Memory, Metaphor and Mysticism in Kalidasas AbhijñnaŚkuntalam
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Review of an ancient literary text

A study of ‘AbhijñānaŚākuntalam’ has to situate the contexts in ancient through medieval Indian literature and scholarship before it comes to the colonial and the contemporary. In epistemological privileging, this text has become either a Hindoo play in the colonial, Hindu drama in the Hindutva and a love story in the Western theoretical paradigms of scholarship. The essays in ‘Memory, Metaphor and Mysticism in Kalidasa’s ‘AbhijñānaŚākuntalam’ attempt to restore contexts, especially philosophical contexts, for reading this play.

Acknowledgments; Introduction, Namrata Chaturvedi; Section I: Metre, Structure and Dhvani; 1. ‘Upamā Kālidāsasya’: What Makes Kālidāsa the King of Metaphor, Ramkishor Maholiya; 2. What Happens in ‘Śakuntalā’: Conceptual and Formal Symmetries, Sheldon Pollock; 3. From Separation to Unity: Resonances of Kashmir Śaivism in ‘AbhijñānaŚākuntalam’, H. S. Shivaprakash and Namrata Chaturvedi; 4. ‘Śakuntalā’ and the Bible: Parallels and Resonances, Felix Wilfred; Section II: Commentaries and Criticism; 5. Love on One’s Terms: Perspectives on ‘Gāndharva Vivāha’ in ‘AbhijñānaŚākuntalam’, Wagish Shukla; 6. ‘AbhijñānaŚākuntalam’ in Indian Hermeneutics, Radhavallabh Tripathi; 7. The Seeker Finds His Self: Reading ‘Sārārthadīpikā’, the Advaita Commentary on ‘AbhijñānaŚākuntalam’, Godabarisha Mishra; Section III: Varied Grammars of Love; 8. ‘Not a Tale, but a Lesson’: Persian Translations of Kālīdāsa’s ‘AbhijñānaŚākuntalam’, Sunil Sharma; 9. Śakuntala in Hindustani: Reading select Urdu translations of ‘AbhijñānaŚākuntalam’, Khalid Alvi; 10. Dialogue between Two ‘Mahākavis’: Kālidāsa and Laxmi Prasad Devkota’s Three ‘Śakuntalās’, Gokul Sinha; Section IV: On the Stage: Personal Engagements with a Lived Tradition; 11. Staging ‘Śakuntalā’ in India: Observations and Reflections, Kamlesh Dutt Tripathi; 12. From the Stage to the Classroom: Engagement with ‘Śakuntalā’, Sreenivas Murthy; Index.



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Date de parution 28 mars 2020
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EAN13 9781785273223
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Memory, Metaphor and Mysticism in Kālidāsa’s AbhijñānaŚākuntalam
Memory, Metaphor and Mysticism in Kālidāsa’s AbhijñānaŚākuntalam
Edited by
Namrata Chaturvedi
Anthem Press
An imprint of Wimbledon Publishing Company
This edition first published in UK and USA 2020
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or PO Box 9779, London SW19 7ZG, UK
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© 2020 Namrata Chaturvedi editorial matter and selection; individual chapters © individual contributors
The moral right of the authors has been asserted.
All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise), without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.
British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data
A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.
ISBN-13: 978-1-78527-320-9 (Hbk)
ISBN-10: 1-78527-320-5 (Hbk)

This title is also available as an e-book.
For my father
Asto mā sadgamaya
Tamaso mā jyotirgamaya
Mrityormā amritamgamaya
Lead us
From untruth to truth
From darkness to light
From mortality to eternity
Namrata Chaturvedi
Chapter 1. ‘ Upamā Kālidāsasya ’: What Makes Kālidāsa the King of Metaphor
Ramkishor Maholiya
Chapter 2. What Happens in Śakuntalā : Conceptual and Formal Symmetries
Sheldon Pollock
Chapter 3. From Separation to Unity: Resonances of Kashmir Śaivism in AbhijñānaŚākuntalam
H. S. Shivaprakash and Namrata Chaturvedi
Chapter 4. Śakuntalā and the Bible: Parallels and Resonances
Felix Wilfred
Chapter 5. Love on One’s terms: Perspectives on Gāndharva Vivāha in AbhijñānaŚākuntalam
Wagish Shukla
Chapter 6. AbhijñānaŚākuntalam in Indian Hermeneutics
Radhavallabh Tripathi
Chapter 7. The Seeker Finds His Self: Reading Sārārthadīpikā , the Advaita Commentary on AbhijñānaŚākuntalam
Godabarisha Mishra
Chapter 8. ‘Not a Tale, but a Lesson’: Persian Translations of Kālīdāsa’s AbhijñānaŚākuntalam
Sunil Sharma
Chapter 9. Śakuntalā in Hindustani: Reading Select Urdu Translations of AbhijñānaŚākuntalam
Khalid Alvi
Chapter 10. Dialogue between Two Mahākavis : Kālidāsa and Laxmi Prasad Devkotā’s Three Śakuntalās
Gokul Sinha
Chapter 11. Staging Śakuntalā in India: Observations and Reflections
Kamlesh Dutt Tripathi
Chapter 12. From the Stage to the Classroom: Engagement with Śakuntalā
J. Sreenivas Murthy
Notes on Contributors
I am grateful to all the contributors of this volume for sharing their erudition and passion for the sublime play of Kālidāsa. It is because of their dedicated scholarship and shared recognition of the richness of AbhijñānaŚākuntalam that we have all come together to offer another study on an already much studied text.
No endeavour can be completed without the contribution of many minds and hearts. The following are the names of people who have enriched and contributed to the shaping of this volume in multiple ways, through observations and casual discussions, unsolicited requests, comments and suggestions, encouragement, critical assessment and singing beautiful Prākrit chhands across the table: Prof. H. S. Shivaprakash, Dr Vibha S. Chauhan, Prof. Sukalpa Bhattacharjee, Prof. Arvind Sharma, Prof. Srinivas Murthy, Prof. Jayakumar, Prof. Gavin Flood, Prof. Patrick Colm Hogan, Dr Mohammed Afzal, Dr Ramkishor Maholiya, Dr Pankaj Sharma, Ms Garima Yadav and Ms Shubhra Dubey.
The library staff at Sahitya Akademi and Zakir Husain Delhi College facilitated out-of-turn requests, always with a smile that only those who understand the value of research can emit.
No result is worthwhile without hearts sharing in the joy. Those hearts that have come to me as my family and friends know they are an integral part of this book.
As I end this note, I wish to state that it is Anurag’s soul that has brought me the grace of love.
Namrata Chaturvedi

Ramyāni vīkshya madhurāņshca nishamya shabdān
Paryutsukībhavati yatsukhitopi jantuh
Tacchetasā smarati nunamabodhapūrvam
Bhāvasthirāni jananāntarasauhradāni
( AbhijñānaŚākuntalam , V.2)

[Why do I feel a sense of anxiety even though I haven’t suffered separation from my loved one? On seeing beautiful things, on hearing melodious music, there is a sukkha that is pervaded by past memories.] 1
In the opening of the fifth act, just before the arrival of Śakuntalā to his court, Du ṣ yanta attributes his anxiety on hearing Hansapādika’s song to memories that are passed on through births. He also points out that engagement with art makes the stirring of these memories possible.
Sri M, a living nāth yogi, in one of his satsangas 2 (assembly of truth) describes, ‘All experience is [as] a memory.’ The need to store memory to be accessed again through sensorial forms is the consequence of the inability of human consciousness to realize truth. While one clings to the belief in the eternality of images, one is bound by the cycle of coming and going, living and dying. While a sensorial or pneumonic token is needed to prove existence, an individual is merely looking at appearance and denying herself the possibility of real witnessing. When Du ṣ yanta gives his ring to his beloved after a haunting episode of sensual love between the two, their relationship reaches a stage of spiritual deadlock. From this point, until they can be fully liberated, Du ṣ yanta and Śakuntalā will find themselves playing a game of hide-and-seek with the token (ring) evading them. Du ṣ yanta has to undergo a test through emotional cleansing as he has to experience remorse and guilt, while Śakuntalā has to undergo the heartbreaking experience of birthing and raising a son without his father. In his remorse, Du ṣ yanta tries to apprehend the form of Śakuntalā again and again by recreating her picture and invoking the brhamar and Mālati vine. He is still caught in the web of form, and he will next see Śakuntalā only when she has passed through another stage of life, that is, child birth. It had to fall upon Ŗshi Durvāsas, 3 an embodiment of Śiva’s anger, to bless the two (sleeping) lovers with real awakening. While Śakuntalā was unaware of herself by being lost in desire and doubt, the sage brings about a state of smriti avarodh , or obstruction of memory, in Du ṣ yanta’s citta (consciousness). Du ṣ yanta, on seeing Śakuntalā in his court, is neither able to reject her, nor can he completely deny ever knowing her. Naturally, the token, as an objective correlative of their love, goes missing at this point. From manifestation to disappearance to manifestation again, this play follows the advaita structure of one to two, two to one.
AbhijñānaŚākuntalam is a sublime text within a living tradition. This tradition is the world of dhvani that explores and absorbs resonances in Kāvya (literature). It has survived through ‘historicist, traditionalist and formalist’ hermeneutics to demonstrate the power of Kāvya for the moral-imaginative universe of humankind. The aesthetic universe of Kāvya is beyond the worldly dimension, and the sahrdaya (sensitive reader/viewer) is able to experience the non-worldly dimension of Kāvya jñāna through a process of expansion of consciousness as sādhāranikara ṇ a (generalization). Engagement with a text like Kālidāsa’s AbhijñānaŚākuntalam or Dante’s Divine Comedy reiterates the power of dhvani (suggestion) as an enriching mode of engagement. The resonances thus experienced on reading texts like these stir the memory of collective unconscious enabling the reader(s) to experience inspiration in its essence.
This study, while recognizing the valuable contributions of Oriental, nativist, formalist, philological and cultural materialist positions on AbhijñānaŚākuntalam , proposes that an aesthetic approach that keeps resonance in the centre can lead to paradigmatic synthesis of various modes of thought. The inspiration that a splendid shāyar in Urdu, Sāghar Nizāmī, recognizes in AbhijñānaŚākuntalam when he says that a text like this cannot be composed, but is a work of pure inspiration, 4 is an expression of universal human resonance that he experiences on reading (viewing) it. When the exquisite and prolific Nepāli writer Laxmī Prasāda Devakotā is inspired to render AbhijñānaŚākuntalam into three different translations in two languages, a creative genius is responding to aesthetic resonances the text offers him.
The reading of literature as documents in theorizing on nation was an Orientalist project from the eighteenth century onwards, as Vinay Dharwadker points out in his essay ‘Orientalism and the Study of Indian Literatures’. 5 In the records of Europeans in the nineteenth century, a study of Hindoostan was never complete without a cataloguing of literature in Sanskrit. This language was reported to be a dead language by the nineteenth century, an ancient sacred language ritualistically employable for religious practices of the Hindoos. In these records, Kālidāsa’s works occupied a prime place in the entry on ‘literature’. The earliest view created a binary in which to look at Sanskrit language and literature as language for the gods and therefore sacred, and literature as secular. Kālidāsa was therefore understood as a favourite poet of the Hindoos, 6 and his works were immediately covered in a discourse of Romanticism. AbhijñānaŚākuntalam was read as a romantic love story, titled as The Fatal Ring – a misplaced and misleading title. Goethe was in a spell over Śakuntalā, and William Jones found in it layers of dramatic techniques unparalleled in English. Kālidāsa became the poetic ideal for German Romanticism. Herder had this to say:

Do you not wish with me, that instead of these endless religious books of the Vedas, Upvedas and Upangas, they would give us the more useful and agreeable works of the Indians, and especially their best poetry of every kind? It is here the mind and character of a nation is best brought to life before us, and I gladly admit, that I have received a truer and more real notion of the manner of thinking among the ancient Indians from this one Śakuntalā , than from all their Upnekats and Bagvedam. 7
In the nineteenth century, Indian critics began to actively look for the moral quotient of AbhijñānaŚākuntalam , incorporating it into an already existing discourse of swādheenatā 8 (self-rule) through self-determination. Nationalist thinkers like Rabīndranāth Tagore and Hazārīprasād Dwivedī read the narrative within the framework of universal morality. The reformist spirit of Hindu culture revealed for the thinkers a spine of moral strength that was to hold the Indian civilization together in the face of a cultural opponent, namely the West. The mode of reading the text was still informed by the Oriental hermeneutic and led to a blend of the moral and civilizational worldview.
At the turn of the twentieth century, Śri Aurobindo’s readings of Indian classics introduced a spiritual dimension to the reading of Kāvya . This vision worked on a blending of the civilizational and the spiritual, creating grounds for a discourse of modern spirituality in Hinduism, as reflected in the writings of yogis like Swāmi Vivekānanda and Paramha ṃ sa Yogānanda and lifestyle spiritualists like Śri Ravi Shankar. Śri Aurobindo writes with a self-consciousness natural to a Hindu spiritualist in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries:

It is enough that we find in Kālidāsa’s poetry the richest bloom and perfect expression of the long classical afternoon of Indian civilization. The soul of an age is mirrored in this single mind. It was an age when the Indian world after seeking God through the spirit and through action turned to seek Him through the activity of the senses, an age therefore of infinite life, colour and splendour, an age of brilliant painting and architecture, wide learning, complex culture, developing sciences; an age of great empires and luxurious courts and cities; an age, above all, in which the physical beauty and grace of woman dominated the minds and imaginations of men. 9
In the twentieth century, voices had warned against the co-opting of a poet into a nationalist discourse. Prof. A. B. Gajendragadkar in 1934 wrote in his Introduction to AbhijñānaŚākuntalam , ‘If it means that Kālidāsa is the greatest of Sanskrit dramatists, as Shakespeare is among the English, we understand the epithet correctly.’ He went on to warn against unfound qualitative comparison: ‘Kālidāsa may have excelled Shakespeare in this particular or that […] but that does not raise him to equality with him […] Sober criticism must avoid such mistakes and look at the matter with right perspective.’
In the twentieth century, the self-consciousness of Hindu identity sought the literature of Kālidāsa as a cultural and sometimes a religious coordinate. 10 In the Orientalist cultural imagination, Śakuntalā had become the buxom and desirable Indian woman, ‘full in both body and spirit, yet chaste and undiscovered’. 11 The Orientalist discourse was, therefore, as much about their own identity projection as about the subject’s. 12 The discourse of Hindu identity projection is a natural corollary of the Orientalist imagination. The self-conscious epistemology derived from the Orientalist imagination led to a reductive structure of Indian masculinity and femininity, portraying Du ṣ yanta as the seducer king and Śakuntalā as the naïve forest maiden. From iconography 13 to popular readings, Śakuntalā became a pious and patient Hindu woman who loves without conditions and forgives without fuss.
In the period after independence, the Sahitya Akademi, 14 the national body of letters in India, undertook to publish original studies of Kālidāsa’s works so that the uninformed Indian people may discover ‘their very own Shakespeare’ 15 and feel proud. In Indian scholarship on Kālidāsa, hagiographies in place of literary historiography contributed to the assertive sketching of continuity in Sanskrit literature, prior to Islamist invasion of India. Writing the history of literature was an essential part of the nation-building project. Literary history writing in the early part of the twentieth century was influenced by Oriental projections but motivated by an inherent desire to purify Indian literature of ‘foreign’ corruption. Har Bilas Sarda wrote in 1917,‘The Muhammaden conquest of India resulted in the effectual repression of Hindu dramatic writings. Instead of receiving further development, the Hindu drama rapidly declined, and a considerable part of this fascinating literature was for ever lost.’ Sanskrit literary history writing in the twentieth century focused on creating a monochromatic picture of Indian literature prior to Islamic and British (Christian) invasion, embedding literary historiography in theological (and political) crises. 16
From the second half of the twentieth century onwards, AbhijñānaŚākuntalam was translated into many modern Indian languages including Manipuri, Oriya and Malayalam dialects, and many intertextual adaptations appeared, as, for instance, Surendra Mohan’s Shakuntalā ki Angoothī ( Shakuntala’s Ring ) that looks at the world of classical drama with a tone of subversive irony and Namita Gokhale’s Shakuntala where the eponymous heroine is shown traversing a world of emotional and spiritual crises . The Amar Chitra Kathas made Du ṣ yanta and Śakuntalā household names, like Satyawān and Sāvitrī, Nala and Damayantī. 17 They acquired the status of mythological figures about whom children read and from whom they learn of myths and legends of India. The 1961 cinematic adaptation of Śakuntalā was titled Stree , directed by V. Shantaram. 18 This film portrayed the generic ‘woman’ as an embodiment of inner strength, a victim who overcomes the toughest challenges of life through a quality unique to womankind. In terms of darśana , Kālidāsa’s works have been read for the names of Vedic gods and goddesses as evoked in his plays and poetry. Some scholars have strained hard to establish Vedantic influences on Kālidāsa’s thought, 19 subsuming his evocation of Śiva to an all-encompassing Vaishnavism. 20 The relationship between Kālidāsa’s Śaivism and poetics has hardly been explored at length, 21 as, for instance, pratyabhijña darśana , even though it lends itself to the philosophical make-up of the text.
There are readings of AbhijñānaŚākuntalam that locate the relationship between Du ṣ yanta and Śakuntalā as one of unequal power, of the structure of consumer and object of consumption. 22 Thus, the gāndharva vivāha between Du ṣ yanta and Śakuntalā is seen as a euphemism for Du ṣ yanta’s sexual exploitation of Śakuntalā – the powerful male exploiting the naïve female. While this perspective overlooks the fact that Śakuntalā’s emotional investment in the relationship is expressed clearly by the poet right from the beginning, it also does not take into account the mention of Du ṣ yanta-Śakuntalā’s gāndharva vivah as a form of securing love marriage between two consenting adults as mentioned in various Kāmaśāstras . There is also the presupposition that the sexual act is separated from the spiritual so that the profane act cannot have any sacred dimensions. The relationship between Du ṣ yanta and Śakuntalā is not of standalone sexual encounter but can be seen as one that brings the eternal lovers together on a physical plane. When pining for Śakuntalā, Du ṣ yanta draws her portrait in fine details, trying to approximate her body in memory. The word smara for remembrance and love validates the epistemological importance of love in Kashmir Śaivism ( pratyabhijña ) and subtly connects the memory and obstruction of it to re-cognition of love. 23
The journey of a literary text is shaped by the cultural and intellectual terrain it negotiates. AbhijñānaŚākuntalam has travelled through archival, nativist, neo-Orientalist and historical materialist as well as formalist critical schools. While the Oriental imagination saw unparalleled unified sensibility in the relationship of the heroine and the natural world, especially in Act Four, which swept the European imagination, literary criticism has searched for social and intellectual history in the text.
At this point in literary scholarship, when the questions of cultural determinism and historical materialism have outlived their significance, and the concept of ‘World Literature’ in the Goethian and Tagorean sense has come to be realized, if only partially, AbhijñānaŚākuntalam must not be limited by any predominant mode of reading. A spiritual quotient that refuses to be cultist, culturally limited or historical because of its very nature of Oneness can be ascertained naturally in AbhijñānaŚākuntalam , lending a vibrancy to the various modes of reading by highlighting their specific contexts of origin and play. This study, with chapters, each unique and vital, that approach the text from different perspectives, has as its point of origin the recognition of the resonances. Through symbols that evoke prabandha dhvani (unified suggestion) to transcreations in other cultural and philosophical grammars, these chapters start from an appreciation of possibilities of resonances lying in the texture of Kālidāsa’s sublime play.
The spiritual centre of AbhijñānaŚākuntalam is a living traditional idiom that has been touched upon at times but can be explored more. The division of the narrative into seven acts that thematically rise, plateau and rise again suggests the paradigm of yogic knowledge rising slowly and steadily through the subtle channels. 24 The marked presence of three ŗshis in the narrative – Viśvāmitra, Durvāsas and Kaśyapa – indicates yogic symbolic order of narrative imagination. Ŗshi Viśvāmitra is Śakuntalā’s father, Ŗshi Durvāsas curses her and Ŗshi Kaśyapa provides shelter to her. Śakuntalā is the daughter of a ŗshi who did yogic penance for years to attain the title of brahmaŗshi . Ŗshi Durvāsas’s presence is much more than a plot tool; he is the son of Ŗshi Atri, one of the seven ŗshis ( saptaŗshis ), along with Ŗshi Viśvāmitra and Ŗshi Kaśyapa, recognized in Vedic literature. The karma cycle of Śakuntalā-Du ṣ yanta’s life appears to be governed by the three ŗshis who bring forth, separate and witness the union of the two eternal lovers.
Kālidāsa’s work has been read for symbols of tantra in presenting a theology of union of Śiva-Śakti. 25 In the tāntric and yogic system, the seven chakras of the subtle body ( sūkshma sharīra ) mark and nurture the growth of the human consciousness cutting through the seven stages of ignorance ( avidyā ). The guru leads one through the seven chakras in a manner that is conducive to the seeker. The journey is steady but with a pace that the seeker is capable of fully absorbing. The narrative of AbhijñānaŚākuntalam begins with symbols of divine communication, in the first scene when Du ṣ yanta feels a throbbing in his right arm and he takes off the coverings ( mala ) of his kingly (worldly) identity before entering Śakuntalā’s hermitage. Through Act Two, he pines and pursues his love through doubts, fears and hope. In the third act, the two lovers unite temporarily with a sensual energy that is sublime and transmissive. In the next act, Śakuntalā is beset with misgivings and fears as she sets out from her protected surroundings. In the fifth act, she encounters fear and ignominy, while Du ṣ yanta experiences confusion and doubt. The sixth act reveals to us a stage of self-examination where Du ṣ yanta tries to come to terms with the avidyā of his worldly self, something Śakuntalā too experienced in the beginning of Act Four. This introspection is made possible by Ŗshi Durvāsas, who, like a guru, imparts knowledge in a manner decipherable only to him. His curse makes this stage possible when two mortals are given the opportunity to rise above their love in a singular dimension to reach a multidimensional cosmic level of consciousness. The meeting space between the earth and the sky is symbolic of the higher plane, the highest, perhaps, to which the human consciousness can reach. At that point, Ŗshi Mārīca describes the union of Du ṣ yanta, Śakuntalā and Sarvadamana as the union of ś raddhā, dhan and vidhi . 26 These terms are central to spiritual practices in the yogic tradition. The balance of ś raddhā 27 and vidhi , or goal and practice, is the right spiritual path that leads to fulfilment ( dhan ). The balance of purusha and prakriti in the form of Du ṣ yanta and Śakuntalā leads to creation (Sarvadamana). 28 The structural as well as poetic idioms throughout the play gently and consistently suggest ( dhvanit ) spiritual meanings for the human soul.
This universal dhvani of the text could explain why this text has fascinated readers, writers, scholars and performers across literary, cultural as well as religious traditions. Different cultural contexts have contributed to reading the text through specific epistemologies. It is possible to closely read the poetic of the narrative to understand those human centres of experience that it touches upon and consistently finds reverberations in multiple readings, analyses and adaptations and translations across space and time.
Metre, Structure and Dhvani
An exploration of suggestion must naturally begin with a focus on poetic life force. Śri Aurobindo stresses the inherent relationship between metre and the spirit, rescuing metre from a clinical assessment. He observes,

The importance of metre arises from the fact that different arrangements of sound have different spiritual and emotional values, tend to produce that is to say by virtue of the fixed succession of sounds a fixed spiritual atmosphere and a given type of emotional exaltation and the mere creative power of sound though a material thing is yet near to spirit, is very great; great on the material and ascending in force through the moral and intellectual, culminating on the emotional plane. It is a factor of the first importance in music and poetry. In these different arrangements of syllabic sound metre forms the most important, at least the most tangible element. Every poet who has sounded his own consciousness must be aware that management of metre is the gate of his inspiration and the law of his success. There is a double process, his state of mind and spirit suggesting its own syllabic measure, and the metre again confirming, prolonging and recreating the original state of mind and spirit. 29
The first chapter of this collection, titled ‘ Upamā Kālidāsasya : What Makes Kālidāsa the King of Metaphor’ by Ramkishor Maholiya , takes us through the poetic foundation of the text by closely studying the use Kālidāsa makes of particular chhand and alankār . The questions of why certain alankār are found suitable for certain structural meanings and the philosophical and/or spiritual meanings they convey inform this chapter. It attempts to go beyond the Orientalist philological and nativist cultural approaches in engaging with the soul of poetry with a clear awareness of the darśana of Kālidāsa’s kāvya .
Sheldon Pollock argues against reductive readings of the text by locating the textual structure in symmetries of both form and theme. By closely highlighting thematic patterns through the seven acts, and by drawing mythical parallels between AbhijñānaŚākuntalam and Kumārasambhava , this chapter underscores the importance of identifying and absorbing resonances in the play. Prof. Pollock critiques the reductive Orientalist methodology of engaging with Sanskrit literature, as he also highlights the limitations of moral readings of the text through the categories of fate and chastity. The conviction of Kālidāsa, as Prof. Pollock argues, in the divine ( daiva ) investment in the mortal order is neither without purpose nor without a carefully considered design. To him, the parallels between the union of Śiva and Pārvatī and Du ṣ yanta and Śakuntalā are striking and integral to understanding the suprahuman status of the king and sage Viśvāmitra’s daughter for the theological and historical resonances and not prescriptive or moral lessons to be propagated by the playwright.
A text in the krama tradition of tāntric Śaivism, Chidgaganachandrikā , is attributed to Kālidāsa. Scholars have varying views on the authorship of this text, finding structural similarities but chronological incongruities to be able to ascertain Mahākavi Kālidāsa’s association with it. 30 Whether it was the poet Kālidāsa, the composer of AbhijñānaŚākuntalam , or a devotee of Kāli falling in a tradition to which the poet Kālidāsa too may have belonged, it is highly suggestive from the poetry of Kālidāsa, and from literature being discovered in this name, that symbols of tantra and Kashmir Śaivism have an intrinsic link with his thought. 31 H. S. Shivaprakash and Namrata Chaturvedi have based their study titled ‘From Separation to Unity: Resonances of Kashmir Śaivism in AbhijñānaŚākuntalam ’ on the poetic and theological resonances from Kashmir Śaiva tradition that Kālidāsa’s text presents. The structure of differentiation as manifestation and integration through re-cognition ( pratyabhijña ) of unity is found to be suggested throughout the play.
While some scholars seek to identify AbhijñānaŚākuntalam as a religious text, almost a moral prescriptive text for Hindu culture, in another tradition, contemporary hermeneutics seek to read the Bible for its poetic quotient, thereby making enrichment and enlivening possible, as Felix Wilfred argues in his chapter titled ‘ Śakuntalā and the Bible: Parallels and Resonances’. Father Wilfred’s study shares resonances with the observation of Lacchmidhar Shāstri Kalla, who proposed that a comparative study of Kashmir Śaivism and Christianity with respect to AbhijñānaŚākuntalam would lead to promising conclusions. 32 In his chapter, Father Wilfred offers freedom from religious hermeneutic that often stifles the breath of a text. He takes AbhijñānaŚākuntalam to another theological tradition by finding thematic parallels with the Bible in the story of Hagar (Genesis) and poetic parallels in the aesthetically magnificent Song of Songs. Such a reading rescues AbhijñānaŚākuntalam from the clutches of doctrinal reductionism and offers the Bible scope for being relived and recontextualized as a text of diverse, rich and breathtaking beauty. His chapter directs us to the possibilities of meaning for the human experience that Kālidāsa’s play offers and then takes those resonances to the profound biblical tradition of understanding the relationship between the limited and the infinite.
Commentaries and Criticism
Du ṣ yanta and Śakuntalā have become synonymous with a particular form of social union, that is, marriage by mutual consent without the role of elders. In Manusmriti (III.32), gāndharva vivāha is stated as follows:

Icchāyānyonyasanyogah kanyāyāshrcha varasya cha
Gāndharvah sa tu vigyeyo maithunyah kāmasambhavah
[The union that is made by the will of the woman ( kanyā ) and man ( vara ) in order to realize kāma through maithunya (sexual union) is termed gāndharva vivāha .]
In Manusmriti (III.25), in the eightfold classification of union, gāndharva is accepted as conforming to dharma , with āsura and paisāca being declared unacceptable.
Wagish Shukla , in his chapter titled ‘Love on One’s Terms: Perspectives on Gāndharva Vivāha in AbhijñānaŚākuntalam ’, explores the classification of Hindu marriages and the need and purpose of the gāndharva vivāha in the tradition of Dharmaśāstras in ancient India. Through a close study of Srimad Ananta Bhatta’s Vidhāna Pārijāt , Prof. Shukla explores the codification and changes in the institution of marriage from ancient to contemporary India. He locates the Du ṣ yanta-Śakuntalā union in this social context and relates it to other such unions in ancient literature like the Mahābhārata . This chapter goes beyond the well-known positions on the codification of marriage laws in ancient India in stating textual evidences and implications for the narrative of AbhijñānaŚākuntalam in particular, and the narrative of vivāha (marriage) in general.
The AbhijñānaŚākuntalam of Kālidāsa has lent itself to various tīkas (commentaries) by poets as well as acāryas in Sanskrit. Radhavallabh Tripathi states in his chapter titled ‘ AbhijñānaŚākuntalam in Indian Hermeneutics’ that about 26 commentaries on this play can be identified between the twelfth to nineteenth centuries. He also points out the analyses of acāryas like Ānandavardhana, Kuntaka and Abhinavagupta, who minutely assess AbhijñānaŚākuntalam in the light of their own poetic theories. In the tīkas , the names of tīkākāra (commentator) like Rāghavbhatta, Śankarmiśra, Kā ṭ ayavema, Abhirāma and Śrinivāsa are well known. Prof. Tripathi’s chapter takes the reader through the highlights of the various commentaries so that a clear understanding emerges with respect to the reception of AbhijñānaŚākuntalam in Sanskrit poetical and philosophical worldview.
In Kerala, about eight commentaries on AbhijñānaŚākuntalam are known. These include Dinmātradarśanā of Abhirāma, Sarārthadīpikā of Parīkşīittu Tampurān and Rāmapisāroti, Śrīkanthīiyavyākhyāna of Śrīkanthavāriar, Govindabrahmānandīya of Kuccugovindavāriar, Abhijñānaśakuntalacarcā , Abhijñānaśakuntalatīppaniī , Abhijñānaśakuntalatīkā and Anvayabodhinī . 33 Godabarisha Mishra , in his chapter ‘The Seeker Finds His Self: Reading Sārārthadīpikā , the Advaita Commentary on AbhijñānaŚākuntalam ’, discusses Sarārthadīpikā , composed in the twentieth century. This commentary on AbhijñānaŚākuntalam presents the paradigm of a king looking at another king, Parīkşīittu Tampurān, the king of Cochin, looking at Du ṣ yanta, the king of Hastināpura, from the paradigm of advaita Vedānta. In this commentary, the journey of Du ṣ yanta is seen as the journey of a spiritual seeker where the experiences of desire, attachment, indulgence, separation and remorse are seen as steps leading to awakening. Prof. Mishra’s chapter explores the commentary in detail and relates it to specific symbols and structural resonances in the play to locate it within a tradition of advaita darśana .
Varied Grammars of Love
The Mughal court patronized translations of Indian classical works, especially for cultural and imperial interests. In the court of the sixteenth-century king Akbar, a Persian translation of the Mahābhārata appeared as Razmnāma (Book of War) in 1582. Sunil Sharma , in his chapter titled ‘“Not a Tale, but a Lesson”: Persian Translations of Kālīdāsa’s AbhijñānaŚākuntalam ’, draws our attention to these and other literary relationships between two classical languages, Sanskrit and Persian. He identifies four translations of Kālidāsa’s play into Persian, brought out in the twentieth century by two Indian writers, one Afghan writer and one Iranian writer. The four translators are Hadi Hasan and Indu Shekhar from India, Ali Asghar Hikmat from Iran and Muhammad Usman Sidqi from Afghanistan (in Dari). Prof. Sharma’s comparative study of the four Persian translations looks for intercultural resonances and poetic nuances like the portrayal of Ŗshi Durvāsas as a peer, Ŗshi Marīca as a Sufi master and adding verses of legendary Persian poets like Hafiz and Amir Khusrao. As a journey into a golden world of poetry from another golden world of kāvya , this paper balances criticism with poetic finesse.
From the colonial period to the mid-twentieth century, AbhijñānaŚākuntalam found itself translated and adapted in the language of Hindustan in poetry, prose and sometimes dramatic forms. Sāghar Nizāmī brought the aesthetic and emotional intensity of Kālidāsa in Urdu by presenting a stunning translation in the poetic mode. In his recognition of the civilizational resonances of Kālidāsa’s nātaka in the cultural imaginary of the people of Hindustan, Nizāmī was able to recreate many of these resonances in a language marked by the exquisite beauty of its verse. The progressive ideology also sought to explore the classic mode, and Akhtar Husain Raipuri and Qudsia Zaidi read AbhijñānaŚākuntalam to recreate it with persistent questions of justice, honour and the process of social marginalization. Begum Zaidi in Hindustani theatre merged poetry and drama and prepared AbhijñānaŚākuntalam for the audience of modern India. Khalid Alvi ’s chapter, ‘Śakuntalā in Hindustāni: Reading Select Urdu Translations of AbhijñānaŚākuntalam ’, delves into the life of AbhijñānaŚākuntalam in the Hindustani tradition by following through the nineteenth-century to mid-twentieth-century poetic and dramatic translations of this masterpiece in Urdu. His analysis of metre, diction and thematic nuances in the context of the history and evolution of the Urdu zabān (language) opens up directions for further research in the field, especially in the state of interfaith stalemate and religious straitjacketing of Hindi and Urdu in contemporary India.
Coming from the same poetic tradition, the Nepāli language has a history of close association with Sanskrit literature, both sacred and poetic. In Nepāli, the name of Mahākavi Laxmi Prasad Devakotā is legendary, with a lore and aura surrounding him much like Kālidāsa in ancient India. Devakotā was an exceptional mind, fluent in many Indian and European languages, with the capability of reciting poetry instantly on request. In his prolific oeuvre, Devakotā made remarkable use of Sanskrit chhand like mandākrāntā (in Nepālī Meghadūta ), bhujangprayāt (in Ānandashataka ) and folk chhanda like jhyāure (in Srijamata , based on the myth of Persephone, and Kunjini , a short poem). Devakotā’s Shākuntalmahākāvya in Nepāli is an epic poem of 24 sarga (sections). Devakotā makes use of 19 chhanda in his magnum opus, including breathtaking verses in bhujangprayāat (IV.8) and mandākrāntā chhand (XVII.24). Devakotā has deployed the well-known Sanskrit chhanda, along with some chhanda that are absent in Kālidāsa, like totak, sāgvini, prithvī and panchachamar chhanda . In describing the alluring dance of Menakā, Devakotā creates the magic of her divine dance in the following lines:

Thiyo divya shadyantra ko sūkshma jādu
Kahan tipna sakthe tyahān hera! Sādhu!
Yata Menakā mohini chamchamāi
Utā koyali sānjhama sodhna aayi (IV.8)
[The divine play spread a magic, subtle and profuse,
Wherever you could hold, look there, Sadhu!
Here, the beautiful Menakā began to dazzle,
There, at dusk, the koyal began her cooing.] 34
Devakotā recreates the smriti avarodha of Du ṣ yanta in his state of wondering if the woman standing before him is a svapna (dream) or vipanā (waking dream). The 23rd sarga is outstanding in the detailed presentation of the war between daityas and devas , with Du ṣ yanta releasing his sangītashastra (weapon-releasing music) at the last moment to win the war. In his chapter on the three different translations by this exceptional writer, ‘ Dialogue between Two Mahākavis : Kālidāsa and Laxmi Prasad Devkota’s Three Śakuntalās ’, Gokul Sinha explores the question of what made the genius poetic of Laxmi Prasad Devakotā offer three kinds of translations of the same text – two in Nepāli and one in English. His chapter is a probe into two rare minds, Kālidāsa and Devakotā.
On the Stage: Personal Engagements with a Lived Tradition
A play is primarily meant for the stage. AbhijñānaŚākuntalam has found itself being adapted, referred to and translated on the stage – Indian as well as European – from the nineteenth century to the present day. From opera, yakshagāna and kudiyattam to Parsi theatre and realism, this play has been staged many times for audiences of varying interests. Mohan Rakesh’s iconic play Aśādh kā Ek Din and Surendra Verma’s Śakuntalā kī Angūthī and Athvān Sarga reorient Kālidāsa’s poetic time and persona in contemporary realistic mode.
In the last section, memoirs and critical reflections on engagement with Kālidāsa’s play on the modern Indian stage by two veteran actor-scholars, Prof. Kamlesh Dutt Tripathi and Prof. Sreenivas Murthy provide an opportunity for understanding the life of the play on the actual stage. The personal memoir of Kamlesh Dutt Tripathi , ‘Staging Śakuntalā in India: Observations and Reflections’, relates the experiences of bringing to the modern stage a classical text. The former president of Kālidāsa Academy, Prof. Tripathi offers us a glimpse into his lifelong engagement with Śakuntalā and the challenges and opportunities he faced while recreating it on the Indian stage for a modern audience.
Sreenivas Murthy ’s chapter, ‘From the Stage to the Classroom: Engagement with Śakuntalā ’, is an essay reflecting on the veteran theatre artist and teacher’s journey with Kālidāsa’s play on two different but linked platforms for drama – the stage and the classroom. Interspersed with personal experience, this rich essay is an exploration of the relationship between a written text and its performance, as well as the pedagogical challenges and innovations necessary for the teaching of drama.
As Kālidāsa’s masterpiece resists singular interpretation, the essays in the present volume offer us possibilities for exploration and contemplation with the texture and scope of its dramatic narrative. This volume hopes to orient contemporary research on the text towards more engagement with narratological, parallel psychological, spiritual as well as dramatic dimensions that metaphors, mysticism and the play of memory offer.

1 All translations by the author of this chapter unless otherwise noted.
2 (accessed on 20 August 2018).
3 In Raghuvanśam , Rshi Durvāsas appears in the form of a deranged beggar to test Mudgala’s tapasyā where he had undertaken the vrat of eating only specks of grain once a fortnight. Ŗshi Durvāsas appeared six times at the moment of Mudgala’s eating, and the latter offered him the grains with due honour. After the sixth time, Ŗshi Durvāsas blesses Mudgala for his heart that is focused on inner purity and hence unaffected by even hunger. Ŗshi Durvāsas’s appearance in narratives is with the purpose of blessing through testing.
4 ‘Shakuntalā fitrat ka wo ilhām hai jiskī risālat Kālidāsa ko naseeb hui aur yeh hamāri sādat hai ki humein yeh ilhām virāsat mein milā hai. Is ilhām ka taqaddus aur husn hamāre jamāliyātī ehsās ki pyās usi tarah bujhātā rahegā jaise registān mein ek jāri chashmā musāfiron ki pyās bujhātā hai’ (Saghar Nizāmī, Shakuntalā (New Delhi: Adabi Markaz, 1960), p. 71). [ Shakuntalā is that revelation of nature which was received by Kālidāsa and it is our fortune that we have received this revelation in inheritance. Its purity and beauty will quench our aesthetic thirst the way a flowing spring relieves the thirst of travellers in the desert.]. Translation by Khalid Alvi.
5 Vinay Dharwadker, ‘Orientalism and the Study of Indian Literatures’, in Carol A. Breckenridge and Peter van der Veer (eds), Orientalism and the Postcolonial Predicament (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1993), 158–85, 178.
6 Monier Monier-Williams in his Introduction to his translation of AbhijñānaŚākuntalam wrote, ‘The most celebrated drama of the great Indian Shakespeare. The need felt by the British public for such a translation as I have here offered the most popular of the Indian dramas, in which the customs of the Hindus, their opinions, prejudices, and fables; their religious rites, daily occupations, and amusements are reflected as in a mirror’, accessed at on 16 December 2015.
7 S. S. Bhawe, Kālidāsa: The National Poet of India (Baroda: Good Companions, 1964), 4.
8 The cultural component of this self-determination has remained predominant from the nineteenth century to the present day.
9 Aurobindo, The Complete Works of Sri Aurobindo , Vol.1, p.237, accessed at on 16 December 2015.
10 See Khandavalli Satya Deva Prasad, ‘Kālidāsa in the Eyes of the West’, accessed at on 16 December 2015.
11 Karline McLain, India’s Immortal Comic Books: Gods, Kings, and Other Heroes (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2009), 74–75.
12 Carol A. Breckenridge and Peter van der Veer, Orientalism and the Postcolonial Predicament: Perspectives on South Asia (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2009 [1993]), 167–68.
13 The ‘Shakuntala Patralekhan’ episode in Raja Ravi Varma’s nationalist-Western paintings and its popularization is a case in point. See Vasudha Dalmia and Rashmi Sadana, The Cambridge Companion to Modern Indian Culture (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012), 197–99.
14 Vasudev Vishnu Mirashi and Narayan Raghunath Navlekar, Kālidāsa: Date, Life and Works (Bombay: Popular Prakashan, 1969), Preface: ‘Kālidāsa is the national poet of India. For more than fifteen centuries he has been unanimously acclaimed the greatest Sanskrit poet. Soon after his time, his fame spread to distant lands where his works exercised great influence. Sanskrit learning and literature became first known to Europe through the translation of his Śakuntalā […] Since the attainment of independence our interest in Kālidāsa and his works has greatly increased. Festivities are held in his honour in all parts of India. The Sahitya Akademi has undertaken the publication of the critical editions of his works and has so far brought out three of them.’ This hagiographical criticism is common from the early twentieth century onwards. The editors have claimed that soon after Kālidāsa’s time, his fame spread to faraway lands and even his works cast their influence there, but we know of no translations of his works in foreign languages (not in Persian, Turkish, Arabic) before Jones’s in the eighteenth century. Also, even if the records of travellers are to be believed for this unfounded generalization, there is no evidence to show how and which of Kālidāsa’s works influenced which events and developments in which distant lands.
15 For an in-depth analysis of the nineteenth-century Indian public sphere shaped by the cultural correspondence between Kālidāsa and Shakespeare, see T.S. Satyanath, ‘Mapping Shakespearean Translations in Indian Literatures’, in Shormishtha Panja and Babli Moitra Saraf (eds), Performing Shakespeare in India: Exploring Indianness, Literatures and Cultures (New Delhi: Sage, 2016), 131–50.
16 David Lorenzen (‘Who Invented Hinduism?’, Comparative Studies in Society and History , vol.41, no.4 (October 1999): 630–59) argues that ‘a Hindu religion […] acquired a much sharper self-conscious identity through the rivalry between Muslims and Hindus in the period between 1200 and 1500, and was firmly established before 1800’ (p.631).
17 Nandini Chandra, The Classic Popular Amar Chitra Katha, 1967–2007 (New Delhi: Yoda Press, 2008). Also see Nandini Chandra, ‘The Amar Chitra Katha Shakuntala: Pin-Up or Role Model?’, South Asia Multidisciplinary Academic Journal [Online], 4 (2010), accessed at on 1 January 2016.
18 The film Stree (dir. V Shantaram, Rajkamal Kalamandir, 1961), which received critical as well popular accolades, modifies the nāndi in a manner of evoking the woman ( stree ) as the manifestation of Śiva (as Śakti). Visually, the screen slowly fills in with the figure of a woman who seems to emerge out of the void with the blessings of Śiva:

Srishti thī anjaan, vishwa thā sunsān,
Aur vidhātā ne kiyā iskā nayā nirmān,
Chandramā kā de diyā māngalya phir,
Navkamal kī madhur komaltā ise dī, navdhanush aur teer kī dī viratā,
Patr ye vatvrisksha kā, vatvriksha kī nirmānkārī shakti dī,
Bāndh le sab vishwa ko woh bhakti dī,
Jab samāiye guna sabhī woh jagmagāyi shree,
Jab mile sab tattva isme, ban gayi yeh stree
[The cosmos was ignorant, the world was barren,
And the lord rebuilt it.
He gave the auspicious light of the moon,
And the gentility of the blooming lotus,
The strength of the bow, and the courage of the arrow,
This leaf of the tree was imbued with the power
to create and recreate like the banyan,
and to bind the world in devotion,
When all the qualities blended, there was dazzling light,
When all the elements were combined, the woman was created.]
19 See Godabarisha Mishra’s chapter in this volume for understanding the context of Mirashi’s claim.
20 ‘In his attitude towards religion Kālidāsa was never a fanatic or a violent partisan of a particular sect or creed […] Some think he was a staunch Śaivite, but even if it was so, he never carried his Śaivism to the extent of traducing or disparaging Vaishnavism or other sects.’ S.A. Sabnis, Kalidasa: His Style and His Times (Bombay: N. M Tripathi, 1966). Mirashi (in Mirashi and Navlekar, Kālidāsa , 84–85) counters Lacchmidhar Shastri Kalla’s claim that Kālidāsa’s philosophical foundation is that of Kashmir Śaivism by saying that Kashmir Śaivism is actually another form of Śankara’s advaita Vedanta with ‘Sadaśiva, Śiva and Śakti’ in place of ‘Brahman, Purusha and Prakriti’. He also argues that Kālidāsa was most influenced by the philosophy of the Bhagwadgītā .
21 For the politics of Dravidian nationalism and Śaiva siddhanta as theological basis for this, see Timothy Brook and Andre Schmid, Nation Work: Asian Elites and National Identities (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2000), 54: ‘The major impulse in much of the missionary support for a distinctly Dravidian religion, again, was their antipathy toward Brahmanism and what was considered to be its latest manifestation, neo-Vedantism. Neo-Vedantism by the late nineteenth century in South India had come to be considered by many Christian missionaries and Dravidian ideologues as the new liberal face of a resurgent Brahmanism in India.’
22 See Saswati Sengupta and Sharmila Purkayastha, ‘When the King Is the Subject: The Play of Power in Kālidāsa’s AbhijñanaŚakuntalam ’; and Deepika Tandon, ‘The Many Mothers of AbhijñanaŚakuntalam : Constructing, Celebrating and Confining Motherhood’, in Saswati Sengupta and Deepika Tandon (eds), Revisiting AbhijñanaŚakuntalam: Love, Lineage and Language in Kālidāsa’s Nātaka (New Delhi: Orient Blackswan, 2011). In The Ring of Truth: Myths of Sex and Jewelry (New Delhi: Speaking Tiger Books, 2018), Wendy Doniger argues that Kālidāsa offered the excuse of a ‘magic ring’ in order to cover up the erotic and exploitative nature of the king (emphasis added).
23 Another name of Śiva is smarahara , ‘destroyer of smara (Kamadeva)’. The destruction of smara for Du ṣ yanta works as a blessing by Śiva as only by destroying the impressions of the mortal world can a seeker awaken to truth which is love in its purest essence.
24 ‘tasya saptadhā prāntabhūmih pragyā’, Yogasutra , II.27 (Swami Vivekānanda, Patanjali Yoga Sutras ).
25 ‘To the Tantric, the whole universe is the child of the Mother-Father. As the great Kālidāsa wrote, “Everything that exists runs with the golden love juices of Shiva and Shakti, and is bathed in the perfumes that stream from their naked glory.”’ Andrew Harvey and Karuna Erickson, Heart Yoga: The Sacred Marriage of Yoga and Mysticism (North Atlantic Books, 2010), 141. The authors make a strong claim for tantric epistemology in Kālidāsa’s worldview but do not give the source for this quote. Suresh Banerjee in A Brief History of Tantra Literature (Kolkata: Naya Prokash, 1988) says, ‘Tantra is sometimes used to denote governance. Kālidāsa uses the expression prajah tantrayitva (having governed the subjects) in the AbhijñānaŚākuntalam (V.5)’, accessed at on 16 August 2018.
26 Dishtayā Śakuntalā sadhavi sadapatyamidam bhavān
Shraddhā vittam vidhischcheti tritayam tatsamāgatam. (VII.29)
27 Śraddhā means complete faith which results only from complete surrender. This complete surrender of the ego with one pointed attention on the divine is the goal of spiritual enterprise. For an elaborate discussion of śraddhā, refer to Śri M’s satsangs at .
28 In the film Stree (1961), the bharatvākya describes the union of Du ṣ yanta, Śakuntalā and their son in the following lines:

Mile yugon ke bāad, tadapte dhartī aur akāsh,
Mila surya se chandra, jagat mein phaila punya prakāsh
[The earth and the sky, pining for ages, were united.
The sun and the moon became one, auspicious light spread in the universe.]
29 Aurobindo, ‘On Translating Kālidāsa’, p. 243, accessed at on 16 December 2015.
30 Arthur Avalon, in his Introduction to Cidgagana-Candrika (Calcutta: Āgamanusandhāna Samiti, 1937), states the views of Swāmī ŚrīTrivikrama Tirtha that there is no doubt that this work is the creation of the poet Kālidāsa. He further quotes from the opening and concluding ślokas of the work that attribute it to Kālidāsa, as also the work of Gorakshanātha, Bhāsurānandanātha and Kaivalyāśrama.
31 ‘There is nothing to be surprised at if the great poet Kālidāsa be found to be the author of a book on Tantra. Tradition says that for his supreme devotion to Goddess Kāli, he obtained from her the gift of his unparalleled poetic genius.’ Avalon, Cidgagana-Candrikā , p. 2. Ādya Rangācharya, in his book Kālidāsa Ondu Pratyabhijña ( Kālidāsa: A Pratyabhijña in English), has studied AbhijñānaŚākuntalam for the motifs and structures of pratyabhijña darśana .
32 Lacchmidhar Shastri Kalla, The Birthplace of Kālidāsa (Delhi: University of Delhi, 1926).
33 The last four are of unknown authorship.
34 Translated by Namrata Chaturvedi and Dhirendra Shah.
Section I
Chapter 1
Ramkishor Maholiya

Vāgarthaviva sampriktau vāgarthapratipattaye
Jagatah pitrau vande pārvatiparmeshvarau ( Raghuvansham , I.1)
The opening verse of Kālidāsa’s Raghuvansham describes the yoga (union) of vāka (word) and artha (meaning) as the yoga of Śiva and Pārvatī. Every utterance in kāvya is therefore an act of careful arrangement ( prabandha ) in a manner that the complete meaning of the arrangement is revealed.
Ācārya Hazāriprasād Dwivedi understands the icchā-śakti (will) of Brahma as universal chhand. This śakti of Brahma gives rise to various forms of manifestations in arrangements, unique and particular. He says,

Aisā jāan padta hai ki Kālidāsa is vishwavyavasthā ke mool mein ek vyāpak chhand ki baat sweekar karte hain. Yeh vishwavyāpak chhand samashtigat citta-śakti ki sarjaneccha ya sishrashā ke atirikta aur kuch nahīn hai […] Brahm ki icchā-śakti hi samashtigat chhand hai jisne samasta bhedoabheda ka chhādan kar rakha hai. Chhādan karta hai isliye yeh chhand hai. Chhand arthāta icchā.
[It seems that Kālidāsa accepts the existence of a visible chhand at the root of this universe. This chhand is nothing but the will ( icchā ) of the cosmic consciousness ( citta-śakti ). It is this will of Brahma that has created and holds together the various manifestations of the phenomenal world. Therefore, chhand means will ( icchā ).] 1
Chhand is therefore the power behind every arrangement, the power that covers ( chhādan ) the meaning. When Kālidāsa is declared the king of poetic utterance, it points towards the pratibhā̄ (inspiration) in his work that sustains the play of the iccha-śakti of Brahman.
The origin of Sanskrit chhand can be seen in the Vedas. Generally, chhand consists of four charan (feet), but in Vedas, three or five can also be found along with four. Sanskrit kāvya chhand are different from Vedic chhand as these are varnic (pertaining to syllable) and mātric (pertaining to mātra), whereas Vedic chhand is primarily varnic .
Varnic chhand is based on the recognition of var ṇ a (syllable) and is of three types: samvritta , ardhasamvritta and vishamvritta . The most popular kind is samvritta , where each charan consists of the same number of var ṇ a . The ardhasamvritta is a chhand where the number of varnas is the same for even charans and the same for odd charans . The chhands often used in this kind are: harini , pushpitagra , aparvaktra and viyogini . The third kind consists of varying var ṇ as in each charan . The udgatha chhand is the most suitable for this kind. 2
In Pali and Prākrit literature, the chhand parampara is discernible in works like Dhammapada , Paīijātaka , Thergātha , Therigātha , Paumchariya ( Padmacharitam ), Karpūramanjari and Kansravaho . The organization of chhand finds reference in Pingalasutra ( Prākritapaingalam ) of Pingala and Nātyaśāstra of Bharata (chapters 15 and 16). The works in Prākrit-Apabrahmsha that expound on the nature and usage of chhand include Nandiyaddadha’s Gāthalakśa ṇ a , Virhanka’s Vrattajatisamuchhāya , Syavambhu’s Svayambhuchachhandas , Rajashekhar’s Chhandahshekhara , Hemachandra’s Chhandonushāsan , Kavidarpan (anonymous), Paingala’s Prākritapaingala ṃ and Ratnashekhara’s Chhandahkosha . Nandiyaddadha’s Gathalakśa ṇ a is considered to be the oldest text on Chhandaśāstra . 3
In Sanskrit Chhandaśāstra , Pingala is considered to be the author of the earliest work Pingalasūtra . Though Pingala himself mentions other writers before him on this subject, namely, Tandi, Saitava, Kashyapa, Katyayana, Mandavya, Rati and others, their works are not available. We get some discussions of chhands in Ŗshi Shaunaka’s Shrautasutra , Nidānasūtra and Rikpratishakhya and in Kātyāyana’s Rigvedānukrama ṇ ikā and Yajurvedānukrama ṇ ikā . There is a text titled Shrutabodha attributed to Kālidāsa, but the identity of this Kālidāsa as matching the poet Kālidāsa is still not clear. Pingalasūtra therefore can be considered the comprehensive extant śastra on chhand .
By the time of Kālidāsa, the gāhā chhand in Prākrit was well established and accepted by connoisseurs. This chhand , in its extended forms, has been used prolifically in AbhijñānaŚākuntalam . The Sanskrit chhand ‘ Ārya ’ finds its origin in gāhā chhand . 4 The second verse of AbhijñānaŚākuntalam deploys the gāhā chhand to present the mesmerizing song of the nati :

Īsīsichumbiāyi ṃ (12 mātrās )
Bhamarehi ṃ suumara(dara)kesarasihāi ṃ (18 mātrās )
Odansayanti daamā ṇ ā (12 mātrās )
Pamadāo sirīshakusumāi ṃ (15 mātrās )
(I.4) 5
In this chhand , the mātrās are arranged in the following order: 12 (Hamsa), 18 (Gaja), 12 (Mayur) and 15 (Sarpa). The four charans flow in a gati (pace) like the movement of a swan, an elephant, a peacock and a snake, respectively. 6
The song of the nati , says the sutradhar , transports the audience to a yogic state of citta ekāgrattā (focused consciousness). The possibility of the delight and sādhāranikara ṇ a that the audience experience also suggests that the audience was familiar with Prākrit songs that were folk songs, an intrinsic part of their lived experience. Bhola Shankar Vyas is of the opinion that the gāhā chhand seems to look to the Dravidian songs (from Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh) for their origin. This chhand is most probably derived from Maharashtri Prākrit, and Kālidāsa seems to have found it there. 7
It is also possible to note that Kālidāsa is careful about the taste of his audience and gives them an opportunity right from the beginning of his nātak to experience rasasvād , which is believed by theologians like Abhinavagupta to closely approximate brhamsvāda . From a sociological and psychological point of view, it may be inferred that the poet brings aparā vidyā 8 in the common language of the folk who may not have had access to Vedic Sanskrit in his time.
Upamā Kālidāsasya
‘Upamā Kālidāsasya’ 9 – Kālidāsa is unparalleled in upamā (simile).
In Sanskrit literature, Kālidāsa has been recognized as the epitome of poetic imagery by fellow poets and aestheticians. Another often quoted śloka establishes the uniqueness of Kālidāsa’s poetics in the following manner:

Kāvye ṣ hu nātaka ṃ ramya ṃ tatra ramyā Śhakutalā
Tatrāpi chaturthonka ḥ tatra shloka chatu ṣ thtaya ṃ
(Tatrāpi yāsyatyadyeti shloko atīva manohara ḥ )

[Of all poetry, drama is the most delightful, of all drama Śakuntala , of Śakuntala the fourth act and of the fourth act the four śloka s (Of the four śloka s the one beginning with ‘yasyatyadya’ is the most beautiful one which captivates your heart).]
Ācārya Kșhemendra in Suvratatilaka (Section Three) considers Kālidāsa to be a siddhahasta (an expert) in the deployment of mandākrāntā chhand . 10
In AbhijñānaŚākuntalam , there are a total of 191 ślokas . A śloka is a metrical composition that is based on chhand and consists of four padas . Valmiki’s Rāmāyana is regarded as the earliest known literary composition where ślokas have been deployed. According to Bhola Shankar Vyas, Kālidāsa has deployed 19 chhands in AbhijñānaŚākuntalam . 11 In Table 1.1 , these chhands together with their signs ( lakśa ṇ a ) and examples ( udāahra ṇ ) have been delineated with the instances where they occur.

Table 1.1. Chhands in AbhijñānaŚākuntalam
Act I
Act II
Act IV
Act V
Act VI
Anu ṣ ṭ upa
5, 6, 11, 12, 23
13, 16, 17
1, 17, 20
4, 7
14, 24, 26, 29
23, 28, 32
9, 13, 14, 15, 23, 28, 29
2, 3, 13, 15, 16, 19, 22, 25, 26, 31
1, 8
2, 4, 5, 9, 12, 14, 15, 19
12, 16, 21
11, 13, 16, 18, 21, 28, 31
2, 3, 7, 15, 19, 21, 31
Hari ṇ ī
Mālabhāri ṇ ī
21, 22
20, 21
11, 18
7, 8, 19
7, 35
14, 15
14, 22
Prahar ṣ i ṇ i
27, 30
14, 27
2, 5, 6
7, 23
5, 6, 9, 17, 18
4, 5, 6, 17
8, 11, 12, 27
Shikhari ṇ ī
9, 21
1, 7
Tri ṣ tup
5, 20, 25
10, 24, 26
2, 5, 19, 31
17, 20
12, 15, 17
13, 18, 29
10, 16, 30
8, 24, 28
9, 12
8, 18, 24
2, 3, 11, 13, 14, 15, 20
2, 3, 6, 22, 23
12, 16, 20, 25
4, 6, 17, 25, 26, 32

1. Anu ṣ ṭ upa

Lakśa ṇ a : Anu ṣ tub gayatrai ḥ 12
Shloke ṣ ha ṣ htha ṃ gururgeya ṃ sarvatra laghu panchama ṃ
Dvi chatu ṣ pādyorhrisva ṃ saptama ṃ dīrghamanyayo ḥ
This chhand consists of four charan consisting of eight syllables each.
In every foot, the fifth var ṇ a is laghu (unstressed) and the sixth is guru (stressed). Also, the seventh var ṇ a in the second and fourth feet is laghu , while in the first and third it is guru .
Duşyante nā hi(5)ta ṃ (6) te(7) jo
Dadhānā ṃ bhū ta(5)ye(6)bhu(7) va ḥ
Avehi ta na(5)yā ṃ (6)Brah(7) mann(6)
Agnigarbhā ṃ sha(5)mī(6)mi(7) va
2. Aparvaktra

Lakśa ṇ a : Ayuji nanarlā guru ḥ same
Tadaparvaktramida ṃ na jau jarau.
This metre consists of ga ṇ a (a unit of three syllables) in the following sequence:
First and third feet: naga ṇ a , naga ṇ a , raga ṇ a and laghu and guru
Second and fourth feet: naga ṇ a , jaga ṇ a , jaga ṇ a , raga ṇ a
Ga ṇ a : In Chhandaśāstra , there are eight ga ṇ a mentioned:
Ādi madhyavashane ṣ hu yaratā yānti lāghava ṃ
Bhajasā gaurva ṃ yānti manau tu gururlāghava ṃ
yaga ṇ a: ISS
raga ṇ a: SIS
taga ṇ a: SSI
bhaga ṇ a: SII
jaga ṇ a: ISI
saga ṇ a: IIS
maga ṇ a: SSS
naga ṇ a: III
III   III   SIS    I  S
III     ISI   ISI    SIS
Tarubhi//riya ṃ va//navāsa//bandhubhi ḥ
III    III   SIS    I    S
Parbhri//taviru//ta ṃ kala ṃ //ya(10)thā(11)
Prativa//chanīkri//tamebhi//rīdrisha ṃ
Ahi ṇ a//vamahu//loluvo//bha(10)va ṃ (11)
taha pa//richumbi//’a chū’a’//manjari
Kamala//vasai//metta ṇ i//vvu(10)do(11)
mahu’a//’r vimha//ri’o si//a ṃ kaha ṃ
Chhāyā : 13
Stathāpa//richumbya//chūtama//njari ṃ a
Madhuka//r! Vismri//toasyenā ṃ //katha ṃ a
3. Āryā

Lakśa ṇ a : Yasyā ḥ prathame pāde dvādasha mātrāstathā tratiyepi
A ṣ htādasha dvitiye chaturthake panchadasha sāryā
In this chhand , the first charan consists of 12 mātras , the second consists of 18, the third consists of 12 and the fourth consists of 15.
Mātrā is a metrical unit that is counted once for a laghu syllable, and twice for a guru syllable.
Kāma ṃ priyā na sulabhā (12 mātrās )
Manastu tadbhāvadarshanāyāsi (18 mātrās )
Akritārtheapi manasije (12 mātrās )
Ratimubhayaprārthanā kurute (15 mātrās )
Uggaliadabbhakavalā (12 mātrās )
Miā Parichhattachacha ṇ ā morā (18 mātrās )
Osaria pandupattā (12 mātrās )
Muanti assu via ladāo (15 mātrās )
Chhāyā :
Udgalitadarbhakavalā (12 mātrās )
Mrigya ḥ parityaktanartanā mayūrā ḥ (18 mātrās )
Apasritapā ṇ dupatrā (12 mātrās )
Muanchantyashrū ṇ īva latā ḥ (15 mātrās )
Esa vi piyena vina (12 mātrās )
gamei raanima visaadihaaram (18 mātrās )
Garuam vi virahadukkham (12 mātrās )
asabandho sahavedi (15 mātrās )
Chhāyā :
E ṣ āpi priye ṇ a vinā (12 mātrās )
gamayati rajani ṃ vi ṣ ādadīrghatarā ṃ (18 mātrās )
Gurvapi virahau ḥ khamā (12 mātrās )
Shābanda ḥ sāhayati (13 mātrās ?) 14
4. Drutavilambita

Lakśa ṇ a : Drutavilambitmāha nabhau bharau
In this chhand , each charan consists of the following sequence: naga ṇ a , bhaga ṇ a , bhaga ṇ a , raga ṇ a .
Yadi ya//thā vada//ti kshiti//pastathā
  III   SII    SII   SIS
Tvamasi//ki ṃ pitu//rutkula//yā tvayā
  III   SII    SII   SIS
Atha tu//vetsi shu//chi vrat//mātmana ḥ
Patiku//le tava//dāsyama//pi kshama ṃ
5. Hari ṇ ī

Lakśa ṇ a : Nasamarasalā ga ḥ ṣ advedairhyairhari ṇ ī matā
In this metre, every line has 17 syllables in the order naga ṇ a (III), saga ṇ a (IIS), maga ṇ a (SSS), raga ṇ a (SIS), saga ṇ a (IIS) and the 17th laghu (I) and the 18th guru (S). There is a yati (pause) at the 6th, 10th and 17th var ṇ a .
 III  IIS   SSS   SIS   IIS   I   S
Abhija//nava to(6) //bhartu ḥ shla// ghye(10) sthithā//grahi ṇ ī//pa(16) de(17)
Vibhava//guru bhi ḥ (6) //krityesta// sya(10) prati//ksha ṇ amā//ku(16) lā(17)
Tanaya//machi rāt(6) //prāchīvā// rka ṃ (10) prasū//ya cha pā//va(16) na ṃ (17)
mam vi//raha jā ṃ (6)// na tvam va// tse!(10) Shucha ṃ //ga ṇ ayi// ṣ ya(16) si(17)
6. Indravajrā

Lakśa ṇ a : Syādindravajrā yadi tau jagau ga ḥ
In this chhand , each charan consists of 11 syllables in the order: tagan , tagan , jaga ṇ a , guru , guru .
Bhānu ḥ sa//kridyukta//turanga ea(10)va (11)
Rātrindi//va ṃ gandha//vaha ḥ pra yā(10)ti (11)
She ṣ a ḥ sa//daivāhi//tabhūmi//bhā(10)ra ḥ (11)
Ṣ a ṣ thāansha//vrittera//pi dharma//ea(10) ṣ a ḥ (11)
7. Mālabhāri ṇ ī

Lakśa ṇ a : Vi ṣ ame sasajā guru same chet
Sabharā yena tu mālabhāra ṇ īya ṃ
In this metre, the first and third lines consist of 11 var ṇ as in the order saga ṇ a (IIS), saga ṇ a (IIS), jaga ṇ a (ISI) and the 10th and 11th var ṇ a guru (S). The second and fourth lines consist of 12 var ṇ as in the order saga ṇ a (IIS), bhaga ṇ a (SII), raga ṇ a (SIS), yaga ṇ a (ISS).
 IIS    IIS   ISI   S   S
Bhavane// ṣ u rasā//dhikeu// pur(10)va ṃ (11)
Kshitira//kshārthamu//shanti ye//nivāsa ṃ
Niyatai//kapati//vratāni pas(10)chāt(11)
Tarumū//lāni grah//hībhāva//nti te ṣ ā ṃ
8. Mālinī

Lakśa ṇ a : Nanmayayayuteya ṃ mālinī bhogilokai ḥ
In this metre, every line has 15 syllables in the order naga ṇ a (III), naga ṇ a (III), maga ṇ a (SSS), yaga ṇ a (ISS), yaga ṇ a (ISS) .
  III   III    SSS   ISS    ISS
Tava ku//sumasha//ratva ṃ shī//tarashmi//tvamindo
Rdvayami//damya//thārtha ṃ dri//shyate ma//dvidhe ṣ u
Visraja//ti hima//garbhaira//gnimindu//rmayukhai
stvamapi//kusuma//bā ṇ ān va//jrasārī//karo ṣ i
9. Mandākrāntā

Lakśa ṇ a : Mandākrāntā ṃ bubhiras nagairmo bhanau tau ga yugma ṃ
In this metre, every line has 17 var ṇ as in the order maga ṇ a (SSS), bhaga ṇ a (SII), naga ṇ a (III), tagan (SSI), tagan (SSI) and 16th and 17th syllables guru (S). There is a yati (pause) at the 4th, 10th and 17th var ṇ a .
  SSS   SII    III    SSI     SSI   S  S
Adhyākrā// ntā(4) vasa//tiramu// nā(10) pyāshra//me sarva//bho(16) gye(17)
Rakshāyo// gā(4) daya//mapi ta// pa ḥ (10) pratya//ha ṃ sanchi//no(16 )ti(17)
Asyāpi// dhyā ṃ (4) sprasha//ti vashi// nash(10) chāra// ṇ advandva//gī(16) ta ḥ (17)
Pu ṇ ya ḥ sha// bdo(4) muni//riti mu// hu ḥ (10) keva//la ṃ rāja//pur(16) va ḥ (17)
10. Pathyāvaktra

Lakśa ṇ a : Yujoshtuarthato Jena pathyāvaktra ṃ prakīrtita ṃ
In the second and fourth feet of Anu ṣ ṭ upa chhand , after the fourth syllable, if jaga ṇ a occurs, this is called pathyāvaktra chhand .
Prajāgarāta khi(5)lī(6)bhū(7) tas
        I  S  I
Tasyā ḥ svapane sa(5)mā(6)ga(7) ma ḥ
Vā ṣ apastu na da(5)dā(6)tye(7) nā ṃ
       I  S   I
Dra ṣ tu ṃ chitra ga(5)tā(6)ma(7) pi
11. Prahar ṣ i ṇ ī

Lakśa ṇ a : Tryāshābhirmanjargā ḥ prahar ṣ i ṇ īya ṃ
In every line, there are 13 var ṇ as in the order maga ṇ a , naga ṇ a , jaga ṇ a , raga ṇ a and the 13th syllable guru.
  SSS   III   ISI    SIS   S
Ae ṣ a tvā//mabhina//vaka ṇ ṭ ha//sho ṇ itār//thī (13)
Shārdula ḥ //pashumi//va hanmi//che ṣ ṭ amā//na ṃ (13)
Ᾱrtanā ṃ //bhayama//panetu//māttadhan//vā (13)
Du ṣ yantah//stava sha//ra ṇ a ṃ bha//vatvidā//nī ṃ (13)
12. Pu ṣ pitāgrā

Lakśa ṇ a : Ayuji nayugarefato yakāro
Yuji cha najau jaragāshcha pu ṣ pitāgrā
In this metre, in the first and third lines, there are 12 syllables in the order naga ṇ a , naga ṇ a , raga ṇ a , yaga ṇ a , and in the second and fourth lines, there are 13 syllables in the order naga ṇ a , jaga ṇ a , jaga ṇ a , raga ṇ a and the last syllable as guru .
  III I  II    SIS   ISS
Na nama//yituma//dhijyama//smi shakto
  III   ISI   ISI   SIS    S
Dhanuri//damāhi//tasāya//ka ṃ mrige// ṣ u (13)
Sahava//satimu//petya yai ḥ //priyāhā ḥ
Krita i//va mugdha//viloki//topade//sha ḥ (13)
13. Rathoddhatā

Lakśa ṇ a : Rānnarāvih rathoddhatā lagau
In this metre, every line consists of 11 syllables in the order raga ṇ a (SIS), naga ṇ a (III), raga ṇ a (SIS) and 10th syllable laghu (I) and 11th guru (S).
 SIS   III   SIS    I  S
Sanyama ḥ //kimiti//janmastastavā(9/10)ya(10/11)
Sattvasan//shrayasu//khoapi du ṣ //hya(10)te(11)
Kri ṣ ṇ a//sarpashi//shuneva//chan da(10)na ṃ (11)
14. Ruchirā

Lakśa ṇ a : Jabhau Sajau giti ruchirā chatugrahai ḥ
In this metre, every line has 13 syllables in the order jaga ṇ a (ISI), bhaga ṇ a (SII), saga ṇ a (IIS), jaga ṇ a (ISI) and the last syllable guru (S).
 ISI     SII    IIS   ISI   S
Pravarta//tā ṃ prakri//tihitā//ya pārthi//va ḥ (11)
Saraswa//tī shrut//mahtā ṃ //mahīya//tā ṃ (11)
Mamāpi//cha kshapa//yatu nī//lalohi//ta ḥ (11)
Punarbha//va ṃ pari//gatasha//ktirātma//bhū ḥ (11)
15. Shālinī

Lakśa ṇ a : Māttau gau chechchālinī vedalaukai ḥ
In Sanskrit chhandaśāstras , Shālinī is understood as follows: In every line, there are 11 syllables ( var ṇ a ) in the order maga ṇ a , tagan , tagan and the 10th and 11th var ṇ a as guru (S). There is a viram/yati (pause) at the fourth and seventh var ṇ a .
  SSS  SSI    SSI   S   S
Sā ninda// ntī(4 )svāni// bhā(7) gyāni//bā(10)lā(11)
Bāhūtkshe// pa ṃ (4) krandi// tu ṃ (7) cha pra//vra(10)tā(11)
Strīsansthā// na ṃ (4) chāpsa// ra(7) stīrtha//mā(10)rā(11)
Dutkshipayai// nā ṃ (4) jyoti// re(7) ka ṃ ja//gā(10)ma(11)
16. Shārdulavikrīditam

Lakśa ṇ a : Suryashvairmasjāstata ḥ sa gurva ḥ shārdulavikrīdita ṃ
In this metre, every line has 19 syllables in the order maga ṇ a (SSS), saga ṇ a (IIS), jaga ṇ a (ISI), saga ṇ a (IIS), tagan (SSI), tagan (SSI) and the 19th as guru (S) . There is a viram (pause) at the 7th and 12th syllables .
  SSS   IIS  ISI   IIS    SSI   SSI   S
Kshāmkshā//makapo// la(7) māna//namu ra ḥ (12) //kā ṭ hinya//muktasta//na ṃ (19)
Madhya ḥ klān//tatara ḥ // pra(7) kām//vina ta(12) //vansau cha//vi ḥ pā ṇ du//rā(19)
Shochyā cha//priyada// rsha(7) nā ma//danak li ṣ (12) // ṭ eyamā//lakshya//te(18/19)
Patrā ṇ a//miva sho// ṣ a (7) ṇ ena//maru tā(12) //spra ṣ ṭ a la//tā mādha//vī(19)
17. Shikhari ṇ ī

Lakśa ṇ a : Rasai ḥ rudraishchinnā yamanasabhalāga ḥ shikhari ṇ ī
In this metre, every line has 17 syllables in the order yaga ṇ a (ISS), maga ṇ a (SSS), naga ṇ a (III), saga ṇ a (IIS), bhaga ṇ a (SII) and the 16th laghu (I) and 17th guru (S). There is a yati (pause) at the 6th and 11th var ṇ a .
  ISS   SSS    III   IIS    SII  I   S
Stananya//stoshī ra ṃ (6) //shithili//tam ri(11) ṇ ā //laikava//lay(16)a ṃ (17)
Priyāyā ḥ //sbā dha ṃ (6) //kimapi//ka ma(11) nī//ya ṃ vapu//ri(16)da ṃ (17)
Samastā//pa ḥ kā ma ṃ (6)// manasi//ja ni(11) dā//ghaprasa//ra(16)yor(17)
Na tu grī// ṣ masyai va ṃ (6) //subhaga//ma pa(11) rā//dhham yuva//ti(16) ṣ u (17)
18. Sragdharā

Lakśa ṇ a : Mrabhnairyānā ṃ traye ṇ a trimuniyatiyutaā sragdharā kīrtirteya ṃ
In this metre, there are 21 var ṇ as in every line in the order maga ṇ a (SSS), raga ṇ a (SIS), bhaga ṇ a (SII), naga ṇ a (III), yaga ṇ a (ISS), yaga ṇ a (ISS), yaga ṇ a (ISS). Every seventh syllable bears yati (pause).
Grivābha//ngābhirā// ma ṃ (7) muhu//ranupa// tati(14) sya//nadane ba//ddhadri ṣ ṭ ih(21)
Pashchārdhe//na pravi// ṣ ṭ a ḥ (7) shara//patina//bhayā d(14) bhū//yasā pū//rvakā ya ṃ (21)
Dharbhair//dhavali// dhai(7) shram//vivrita//mu kha(14) bhra//mshibhih ki//rnavarta ma(21)
Pashyoda//grapluta// tvā(7) dviya//ti bahu//ta ra ṃ (14) sto//kamurvyā ṃ //prayā ti(21)
19. Tri ṣ tup

This chhand is in imitation of Vedic Trishtup chhand .
Every charan in this metre consists of 11 var ṇ a .
Amī vedi ṃ parita ḥ klriptadhi ṣ ṇ yā ḥ
Samidvanta ḥ prāntasansatīr ṇ darbhā ḥ
Apaghnanto durita ṃ hvyaga ṇ adhair
Vaitānāstvā ṃ bahnaya ḥ pāvayantu
20. Udgāthā or Gīti

Lakśa ṇ a : Ᾱryā pūrvārdha sama ṃ yasyā aparārdhamapi hansa gate
Chandovidastadaī ṃ gīti ṃ tāmamritvā ṇ i bhā ṣ ante
In this chhand , the first half ( purvārdha ) consists of 30 mātrās , and the second half ( uttarārdha ) consists of 30 mātrās as well.
Tujjha ṇ a ā ṇ e hiaa ṃ mam u ṇ a kamo divāvi rattimi (30 mātrās )
ṇ ighi ṇ a tavai balīa ṃ tui vuttama ṇ orahāi ṃ angāi (30 mātrās )
Chhāyā :
Tava na jāne hridaya ṃ mama puna ḥ kāmo divāpi rātrāvapi (30 mātrās )
Nirgrhi ṇ a tapati balīyastvayi vrittamanorathānyangāni (30 mātrās )
21. Upajāti

Lakśa ṇ a : Syādindavajrā yadi tau jagau ga ḥ
Upendravajrā jatajāstato gau
Anantarodīriti lakshamabhājau
Pādau yadīyāvupajātasyatā ḥ
This chhand consists of a combination of indravajra chhand (as above) and upendra chhand .
In Upendra chhand , each charan consists of jaga ṇ a , tagan , jaga ṇ a , guru , guru .
SSI    SSI     ISI
Antarga//taprāratha//namanti//kas(10)tha ṃ (11)
ISI     SSI     ISI
Jayanta//mudvikshaya//kritasmi//te(10)na (11)
SSI     SSI    ISI
Ᾱmra ṣ ta//vrikshoha//richanda//nān(10)kā (11)
Mandāra//mālā ha//ri ṇ ā pi//na(10)ddhā (11)
22. Vanshastha

Lakśa ṇ a : Jatau tu vanshasthamudīrita ṃ jarau
In this metre, every line has 13 syllables in the order jaga ṇ a (ISI), tagan (SSI), jaga ṇ a (ISI), raga ṇ a (SIS) .
Aya ṃ sa te//ti ṣ ṭ ha//ti sanga//motsuko
Vishanka//se bhīru!//Yatoava//dhīra ṇ ā ṃ
Labhet vā//prārthyitā//na va shri//ya ṃ shriyā
Durāpa// ḥ kathamī//pasito//bhavet
23. Vasantatilakā

Lakśa ṇ a : Uktāvasantatilakā tabhajā jagau ga ḥ
In this metre, every line has 14 syllables in the order taga ṇ a (SSI), bhaga ṇ a (SII), jaga ṇ a (ISI), jaga ṇ a (ISI) and 13th and 14th syllables guru (S).
Pri ṣ ṭ ā ja//nenasa//madukha//sukhen//bā(13)lā(14)
Neya ṃ na//vakshyati//manoga//tamādhi//he(13)tu ṃ (14)
Dri ṣ ṭ o vi//vratya ba//hushoapya//nayā sa//tri ṣ (13) ṇ a(14)
Mantrānta//re shra//vankata//ratā ṃ ga//toa(13)smi(14)
24. Viyoginī

Lakśa ṇ a : Vi ṣ ame sasajā guru same
Sabharā lo ath gururviyoginī
In this metre, the first and third lines have 10 syllables in the order saga ṇ a (IIS), saga ṇ a (IIS), jaga ṇ a (ISI) and the last syllable guru (S). The second and fourth lines have 11 syllables in the order saga ṇ a (IIS), bhaga ṇ a (SII), raga ṇ a (SIS), with the 10th syllable laghu (I) and the 11th guru (S).
  IIS   IIS   ISI  S
Shahaje//kila je//vinidi//yem(10)
  IIS   SII    SIS   I  S
nah u de//kamma vi//vajjani//a(10)ye(11)
Pashuma//lan ka//mmadalu//ne(10)
Anukam//pamidu//evaba sho//tti(10)ye(11)
Chhāyā :
  IIS  IIS   ISI  (S)
Sahaja ṃ //kila ya//dvinindi//ta ṃ (10)
  IIS   SII    SIS  I  S
na khalu//tatkarma//vivarja//nī(10)ya ṃ (11)
  IIS  IIS  ISI   (S)
Pashumā//ra ṇ aka//rmadāru// ṇ o(10)
  IIS  SII   SIS   I  S
Anukam//pāmridu//reva shro//tri(10)ya ḥ (11)
Ācārya Dandin recognizes alankār as the instrument of beauty in poetry. A gifted poet, with the right choice of alankār , suited to chhand and rasa , will be able to bring out the inherent meaning and beauty in poetry. Three kinds of alankārs have been recognized broadly: sabdālankār , arthālankār and ubhayālankār . Sabdālankārs are of 10 kinds, with 4 prominent ones being anuprās , yamak , shlesh and vakrokti . Arthālankārs have been identified as around one hundred, while ubhayālankārs are of two kinds. In poetry, where beauty is enhanced by the use of specific words, the alankār in usage is sabdālankār . In instances where the beauty resides in the meaning, it becomes arthālankār . In the third kind, when beauty resides in both word and meaning, it is an instance of ubhayālankār or mishrālankār .
In AbhijñānaŚākuntalam , Kālidāsa has deployed many alankārs with pronounced use of upamā alankār and aprastutprashansā alankār . Table 1.2 highlights the range and instances of Kālidāsa’s use of alankār in the play.

Table 1.2. Alankārs in AbhijñānaŚākuntalam
Act I
Act II
Act IV
Act V
Act VI
1, 3, 7, 17, 22
3, 4
6, 12, 13
1, 31
22, 23, 30
2, 17
2, 3, 7
2, 4, 17, 18, 22, 24, 25, 28
1, 26, 29, 31
4, 17, 30
1, 13
3, 16, 18
12, 18, 24, 26, 28
1, 13
4, 13, 24
6, 10, 18
3, 8, 19, 20
13, 30, 32
14, 17
3, 35

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