c.4th to 5th century ce)
A Sanskrit drama by Kālidāsa, widely considered the most perfect example of the form. Based on an episode in the Mahābhārata, it tells the story of the love of King Duṣyanta and Śakuntalā, a hermitage girl, their separation by a curse, and their eventual reunion. Erotic in mood (rasa), it deals, among other things, with the tension between love (kāma) and duty (dharma). Sir William Jones's English translation of 1798 caused a sensation in the West, and was instrumental in drawing European attention to Sanskrit literature.