Shankuntala - brief synopsis of the dance-drama from W Lokendrajit


Shankuntala - dance-drama from W Lokendrajit
A group photo from crew of the play Shankuntala :: Picture Credit - Bunti Phurailatpam

SHAKUNTALA: brief synopsis :

She was called Menaka, the Keaventy dancer, an Apsara, nimble like the flowing water. One day she appeared in the hermitage of Viswamitra who was absorbing in deep penance in the tranquility of the forest Disturbed by the sweet-scented presence of the enchantress, Sage Viswamitra opened his eyes and saw Menaka standing before him with her lotus-petalled eyes and slender vine-like arms like a nymph of the woodlands. He could not resist the beauty of the celestial dancer and out of their union a child was born. Abandoned at birth by the parents, the Sage Kanva finds her and names her Shakuntala, because she was looked after first by birds, Shakuntala.

She grew up in the ashram, a Lady of Nature. She possesses the beauty 0f nature as well as its holiness. She is an ornament of the hermitage. In her, nature and beauty blend harmoniously. One day King Dushyanta, out hunting, was lured far out into the Tapovana, hermitage of the Sage Kanva and met Shakuntala. Carried away by the beauty of Skakuntala, the lady of the woodland, he immediately proposed and accepted her as his future queen. Gifting her a ring as a token of their union, king Dushyanta left the hermitage assuring Shakuntala to receive her in the palace not before long.

Shankuntala - dance-drama from W Lokendrajit
A scene from the play Shankuntala :: Picture Credit - Bunti Phurailatpam

After the king's exit, Shakuntala was busy always with her pensive mood as she was carrying in her womb the future prince of their wedlock. One day Sage Durvasa visited her abode while she was lost in her thoughts and asked for alms. Finding her unresponsive attitude, he cursed her and cast the spell of forget fullness. Grieved at the curse, her hermit friends beseeched the sage to find a way to undo the curse. The sage said that the spell could be atoned by virtue of a token of love that passed between the King and Shankuntala.

When Shakuntala was brought into the palace, the king could not recognize her in the absence of a tangible proof of love and marriage, in this case the ring which was lost on the way. Dejected and grieved, Shakuntala and her entourage returned at the hermitage to the care of her nymph-mother, Menaka. In the course of the story, a strange thing happened. A fisherman found the lost ring and brought it to the notice of the king by some courtiers along with the fisherman.

While seeing the ring, the Icing immediately remembered and recognized Shakuntala. It was a happy ending. The king reached the grove of Kanva's hermitage and united with the little prince, the future Bharata and her mother, Shakuntala. This is the story of Abhijnan Shakuntala, recognition of Shakuntala written by Kavi-Kula-Guru Kalidasa, on which the present dance-drama is based.

* This play was performed at Jawaharlal Nehru Manipur Dance Academy auditorium on November 07 2012
This was posted on November 09 , 2012.

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