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P.C. Jain (Author) Dr. Daljeet (Author)
Synopsis From the preface: "The National Museum, New Delhi had bought in 1989 a set of 53 precious painting serialising the tale of Shakuntala's legendary romance. Considering their great artistic merit an expert-member of National Museum's purchase committee the renowned art historian Karl Khandalavala who was also the chief editor of the Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi, sought to initiate their publication, as a result of which in 1991 Lalit Kala brought out under the title Kalidasa's Sakuntalam a portfolio comprising of eight of these paintings. Besides what the title suggested, the introductory note to the portfolio claimed that 'this illustrated manuscript relates to the poet Kalidasa's famous classic poem Abhijnana Sakuntalam. The legend as has been reproduced here is an assimilation of its various versions. It is broadly based on Kalidasa's Abhijnana Shakuntalam, but for its beginning it has sought its material from Mahabharata, Shabda Kalpadrum, Bhagavtapurana and the painted series. For anyone who reproduces a story which a genius like Kalidasa has depicted originally it is almost impossible to accomplish perfection. We have tried in this reproduction to retain the spirit of the legend as it is in Mahabharata, the aesthetic excellence and themetic expansion as in Abhijnana Shakuntalam, the vividness and deeper implications as in the painted series and the stylistic simplicity as it is in Abanindranath Tagore's Sakuntala. The retelling has been built up incorporating in it whatever significant any known version of the tale has so far added to the Shakuntala legend. The second part of the text is devoted to trace the development of the legend through ages. Such assessment is not restricted to mere themetic growth of the tale. It also evaluates how a simple legend of Mahabharata becomes a great literary classic of all times when the great creative genius of Kalidasa blends with it the colours of his imagination. However, we have been able to identify, acknowledge and honour the individuality with which the unknown artist, in all probabilities from Hindur, has made a significant departure from Kalidasa. Abanindranath Tagore's unique simplicity of style and blending of various elements in his tale are his points of distinction. The third part is exclusively devoted to a detailed study of the painted series. With its primary stress, obviously, on this painted series this volume aims at providing a broad and basic idea of Shakuntala legend reaching us so far in whatever medium." Abhijnana Shakuntalam is a legend of human sentiments. It has in it man's virtue and infirmities, his failures and achievements, the milk-like purity of character and a fawn-like innocence. It is a tale of coy maidenhood, of great love, of deep friendship and of man's unique harmony with his surroundings. The canvas that Kalidasa has used is so pure and transparent that it reflects the slightest stroke made on it and may be read from all sides alike. For Kalidasa Shakuntala is a legend and legends do not pertain to individuals as do chronologies or histories.... A legend, pertains to a sentiment which transcending barriers of chronologies, and of time, space and individualities acquires cosmic magnitude and pervades as its spirit. Shakuntala's love is in Abhijnana Shakuntalam a cosmic phenomenon.... the nucleus of his drama Kalidasa has created out of Mahabharata's simple tale of Bharata's birth a great legend of human love. The puranas.... weave Shakuntala legend around King Dushyanta; the imaginative Kalidasa weaves it around Shakuntala whose enchanting beauty drags King Dushyanta into maddening love but, to the unknown painter of the series it is the ballad of naive coyish wonanhood endowed with unparalleled beauty, nature's purity and divinity of love which Shakuntala in her capacity as sage Kanva's daughter represents. He paints nature as landscape to his human drama, yet, as in the works of the English novelist Thomas Hardy, his rendering subordinates man to his surroundings obeying nature's dictates. Before a man has sprouting in him a reverence for love, peace and life, the nature in artist's creation comes out with such sublimity that he has germinated in him a human passion, the nature precedes him by its own passionate acts guiding and strengthening and at times reverting and restraining his act.
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About the authors

P.C. Jain

Prof. P.C. Jain, an instinctive poet, linguist and aesthetician, began his career in 1961 as a lecturer of English literature and accomplished some outstanding research work on Hindi linguistics. Some of his poetry, short stories and a translation of Logic and the Scientific Method in two vols., too, are amongst his early publications. He then shifted to journalism and active politics, though despite busy political life he never gave up reading and writing. He edited for over two decades a Hindi daily Lokpath and contributed stories and articles to several leading news papers. He has recently written an outstanding book  - Gandhi In Stamps. Now he is contributing with Dr. Daljeet on aesthetics, Indian art and Architecture, Painting and Indian Monuments. Amongst their published works Shakuntala and Khajuraho are outstanding. Indian Gods and Goddesses, Ramayana and the IInd volume of the Monuments of India are their forthcoming publications.

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Dr. Daljeet

Dr. Daljeet, an eminent art scholar, did her doctorate on ‘A study of Central Indian Miniature Paintings – Malwa and Bundelkhand’ from the Barkatulla University, Bhopal. She began her career as an archaeologist in Archaeological Survey of India, worked as Keeper In-charge, Department of Paintings in the National Museum, New Delhi. She has traveled widely in India and abroad, in connection with her studies, academic pursuits and organizing exhibitions on Indian Art and Paintings. The Govt. of Punjab had recently honoured her with the responsibility of setting up a special exhibition on The Sikh Heritage at Anandpur Sahib to celebrate the Tercentenary of the Birth of Khalsa. She has a number of books, catalogues, portfolios and articles on Indian Art and Paintings to her credit. Her prestigious volume on the Mughal and Deccani Paintings, from the collection of the National Museum and Monuments of India have been widely acclaimed by the scholars and art connoisseurs. Her forthcoming publications are Goddess in Indian Miniatures, Krishna: Raga se virag tak and The Sikh Heritage – A search for Totality.

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Bibliographic information

Title Shakuntala
Format Hardcover
Date published: 01.01.1998
Edition 1st Ed.
Language: English
isbn 8186880372
length 162p., Illus.; Biblio.; 29cm.