A Comparative Study of Kalidasa’s Abhijnana Shakuntalam and Namita Gokhale’s Shakuntala: The Play of Memory
Keywords:Representation, Subordination, Identity, Feminism
Shakuntala is one of the most acclaimed women characters of Indian Literature. For the first time Shakuntala’s character originated in The Mahabharata. Since then she has been represented in various texts in various languages of India. The present paper is an attempt to analyze the representation of Shakuntala by the authors from ancient times to the present. For this purpose ancient work Abhijnana Shakuntalam by Kalidasa and the modern work Shakuntala: The Play of Memory by Namita Gokhale are studied.
In Kalidasa’s Abhijnana Shakuntalam Shakuntala is the real daughter of Sage Vishvamitra and nymph Menka. However, she is adopted and brought up by Sage Kanva and his wife Gautmi. She is a rustic girl, brought up in a hermitage. With the progress of the play, she is married to King Dushyanta who forgets her because of a curse. Later, she was adopted by sage Kashyapa and his wife Aditi. She gives birth to a brave child Bharat and finally reunites with her husband.
Shakuntala: The Play of Memory by Namita Gokhale was Published in 2005 and it is a challenging work of Indian English fiction. Like the remakes of films there may be re-invention and re-interpretation of old myths embodied in literary works. In her masterpiece Shakuntala, Namita Gokhale has portrayed the story of a woman named after the heroine of Kalidasa’s classic drama Abhijnana Shakuntalam. In contrast to her legendary namesake, she is bold, spirited and imaginative. Right from her childhood she is conscious of the discrimination towards female. In her marriage with a mahasamant, Srijan, she feels suffocated by social customs. Hungry for experience she deserts home to travel with a Greek horse merchant, Nearchus. Together they travel far and wide and surrender to unbridled pleasures. Shakuntala assumes the identity of Yaduri: the ‘fallen woman.’ But she forsakes this life as well to meet her salvation in her death at Kashi.
Kalidasa. Shakuntala. Trans. By Arthur W. Ryder. Cambridge, Ontario: Parentheses Publications Sanskrit Series, 1999. Print.
Pattanaik, Devdutt. Myth=Mithya: Decoding Hindu Mythology. New Delhi: Penguin, 2006. Print.
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