This play Abhijnanasakuntalam is the story of Sakuntala and Dushyanta which is narrated by Rishi Vaishampayana in ‘Adi Parva’. It is a part of Mahabharta, the great Indian epic. Kalidasa has written this play from this source and many creative changes has been introduced by him in this play. Dushyanta is the great king of Hastinapur who goes to a forest for hunting. He is accompanied by his armed company. In the forest there are many ascetics and hermits. He goes to pay homage to Rishi Kanva. Unfortunately Rishi kanva is not present there and he is greeted by Sakuntala, kanva’s daughter. After seeing Sakuntala the king falls in love to her. He enquires about her clan from her friends Anusuya and Priyamvada. Rishi kanva is the foster father of Sakuntala. Her real father is Rishi Vishwamitra and her mother is celestial maiden Menka. Dushyanta proposes Gandharva marriage to her and in due course of time she is married to him. The king leaves the hermitage with a promise to see her again.After his departure Menka keeps on thinking about Sakuntala and in the mean time Sage Durvasa arrives at the cottage door. He went unnoticed because sakuntala was lost in the memories of her husband. As a result Rishi Durvasa became annoyed and he cursed Sakuntala that her husband will not recognize her. Priyamvada becomes horrified after listening to this curse and she sends Anusuya to entreat the sage. Rishi Durvasa softens and says that if Sakuntala succeeds in producing any token of resemblance then she will be recognized by her husband. Sakuntala is still not aware of all these things. Sakuntala has a ring gifted to her by the king. This ring is actually the token of resemblance. Anusuya and Priyamvada is relaxed to know that she already has a token of love. They kept this secret to themselves and thus, Sakuntala does not know anything about the curse. When she is sent to the royal court of Dushyanta by her father she loses this ring in sachi river while taking a dip. At the royal court Dushyanta refuses to recognize her. She is pregnant and the king thinks that she is impregnated by some body else. She refuses to accept her as a lawful wife. This happens because of the curse of Rishi Durvasa. Finally she is escorted by her own mother Menka and everybody is surprised to see the way she is scooped to heaven by her mother. The story is revealed to the king when a fisherman is caught by the policemen because he had a ring having royal signet by the king. Dushyanta recalls everything after seeing the ring. He becomes love sick and find himself helpless. He is unable to find Sakuntala. Eventually he is called by lord indra to fight demons present at the celestial world. Dushyantsa defeats all the demons heroically and he returns back to earth. While returning to earth he watches the ashram of Sage Marichi at mount Hemkuta. Here he pays his obeisance to the holy sage. Dramatically he finds a boy here playing with Lion’s cub. This boy is no one but his own son. Finally he is reconciled to his family as Menka is also present here. Now, looking critically we find that this play is one of the finest plays written by Kalidasa. In this play kalidasa has introduced the characters of Anusuya and Priyamvada. In this play almost all the human sentiments and emotions has been evoked beautifully. We can find all the eight kind of Rasas in this play. In the first three acts of the play we can find Sambhog Rasa .Dushyanta is entrapped in the easy playfulness of the eyes of Sakuntala. Extreme form of erotic love can be found in the three acts. To understand it we need to go through the play. The following lines hints about it-

          “Her lower lip has the rich sheen of young shoots……..”

She is considered by king Dushyanta as the unique creature of God. By the third act we notice that even Sakuntala becomes love-sick. Priyamvada remarks about her friend that she has gone ” too far…cannot brook any delay.” They are passionate for each other. The following lines from Act iii shows this-

          “ my love’s lower lip, soft and unbruised,

          trembles with such alluring charm

          as if granting me who thirst for it

          the permission I wait for eagerly”

after this Sambhog srngara we can also notice vipralambha srngara which is a kind of anguish that comes out of separation. When Dushyanta returns to his kingdom after marrying Sakuntala then she is left alone in the hermitage. She keeps on thinking about him and it brings the pain out of separation. This kind of pain is labeled as a sign of Vipralambha srngara. Hasya rasa is also present in this play. It has been presented beautifully by Vidhusak Madhavya who is the court jester. Later we find Dushyanta refuses to recognize Sakuntala and it brings karuna rasa among readers. When the king kills the demons by the commands of Indra we can notice Vira Rasa running in the text. It shows the military accomplishment of the king. Bharta has remarked that-

“Vir rasa is produced by an energetic, determined, unrelenting nature which is neither taken by surprise nor by confusion.”

Later we can also find Raudra Rasa in this play. It evolves out of anger. Natyasastra mentions that-

“the raudra rasa is produced by battles, striking, wounding, killing, cutting and by violence, etc. it is to be acted by using various weapons and cutting off heads, arms etc.”

The action of sage Durvasa shows his wrath. However, we can not notice violence here thus it fails to demonstrate Raudra Rasa but the killing of demons by Dushyanta can be considered as an example of Raudra Rasa.