Indian Mythological Stories

Shakuntala


Shakuntala was a beautiful maiden who was the adopted daughter of Sage Karnva. She lived with him and her pet deer, in his Shakuntala and Dushyantahermitage in the forest. One day, Dushyanta, the king of Hastinapur, came hunting in the forest. He saw the beautiful deer and shot an arrow at it. Shakuntalsa found her deer whimpering in pain and tried to comfort it. Shakuntala loved the animals of the forest and her affection for the animal touched Dushyanta's heart and he asked her to forgive him for his cruelty. She forgive him but asked him to stay in the forest for a few days to tend the wounded deer. They fell in love and King Dushyanta married Shakuntala and gave her a wedding ring his name on it. The king then left for his king-dom after promising to return soon and take Shakuntala back with him.

One day , Sage Durwasa came to Shakuntala's door. He repeatedly asked for water, but Shakuntala was lost in thoughts of Dushyanta and paid no attention. The sage was insulted and got very angry. Known for his temper, he cursed Shakuntala saying that the person whom she was thinking about would forget her. When Shakuntala heard the cause, she was frightened and begged the sage to forgive her. The sage said that he could not the back the curse but he could change, if she showed Dushyanta something he had given her then he will remember again about her.

Due to the curse Dushyanta forgot Shakuntala. After days of waiting for him to return, Shakuntala decided to go to the capital to meet him. On the way, as Shakuntala was crossing a river, her wedding ring fell into the water. A fish swallowed the ring. When Shakuntala arrived at the palace, the king did not recognize her. He asked her to prove her identity but Shakuntala didn't have the ring to show him, as it was lost. She wept and told the king about the time he had spent with her in the forest but he couldn't remember anything. Feeling sad she left the palace.

Ashamed to return to her father's home, she started living alone in another part of the forest where she gave birth to a son. She called him Bharata. Bharata was a brave boy. He grew up among the animals of the forest and would play with wild animals.

One day at the king's palace, a fisherman brought him a ring. He told the king that he had found the ring in the stomach of a fish that he had brought it straight to him. As soon as the king saw the ring, the curse was broken and the king remembered Shakuntala. He was very upset and hurried at once to her home in the forest to look for her, but could not find her. In despair, he returned to his palace.

Few years passed. The king again went hunting in the forest. There he was surprised to find a boy playing with a lion cub. The boy fearlessly held open the mouth of the cub and said, " O king of the jungle! Open your mouth wide, so I can count your teeth." The king went up to the boy and asked him about his parents. The little boy replied that he was the son of king Dushyanta and Shakuntala. Dushyanta was very happy to have found Shakuntala and asked the boy to take him to his mother. The family was united and Dushyanta took Shakuntala and Bharata along with him to Hastinapur. Bharata grew up to become a great king.

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