Back of the Book:
Six unforgettable stories of love and bravery, treachery and injustice, from ancient Indian literature.
Classical Sanskrit and Tamil writing teem with a myriad characters, and here we meet some truly memorable ones. This collection of six plays, poems and epics retold for children includes Shakuntala, a heart-rending story of the love between the beautiful Shakuntala and King Dushyanta; The Little Clay Cart, where the evil designs of the king and his family are foiled by the righteous Charudatta and Vasantasena; The Story of an Anklet, about Kannagi, who wreaks a terrible revenge for the wrong done to her; The Dance and the Begging Bowl, the extraordinary account of a woman's search for her true calling; The Last Trial of Sita, in which the playwright gives a whole new ending to the Ramayana; and The Broken Thigh, about the final, desperate combat between Duryodhana and Bheema on the battlefield of Kurukshetra.
Accompanied by descriptions of the author's lives and the time when the stories were written, these lively retellings are an ideal introduction to some of the best-known stories from the Indian classics.
About the Author:
Adithi Rao graduated from Smith College, USA, with a degree in theatre. She worked as an assistant director on the Hindi film, Satya. Later she became a writer/editor on the travel channel of Indya.com, and went on to script a television serial.
Adithi began writing for children three years ago. Her short stories have been published in various anthologies for children. This is her first book.
About the Book:
Putting an exact date to the works of ancient writers is difficult. This is because there has never been any conclusive evidence about when exactly those works were written. The Brothers Grimm might have said of Kalidasa that he lived and wrote 'in the days of yore', or even 'once upon a time'. But modern historians have tried to be a little more specific. They believe that Kalidasa belonged to either the fourth, the second or the first century BC.
BC: Before Christ. Before Julius Caesar and the New Testament. Once upon a time, then, is not far off the mark.
Kalidasa was well named. When broken into its root words, 'Kali' and 'Dasa', his name means 'servant of Time', or 'servant of the Creative Power'.
Kalidasa probably belonged to the city of Ujjain, an ancient and prosperous centre of art and learning. The affection and pride with which he refers to it in his works seems to indicate as much. King Vikramaditya, the hero of the legend Vikram aur Vetal, celebrated down the centuries for his wisdom, had nine gems in his court. These nine gems were men of letters, and Kalidasa is believed to be one of them. King Vikramaditya may well have been the unnamed patron Kalidasa refers to in his writings.
Kalidasa wrote about a different world, one in which kings and sages, gods and apsaras cohabited and conspired to make things run smoothly on earth. This tendency to stray away from the earthly plane, and to use celestial beings as characters in his works, is not there only in Abhijnanashakuntalam. It extends into his other works, like Meghadutam and Vikramosvashiyam.
Even while there are no dates available, scholars believe Abhijnanashakuntalam. to be the last of Kalidasa's seven works. In it his language flows with more grace and ease than in any of his other writings. From the fiery passion of Rtusamharam (his first work), he has moved on to a mellower, deeper maturity of thought and characterization in Abhijnanashakuntalam.
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