with a despatch in her hand_.
Victory to the King!
Vetravati, did you observe the queen Vasumati coming in this
I did; but when she saw that I had a despatch in my hand for your
Majesty, she turned back.
The Queen has too much regard for propriety to interrupt me when
I am engaged with State-affairs.
So please your Majesty, your prime minister begs respectfully to
inform you that he has devoted much time to the settlement of
financial calculations, and only one case of importance has been
submitted by the citizens for his consideration. He has made a
written report of the facts, and requests your Majesty to cast
your eyes over it.
Hand me the paper.
[_VETRAVATI delivers it_.
What have we here? 'A merchant named Dhanamitra, trading by sea,
was lost in a late shipwreck. Though a wealthy trader, he was
childless; and the whole of his immense property becomes by law
forfeited to the king.' So writes the minister. Alas! alas! for
his childlessness! But surely, if he was wealthy, he must have
had many wives. Let an inquiry be made whether any one of them is
expecting to give birth to a child.
They say that his wife, the daughter of the foreman of a guild
belonging to Ayodhya , has just completed the ceremonies usual
upon such expectations.
The unborn child has a title to its father's property. Such is my
decree. Go, bid my minister proclaim it so.
I will, my liege.
Stay a moment.
I am at your Majesty's service.
Let there be no question whether he may or may not have left
offspring; Rather be it proclaimed that whosoe'er Of King
Dushyanta's subjects be bereaved
Of any loved relation, an it be not
That his estates are forfeited for crimes,
Dushyanta will himself to them supply
That kinsman's place in tenderest affection.
It shall be so proclaimed.
[_Exit_ VETRAVATI, _and re-enters after an interval_.
Your Majesty's proclamation was received with acclamations of
joy, like grateful rain at the right season.
KING. [_Drawing a deep sigh_.
So, then, the property of rich men, who have no lineal
descendants, passes over to a stranger at their decease. And
such, alas! must be the fate of the fortunes of the race of Puru
at my death; even as when fertile soil is sown with seed at the
Fool that I was to reject such happiness when it offered itself
for my acceptance!
He may well blame his own folly when he calls to mind his
treatment of my beloved [S']akoontala.
Ah! woe is me! when I forsook my wife--
My lawful wife--concealed within her breast
There lay my second self, a child unborn,
Hope of my race, e'en as the choicest fruit
Lies hidden in the bosom of the earth.
There is no fear of your race being cut off for want of a son.
CHATURIKA. [_Aside to_ VETRAVATI.
The affair of the merchant's death has quite upset our royal
master, and caused him sad distress. Would it not be better to
fetch the worthy Ma[t.]havya from the Palace of Clouds to comfort
A very good idea.
Alas! the shades of my forefathers are even now beginning to be
alarmed, lest at my death they may be deprived of their funeral
No son remains in King Dushyanta's place
To offer sacred homage to the dead
Of Puru's noble line; my ancestors
Must drink these glistening tears, the last libation
A childless man can ever hope to make them.
[_Falls down in an agony of grief_.
CHATURIKA. [_Looking at him in consternation_.
Great King, compose yourself.
Alas! alas! though a bright light is shining near him, he is
involved in the blackest darkness, by reason of the veil that
obscures his sight. I will now reveal all, and put an end to his
misery. But no; I heard the mother of the great Indra, when
she was consoling [S']akoontala, say that the gods will soon bring
about a joyful union between husband and wife, being eager for
the sacrifice which will be celebrated in their honour on the
occasion. I must not anticipate the happy moment, but will return
at once to my dear friend and cheer her with an account of what I
have seen and heard. [_Rises aloft and disappears_.
A VOICE BEHIND THE SCENES.
Help! help! to the rescue!
[_Recovering himself. Listening_.
Ha! I heard a cry of distress, and in Ma[t.]havya's voice too. What
Your friend is in danger; save him, great King.
Who dares insult the worthy Ma[t.]havya?
Some evil demon, invisible to human eyes, has seized him, and
carried him to one of the turrets of the Palace of Clouds.
Impossible! Have evil spirits power over my subjects,
even in nay private apartments? Well, well;--
Daily I seem, less able to avert
Misfortune from myself, and o'er my actions
Less competent to exercise control;
How can I then direct my subjects' ways,
Or shelter them from tyranny and wrong?
A VOICE BEHIND THE SCENES.
Halloo there! my dear friend; help! help!
KING. [_Advancing with rapid strides_.
THE SAME VOICE BEHIND THE SCENES.
Fear nothing, indeed! How can I help fearing when some monster is
twisting back my neck, and is about to snap it as he would a
KING. [_Looking round_.
What ho there! my bow!
SLAVE. [_Entering with a bow_.
Behold your bow, Sire, and your arm-guard.
[_The_ KING _snatches up the bow and arrows_.
ANOTHER VOICE BEHIND THE SCENES.
Here, thirsting for thy life-blood, will I slay thee,
As a fierce tiger rends his struggling prey.
Call now thy friend Dushyanta to thy aid;
His bow is mighty to defend the weak;
Yet all its vaunted power shall be as nought.
KING. [_With fury_.
What! dares he defy me to my face? Hold there, monster! Prepare
to die, for your time is come.
[_Stringing his bow_.]
Vetravati, lead the way to the terrace.
This way, Sire.
[_They advance in haste_.
KING. [_Looking on every side_.
How's this? there is nothing to be seen.
A VOICE BEHIND THE SCENES.
Help! Save me! I can see you, though you cannot see me. I am like
a mouse in the claws of a cat; my life is not worth a minute's
Avaunt, monster! You may pride yourself on the
magic that renders you invisible, but my arrow shall
find you out. Thus do I fix a shaft
That shall discern between an impious demon,
And a good Brahman; bearing death to thee,
To him deliverance--even as the swan
Distinguishes the milk from worthless water.
_Enter_ MATALI _holding_ MA[T.]HAVYA, _whom he releases_.
Turn thou thy deadly arrows on the demons;
Such is the will of Indra; let thy bow
Be drawn against the enemies of the gods;
But on thy friends cast only looks of favour.
KING. [_Putting back his arrow_.
What, Matali! Welcome, most noble charioteer of the mighty Indra.
So, here is a monster who thought as little about slaughtering me
as if I had been a bullock for sacrifice, and you must e'en greet
him with a welcome.
Great Prince, hear on what errand Indra sent me into your
I am all attention.
There is a race of giants, the descendants of Kalanemi, whom
the gods find it difficult to subdue.
So I have already heard from Narada.
Heaven's mighty lord, who deigns to call thee 'friend,'
Appoints thee to the post of highest honour,
As leader of his armies; and commits
The subjugation of this giant brood
To thy resistless arms, e'en as the sun
Leaves the pale moon to dissipate the darkness.
Let your Majesty, therefore, ascend at once the celestial car of
Indra; and, grasping your arms, advance to victory.
The mighty Indra honours me too highly by such a mark of
distinction. But tell me, what made you act thus towards my poor
I will tell you. Perceiving that your Majesty's
spirit was completely broken by some distress of mind
under which you were labouring, I determined to
rouse your energies by moving you to anger. Because
To light a flame, we need but stir the embers;
The cobra, when incensed, extends his head
And springs upon his foe; the bravest men
Display their courage only when provoked.
KING. [_Aside to_ MA[T.]HAVYA.
My dear Ma[T.]Havya, the commands of the great Indra must not be
left unfulfilled. Go you and acquaint my minister, Pi[S']una, with
what has happened, and say to him from me:--
Dushyanta to thy care confides his realm--
Protect with all the vigour of thy mind
The interests of his people; while his bow
Is braced against the enemies of heaven.
I obey. [_Exit_.
Ascend, illustrious Prince.
[_The_ KING _ascends the car_.
* * * * *
_Enter_ KING DUSHYANTA _and_ MATALI _in the car of Indra, moving
in the air_.
My good Matali, it appears to me incredible that I can merit such
a mark of distinction for having simply fulfilled the behests of
the great Indra.
Great Prince, it seems to me that neither of you is satisfied
You underrate the services you have rendered,
And think too highly of the god's reward;
He deems it scarce sufficient recompense
For your heroic deeds on his behalf.
Nay, Matali, say not so. My most ambitious expectations were more
than realised by the honour conferred on me at the moment when I
took my leave. For,
Tinged with celestial sandal, from the breast
Of the great Indra, where before it hung,
A garland of the ever-blooming tree
Of Nandana was cast about my neck
By his own hand; while, in the very presence
Of the assembled gods, I was enthroned
Beside their mighty lord, who smiled to see
His son Jayanta envious of the honour.
There is no mark of distinction which your Majesty does not
deserve at the hands of the immortals. See,
Heaven's hosts acknowledge thee their second saviour:
For now thy how's unerring shafts (as erst
The Lion-man's terrific claws) have purged
The empyreal sphere from taint of demons foul.
The praise of my victory must be ascribed to the majesty of
When mighty gods make men their delegates
In martial enterprise, to them belongs
The palm of victory; and not to mortals.
Could the pale Dawn dispel the shades of night,
Did not the god of day, whose diadem
Is jewelled with a thousand beams of light,
Place him in front of his effulgent car?
A very just comparison!
Great King, behold! the glory of thy fame has reached even to the
vault of heaven.
Hark! yonder inmates of the starry sphere
Sing anthems worthy of thy martial deeds,
While with celestial colours they depict
The story of thy victories on scrolls
Formed of the leaves of heaven's immortal trees.
My good Matali, yesterday, when I ascended the sky, I was so
eager to do battle with the demons, that the road by which we
were travelling towards Indra's heaven escaped my observation.
Tell me, in which path of the seven winds are we now moving?
We journey in the path of Parivaha--
The wind that bears along the triple Ganges
And causes Ursa's seven stars to roll
In their appointed orbits, scattering
Their several rays with equal distribution.
'Tis the same path that once was sanctified
By the divine impression of the foot
Of Vishnu, when, to conquer haughty Bali,
He spanned the heavens in his second stride.
This is the reason, I suppose, that a sensation of calm repose
pervades all my senses.
[_Looking down at the wheels_.]
Ah! Matali, we are descending towards the earth's atmosphere.
What makes you think so?
The car itself instructs me; we are moving
O'er pregnant clouds, surcharged with rain; below us
I see the moisture-loving Chatakas
In sportive flight dart through the spokes; the steeds
Of Indra glisten with the lightning's flash;
And a thick mist bedews the circling wheels.
You are right; in a little while the chariot will touch the
ground, and you will be in your own dominions.
KING. [_Looking down_.
How wonderful the appearance of the earth as we rapidly descend!
Stupendous prospect! yonder lofty hills
Do suddenly uprear their towering heads
Amid the plain, while from beneath their crests
The ground receding sinks; the trees, whose stem
Seemed lately hid within their leafy tresses,
Rise into elevation, and display
Their branching shoulders; yonder streams, whose waters,
Like silver threads, were scarce, but now, discerned,
Grow into mighty rivers; lo! the earth
Seems upward hurled by some gigantic power.
[_Looking with awe_.]
Grand, indeed, and lovely is the spectacle presented by the
Tell me, Matali, what is the range of mountains which, like a
bank of clouds illumined by the setting sun, pours down a stream
of gold? On one side its base dips into the eastern ocean, and on
the other side into the western.
Great Prince, it is called 'Golden-peak,' and is the abode
of the attendants of the god of wealth. In this spot the highest
forms of penance are wrought out.
There Ka[s']yapa, the great progenitor
Of demons and of gods, himself the offspring
Of the divine Marichi, Brahma's son,
With Aditi, his wife, in calm seclusion,
Does holy penance for the good of mortals.
Then I must not neglect so good an opportunity of obtaining his
blessing. I should much like to visit this venerable personage
and offer him my homage.
By all means. An excellent idea!
[_Guides the car to the earth_.
KING. [_In a tone of wonder_.
Our chariot wheels move noiselessly. Around
No clouds of dust arise; no shock betokened
Our contact with the earth; we seem to glide
Above the ground, so lightly do we touch it.
Such is the difference between the car of Indra and that of your
In which direction, Matali, is Ka[s']yapa's sacred retreat?
Where stands yon anchorite, towards the orb
Of the meridian sun, immovable
As a tree's stem, his body half-concealed
By a huge ant-hill. Bound about his breast
No sacred cord is twined, but in its stead
A hideous serpent's skin. In place of necklace,
The tendrils of a withered creeper chafe
His wasted neck. His matted hair depends
In thick entanglement about his shoulders,
And birds construct their nests within its folds.
I salute thee, thou man of austere devotion.
MATALI. [_Holding in the reins of the car_.
Great Prince, we are now in the sacred grove of the holy
Ka[s']yapa--the grove that boasts as its ornament one of the five
trees of Indra's heaven, reared by Aditi.
This sacred retreat is more delightful than heaven itself. I
could almost fancy myself bathing in a pool of nectar.
MATALI. [_Stopping the chariot_.
Descend, mighty Prince.
And what will you do, Matali?
The chariot will remain where I have stopped it. We may both
This way, great King.
You see around you the celebrated region where the holiest sages
devote themselves to penitential rites.
I am filled with awe and wonder as I gaze.
In such a place as this do saints of earth
Long to complete their acts of penance; here,
Beneath the shade of everlasting trees.
Transplanted from the groves of Paradise,
May they inhale the balmy air, and need
No other nourishment; here may they bathe
In fountains sparkling with the golden dust
Of lilies; here, on jewelled slabs of marble,
In meditation rapt, may they recline;
Here, in the presence of celestial nymphs,
E'en passion's voice is powerless to move them.
So true is it that the aspirations of the good and great are ever
[_Turning round and speaking off the stage_.]
Tell me, Vriddha-[S']akalya, how is the divine son of Marichi now
engaged? What sayest thou? that he is conversing with Aditi and
some of the wives of the great sages, and that they are
questioning him respecting the duties of a faithful wife?
Then we must await the holy father's leisure.
MATALI. [_Looking at the_ KING.
If your Majesty will rest under the shade, at the foot of this
A[s']oka-tree , I will seek an opportunity of announcing your
arrival to Indra's reputed father.
As you think proper.
[_Remains under the tree_.
Great King, I go. [_Exit_.
KING. [_Feeling his arm throb_.
Wherefore this causeless throbbing, O mine arm?
All hope has fled for ever; mock me not
With presages of good, when happiness
Is lost, and nought but misery remains.
A VOICE BEHIND THE SCENES.
Be not so naughty. Do you begin already to show a refractory
This is no place for petulance. Who can it be whose behaviour
calls for such a rebuke?
[_Looking in the direction of the sound and smiling_.]
A child, is it? closely attended by two holy women. His
disposition seems anything but child-like. See!
He braves the fury of yon lioness
Suckling its savage offspring, and compels
The angry whelp to leave the half-sucked dug,
Tearing its tender mane in boisterous sport.
_Enter a_ CHILD, _attended by_ TWO WOMEN _of the hermitage, in
the manner described_.
Open your mouth, my young lion, I want to count your teeth.
You naughty child, why do you tease the animals? Know you not
that we cherish them in this hermitage as if they were our own
children? In good sooth, you have a high spirit of your own, and
are beginning already to do justice to the name Sarva-damana
('All-taming'), given you by the hermits.
Strange! My heart inclines towards the boy with almost as much
affection as if he were my own child. What can be the reason? I
suppose my own childlessness makes me yearn towards the sons of
This lioness will certainly attack you if you do not release her
Oh! indeed! let her come. Much I fear her, to be sure!
[_Pouts his under-lip in defiance_.
The germ of mighty courage lies concealed
Within this noble infant, like a spark
Beneath the fuel, waiting but a breath
To fan the flame and raise a conflagration.
Let the young lion go, like a dear child, and I will give you
something else to play with.
Where is it? Give it me first.
[_Stretches out his hand_.
KING. [_Looking at his hand_.
How's that? His hand exhibits one of those mystic marks which
are the sure prognostic of universal empire. See! His fingers
stretched in eager expectation To grasp the wished-for toy, and
knit together By a close-woven web, in shape resemble A lotus
blossom, whose expanding petals The early dawn has only half
We shall never pacify him by mere words, dear Suvrata. Be kind
enough to go to my cottage, and you will find there a plaything
belonging to Markandeya, one of the hermit's children. It is a
peacock made of china-ware, painted in many colours. Bring it
here for the child.
Very well. [_Exit_.
No, no; I shall go on playing with the young lion.
[_Looks at the_ FEMALE ATTENDANT _and laughs_.
I feel an unaccountable affection for this wayward child.
How blessed the virtuous parents whose attire
Is soiled with dust, by raising from the ground
The child that asks a refuge in their arms!
And happy are they while with lisping prattle,
In accents sweetly inarticulate,
He charms their ears; and with his artless smiles
Gladdens their hearts, revealing to their gaze
His pearly teeth just budding into view.
I see how it is. He pays me no manner of attention.
[_Looking off the stage_.]
I wonder whether any of the hermits are about here.
[_ Seeing the_ KING.]
Kind Sir, could you come hither a moment and help me to release
the young lion from the clutch of this child who is teasing him
in boyish play?
KING. [_Approaching and smiling_.
Listen to me, thou child of a mighty saint!
Dost thou dare show a wayward spirit here?
Here, in this hallowed region? Take thou heed
Lest, as the serpent's young defiles the sandal,
Thou bring dishonour on the holy sage
Thy tender-hearted parent, who delights
To shield from harm the tenants of the wood.
Gentle Sir, I thank you; but he is not the saint's son.
His behaviour and whole bearing would have led me to doubt it,
had not the place of his abode encouraged the idea.
[_Follows the_ CHILD, _and takes him by the hand, according to
the request of the attendant. Aside_.
I marvel that the touch of this strange child
Should thrill me with delight; if so it be,
How must the fond caresses of a son
Transport the father's soul who gave him being!
ATTENDANT. [_Looking at them both_.
What excites your surprise, my good woman?
I am astonished at the striking resemblance between the child and
yourself; and, what is still more extraordinary, he seems to have
taken to you kindly and submissively, though you are a stranger
KING. [_Fondling the_ CHILD.
If he be not the son of the great sage, of what family does he
come, may I ask?
Of the race of Puru.
What! are we, then, descended from the same ancestry? This, no
doubt, accounts for the resemblance she traces between the child
and me. Certainly it has always been an established usage among
the princes of Puru's race,
To dedicate the morning of their days
To the world's weal, in palaces and halls,
'Mid luxury and regal pomp abiding;
Then, in the wane of life, to seek release
From kingly cares, and make the hallowed shade
Of sacred trees their last asylum, where
As hermits they may practise self-abasement,
And bind themselves by rigid vows of penance.
But how could mortals by their own power gain admission to this
Your remark is just; but your wonder will cease when I tell you
that his mother is the offspring of a celestial nymph, and gave
him birth in the hallowed grove of Ka[s']yapa.
Strange that my hopes should be again excited!
But what, let me ask, was the name of the prince whom she deigned
to honour with her hand?
How could I think of polluting my lips by the mention of a wretch
who had the cruelty to desert his lawful wife?
Ha! the description suits me exactly. Would I could bring myself
to inquire the name of the child's mother!
But it is against propriety to make too minute inquiries about
the wife of another man.
[_Entering with the china peacock in her hand_.
Sarva-damana, Sarva-damana, see, see, what a beautiful [S']akoonta
CHILD. [_Looking round_.
My mother! Where? Let me go to her.
He mistook the word [S']akoonta for [S']akoontala. The boy dotes upon
his mother, and she is ever uppermost in his thoughts.
Nay, my dear child, I said: Look at the beauty of this [S']akoonta.
What! is his mother's name [S']akoontala? But the name is not
uncommon among women. Alas! I fear the mere similarity of a name,
like the deceitful vapour of the desert, has once more raised
my hopes only to dash them to the ground.
Dear nurse, what a beautiful peacock!
[_Takes the toy_.
[_Looking at the CHILD. In great distress_.
Alas! alas! I do not see the amulet on his wrist.
Don't distress yourself. Here it is. It fell off while he was
struggling with the young lion.
[_Stoops to pick it up_.
Hold! hold! Touch it not, for your life. How marvellous! He has
actually taken it up without the slightest hesitation.
[_Both raise their hands to their breasts and look at each other
Why did you try to prevent my touching it?
Listen, great Monarch. This amulet, known as 'The Invincible,'
was given to the boy by the divine son of Marichi, soon after his
birth, when the natal ceremony was performed. Its peculiar virtue
is, that when it falls on the ground, no one except the father or
mother of the child can touch it unhurt.
And suppose another person touches it?
Then it instantly becomes a serpent, and bites him.
Have you ever witnessed the transformation with your own eyes?
Over and over again.
KING. [_With rapture. Aside_.
Joy! joy! Are then my dearest hopes to be fulfilled?
[_Embraces the CHILD_.
Come, my dear Suvrata, we must inform [S']akoontala immediately of
this wonderful event, though we have to interrupt her in the
performance of her religious vows.
CHILD. [_To the_ KING.
Don't hold me. I want to go to my mother.
We will go to her together, and give her joy, my son.
Dushyanta is my father, not you.
His contradiction only convinces me the more.
_Enter_ [S']AKOONTALA, _in widow's apparel, with her long hair
twisted into a single braid_.
I have just heard that Sarva-damana's amulet has retained its
form, though a stranger raised it from the ground. I can hardly
believe in my good fortune. Yet why should not Sanumati's
prediction be verified?
Alas! can this indeed be my [S']akoontala?
Clad in the weeds of widowhood, her face
Emaciate with fasting, her long hair
Twined in a single braid, her whole demeanour
Expressive of her purity of soul;
With patient constancy she thus prolongs
The vow to which my cruelty condemned her.
[S']AKOONTALA. [_Gazing at the_ KING, _who is pale with remorse_.
Surely this is not like my husband; yet who can it be that dares
pollute by the pressure of his hand my child, whose amulet should
protect him from a stranger's touch?
CHILD. [_Going to his mother_.
Mother, who is this man that has been kissing me and calling me
My best beloved, I have indeed treated thee most cruelly, but am
now once more thy fond and affectionate lover. Refuse not to
acknowledge me as thy husband.
Be of good cheer, my heart. The anger of Destiny is at last
appeased. Heaven regards thee with compassion. But is he in very
truth my husband?
Behold me, best and loveliest of women,
Delivered from the cloud of fatal darkness
That erst oppressed my memory. Again
Behold us brought together by the grace
Of the great lord of Heaven. So the moon
Shines forth from dim eclipse , to blend his rays
With the soft lustre of his Rohini.
May my husband be victorious--
[_She stops short, her voice choked with tears_.
O fair one, though the utterance of thy prayer
Be lost amid the torrent of thy tears,
Yet does the sight of thy fair countenance
And of thy pallid lips, all unadorned
And colourless in sorrow for my absence,
Make me already more than conqueror.
Mother, who is this man?
My child, ask the deity that presides over thy destiny.
KING. [_Falling at_ [S']AKOONTALA's _feet_.
Fairest of women, banish from thy mind
The memory of my cruelty; reproach
The fell delusion that o'erpowered my soul,
And blame not me, thy husband; 'tis the curse
Of him in whom the power of darkness reigns,
That he mistakes the gifts of those he loves
For deadly evils. Even though a friend
Should wreathe a garland on a blind man's brow,
Will he not cast it from him as a serpent?
Rise, my own husband, rise. Thou wast not to blame. My own evil
deeds, committed in a former state of being, brought down
this judgment upon me. How else could my husband, who was ever of
a compassionate disposition, have acted so unfeelingly?
[_The_ KING _rises_.]
But tell me, my husband, how did the remembrance of thine
unfortunate wife return to thy mind?
As soon as my heart's anguish is removed, and its wounds are
healed, I will tell thee all.
Oh! let me, fair one, chase away the drop
That still bedews the fringes of thine eye;
And let me thus efface the memory
Of every tear that stained thy velvet cheek,
Unnoticed and unheeded by thy lord,
When in his madness he rejected thee.
[_Wipes away the tear_.
[_Seeing the signet-ring on his finger_.
Ah! my dear husband, is that the Lost Ring?
Yes; the moment I recovered it my memory was restored.
The ring was to blame in allowing itself to be lost at the very
time when I was anxious to convince my noble husband of the
reality of my marriage.
Receive it back, as the beautiful twining-plant receives again
its blossom in token of its reunion with the spring.
Nay; I can never more place confidence in it. Let my husband
I congratulate your Majesty. Happy are you in your reunion with
your wife; happy are you in beholding the face of your own son.
Yes, indeed. My heart's dearest wish has borne sweet fruit. But
tell me, Matali, is this joyful event known to the great Indra?
What is unknown to the gods? But come with me, noble Prince, the
divine Ka[s']yapa graciously permits thee to be presented to him.
[S']akoontala, take our child and lead the way. We will together go
into the presence of the holy Sage.
I shrink from entering the august presence of the great Saint,
even with my husband at my side.
Nay; on such a joyous occasion it is highly proper. Come, come; I
KA[S']YAPA _is discovered seated on a throne with his wife_ ADITI.
[_Gazing at_ DUSHYANTA. _To his wife_.
This is the mighty hero, King Dushyanta,
Protector of the earth; who, at the head
Of the celestial armies of thy son,
Does battle with the enemies of heaven.
Thanks to his bow, the thunderbolt of Indra
Rests from its work, no more the minister
Of death and desolation to the world,
But a mere symbol of divinity.
He bears in his noble form all the marks of dignity.
MATALI. [_To_ DUSHYANTA
Sire, the venerable progenitors of the celestials are gazing at
your Majesty with as much affection as if you were their son. You
may advance towards them.
Are these, O Matali, the holy pair,
Offspring of Daksha and divine Marichi,
Children of Brahma's sons, by sages deemed
Sole fountain of celestial light, diffused
Through twelve effulgent orbs ? Are these the pair
From whom the ruler of the triple world ,
Sovereign of gods and lord of sacrifice,
Sprang into being? That immortal pair
Whom Vishnu, greater than the Self-existent ,
Chose for his parents, when, to save mankind,
He took upon himself the shape of mortals?
KING. [_Prostrating himself_.
Most august of beings! Dushyanta, content to have fulfilled the
commands of your son Indra, offers you his adoration.
My son, long may'st thou live, and happily may'st thou reign over
My son, may'st thou ever be invincible in the field of battle!
I also prostrate myself before you, most adorable Beings, and my
child with me.
Thy lord resembles Indra, and thy child
Is noble as Jayanta, Indra's son;
I have no worthier blessing left for thee,
May'st thou be faithful as the god's own wife!
My daughter, may'st thou be always the object of thy husband's
fondest love; and may thy son live long to be the joy of both his
parents! Be seated.
[_All sit down in the presence of KA[S']YAPA_.
KA[S']YAPA. [_Regarding each of them by turns_.
Hail to the beautiful [S']akoontala,
Hail to her noble son, and hail to thee,
Illustrious Prince--rare triple combination
Of virtue, wealth, and energy united!
Most venerable Ka[s']yapa, by your favour all my desires were
accomplished even before I was admitted to your presence. Never
was mortal so honoured that his boon should be granted ere it was
Bloom before fruit, the clouds before the rain,
Cause first and then effect, in endless sequence,
Is the unchanging law of constant nature;
But, ere the blessing issued from thy lips,
The wishes of my heart were all fulfilled.
It is thus that the great progenitors of the world confer
Most reverend Sage, this thy handmaid was married to me by the
Gandharva ceremony, and after a time was conducted to my
palace by her relations. Meanwhile a fatal delusion seized me; I
lost my memory and rejected her, thus committing a grievous
offence against the venerable Kanwa, who is of thy divine race.
Afterwards the sight of this ring restored my faculties, and
brought back to my mind all the circumstances of my union with
his daughter. But my conduct still seems to me incomprehensible;
As foolish as the fancies of a man
Who, when he sees an elephant, denies
That 'tis an elephant; then afterwards,
When its huge bulk moves onward, hesitates;
Yet will not be convinced till it has passed
For ever from his sight, and left behind
No vestige of its presence save its footsteps.
My son, cease to think thyself in fault. Even the delusion that
possessed thy mind was not brought about by any act of thine.
Listen to me.
I am attentive.
Know that when the nymph Menaka, the mother of [S']akoontala,
became aware of her daughter's anguish in consequence of the loss
of the ring at the nymph's pool, and of thy subsequent rejection
of her, she brought her and confided her to the care of Aditi.
And I no sooner saw her than I ascertained by my divine faculty
of meditation, that thy repudiation of thy poor faithful
wife had been caused entirely by the curse of Durvasas--not by
thine own fault--and that the spell would terminate on the
discovery of the ring.
KING. [_Drawing a deep breath_.
Oh! what a weight is taken off my mind, now that my character is
cleared of reproach.
Joy! joy! My revered husband did not, then, reject me without
good reason, though I have no recollection of the curse
pronounced upon me. But, in all probability, I unconsciously
brought it upon myself, when I was so distracted on being
separated from my husband soon after our marriage. For I now
remember that my two friends advised me not to fail to show the
ring in case he should have forgotten me.
At last, my daughter, thou art happy, and hast gained thy heart's
desire. Indulge, then, no feeling of resentment against thy
consort. See, now,
Though he repulsed thee, 'twas the sage's curse
That clouded his remembrance; 'twas the curse
That made thy tender husband harsh towards thee.
Soon as the spell was broken, and his soul
Delivered from its darkness, in a moment,
Thou didst regain thine empire o'er his heart.
So on the tarnished surface of a mirror
No image is reflected, till the dust,
That dimmed its wonted lustre, is removed.
Holy father, see here the hope of my royal race.
[_Takes his child by the hand_.
Know that he, too, will become the monarch of the
wholes earth. Observe,
Soon, a resistless hero, shall he cross
The trackless ocean, borne above the waves
In an aerial car; and shall subdue
The earth's seven sea-girt isles. Now has he gained,
As the brave tamer of the forest-beasts,
The title Sarva-damana; but then
Mankind shall hail him as King Bharata,
And call him the supporter of the world.
We cannot but entertain the highest hopes of a child for whom
your Highness performed the natal rites.
My revered husband, should not the intelligence be conveyed to
Kanwa, that his daughter's wishes are fulfilled, and her
happiness complete? He is [S']akoontala's foster-father. Menaka,
who is one of my attendants, is her mother, and dearly does she
love her daughter.
The venerable matron has given utterance to the very wish that
was in my mind.
His penances have gained for him the faculty of omniscience, and
the whole scene is already present to his mind's eye.
Then most assuredly he cannot be very angry with me.
Nevertheless, it becomes us to send him intelligence of this
happy event, and hear his reply. What ho there!
Holy father, what are your commands?
My good Galava, delay not an instant, but hasten through the air
and convey to the venerable Kanwa, from me, the happy news that
the fatal spell has ceased, that Dushyanta's memory is restored,
that his daughter [S']akoontala has a son, and that she is once
more tenderly acknowledged by her husband.
Your Highness' commands shall be obeyed.
And now, my dear son, take thy consort and thy child, re-ascend
the car of Indra, and return to thy imperial capital.
Most holy father, I obey.
And accept this blessing--
For countless ages may the god of gods,
Lord of the atmosphere, by copious showers
Secure abundant harvests to thy subjects;
And thou by frequent offerings preserve
The Thunderer's friendship. Thus, by interchange
Of kindly actions may you both confer
Unnumbered benefits on earth and heaven.
Holy father, I will strive, as far as I am able, to attain this
What other favour can I bestow on thee, my son?
What other can I desire? If, however, you permit me to form
another wish, I would humbly beg that the saying of the sage
Bharata be fulfilled:
May kings reign only for their subjects' weal;
May the divine Saraswati, the source
Of speech, and goddess of dramatic art,
Be ever honoured by the great and wise;
And may the purple self-existent god,
Whose vital Energy pervades all space,
From future transmigrations save my soul.
1. _I[S']a preserve you_.
That is, 'the Lord,' a name given to the god Siva, when regarded as
supreme. As presiding over dissolution he is associated with Brahma
the Creator, and Vishnu the Preserver; constituting with them the
Hindu Triad. Kalidasa indulges the religious predilections of his
fellow-townsmen by beginning and ending the play with a prayer to
[S']iva, who had a large temple in Ujjayini, the modern Oujein, the city
of Vikramaditya, situated north-eastward from Gujarat.
2. _In these eight forms_.
The worshippers of Siva, who were Pantheists in the sense of
believing that [S']iva was himself all that exists, as well as the
cause of all that is, held that there were eight different
manifestations of their god, called Rudras; and that these had
their types in the eight visible forms enumerated here. The
Hindus reckon five elements. The most subtle is Ether (_akasa_),
supposed to convey sound, which is its peculiar attribute or
property (_guna_). The next element--Air, has for its properties
sound and feeling. The third--Fire, has sound, feeling, and
colour. The fourth--Water, has sound, feeling, colour, and taste.
The fifth--Earth, has all the other properties, with the addition
3. _An audience of educated and discerning men_.
Lit. 'An audience, who are chiefly men of education and discernment.'
Few could have been present at these dramatic representations excepting
learned and educated men. The mass of the composition being in Sanskrit,
would not have been intelligible to the vulgar and illiterate.
4. _[S']akoontala; or, The Lost Ring_.
The literal title is '[S']akoontala recognized by the token or
5. _The present Summer season_.
Hindu poets divide the year into six seasons of two months each,
viz. I. Spring (Vasanta), beginning about the middle of March;
or, according to some, February. 2. Summer (Grishma). 3. Rains
(Varsha). 4. Autumn (Sarad). 5. Winter (Hemanta). 6. Dews
(Sisira). Practically, however, there are only three seasons in
India, 1. The hot season. 2. The rains. 3. The cold weather. In
Lower Bengal and Behar, the first of these seasons begins in
March, the second in June, and the third in November. The
temperature of the cold season is highly exhilarating, and the