On the Prophet

Posted in Arts on September 10, 2014 by kyab1314

During the latest reading of the poem, my soulmate clingingly seated next to me in an open air field, in that moonlit night with bonfire, began to sob vehemently, so hard that our fragile bench slightly shook and almost collapsed. I’m not sure what set her off in particular, but I suspect her reaction was as intensely personal as possible, and that’s sort of the beauty of the poem. In many ways, it is a mirror. Obviously or obliviously, poet triumphs over Nature by Art, as the artist views nature in the light of his creative imagination which endows and animates his creation with a perfection which nature lacks. What you get out of each of the segments will depend largely on where you are in your life, who you are right now. I am grappling with love, in an appalling situation, with fears about where I am in my life, with difficult feelings out of fear of being given the heave ho, and I am also on the verge of diving headlong into a new life, which is going to be completely different and indecipherably unfamiliar for me, and I’m living in a world that freaks me out. Though it is no mean feat, I am trying best to make sense of all of this right now, considering all of them as the comeuppances. Keep on struggling!

It seemed that “Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet” was speaking directly to me in scene after scene, image after image, explaining how to be happy, how to be whole, and how to let go of everything… Continue reading


Appearance and Reality

Posted in Uncategorized on April 3, 2012 by kyab1314






Is that, all things seemingly exist dependently to us, reality? Is that real whatever appears to us through our sense-experiences? Is there a real world out there? Are we people living in a vast dream from where we can never wake up unless the enlightened Yogis?

Appearance and reality are the one of the main question of philosophy, some would say the main question, is: how do you know? This doesn’t mean how do you come to know to be sure?  But what entitles you to be sure?  We may have come to be sure by having the statement repeated to us countless times since early childhood, but that doesn’t entitle us to be sure of it.


Main topic


One of the most basic beliefs we all have is that there is a world out there, a world of soil and mountains and trees and lovely oceans and buildings and stars.  How could one possibly doubt this? After all, we see these things constantly, don’t we?  Can there be any doubt that they exist? Not only we do believe that they exist, but we believe they have certain characteristics, or properties, we believe that here before us is a real book: it is made of paper; it has print on it; it contains cover; the pages are white and the print is black –and so on. No matter how often we check, our senses seem to tell us the same thing. There it is—we can see and touch it and take a picture of it as well. We also believe it has a certain shape (approximately rectangular) and is gray in color, and that it retains this shape and color until something happens to change it. The truth of all doubt if? Isn’t the truth of these beliefs so obvious that it’s a waste of time to doubt them or even discuss the possibility of their being mistaken? What is there in all this that could possibly create a problem?


We have already had some indications that the perceptual process is not perfect. We all know, or think we know, that there are times when our senses lead us to make incorrect judgments; things aren’t always the way they appear. Thus much we know.


First of all, there are illusions. For example, (1) the trees on the distant hillside look grayish-blue, yet we believe they are green. (2) The stick looks bent when it is half immersed in water, when we pull the stick out it looks straight, but when we pull it out it looks straight, but when we put it back in the water it looks bent again, yet we are quite sure that it remains straight like that all the time, and that the bent appearance is an illusion. (3) The whistle of the train sounds higher in pitch as the train approaches and lower in pitch as the train recedes, yet we believe that the pitch is the same throughout.  (4) You place on hand in hot water, the other hand in cold water, and then you place both hands in a vessel of lukewarm water. The lukewarm water feels cold to the one hand, warm to the other, yet we believe the water is lukewarm all the time, it is just seems hot or cold.  (5) The stars look very small as we look up at the night sky; in fact they seem to be little points of light; yet, we are told by the scientists that they are enormous spheres of gas like the sun, often much larger than the sun- but they certainly don’t look that way.


When we believe that something appears looks, sounds, smells, tastes, feels to have one quality but actually has a different quality, we are misled by perceptual illusions. We encounter many of these every day.

In daily life, we say that a thing has the quality it appears to have under certain conditions. We say the curtains in the room are blue; they look blue now, with the sunshine coming in through the windows. In artificial light they may look black. And in the dark they surely look black, as everything else does in the dark. Yet we don’t say that at night everything-the curtains, the chairs and tables, and so forth-have all become black. We say the curtains are blue all the time even though they look black in the dark. We take the way they look in sunlight to be the color they “really have.” Is this because sunlight is the condition in which we see them most of the time? No, sometimes it isn’t as we can imagine.


A black dress and a dark blue dress may both look black in artificial light, but in sunlight we can tell the difference. We want to be able to describe that difference, which we all perceive, and so we take that as the standard condition. Thus we say “it’s really dark blue, but it looks black under artificial light,” and we do not say “it’s really black, but only looks dark blue in the sunlight.”


Have you ever thought like this, imagine an old-fashioned telephone exchange, all he the operator knows of the people placing or receiving the calls is the voices he hears through the wires. He never sees the customers themselves; he only hears the voices as they are transmitted via the telephone to his end of the wires. In the same way, all we know of an external world is what comes in via the optic nerve, the auditory never, and so forth-the impressions of sight and sound and so on which we get after the nerves and brain have received the appropriate stimulus from the outside world. Each perceiver is like the operator of the telephone exchange whose knowledge of the customers is limited to the sound of their voices as conveyed along the wire. The situation is dramatically described by the late-nineteenth century philosopher Karl Pearson:


How close then can we actually get to this supposed world outside ourselves? Just as near but no nearer than the brain terminals of the sensory nerves. We are like the clerk in the central telephone exchange who cannot get nearer to his customers than his end of the telephone wires. We are indeed worse off than the clerk, for carry out the analogy properly we must suppose him never to have been outside the telephone exchange, never to have seen s customer or any one like a customer-in short, never, except through the telephone wire, to have come in contact with the outside universe. Of that “real” universe outside himself he would be able to form no direct impression; the real universe for him would be the aggregate of his constructs from the messages which were cause by the telephone wires in his office. About those messages and the ideas raised in his mink by them he might reason and draw his inferences; and his conclusions would be correct-for what? For the world of telephonic messages, for the type of messages that go through the telephone. Something definite and valuable he night know with regard to the spheres of action and of thought of his telephonic subscribers, but outside those spheres he could have no experience. Pent up in his office he could never have seen or touched even a telephonic subscriber in himself. Very much in the position of such a telephone clerk is the conscious ego of each one of us seated at the brain terminals of the sensory nerves. Not a step nearer than those terminals can the ego get to the “out world,” and what in and for themselves are the subscribers to its nerve exchange it has no means of ascertaining. Messages in the form of sense-impressions come flowing in from that “outside world,” and these we analyze, classify, store up, and reason about. But of the nature of “things-in-themselves,” of what may exist at the other end of out system of telephone wires, we know nothing at all.[1]


In this theory, the sense organs, nerves, and brain are the connecting links between the physical objects outside and the sense-experiences that occur after the brain has been stimulated by way of the sense organs. But brain, sense organs, and nerves are just as much physical objects as are table, trees, and rocks. If we are acquainted with them, then they must be sense-experiences also. But a sense-experience can hardly be the connecting link between physical objects and sense-experiences. On the other hand, if we are not acquainted with them, how can we know that the sense-organs, nerves, and brains exist?

So, is there a real solid world outside our mind?  How do you think about it? What is the reason behind it?  Answering this question, they are many distinct philosophies and perspectives distinctively interpreted as we can see from Buddhist viewpoint as well.


Yogacara  charges that, we recognize, of course, that “mental representation seem to be correlated with external (non-mental )objects; but this may be no different from situation in which people with vision disorder ‘see’ hairs, moons, and other things that are ‘not there'”[2]


When they are refuted by saying if there is perception and consciousness without any corresponding external object, any idea could arise at any time or in any place, different minds could contain ideas of different objects at the same time and place, and object could function in unexpected ways?


in other words, (1) if the perception of an object arises without any object existing external to the mind, why is it that it arises only in certain places and not everywhere; and even in those places, why is it that it arises only sometimes and not all the time? (2) And why is it that it arises in the minds of all who are present at that particular time and in that particular place and not just in the mind of one, just as the appearance of hair, bees, etc., seen by those suffering from an optical disorder do not perform the function of hair, bees, etc., while the hair, bees, etc., seen by those not so afflicted do perform the functions of hair, etc.? Food, drink, clothes, poison, weapons, etc., that are seen in a dream don’ t perform the functions of food, drink, etc., while food, drink, etc., experienced in the waking state do perform them. An illusory town does not perform the functions of a town because of its non-existence, while an existing town does perform such functions. If external objects do not exist, these facts of experiences cannot be accounted for[3].


Yogacara thus replies: “Even in dreams, certain ideas arise only in certain places and at certain time.” That is, in a dream, even without external objects of consciousness, only certain things are seen – for example, bees, gardens, women, men, etc. – and these only in certain places and not everywhere. And even there in those places, they are to be seen only sometimes and not all the time. In this way, even without an external object of perception or thought, a particular idea may arise only in certain places at certain times.[4]


For this criterion, critics refuting by saying that there is a significant difference between waking states and dream states. Everybody recognize that object experienced in dreams aren’t real but rather constructed. But this is not recognized with regard to objects experienced in waking states…


Yogacara thus replies: This is argument won’t sustain your position because “someone who isn’t awake doesn’t recognize the unreality of objects experienced in a dream.” Only he who has awakened from a dream is able to “see through” the objects experienced while he was dreaming. In the same way, only those who have achieved enlightenment are able to discern the unreality of the world presented in what is commonly taken to be [but which really is not] the waking state. Thus, the dream experience and the so-called waking experience are similar [in that they are both superseded by a “higher consciousness”].[5]





We therefore can’t cease to doubt about whether are all these things appeared to us through our human six organs are reality or are they otherwise? What about the reality? Are they really existing just like they appear to us?

Is it all a dream?  Yes, says perceptual skeptics. Go on asserting by saying can’t we be dreaming all the time? How do we know that your whole life isn’t one vast dream? Maybe there isn’t a world out there at all, and you’re just dreaming the whole thing. You are now writing an assignment; but perhaps that too is part of your dream. In your dreams you dream of things that never existed anywhere; and if your whole life is a dream, then it’s all a series of dream-experiences, and perhaps there is no real physical world ‘out there’ at all.







Karl Pearson, The Grammar of Science (oxford: Everyman Library, 1892), pp. 57-58.


Vasubandhu, Twenty verses on consciousness-only,(Vimsatika-Karika) p 169





[1]  Karl Pearson, The Grammar of Science (oxford: Everyman Library, 1892), pp. 57-58.


[2]  འདི་ནི་རྣམ་པར་རིག་ཙམ་ཉིད།། ཡོད་པ་མ་ཡིན་དོན་སྣང་ཕྱིར།།  དཔེར་ན་རབ་རིབ་ཅན་དག་གིས།།  སྐྲ་ཟླ་ལ་སོགས་མེད་མཐོང་བཞིན།།  Vasubandhu, Twenty verses on consciousness-only,(Vimsatika-Karika) p 169


[3]  གལ་ཏེ་རྣམ་རིག་དོན་མིན་ན།།  ཡུལ་དང་དུས་ལ་ངེས་མེད་ཅིང་།།   སེམས་ཀྱང་ངེས་མེད་མ་ཡིན་ལ།།  བྱ་བ་བྱེད་པའང་མི་རིགས་འགྱུར།།  Vasubandhu, Twenty verses on consciousness-only,(Vimsatika-Karika) p 169



[4]  ཡུལ་ས་སོགས་པ་ངེས་འགྲུབ་སྟེ།།  རྨི་འདྲའོ་སེམས་ཀྱང་ངེས་པ་མེད།།  ཡི་དྭགས་བཞིན་ཏེ་ཐམས་ཅད་ཀྱིས།།  ཀླུང་ལ་རྣག་ལ་སོགས་མཐོང་བཞིན།།  Vasubandhu, Twenty verses on consciousness-only,(Vimsatika-Karika) p 169



[5]   དཔེར་ན་དེར་སྣང་རྣམ་རིག་བཞིན།།  བཤད་ཟིན་དེ་ལས་དྲན་པར་ཟད།།  རྨི་ལམ་མཐོང་བ་ཡུལ་མེད་པར།།  མ་སད་བར་དུ་རྟོགས་མ་ཡིན།།   Vasubandhu, Twenty verses on consciousness-only,(Vimsatika-Karika) p 169

love letters

Posted in Uncategorized on October 20, 2011 by kyab1314

in notebook full of your smell,
and the words of spell,
is it just a careless joeke?
or your shy love covered by smoke?

My mother at sixty-six

Posted in analysis on September 1, 2010 by kyab1314

About the poet

Kamala Das(1934)was born in Malabar, Kerala. She is recognized one of India’s foremost poets. Her works are known for their originality, versatility and the indigenous flavor of the soil. Kamala Das has published many novels and short stories in English and Malayalam under the name ‘Madhavikutty’. Some of her works in English include the novel Alphabet of Lust (1977), a collection of short stories Padmavati the Harlot and other stories (1992), in addition to five books of poetry. She is a sensitive writer who captures the complex subtleties of human relationships in lyrical idiom. My mother at sixty-six is an example.

My mother at sixty-six

Driving from my parent’s home to Cochin last Friday morning,I saw my mother, beside me, doze, open mouthed, her face ashen like that of a corpse and realized with pain that she was as old as she looked but soon put that thought away, and looked at Young Trees sprinting, the merry children spilling out of their homes, but after the airport’s security check, standing a few yards away, I looked again at her, wan, pale as a late winter’s moon and felt that old familiar ache, my childhood’s fear, but all I said was , see you soon, Amma, all I did was smile and smile and smile………………

Analysis on My mother at sixty-six

By Kyab

This poem revolves the theme of advancing age and the fear adhered to it of loss and separation. Apparently, the poet is on the way to airport in Cochin, when she is stuck by the realization of the advancing age of her mother. T he poet was encircled in the fear of losing her mother and it made her feel insecure. And she looked at her mother who had lost her blush of youth and middle age and now in her Twilight years, as she turn out to be as pale as the winter moon. And it’s very difficult for poet to accept that her mother is creeping into the grips of old age. Poet was beset with sorrow and insecurity, as she departs at the airport bidding goodbye to her aged mother and that’s why she trying to hide her fears by perpetual smiling as she looked at her mother. 24/8/10

Rain is effortless

Posted in Arts on July 21, 2010 by kyab1314

Rain is effortless

–to kyab 


In notebook full of  thy smell,

And the words of spell,

Is it just a careless joke?

Or thy shy love covered by smoke?


The song of surrender is rain,

Thou realize how unsullied words can be,

How exact their meaning.

Thou understand that the tongue can be simple and essential again.

Rain is effortless.

Under its cleaning strains the traps that confine thee

Within yourself involuntarily disintegrate.

Thou melt and merge into wider spaces.

The song of surrender is rain.

When thou head to its beat, thou feel each drop making sense.

Thus, enjoy the rain.



The water in the moon

Posted in Translations on June 12, 2010 by kyab1314

Author: Xiao-chun li
Under the shining moonlight, from village to the canal, appears two figures on a small winding road, long one is the mother and the short one is me. From the village to the canal has two miles away, and need to across a open paddy field, and that season, the harvest of rice has just kept into the warehouse, mother was covered with lot of dust in these rice fields, which cultivated by the sun-light.

Empty fields, everywhere flowing moonlight of shining white, under the moonlight, frogs croaking like singing, in the night sky, fire-flies flying and dancing with their bright flash.
Moonlight quietly pouring down, landed in a tree, landed in Leaves of Grass, it falls on the mother and my head, shoulders, rolled every corner of the fields, put the entire world illuminated, also put my childish mind to illuminated. What a charming moonlight night, made me excited quite unexpectedly, and so excited me that opened throat to sing
fire-worm / illuminate the sky / fly to the West / fly to the East / … …

At the quiet silence of the night, under such moonlight , my young and childlike singing voice was far, far away, except croaking, apart from the somniloquy of the sleeping birds , between heaven and earth, only my voice, as if this whole world only belongs to me. Mother love to sing, she contains a lot of songs, children’s songs, folk songs. Mother sings very beautifully than me, but mother is on the way to the canal, not to sing, to go the canal is mother’s secret, the secret is unknown to villagers.

Only I, canal and the moon are aware of it. Holding the basin, mother was going ahead quietly, carefully, as if a feared small mammal, she was just afraid of to coincide a neighbor or acquaintance on the way to the canal.Needn’t take any long time, my mother and I could be able to come to ditch edge, this time, my songs have not finished yet, but I will stop my own singing. Since at this time, I heard another voice in singing, the voices are very familiar to me, as every day could hear it several times; throughout the summer, I myself do not know how many times I listened to it, and that canal is at singing.

Canal is singing soothing, refreshing; there is a force of bewitching, people can not help but revel, indulge, be approached. Under the moonlight, the canal water was flowing glittery; surface of the canal was curling upwards mists. Mother downed from the wharf, gently placed basin on the pier, mother did not rush into the water, and she stood quietly under moonbeam to listen to the singing of the water. Mother, unlike me; water is life for me, as soon as I got ditch, I used to dive just after casting off my underwear, nakedly, plunge into the water with a splash. But today, I can not enter the water, though, the water luring me, and calling out at me; because I have a sacred and glorious mission, the mission as mother layout – lookout for mother. I would like to protect the safety of mother, won’t let her feel a little bit of wronged and hurt. Standing on the wharf, the mother finally could not withstand the temptation of water, carefully walked down the drains, and slowly walked into the water, she gently holding up the water, clapping the joints of her hand, patted her chest with the water, slowly, and orderly doing the preparatory work before shower, enjoy the joy brought by the cool water. Mother untied the long thick jet-black braids, gently rocking her head, long black hair cheerfully spinner up in the sky. Mother bent the thin waist, and the head leaned forward, spinner black hair falls like a waterfall, “shig” and pouring into the flowing glittering water.

Black hair anxious for the moisten of the cool water as the mother do, in the swinging hands, the long black hair cheerfully dance in the cool water. I sat on the pleasantly cool ditch, look at mother washing her hair in the water, I put my feet immersed into the cool water, allowing the water blew tenderly through my toes, skimmed over my feet; at this time, breezy, in the night sky, the fire-flies circling in the air, watching, watching, my heart surged with the immense willingness to sing. Peng Xian flower / glooming squeezing/ mother misses daughter/ heart-flower glooming… … At this time, I heard the melodious songs, from the clean surface of the water, that voice is very soft, clear and moisten like water, as long as the wharf, it’s the mother singing, voice is like canal water comes slowly , unconsciously, I was drunk hearing it. At the melodious voice, mother’s body merged into the water gradually. The speed merge into the water is very slow, I do not know whether the water was too cold, or unwilling to break the calmness of it, she slowly entered downward, water had filled the mother’s legs, over her waist, the clothes rousing up slowly, slowly become a blooming flower in the water, a lotus under the moonlight. Such a beautiful flower, at the moment of flower opening up the moon flashed a dazzling radiance, and entire wharf as bright as the day-time, I heard the whole canal water started to sing together in unison. Mom stood up in the water, she has taken off the thick layer of the old cloth-shirt, in the moonlight, and Mom was half-naked and cool water beads at the mother’s body, like pearls flashing light.

Mom’s pitch-black hair wetly hanging on her bare shoulders, which makes the mother’s complexion, looks whiter, the mother’s chest stood tall, plump, white and perfect. That’s the forest from where I have grown up, and the source of strength of my life. That’s the most familiar thing for me, the warmest; I kept sucking it with mouth since I born, and it’s the closest place. Due to so many years have passed, it has become strange and unfamiliar to me, so strange that let me feel a little bit shy, but I do not know why I felt shy, in fact, I also can not determine in the end whether I feel shy or other sort of feeling, at the moment of seeing mom’s Carcass, eyes wandered away; I am eight years old, and eight years, my eyes departed from the carcass’s of my mom has been a long time, but my wandered eyes soon free to return to the mother’s body, mother’s body is that beautiful, as if it’s an invisible hook, firmly hook me. I saw that mom is so happy that she completely ignored my existence, and look self-assured, just like a child play in water, she lifted the cool water by hands and irrigated on her own body, cool water flows down from her back of the neck, flows through the deep cleavage, and flows towards the flat stomach, and finally rolled into the drains, just like a small mountain stream; mother scattered the water up in to the air, due to arms were brandishing, her erected breasts were trembling cheerfully in the moonlight, just like two small rabbits bouncing in the green grass; she happily giggle, the mother’s laughter and her singing sounds like charming, as if the clear water beads which scattered up in the air, in the moonlight, pearl-like flashing light at the surface of the water, in the moonlight, in the field running and bouncing cheeringly, but soon the mother aware of her own ” lost condition”, she suddenly stopped laughing, and suddenly lowered herself into the water, alertly measured all around. Moonbeams, just like the water; fields were quite
and none around. In the night sky, only the fire-flies were flying and dancing, only frogs were croaking “wa wa wa…..

See no one was there, and then mother confidently stood up from the water; mother laughingly came to me. At a moment, I stared blankly at the extraordinary beauty of my mom.

My mother’s figure gradually enlarged in my eyes

I stared at mother’s breasts with absorbing interest, without any blinks, I saw on my mother’s breast areola faint lap; clearly saw that two small nipples. My heart has a strong sudden impulse to rush at her arms, just like in the past with both hands grasping her breast, sucking forcedly with mouth, to have the joy that once had in the infant times, and the warm and happiness which has gone far way.
Step by step mother approached to me, so near that
I can even smell her fragrance, so near that I could touch the mother’s body, and how much I wanted to
touch mother’s body with my own hands, but when mother standing in front of me, I suddenly felt timid, and my face fevered even for the sake of ideas which appeared in my thought

I hastened to take my eye from mother’s carcass and escaped from it, as if a small goat committed
a fault, afraid the blame of the mother, and flee far away.

Son, come, wipe back for mom.

My eye pulled back by telling these things from the sky where fire-flies were flying and dancing, it’s obvious that my hidden secrets haven’t discovered by mom, which thawed my disturbed heart and calmed down again. Wipe back for mom, doesn’t it mean that I can touch my mom’s body, this happiness which come to me as a surprise, like the current hit me, and my heart became happy again. I paste my small palm into the mother’s wet back, a warm current from mother’s back, through my little palm surged all over my body, I wiped by force,
and wiped attentively, use all of the strength of my body; I’d like to wipe all the dust and sweat. Really comfortable, my son is very energetic, mother flattered me with satisfy.

I wiped the back more forcefully, finished wiping, I again put my little hand on the shoulders of mother. When my hand touched the mother’s shoulders, I was stuck dumb by the feeling.

What kind of a shoulder is this, rough and stiff,
Just like dry land. At that age, I also can not say hard, and suffering of these words and phrases, but I know that how it become this like rough and hard, and that is from each load of the rice, corn, each load of firewood, grinding pressure through carrying pole. Stroking mother’s rough and tough shoulder, looking at
goddess-like beautiful mother, in my little heart with a sudden burst of emotion, I can not help but to start handed tightly round the mother’s neck, put my own face firmly attached to the mother’s back of bright and clean…….

Under the Moonlight, drains at singing, in the voice of song, full of warmth and happy……

Translated from Chinese,



Posted in Arts on June 12, 2010 by kyab1314




The very famous drama of shakuntala was translated into Tibetan language by the Tibetan great poet and thinker and philosopher Gedun Chopel before 50s.

Kalidasa is not just famous in the India but also well-known among the Tibetan scholars. This particular work of Kalidasa’s epic tale is very romantic and interesting that almost the entire Tibetan scholar fancy too much about it, but we have the tradition to study it and take the pleasure of it at the high level of schooling.

From my childhood days, I have heard about it, anxious to read and take the pleasure of it so much that almost cannot wait for it. And the very longing and the desire took me here and take the golden chance, and that’s why I am trying to denote about it in this task as I have been wishing.

I have been noticing and paying attention to it on all way of my school-life, and now I think I have got a bit more ability to perform my long-waited task, due to I have now got more information and comprehensible reference books in our library through many languages such as English and Sanskrit and Hindi.

Summary of the ten Acts

Kalidasa has added much to the epic tale; yet his use of the original is remarkably minute. A list of the epic suggestions incorporated in his play is long. But it is worth making, in order to show how keen is the eye of genius. Thus the king lays aside the insignia of royalty upon entering the grove. Shakuntala appears in hermit garb, a dress of bark (Act I). The quaint derivation of the heroine’s name from shakunta–bird–is used with wonderful skill in a passage (Act VII) which defies translation, as it involves a play on words. The king’s anxiety to discover whether the maiden’s father is of a caste that permits her to marry him is reproduced (Act III). The marriage without a ceremony is retained, but robbed of all offence. Kanva’s celestial vision, which made it unnecessary for his child to tell him of her union with the king, is introduced with great delicacy (Act IV). The curious formation of the boy’s hand which indicated imperial birth adds to the king’s suspense. The boy’s rough play with wild animals is made convincing (Act V) and his very nickname All-tamer is preserved. Kanva’s worldly wisdom as to husband and wife dwelling together is reproduced (Act VI). No small part of the give-and-take between the king and Shakuntala is given, but with a new dignity.(Act VII)


IN the first book of the vast epic poem Mahabharata, Kalidasa found the story of Shakuntala. The story has a natural place there, for Bharata, Shakuntala’s son, is the eponymous ancestor of the princes who play the leading part in the epic.

With no little abbreviation of its epic breadth, the story runs as follows.


Once that strong-armed king, with a mighty host of men and chariots, entered a thick wood. Then when the king had slain thousands of wild creatures, he entered another wood with his troops and his chariots, intent on pursuing a deer. And the king beheld a wonderful, beautiful hermitage on the bank of the sacred river Malini; on its bank was the beautiful hermitage of blessed, high-souled Kanva, whither the great sages resorted. Then the king determined to enter, that he might see the great sage Kanva, rich in holiness. He laid aside the insignia of royalty and went on alone, but did not see the austere sage in the hermitage. Then, when he did not see the sage, and perceived that the hermitage was deserted, he cried aloud, “Who is here?” until the forest seemed to shriek. Hearing his cry, a maiden, lovely as Shri, came from the hermitage, wearing a hermit garb. “Welcome!” she said at once, greeting him, and smilingly added: “What may be done for you?” Then the king said to the sweet-voiced maid: “I have come to pay reverence to the holy sage Kanva. Where has the blessed one gone, sweet girl? Tell me this, lovely maid.”

Shakuntala said: “My blessed father has gone from the hermitage to gather fruits. Wait a moment. You shall see him when he returns.”

The king did not see the sage, but when the lovely girl of the fair hips and charming smile spoke to him, he saw that she was radiant in her beauty, yes, in her hard vows and self-restraint all youth and beauty, and he said to her:

“Who are you? Whose are you, lovely maiden? Why did you come to the forest? Whence are you, sweet girl, so lovely and so good? Your beauty stole my heart at the first glance. I wish to know you better. Answer me, sweet maid.”

The maiden laughed when thus questioned by the king in the hermitage, and the words she spoke were very sweet: “O Dushyanta, I am known as blessed Kanva’s daughter, and he is austere, steadfast, wise, and of a lofty soul.”

Dushyanta said: “But he is chaste, glorious maid, holy, honoured by the world. Though virtue should swerve from its course, he would not swerve from the hardness of his vow. How were you born his daughter, for you are beautiful? I am in great perplexity about this. Pray remove it.”

[Shakuntala here explains how she is the child of a sage and a nymph, deserted at birth, cared for by birds (shakuntas), found and reared by Kanva, who gave her the name Shakuntala.]

Dushyanta said: “You are clearly a king’s daughter, sweet maiden, as you say. Become my lovely wife. Tell me, what shall I do for you? Let all my kingdom be yours to-day. Become my wife, sweet maid.”

Shakuntala said: “Promise me truly what I say to you in secret. The son that is born to me must be your heir. If you promise, Dushyanta, I will marry you.”

“So be it,” said the king without thinking, and added: “I will bring you too to my city, sweet-smiling girl.”

So the king took the faultlessly graceful maiden by the hand and dwelt with her. And when he had bidden her be of good courage, he went forth, saying again and again: “I will send a complete army for you, and tell them to bring my sweet-smiling bride to my palace.” When he had made this promise, the king went thoughtfully to find Kanva. “What will he do when he hears it, this holy, austere man?” he wondered, and still thinking, he went back to his capital.

Now the moment he was gone, Kanva came to the hermit-age. And Shakuntala was ashamed and did not come to meet her father. But blessed, austere Kanva had divine discernment. He discovered her, and seeing the matter with celestial vision, he was pleased and said: “What you have done, dear, to-day, forgetting me and meeting a man, this does not break the law. A man who loves may marry secretly the woman who loves him without a ceremony; and Dushyanta is virtuous and noble, the best of men. Since you have found a loving husband, Shakuntala, a noble son shall be born to you, mighty in the world.”

Sweet Shakuntala gave birth to a boy of unmeasured prowess. His hands were marked with the wheel, and he quickly grew to be a glorious boy. As a six years’ child in Kanva’s hermitage he rode on the backs of lions, tigers, and boars near the hermitage, and tamed them, and ran about playing with them. Then those who lived in Kanva’s hermitage gave him a name. “Let him be called All-tamer,” they said: “for he tames everything.”

But when the sage saw the boy and his more than human deeds, he said to Shakuntala: “It is time for him to be anointed crown prince.” When he saw how strong the boy was, Kanva said to his pupils: “Quickly bring my Shakuntala and her son from my house to her husband’s palace. A long abiding with their relatives is not proper for married women. It destroys their reputation, and their character, and their virtue; so take her without delay.” “We will,” said all the mighty men, and they set out with Shakuntala and her son for Gajasahvaya.

When Shakuntala drew near, she was recognised and invited to enter, and she said to the king: “This is your son, O King. You must anoint him crown prince, just as you promised before, when we met.”

When the king heard her, although he remembered her, he said: “I do not remember. To whom do you belong, you wicked hermit-woman? I do not remember a union with you for virtue, love, and wealth. Either go or stay, or do whatever you wish.”

When he said this, the sweet hermit-girl half fainted from shame and grief, and stood stiff as a pillar. Her eyes darkened with passionate indignation; her lips quivered; she seemed to consume the king as she gazed at him with sidelong glances. Concealing her feelings and nerved by anger, she held in check the magic power that her ascetic life had given her. She seemed to meditate a moment, overcome by grief and anger. She gazed at her husband, then spoke passionately: “O shameless king, although you know, why do you say, ‘I do not know,’ like any other ordinary man?”

Dushyanta said: “I do not know the son born of you, Shakuntala. Women are liars. Who will believe what you say? Are you not ashamed to say these incredible things, especially in my presence? You wicked hermit-woman, go!”

Shakuntala said: “O King, sacred is holy God, and sacred is a holy promise. Do not break your promise, O King. Let your love be sacred. If you cling to a lie, and will not believe, alas! I must go away; there is no union with a man like you. For even without you, Dushyanta, my son shall rule this foursquare earth adorned with kingly mountains.”

When she had said so much to the king, Shakuntala started to go. But a bodiless voice from heaven said to Dushyanta: “Care for your son, Dushyanta. Do not despise Shakuntala. You are the boy’s father. Shakuntala tells the truth.”

When he heard the utterance of the gods, the king joyfully said to his chaplain and his ministers: “Hear the words of this heavenly messenger. If I had received my son simply because of her words, he would be suspected by the world, he would not be pure.”

Then the king received his son gladly and joyfully. He kissed his head and embraced him lovingly. His wife also Dushyanta honoured, as justice required. And the king soothed her, and said: “This union which I had with you was hidden from the world. Therefore I hesitated, O Queen, in order to save your reputation. And as for the cruel words you said to me in an excess of passion, these I pardon you, my beautiful, great-eyed darling, because you love me.”

Then King Dushyanta gave the name Bharata to Shakuntala’s son, and had him anointed crown prince.

It is plain that this story contains the material for a good play; the very form of the epic tale is largely dramatic. It is also plain, in a large way, of what nature are the principal changes which a dramatist must introduce in the original. For while Shakuntala is charming in the epic story, the king is decidedly contemptible. Somehow or other, his face must be saved.

To effect this, Kalidasa has changed the old story in three important respects. In the first place, he introduces the curse of Durvasas, clouding the king’s memory, and saving him from moral responsibility in his rejection of Shakuntala. That there may be an ultimate recovery of memory, the curse is so modified as to last only until the king shall see again the ring which he has given to his bride. To the Hindu, curse and modification are matters of frequent occurrence; and Kalidasa has so delicately managed the matter as not to shock even a modern and Western reader with a feeling of strong improbability. Even to us it seems a natural part of the divine cloud that envelops the drama, in no way obscuring human passion, but rather giving to human passion an unwonted largeness and universality.

In the second place, the poet makes Shakuntala undertake her journey to the palace before her son is born. Obviously, the king’s character is thus made to appear in a better light, and a greater probability is given to the whole story.

The third change is a necessary consequence of the first; for without the curse, there could have been no separation, no ensuing remorse, and no reunion.

But these changes do not of themselves make a drama out of the epic tale. Large additions were also necessary, both of scenes and of characters. We find, indeed, that only acts one and five, with a part of act seven, rest upon the ancient text, while acts two, three, four, and six, with most of seven, are a creation of the poet. As might have been anticipated, the acts of the former group are more dramatic, while those of the latter contribute more of poetical charm. It is with these that scissors must be chiefly busy when the play–rather too long for continuous presentation as it stands–is performed on the stage.

In the epic there are but three characters–Dushyanta, Shakuntala, Kanva, with the small boy running about in the background. To these Kalidasa has added from the palace, from the hermitage, and from the Elysian region which is represented with vague precision in the last act.

The conventional clown plays a much smaller part in this play than in the others which Kalidasa wrote. He has also less humour. The real humorous relief is given by the fisher-man and the three policemen in the opening scene of the sixth act. This, it may be remarked, is the only scene of rollicking humour in Kalidasa’s writing.

The forest scenes are peopled with quiet hermit-folk. Far the most charming of these are Shakuntala’s girl friends. The two are beautifully differentiated: Anusuya grave, sober; Priyamvada vivacious, saucy; yet wonderfully united in friendship and in devotion to Shakuntala, whom they feel to possess a deeper nature than theirs.

Kanva, the hermit-father, hardly required any change from the epic Kanva. It was a happy thought to place beside him the staid, motherly Gautami. The small boy in the last act has magically become an individual in Kalidasa’s hands. In this act too are the creatures of a higher world, their majesty not rendered too precise.

Dushyanta has been saved by the poet from his epic shabbiness; it may be doubted whether more has been done. There is in him, as in some other Hindu heroes, a shade too much of the meditative to suit our ideal of more alert and ready manhood.

But all the other characters sink into insignificance beside the heroine. Shakuntala dominates the play. She is actually on the stage in five of the acts, and her spirit pervades the other two, the second and the sixth. Shakuntala has held captive the heart of India for fifteen hundred years, and wins the love of increasing thousands in the West; for so noble a union of sweetness with strength is one of the miracles of art.

Though lovely women walk the world to-day By tens of thousands, there is none so fairy all that exhibition and display With her most perfect beauty to compare–

Because it is a most perfect beauty of soul no less than of outward form. Her character grows under our very eyes. When we first meet her, she is a simple maiden, knowing no greater sorrow than the death of a favourite deer; when we bid her farewell, she has passed through happy love, the mother’s joys and pains, most cruel humiliation and suspicion, and the reunion with her husband, proved at last not to have been unworthy. And each of these great experiences has been met with a courage and a sweetness to which no words can render justice.


As Kunal Chakrabarti, Professor of Ancient History, Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, criticizingly mentioned:

The play explores the mutation of the story into variant versions, their material and performative contexts, the ambivalences in the representations of an idealised king and the politics of romantic love, marriage and motherhood. [It] should prove indispensable to students of both literature and history. When we going through it. We unstoppably could feel that there are some indecipherable artistic near-miracle qualities and sublimities

overflowing throughout this extraordinary play. We undoubtedly could say that the Kalidasa was, and is, and going to be the best  dramatist in this world.

This was my English assignment for P.M first.