इदमुपनतमेवं रूपमक्लिष्टकान्ति प्रथमपरिगृहीतं स्यान्न वेत्यव्यवस्यन् ।
भ्रमर इव विभाति कुन्दमन्तस्तुषारं न च खलु परिभोक्तुं नैव शक्नोमि हातुम् ।।

( अभिज्ञान शाकुन्तलम् – 5- 19)

idamupanatamevaṁ rūpamakliṣṭakānti prathamaparigṛhītaṁ syānna vetyavyavasyan
bhramara iva vibhāti kundamantastuṣāraṁ na ca khalu paribhoktuṁ naiva śaknomi hātum
(abhijñānasakuntalam - 5 -19)

The above verse is from the fifth act of the drama ‘Abhignaana Shaakuntalam’ written by Kalidaasa. King Dushyanta fell in love with Shakuntala, the daughter of rishi Kanva. Story goes that they married secretly by exchanging rings (gandharva vivaaham) .After this Dushyanta left for his kingdom. Due to the curse of sage Durvaasa, Dushyanta completely forgets Sakuntala and the relationship he had with her.

The context here is: Sakuntala meets Dushyanta in his court. But Dushyanta is unable to recognize her, as a result of the curse. He is caught in a dilemma which is explained beautifully in the above verse.

“Should I accept or reject this ravishing beauty. If I reject assuming she is not my wife and if it happens to be that she is or if I accept her and she happens to be someone else’s, I would be committing a sin either way.”

Kalidasa’s thought process and ability to empathize with Dushyanta’s character is a masterpiece. He goes on with a simile comparing Dushyanta’s state of mind to a Bee which is enthralled to see dew drops inside a flower but in a dilemma to break the dew to get honey.

For researchers going through this text and interested in identifying the character of Kalidasa, there is no better example. Over the years there have been articles, movies which do portray him as a flirt. The comparisons are unjustified if one can see his thoughts in the above writings.

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