Re-reading the story of Shakuntala: A comparative study of Ved Vyasa’s Mahabharata & Kalidasa’s Abhijnanashakuntala
Epic is always the great source of World Literature. Ramayan and Mahabharata, the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India, are the treasure house of literary elements. Based on Ramayan and Mahabharata, many works in different genres of literature have been developed over time. The Indian Sanskrit drama has made a significant contribution to the study of Classical Indian Literature. Kalidasa’s Abhijnanashakuntala is one of them. Abhijnanashakuntala is also known as The Recognition of Shakuntala or The Sign of Shakuntala. It is the best drama of Kalidasa. The story of the play is adopted from the epic Ved Vyasa’s Mahabharata. Kalidasa has dramatized the story of Shakuntala narrated in the epic Mahabharata. Though the source of the drama is Mahabharata, Kalidasa has presented the story of Shakuntala with minor changes in the plot. In the epic Mahabharata and in the play Abhijnanashakuntala, the story of Shakuntala is presented with thematic diversity. It is the story of divine love which has brought a disaster as well as a sweet fruit of reunion. This is not something new. It has been presented in Classical Indian Literature many times. But in Mahabharata and Abhijnanashakuntala, it has been presented with greater moral value. Since identity forms the basis of exploitation as well as struggle, this process is begun to be called “identitism”. The present paper is an attempt to form a comparative perspective on the story of Shakuntala and a significant attempt to give a literary representation to the study.