Kalidasa Poems >>
Shakuntala Act VII (Final Act)

ACT VII
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 Suvrit