Indiaoz Hinduism – The Complete Mahabharata – Story of ShakuntalaPosted: September 10, 2009
Story of Shakuntala
Once, nobody knows when, sage Vishwamitra was engaged in great austerities and penance that would give him almost absolute power over kingdom of Earth and Heaven. He had successfully completed requisite sacrificial rituals and now was engaged in meditation and Yogic practices.
The king of Heaven, God Indra, was shaken to know this effort of Vishmamitra that could pose danger to his throne! Therefore, Indra decided to put obstacles in his austerities and thereby break his sadhana – spiritual discipline. Indra thought of using weapon of lust to this end.
Accordingly, the most beautiful and ever youthful Apsara, Menaka, was sent from heaven to distract and seduce Vishwamitra, who was gaining alarming levels of yogic power through his concentrated meditation. (Apsara in Hindu mythology, heavenly nymph of great beauty, is often represented as a dancer at the court of the Hindu god Indra in his heavenly kingdom.) She descended down to earth from heaven and tried to tempt Vishmamitra by various charming dances and songs. After some efforts Vishmamitra fell to the lure of her beauty and youthful attraction. They were married and the tapas of Vishmamitra was broken. A beautiful daughter was born to them whom they named Shakuntala.
Her assignment completed, Menaka left back to the kingdom of heaven, and Vishmamitra, his tapas broken, left for forest retreat after handing over the new born baby to the sage Kanva, head of a forest ashrama. Under his fatherly love and care Shakuntala grew up as a simple but most beautiful lady. Her voice was sweet and her manners sober and graceful.