Tales from the Hindu Dramatists
THE HINDU DRAMATISTS.
R. N. DUTTA, B.A., B.L.,
Late Officiating Head-Master, Metropolitan Institution, Bowbazar Branch, Calcutta;
Author of "The Boy's Ramayana."
J. S. ZEMIN,
Professor of English Literature, Bishop's College, and Central College, Calcutta; Late Principal, Doveton College, Calcutta; Hon. Fellow and Examiner, University of Calcutta.
B. BANERJEE & Co.,
26, Cornwallis Street, and 54, College Street.
[All Rights Reserved.]Ans. 12.
PRINTED BY K.C. DATTA AT THE VICTORIA PRINTING WORKS
203/2 CORNWALLIS STREET.
B. BANERJEE & Co.,
25, Cornwallis Street, and 54, College Street.
The Hon'ble Sir Justice
Ashutosh Mookerjee, Saraswati, Kt.
C.S.I., M.A., D.L., D.S.C., F.R.A.S., F.R.S.E.
Vice-Chancellor of the University of Calcutta.
as a sincere token of the esteem and admiration of the
for his eminent services to the cause of the
ADVANCEMENT OF LEARNING.
Many educationists think that our Indian boys should be encouraged toread the stories of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, the two greatEpics of India and Tales from the Sanskrit Dramatists when they arerecommended to read "The Boy's Odyssey," "Legends of Greece and Rome,""Arabian Nights' Tales" and Lamb's "Tales from Shakespeare." It wasperhaps from this view of the matter that the University of Calcuttarecommended "The Boy's Ramayana" and "Tales from the Hindu Dramatists"for the Matriculation Examination. As no books were published in time,the University had to issue an amended notice omitting the books fromthe list. To supply the want, I have ventured to write the "Boy'sRamayana" and this humble book. I have tried my best to narrate briefly,in simple and idiomatic English, the stories on which the chief Sanskritdramas are based. I hope that the University will be pleased tore-insert "The Boy's Ramayana" and this book in the list of booksrecommended for the Matriculation Examination.
|4, Madan Mitter's Lane,|
|Calcutta||RAMA NATH DUTT.|
THE HINDU DRAMATISTS.
In ancient days, there was a mighty king of the Lunar dynasty by nameDushyanta. He was the king of Hastinapur. He once goes out a-hunting andin the pursuit of a deer comes near the hermitage of the sage Kanwa, thechief of the hermits, where some anchorites request him not to kill thedeer. The king feels thirsty and was seeking water when he saw certainmaidens of the hermits watering the favourite plants. One of them, anexquisitely beautiful and bashful maiden, named Sakuntala, received him.She was the daughter of the celestial nymph Menaka by the celebratedsage Viswamitra and foster-child of the hermit Kanwa. She is smittenwith love at the first sight of the king, standing confused at thechange of her own feeling. The love at first sight which the kingconceives for her is of too deep a nature to be momentary. Struck by herbeauty he exclaims:—
"Her lip is ruddy as an opening bud; her graceful arms resemble tendershoots; attractive as the bloom upon the tree, the glow of youth isspread on all her limbs."
Seizing an opportunity of addressing her, he soon[Pg 2] feels that it isimpossible for him to return to his capital. His limbs move forward,while his heart flies back, like a silken standard borne against thebreeze. He seeks for opportunities for seeing her. With the thoughtabout her haunting him by day and night, he finds no rest, and nopleasure even in his favourite recreation—sporting. Mathavya, thejester, friend and companion of the king, however, breaks the dullmonotony of his anxious time. The opportunity which the king seeksoffers itself. The hermits send an embassy to the king asking him tocome over to the hermitage to guard their sacrifices. As he was makingpreparations for departure to the hermitage, Karavaka, a messenger fromthe queen-mother, arrives asking his presence at the city of Hastinapur.
He is at first at a loss to extricate himself from this difficulty but athought strikes him and he acts upon it. He sends the jester as hissubstitute to the city. He is now at leisure to seek out the love-sickSakuntala who is drooping on account of her love for the king and isdiscovered lying on a bed of flowers in an arbour. He comes to thehermitage, overhears her conversation with her two friends, showshimself and offers to wed her. For a second time, the lovers thus meet.He enquires of her parentage to see if there is any obstacle to theirbeing united in marriage; whereupon Sakuntala asks her companionPriyambada to satisfy the king with an account of her birth. The kinghearing the story of her birth asks the companion to get the consent ofSakuntala to be married to him according to the form known asgandharva.[Pg 3]
Sakuntala requests the king to wait till her foster-father Kanwa, whohad gone out on a pilgrimage, would come back and give his consent. Butthe king, becoming importunate, she at last gives her consent. They aremarried according to the gandharva form, on the condition that theissue of the marriage should occupy the throne of Hastinapur. Sheaccepts from her lord a marriage-ring as the token of recognition.
The king then goes away, after having promised to shortly send hisministers and army to escort her to his Capital. When Kanwa returns tothe hermitage, he becomes aware of what has transpired during hisabsence by his spiritual powers, and congratulates Sakuntala on havingchosen a husband worthy of her in every respect. Next day, whenSakuntala is deeply absorbed in thoughts about her absent lord, thecelebrated choleric sage Durvasa comes and demands the rights ofhospitality. But he is not greeted with due courtesy by Sakuntala owingto her pre-occupied state. Upon this, the ascetic pronounces a cursethat he whose thought has led her to forget her duties towards guests,would disown her.
Sakuntala does not hear it, but Priyambada hears it and by entreatiesappeases the wrath of the sage, who being conciliated ordains that thecurse would cease at the sight of some ornament of recognition.
Sakuntala becomes quick with child and in the seventh month of herpregnancy is sent by her foster-father to Hastinapur, in the company ofher sister Gautami, and his two disciples Sarngarva and Saradwata.Priyambada stays in the hermitage. Sakuntala takes[Pg 4] leave of the sacredgrove in which she has been brought up, of her flowers, her gazelles andher friends.
The aged hermit of the grove thus expresses his feelings at theapproaching loss of Sakuntala:—
"My heart is touched with sadness at the thought, "Sakuntala must goto-day"; my throat is choked with flow of tears repressed; my sight isdimmed with pensiveness but if the grief of an old forest hermit is sogreat, how keen must be the pang a father feels when freshly parted froma cherished child!"
Then he calls upon the trees to give her a kindly farewell. They answerwith the Kokila's melodious cry.
Thereupon the following good wishes are uttered by voices in the air:—
"Thy journey be auspicious; may the breeze, gentle and soothing, fan thecheek; may lakes, all bright with lily cups, delight thine eyes; thesun-beam's heat be cooled by shady trees; the dust beneath thy feet bethe pollen of lotuses."
On their way, Sakuntala and her companions bathe in the PrachiSaraswati, when, as Fate would have it, she carelessly drops the ring ofrecognition into the river, being unaware of the fact at the time. Atlast they arrive at Hastinapur, and send words to the king.
The king asks his family priest Somarata to enquire of them the cause oftheir coming. Whereupon the priest meets them at the gate, knows theobjects of their coming and informs the king of it. The curse of Durvasadoes its work. The king denies Sakuntala. At the intercession of thepriest, she and her companions are brought before the king. The kingpublicly[Pg 5] repudiates her. As a last resource, Sakuntala bethinks herselfof the ring given her by her husband, but on discovering that it islost, abandons hope. Sarnagarva sharply remonstrates against the conductof the king and presses the claim of Sakuntala.
Gentle and meek as Sakuntala is, she undauntedly gives vent to her moralindignation against the king. The disciples go away saying that the kingwould have to repent of it.
Sakuntala falls senseless on the ground. After a while, she revives, thepriest then comes forward and asks the king to allow her to stay in hispalace till her delivery. The king consents, and when Sakuntala isfollowing the priest, Menaka with her irradiant form appears and takinghold of her daughter vanishes and goes to a celestial asylum. Everyonepresent there is astonished and frightened.
After this incident, one day while the king is out on inspection, acertain fisherman, charged with the theft of the royal signet-ring whichhe professes to have found inside a fish, is dragged along by constablesbefore the king who, however, causes the poor accused to be set free,rewarding him handsomely for his find.
Recollection of his former love now returns to him. His strong andpassionate love for Sakuntala surges upon him with doubled andredoubled-force.
Indulging in sorrow at his repudiation of Sakuntala, the king passesthree long years; at the end of which Matali, Indra's charioteer,appears to ask the king's aid in vanquishing the demons. He makes hisaerial[Pg 6] voyage in Indra's car. While he is coming back from the realm ofIndra, he alights on the hermitage of Maricha.
Here he sees a young boy tormenting a lion-whelp. Taking his hand,without knowing him to be his own son, he exclaims:—"If now the touchof but a stranger's child thus sends a thrill of joy through all mylimbs, what transports must be awakened in the soul of that blest fatherfrom whose loins he sprang!"
From the vaunting speeches of the boy, the king gathers that the boy isa scion of the race of Puru. His heart everflows with affection for him.A collection of circumstantial evidence points the boy to be his son.The amulet on the boy indicates his parentage.
But while he is in a doubtful mood as to the parentage of the refractoryboy, he meets the sage Maricha from whom he learns everything. The nameof the boy is Sarvadamana, afterwards known as Bharata, the most famousking of the Lunar race, whose authority is said to have extended over agreat part of India, and from whom India is to this day called Bharataor Bharatavarsa (the country or domain of Bharata.)
Soon after, he finds and recognises Sakuntala, with whom he is at lengthhappily re-united.[Pg 7]
THE HERO AND THE NYMPH.
In the Himalaya mountains, the nymphs of heaven, on returning from anassembly of the gods, are mourning over the loss of Urvasi, afellow-nymph, who has been carried off