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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 179 pages of information about Translations of Shakuntala and Other Works.

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II.—­“URVASHI”

The second of the two inferior dramas may be conveniently called Urvashi, though the full title is The Tale of Urvashi won by Valour.  When and where the play was first produced we do not know, for the prologue is silent as to these matters.  It has been thought that it was the last work of Kalidasa, even that it was never produced in his lifetime.  Some support is lent to this theory by the fact that the play is filled with reminiscences of Shakuntala, in small matters as well as in great; as if the poet’s imagination had grown weary, and he were willing to repeat himself.  Yet Urvashi is a much more ambitious effort than Malavika, and invites a fuller criticism, after an outline of the plot has been given.

In addition to the stage-director and his assistant, who appear in the prologue, the characters of the play are these: 

  PURURAVAS, king in Pratishthana on the Ganges.

  AYUS, his son.

  MANAVAKA, a clown, his friend.

  URVASHI, a heavenly nymph.

  CHITRALEKHA, another nymph, her friend.

  AUSHINARI, queen of Pururavas.

  NIPUNIKA, her maid.

A charioteer, a chamberlain, a hermit-woman, various nymphs and other divine beings, and attendants.

The scene shifts as indicated in the following analysis.  The time of the first four acts is a few days.  Between acts four and five several years elapse.

ACT I.—­The prologue only tells us that we may expect a new play of Kalidasa.  A company of heavenly nymphs then appear upon Mount Gold-peak wailing and calling for help.  Their cries are answered by King Pururavas, who rides in a chariot that flies through the air.  In response to his inquiries, the nymphs inform him that two of their number, Urvashi and Chitralekha, have been carried into captivity by a demon.  The king darts in pursuit, and presently returns, victorious, with the two nymphs.  As soon as Urvashi recovers consciousness, and has rejoined her joyful friends, it is made plain that she and the king have been deeply impressed with each other’s attractions.  The king is compelled to decline an invitation to visit Paradise, but he and Urvashi exchange loving glances before they part.

ACT II.—­The act opens with a comic scene in the king’s palace.  The clown appears, bursting with the secret of the king’s love for Urvashi, which has been confided to him.  He is joined by the maid Nipunika, commissioned by the queen to discover what it is that occupies the king’s mind.  She discovers the secret ingeniously, but without much difficulty, and gleefully departs.

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