Shakuntala Act VII (Final Act)


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King Dushyant with Matali in the chariot of Indra (king of gods in heaven and also god of thunder), supposed to be above the clouds.

King Dushyant: I am sensible, O Matali, that, for having executed the commission which Indra gave me, I deserved not such a profusion of honours.

Matali: Neither of you is satisfied. You who have conferred so great a benefit on the god of thunder, consider it as a trifling act of devotion; whilst he reckons not all his kindness equal to the benefit conferred.

King Dushyant: There is no comparison between the service and the reward. – He surpassed my warmest expectation, when, before he dignified me, he made me sit on half of his throne, thus exalting me before all the inhabitants of the Empyreum (the abode of gods) ; and smiling to see his son Jayanta, who stood near him, ambitious of the same honour, perfumed my bosom with essence of heavenly sandal wood, throwing over my neck a garland of flowers grown in paradise.

Matali: O king, you deserve all imaginable rewards from the sovereign of good genii; whose empyreal seats have twice been disentangled from the thorns of Danu's race; formerly by the claws of the man-lion, and lately by thy unerring shafts.

King Dushyant: My victory proceeded wholly from the auspices of the god; as on earth, when servants prosper in great enterprises, they owe their success to the magnificence of their lords. –Could Arun dispel the shades of night if the deity with a thousand beams had not placed him before the car of day?

Matali: That case, indeed, is parallel. –[Driving slowly.] –See, O king, the full exaltation of thy glory, which now rides on the back of heaven! The delighted genii have been collecting, among the trees of life, those crimson and azure dyes, with which the celestial damsels tinge their beautiful feet; and they now are writing thy actions in verses worthy of divine melody.

King Dushyant: [Modestly.] In my transport, O Matali, after the rout of the giants, this wonderful place had escaped my notice. –In what path of the winds are we now journeying?

Matali: This is the way which leads along the triple river, heaven's brightest ornament, and causes yon luminaries to roll in a circle with diffused beams: it is the course of a gentle breeze which supports the floating forms of the gods; and this path was the second step of Vishnu, when he confounded the proud Vali.

King Dushyant: My internal soul , which acts by exterior organs, is filled by the sight with a charming complacency. –[Looking at the wheels.] –We are now passing, I guess, through the region of clouds.

Matali: Whence do you form that conjecture?

King Dushyant: The chariot itself instructs me that we are moving over clouds pregnant with showers; for the circumference of its wheels disperses pellucid (transparent, clear) water; the horses of Indra sparkle with lightning; and I now see the warbling Chatacas descend from their nests on the summits of mountains.

Matali: It is even so; and in another moment you will be in the country which you govern.

King Dushyant: [Looking down.] Through the rapid, yet imperceptible, descent of the heavenly steeds, I now perceive the allotted station of men. –Astonishing prospect! It is yet so distant from us, that the low lands appear confounded with the high mountain tops; the trees erect their branchy shoulders, but seem leafless; the rivers look like bright lines, but their waters vanish; and, at this instant, the globe of earth seems thrown upwards by some stupendous power.

Matali: [Looking with reverence on the earth.] How delightful is the abode of mankind! –O king, you saw distinctly.

King Dushyant: Say, Matali. What mountain is that which, like an evening cloud, pours exhilarating streams, and forms a golden zone between the western and eastern seas?

Matali: That, O king, is the mountain of Gandharvas, named Hemkuta the universe contains not a more excellent place for the successful devotion of the pious. There Kashyapa, father of the immortals, ruler of men, son of Marichi, who sprang from the self-existent, resides with his consort Aditi, blessed in holy retirement.

King Dushyant: [Devoutly.] This occasion of attaining good fortune must not be neglected: may I approach the divine pair, and do them complete homage?

Matali: By all means. –It is an excellent idea! –We are now descended on earth.

King Dushyant: [With wonder.] These chariot wheels yield no sound; no dust arises from them; and the descent of the chariot gave me no shock.

Matali: Such is the difference, O king, between thy chariot and that of Indra!

King Dushyant:. Where is the holy retreat of Marichi!

Matali: [Pointing.] A little beyond that grove, where you see a pious Yogi, motionless as a pollard (a tree that has had its branches cut back nearly to the trunk), holding his thick bushy hair, and fixing his eyes on the solar orb. –Mark; his body is half covered with a white ant's edifice made of raised clay; the skin of a snake supplies the place of his sacerdotal thread, and part of it girds his loins; a number of knotty plants encircle and wound his neck; and surrounding birds' nest almost conceal his shoulders.

King Dushyant: I bow to a man of his austere devotion.

Matali: [Checking the reins.] Thus far, and enough. –We now enter the sanctuary of him who rules the world, and the groves which are watered by streams from celestial sources.

King Dushyant: This asylum is more delightful than paradise itself: I could fancy myself bathing in pool of nectar.

Matali: [Stopping the car.] Let the king descend.

King Dushyant: [Joyfully descending] How cannot thou leave the chariot?

Matali: On such an occasion it will remain fixed: we may both leave it. –This way, victorious hero, this way. –Behold the retreat of the truly pious

King Dushyant: I see with equal amazement both the pious and their awsome retreat. –It becomes, indeed, pure spirits to feed on balmy air in a forest blooming with trees of life; to bathe in rills (tiny stream) dyed yellow with the golden dust of the lotus, and to fortify their virtues in the mysterious bath; to meditate in caves, the pebbles of which are unblemished gems; and to restrain their passions, even though nymphs of exquisite beauty frolic around them: in this grove alone is attained the summit of true piety, to which other hermits in vain aspire.

Matali:. In exalted minds the desire of perfect excellence continually increases. –[Turning aside.] –Tell me, Vriddhasacalya, in which business is the divine son of Marichi now engaged? –What sayest thou? –Is he conversing with the daughter of Daksha, who practises all the virtues of a dutiful wife, and is consulting him on moral questions? –Then we must await his leisure. –[To Dushyanta.] Rest, O king, under the shade of this Ashoka tree, whilst I announce thy arrival to the father of Indra.

King Dushyant: As you judge right. –[Matali goes out. –Dushyanta feels his right arm throb.] Why, O my arm, dost thou flatter me with a vain omen? –My former happiness is lost, and misery only remains.

Behind the scenes: Be not so restless: in every situation thou showest thy bad temper.

King Dushyant: [Listening.] Hah! this is no place, surely, for a malignant disposition. –Who can be rebuked? –[Looking with surprise.] –I see a child, but with no childish countenance or strength, whom two female anchorites are endeavouring to keep in order: while he forcibly pulls towards him, in rough play, a lion's whelp with torn mane, who seems just dragged from the half-nipple of the lioness!

A little Boy and two female Attendants are discovered, as described by the king.

Boy: Open thy mouth, lion's whelp that I may count thy teeth.

First Atten: Intractable child! Why dost thou torment the wild animals of this forest, whom we cherish as if they were our own offspring? –Thou seemest even to sport in anger. –Aptly have the hermits name thee Sarvadamana, since thou tamest all creatures.

King Dushyant: Ah! what means it that my heart inclines to this boy as if he were my own son? –[Meditating.] –Alas! I have no son; and the reflection makes me once more soft-hearted.

Second Atten: The lioness will tear thee to pieces if thou release not her whelp.

Boy: [Smiling.] Oh! I am greatly afraid of her to be sure!

[He bites his lips, as in defiance of her.]

King Dushyant: [Aside, amazed.] The child exhibits the rudiments of heroic valour, and looks like fire which blazes from the addition of dry fuel.

First Atten: My beloved child, set at liberty this young prince of wild beasts; and I will give thee a prettier plaything.

Boy. Give it first. –Where is it? [Stretching out his hand.]

King Dushyant: [Aside, gazing on the child's palm.] What! The very palm of his hand bears the marks of empire; and whilst he thus eagerly extends it, shows its lines of exquisite network, and glows like a lotus expanded at early dawn, when the ruddy splendour of its petals hides all other tints in obscurity.

Second Atten: Mere words, my Suvrità, will not pacify him. –Go, I pray, to my cottage, where thou wilt find a plaything made for the hermit's child, Sankara: it is a peacock of earthen ware painted with rich colours.

First Atten: I will bring it speedily. [She goes out.]

Boy: In the mean time I will play with the young lion.

Second Atten: [Looking at him with a smile.] Let him go, I entreat thee.

King Dushyant: [Aside.] I feel the tenderest affection for this unmanageable child. [Sighing.] –How sweet must be the delight of virtuous fathers, when they soil their bosoms with dust by lifting up their playful children, who charm them with artless prattle, and show the white blossoms of their teeth, while they laugh innocently at every trifling occurrence!

Second Atten: [Raising her finger.] What! Dost thou show no attention to me? –[Seeing Dushyanta.] Oh! let me request you, gentle stranger, to release the lion's whelp, who cannot disengage himself from the grasp of this robust child.

King Dushyant: I will endeavour. –[Approaching the Boy and smiling.] O thou, who art the son of a pious anchorite, how canst thou dishonour thy father, whom thy virtues would make happy, by violating the rules of this consecrated forest? It becomes a black serpent only, to infest the boughs of a fragrant sandal tree. [The Boy releases the lion.]

Second Atten: I thank you, courteous guest; - but he is not the son of an anchorite.

King Dushyant: His actions, indeed, which are conformable to his robustness, indicate a different birth: but my opinion arose from the sanctity of the place which he inhabits. –[Taking the Boy by the hand.] –[Aside.] –Oh! since it gives me such delight merely to touch the hand of this child, who is the hopeful scion of a family unconnected with mine, what rapture must be felt by the fortunate man from whom he sprang?

Second Atten: [Gazing on them alternately.] Oh wonderful!

King Dushyant: What has raised your wonder?

Second Atten: The astonishing resemblance between the child and you, gentle stranger, to whom he bears no relation. –It surprised me also to see, that although he has childish humours, and had no former acquaintance with you, yet your words have restored him to his natural good temper.

King Dushyant: [Raising the Boy to his bosom.] Holy matron, if he be not the son of a hermit, what then is the name of his family?

Second Atten: He is descended from Puru.

King Dushyant: [Aside.] Hah! Thence, no doubt, springs his disposition, and my affection for him. –[Setting him down.] –[Aloud.] It is, I know, an established usage among the princes of Puru's race, to dwell at first in rich palaces with stuccoed walls, where they protect and cherish the world, but in the decline of life to seek humbler mansions near the roots of venerable trees, where hermits with subdued passions practise austere devotion. –I wonder, however, that this boy, who moves like a god, could have been born of a mere mortal.

Second Atten: Affable stranger, your wonder will cease when you know that his mother is related to a celestial nymph, and brought him forth in the sacred forest of Kashyapa.

King Dushyant: [Aside.] I am transported. –This is fresh ground of hope. –[Aloud.] –What virtuous monarch took his excellent mother by the hand?

Second Atten: Oh! I must not give celebrity to the name of a king who deserted his lawful wife.

King Dushyant: [Aside.] Ah! She means me. –Let me now ask the name of the sweet child's mother. –[Meditating.] –But it is against good manners to inquire concerning the wife of another man.

The First Attendant re-enters with a toy.

First Atten: Look, Sarvadamana, look at the beauty of this bird, Shakuntala vanyam (Sakunta bird).

Boy: [Looking eagerly round.] Shakuntala! Oh where is my beloved mother? [Both Attendants laugh.]

First Atten: He tenderly loves his mother, and was deceived by an equivocal phrase.

Second Atten: My child, she meant only the beautiful shape and colours of this peacock.

King Dushyant: [Aside.] Is my Shakuntala then his mother? Or has that dear name been given to some other woman? –This conversation resembles the fallacious appearance of water in a desert, which ends in bitter disappointment to the stag parched with thirst.

Boy: I shall like the peacock if it can run and fly; not else. [He takes it.]

First Atten: [Looking round in confusion.] Alas, the child's amulet is not on his wrist!

King Dushyant: Be not alarmed. It was dropped while he was playing with the lion: I see it, and will put it into your hand.

Both: Oh! beware of touching it.

First Atten: Ah! He has actually taken it up.

[They both gaze with surprise on each other.]

King Dushyant: Here it is; but why would you have restrained me from touching this bright gem?

Second Atten. Great monarch, this divine amulet has a wonderful power, and was given to the child by the son of Marichi, as soon as the sacred rites had been performed after his birth: whenever it fell on the ground, no human being but the father or mother of this boy could have touched it unhurt.

King Dushyant: What if a stranger had taken it?

First Atten: It would have become a serpent and wounded him.

King Dushyant: Have you seen that consequence on any similar occasion?

Both. Frequently.

King Dushyant: [With transport.] I may then exult on the completion of my ardent desire. [He embraces the child.]

Second Atten: Come, Suvrita, let us carry the delightful intelligence to Shakuntala, whom the harsh duties of a separated wife have so long oppressed. [The Attendants go out.]

Boy: Farewell; I must go to my mother.

King Dushyant: My darling son, thou wilt make her happy by going to her with me.

Boy: Dushyanta is my father; and you are not Dushyanta.

King Dushyant: Even thy denial of me gives me delight.

Shakuntala: enters in mourning apparel, with her long hair twisted in a single braid, and flowing down her back.

Shakuntala: [Aside.] Having heard that my child's amulet has proved its divine power, I must either be strangely diffident of my good fortune, or that event which Misracési predicted has actually happened. [Advancing.]

King Dushyant: [With a mixture of joy and sorrow.] Ah! Do I see the incomparable Shakuntala clad in sorbid weeds? –Her face is emaciated by the performance of austere duties; one twisted lock floats over her shoulder; and with a mind perfectly pure, she supports the long absence of her husband, whose unkindness exceeded all bounds.

Shakuntala: [Seeing him, yet doubting.] Is that the son of my lord grown pale with penitence and affliction? –If not, who is it, that sullies with his touch the hand of my child, whose amulet should have preserved him from such indignity?

Boy: [Going hastily to Shakuntala.] Mother, here is a stranger who calls me son.

King Dushyant: Oh! my best beloved, I have treated thee cruelly; but my cruelty is succeeded by the warmest affection; and I implore your remembrance and forgiveness.

Shakuntala: [Aside.] Be confident, O my heart! –[Aloud.] –I shall be most happy -when the king's anger has passed away. –[Aside.] –This must be the son of my lord.

King Dushyant: By the kindness of heaven, O loveliest of thy sex, thou standest again before me, whose memory was obscured by the gloom of fascination; as the star Róhinì at the end of an eclipse rejoins her beloved moon.

Shakuntala: May the king be –[ She bursts into tears.]

King Dushyant: My darling, though the word victorious be suppressed by thy weeping, yet I must have victory, since I see thee again, though with pale lips and a body unadorned.

Boy: What man is this, mother?

Shakuntala: Sweet child, ask the divinity, who presides over the fortunes of us both. [She weeps.]

King Dushyant: O my only beloved, banish from thy mind my cruel desertion of thee. –A violent phrensy overpowered my soul, –Such , when the darkness of illusion prevails, are the actions of the belt intentioned; as a blind man, when a friend binds his head with a wreath of flowers, mistakes it for a twining snake, and foolishly rejects it. [He falls at her feet.]

Shakuntala: Rise, my husband, oh! rise –My happiness has been long interrupted; but joy now succeeds to affliction since the son of my lord still loves me. –[He rises.] –How was the remembrance of this unfortunate woman restored to the mind of my lord's son!

King Dushyant: When the dart of misery shall be wholly extracted from my bosom, I will tell you all; but since the anguish of my soul has in part ceased, let me first wipe off that tear which trickles from thy delicate eye-lash; and thus efface the memory of all the tears which my delirium has made thee shed. [He stretches out his hand.]

Shakuntala: [Wiping off her tears, and seeing the ring on his finger.] Ah! is that the fatal ring?

King Dushyant: Yes; by the surprising recovery of it my memory was restored.

Shakuntala: Its influence, indeed, has been great; since it has brought back the lost confidence of my husband.

King Dushyant: Take it then, as a beautiful plant receives a flower from the returning season of joy.

Sac. I cannot again trust it. –Let it be worn by the son of my lord.

Matali enters.

Matali: By the will of heaven the king has happily met his beloved wife, and seen the countenance of his little son.

King Dushyant: It was by the Company of my friend that my desire attained maturity. –But say, was not this fortunate event previously known to Indra?

Matali: [Smiling.] What is unknown to the gods ? –But come: the divine Maricha desires to see thee.

King Dushyant: Beloved, take our son by the hand; and let me present you both to the father of immortals.

Shakuntala: I really am ashamed, even in thy presence, to approach the deities.

King Dushyant: It is highly proper on so happy an occasion. –Come, I entreat thee. [They all advance.]

The scene is withdrawn, and Kashyapa is discovered on a throne conversing with Aditi.

Kashyap: [Pointing to the king.] That, O daughter of Daksha, is the hero who led the squadrons of thy son to the front of battle, a sovereign of the earth, Dushyanta; by the means of whose bow the thunder-bolt of Indra (all its work; being accomplished) is not a mere ornament of his heavenly palace.

Aditi: He bears in his form all the marks of exalted majesty.

Matali [To Dushyanta.] The parents of the twelve Adityas, O king, are, gazing on thee, as on their own offspring, with eyes of affection. –Approach them, illustrious prince.

King Dushyant: Are those, O Matali, the divine pair, sprung from Marichi and Daksha! –Are those the grand-children of Brahma, to whom the self-existent gave birth in the beginning; whom inspired mortals pronounce the fountain of glory apparent in the form of twelve suns; they who produced my benefactor, the lord of a hundred sacrifices, and ruler of three worlds?

Matali: Even they –[Prostrating himself with Dushyanta.] –Great beings, the king Dushyanta, who has executed the commands of your son Vasava, falls humbly before your throne.

Kashyap: Continue long to rule the world.

Aditi: Long be a warrior with a car unshattered in combat.

[Shakuntala and her son prostrate themselves.]

Kashyap: Daughter, may thy husband be like Indra! May thy son resemble Jayanta! And mayst thou (whom no benediction could better suit) be equal in prosperity to the daughter of Pulóman!

Aditi: Preserve, my child, a constant unity with thy lord: and may this boy, for a great length of years, be the ornament and joy of you both! Now be seated near us. [They all sit down.]

Kashyap: [Looking at them by turns.] Shakuntala is the model of excellent wives; her son is dutiful; and thou, O king, hast three rare advantages, true piety, abundant wealth, and active virtue.

King Dushyant: O divine being, having obtained the former object of my most ardent wishes, I now have reached the summit of earthly happiness through thy favour, and thy benizon will ensure its permanence. –First appears the flower, then the fruit; first clouds are collected; then the shower falls: such is the regular course of causes and effects; and thus, when thy indulgence preceded, felicity generally followed.

Matali: Great indeed, O king, has been the kindness of the primeval Brahmins.

King Dushyant: Bright son of Marichi, this thy handmaid was married to me by the ceremony of Gandharvas, and, after a time, was conducted to my palace by some of her family; but my memory having failed through delirium, I rejected her, and thus committed a grievous offence against the venerable Canna, who is of thy divine lineage: afterwards, on seeing this fatal ring, I remembered my love and my nuptials; but the whole transaction yet fills me with wonder. My soul was confounded with strange ignorance that obscured my senses; as if a man were to see an elephant marching before him, yet to doubt what animal it could be, till he discovered by the traces of his large feet that it was an elephant.

Kashyap: Cease, my son, to charge thyself with an offence committed ignorantly, and, therefore, innocently. –Now hear me –

King Dushyant: I am devoutly attentive.

Kashyap:. When the nymph Ménacà led Sacontalá from the place where thy desertion of her had afflicted her soul, she brought her to the palace of Aditi; and I knew, by the power of meditation on the Supreme Being, that thy forgetfulness of thy pious and lawful consort had proceeded from the imprecation of Durvasas, and that the charm would terminate on the sight of thy ring.

King Dushyant: [Aside.] My name then is cleared from infamy.

Shakuntala: Happy am I that the son of my lord, who now recognises me, denied me through ignorance, and not with aversion. –The terrible imprecation was heard, I suppose, when my mind was intent on a different object, by my two beloved friends, who, with extreme affection, concealed it from me to spare my feelings, but advised me at parting to show the ring if my husband should have forgotten me.

Kashyap: [Turning to Shakuntala:.] Thou art apprised, my daughter, of the whole truth, and must no longer resent the behaviour of thy lord. –He rejected thee when his memory was impaired by the force of a charm (curse); and when the gloom was dispelled, his conjugal affection revived; as a mirror whose surface has been sullied, reflects no image; but exhibits perfect resemblances when its polish has been restored.

King Dushyant: Such, indeed, was my situation.

Kashyap: My son King Dushyant, hast thou embraced thy child by Shakuntala, on whose birth I myself performed the ceremonies prescribed in the Véda?

King Dushyant: Holy Marichi, he is the glory of my house.

Kashyap: Know too, that his heroic virtue will raise him to a dominion extended from sea to sea: before he has passed the ocean of mortal life, he shall rule, unequalled in combat, this earth with seven peninsulas; and, as he now is called Sarvadamana, because he tames even in childhood the fiercest animals, so, in his riper years, he shall acquire the name of Bharata, because he shall sustain and nourish the world.

King Dushyant: A boy educated by the son of Marichi, must attain the summit of greatness.

Aditi: Now let Shakuntala, who is restored to happiness, convey intelligence to Canva of all these events: her mother Ménaka is in my family, and knows all that has passed.

Shakuntala: The goddess proposes what I most ardently wish.

Kashyap: By the force of true piety the whole scene will be present to the mind of Canna.

King Dushyant: The devout sage must be still excessively indignant at my frantick behaviour.

Kashyap: [Meditating.] Then let him hear from me the delightful news, that his foster-child has been tenderly received by her husband, and that both are happy with the little warrior who sprang from them. –Hola! who is in waiting?

A Pupil enters.

Pupil. Great being, I am here.

Kashyap: Hasten, Gólava, through the light air, and in my name inform the venerable Kanva, that Shakuntala has a charming son by King Dushyant; whose affection for her was restored with his remembrance, on the termination of the spell raised by the angry Durvasas.

Pupil: As the divinity commands. [He goes out.]

Kashyap: My son, reascend the chariot of Indra with thy consort and child, and return happy to thy imperial seat.

King Dushyant: Be it as Marichi ordains.

Kashyap: Henceforth may the god of the atmosphere with copious rain give abundance to thy affectionate subjects; and mayst thou with frequent sacrifices maintain the Thunderer's friendship! By numberless interchanges of good offices between you both, may benefits reciprocally be conferred on the inhabitants of the two worlds!

King Dushyant: Powerful being, I will be studious, as far as I am able, to attain that felicity.

Kashyap: What other favours can I bestow on thee?

King Dushyant: Can any favours exceed those already bestowed ? –Let every king apply himself to the attainment of happiness for his people; let Saraswati, the goddess of liberal arts, be adored by all readers of the Véda; and may Siva, with an azure neck and red locks, eternally potent and self-existing, avert from me the pain of another birth in this perishable world, the seat of crimes and of punishment. [All go out.]

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