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HENRY FROW DE
OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS WAREHOUSE
7 PATERNOSTER ROW
Hon. Doctor in Law of the University of Calcutta ;
Hon. Member of the Bombay Asiatic Society;
Boden Professor of Sanskrit in the University of Oxford.
AT THE OLARENDON PRESS.
[All rights reserved.]
THE following pages are the result of an endeavour to furnish English students of Sanskrit with a correct edition of the most celebrated drama of India's greatest dramatist. About a century has elapsed since Sir W. Jones discovered that there existed in India a number of Nāțakas or Sanskrit dramas, many of them of great antiquity; some abounding in poetry of undoubted merit, and all of them containing valuable pictures of Hindū life and manners. Eager to apply the means thus gained of filling what was before an empty niche in the Temple of Sanskțit Literature, Sir W. Jones addressed himself at once to translate into English the Sakuntala, which he was told was the most admired of all the extant plays.
This work is by the illustrious Kālidāsa, who is supposed by some native authorities (though on insufficient grounds) to have lived in Ujjayinī, the capital of king Vikramāditya, whose reign is the starting point of the Hindu era called Samvat, beginning 57 years
Kālidāsa is described as one of the 'nine gems' of that monarch's splendid court. It seems, however, more probable that Kālidāsa flourished in the third century of the Christian era (see p. 474 of Indian Wisdom, published by W. H. Allen & Co., 13, Waterloo Place, London). The Sakuntalā is acknowledged on all hands to be the masterpiece of the great Indian poet. Indeed, no composition of Kālidāsa displays more the richness and fertility of his poetical genius, the exuberance of his imagination, the warmth and play of his fancy, his profound knowledge of the human heart, his delicate appreciation of its most refined and tender emotions, his familiarity with the workings and counter-workings of its conflicting feelings,-in short, more entitles him to rank as “the Shakespeare of India.' On the Continent such men as Goethe,