Love, Its Conquest and Its Pleasures
Sudhamahi Regunathan
VIKRAMORVASHIYAM: QUEST FOR URVASHI by Kalidasa. Translated from the original Sanskrit by A.N.D. Haksar Penguin / Random House, New Delhi, 2021, 304 pp., 499.00
August 2021, volume 45, No 8

In these troubled times, when even leisure reading requires motivation, a translation whisked me off to a fantasy land…a land of unparalleled beauty and unmatched courage, a land of love and romance. My own reluctance to be led away is just one part of the story, the growing discomfort with absolutes and stereotypes in the ‘most beautiful woman ‘and ‘the most courageous man’ and their all-encompassing, fantasy-based love, is the other part.

The translation, however, wiped away any such reservation and landed me straight into the lap of excellent prose and poetry, the lively human spirit and the infectious sparkle of love.  The translation is from Sanskrit to English.  It does not take much to guess who the magician who recreated this world of wonder could be. None else than the prolific AND Haksar. The book Vikramorvashiyam: Quest for Urvashi by Kalidasa is built on motifs and nuances of romance that no longer have the same echo or reverberation.  And yet, if Haksar has ensured that he has given us an unputdownable book, it is no mean achievement.

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