Sunday, November 16, 2014


ABHIGYANA SHAKUNTALAM ~ THE RECOGNITION OF SHAKUNTALA ~ WORLDS MOST BEAUTIFUL LOVE STORY !!!!Mahabharata contains many soul stirring stories. The story of Shakuntala and Dushyant is one of the most charming among them. The great poet Kalidasa retold this story in his immortal play Abhijnanashakuntalam
The Valmiki Ramayana, prose 51 of Bala Kanda, starts with the story of Vishvamitra , the father of Shakuntala :
There was a king named Kusha (not to be confused with Kusha, son of Rama), a brainchild of Prajapati, and Kusha's son was the powerful and verily righteous Kushanabha. One who is highly renowned by the name Gaadhi was the son of Kushanabha, and Gaadhi's son is this great-saint of great resplendence, Vishvamitra. Vishvamitra ruled the earth, and this great-resplendent king ruled the kingdom for many years.
His story also appears in various Puranas, however they show variations from the Ramayana. The Vishnu Purana and Harivamsha chapter 27 (dynasty of Amaavasu) of Mahabharatha narrates the birth of Vishvamitra. According to Vishnu Purana,kushika married a damsel belonging to Purukutsa dynasty (later called as Shatamarshana lineage - descendents of the Ikshvaku king Trasadasyu) and had a son by name Gaadhi who had a daughter named Satyavati (not to be confused with the Satyavati of Mahabharata).
Satyavati was married to an old Brahmin known as Ruchika who was foremost among the race of Bhrigu. Ruchika desired a son having the qualities of a Brahmin, and so he gave Satyavati a sacrificial offering (charu) which he had prepared to achieve this objective. He also gave Satyavati's mother another charu to make her conceive a son with the character of a Kshatriya at her request. But Satyavati's mother privately asked Satyavati to exchange her charu with her. This resulted in Satyavati's mother giving birth to Vishvamitra, the son of a Kshatriya Gadhi with the qualities of a Brahmin; and Satyavati gave birth to Jamadagni, the father of Parashurama, a Brahmin with qualities of a Kshatriya.
During one of his journeys , he and his soldiers took rest in the ashram of Rishi Vasistha. There, his whole army was well fed and taken care of. This caused a doubt in the king's mind as to how it was possible for this simple ashram to take care of all the arrangements to feed an entire army. He expressed his surprise to the sage. Vasistha replied,
"O king, this feast that you have partaken with your kinsmen, has been provided by my calf Nandini (sometimes referred as Sabala), who was gifted to me by Indra. You must know that she is the daughter of Indra's cow Kamadhenu. She provides me with everything I need."
Kaushika was filled with wonder when he heard this. He began to think that possessing this cow would mean a lot to him; after all, the sage did not have to provide food and sustenance for a large army everyday. He expressed a desire to the sage for obtaining Nandini from him. Vasistha was polite, but steadfast in his refusal. He would not be tempted by the offer of untold wealth that was made by Kaushika, for after all who can set a price on a cow, which can readily yield all the riches in the world.
The king grew exceedingly angry. He insulted the Brahmarishi with harsh words, and ordered his soldiers to seize the cow, and drive it to his kingdom. Nandini was the daughter of Kamdhenu and hence she forcefully protested against the soldiers. Using her powers, she saved the life of Vashishtha.
Kaushika seeks to attain the same spiritual power as Vasistha, to become his equal, a brahmarishi. He undertakes a fierce penance for one thousand years, after which Brahma names him a Rajarishi, or royal sage.
After another long penance of ten thousand years, Brahma names him a rishi, thus leaving his royal lineage permanently. And Brahma suggest him to take Bramharshi grade from his guru Vashishta only, as he only has the power to call you as Brahmarshi.
At this point, Indra, the king of Swarga attempts to test the tapasvin by sending Menaka, an apsara to seduce him. Kaushik then lives with Menaka for 10 years. They have a baby girl Shakuntala. Kaushik becomes angry as Menaka had destroyed his years of meditation and thus he cursed her that she won't possess her beauty, of which she was proud, in next birth. And hence in the next birth she became a monkey and mother of Hanuman, Anjani.
Kaushika now goes to the banks of the river Kaushiki, which is the spirit of his own sister. After many thousands of years of penance, Brahma names him maharishi, but also tells him that he hasn't become a jitendriya yet, lacking control over his passions. This is brought to light to Kaushika when he angrily curses Rambha, an apsara sent by Indra to seduce Kaushika again, to become a stone for a thousand years.
Visvamitra is addressed as maharsis by Brahma and other gods alarmed by his austerities
Rise to Brahmarishi
After cursing Rambha, Kaushika goes to the highest mountain of the Himalayas to perform an even more severe tapasya for over a thousand years. He ceases to eat, and reduces his breathing to a bare minimum.
He is tested again by Indra, who comes as a poor Brahmin begging for food just as Kaushika is ready to break a fast of many years by eating some rice. Kaushika instantly gives his food away to Indra and resumes his meditation. Kaushika also finally masters his passions, refusing to be provoked by any of Indra's testing and seductive interferences.
At the penultimate culmination of a multi-thousand year journey, Kaushika's yogic power is at a peak. At this point, Brahma, at the head of the Devas led by Indra, names Kaushika a brahmarishi, and names him Vishvamitra, or Friend of All for his unlimited compassion. He is also embraced by Vasistha, and their enmity is instantly ended.
Shakuntala is daughter of Rishi Vishwamitra and Apsara Menaka. She is the wife of Dushyanta and the mother of Bharata.
Shakuntala, Daughter of Rishi Vishwamitra Her legend is described in the epic Mahabharata and in Kalidasa`s play the `Recognition of Shakuntala`. Shakuntala means one who is brought up by birds. When she was an infant, she was found in a forest fed by birds after her mother, Menaka left her.
There is a mythical story that relates the birth of Shakuntala. She was born of the union of sage Vishwamitra and the Apsara Menaka. Menaka was sent by Lord Indra, to distract the meditation of Sage Vishwamitra by seducing him. Menaka succeeded in her task and bore a child by him. When Vishwamitra came to know of this he was infuriated. He penances himself by discarding his child and his wife. Manaka, the celestial nymph realized that she could not leave the baby girl with Vishwamitra. So before returning to heaven she left the infant Shakuntala on the banks of the Malini River which rises in the Himalayas.
Rishi Kanwa found the baby Shakuntala surrounded and protected by birds and thus she was named `Shakuntala`. King Dushyanta first met Shakuntala while travelling through the forest with his armed forces. King Dushyanta had hit an arrow at the deer and the deer was wounded. Near the hermitage of Rishi Kanwa, Shakuntala nursed the wounded deer that was her pet. Dushyanta saw Shakuntala and fell in love with her at first sight. King Dushyanta generously begged her forgiveness for harming the deer and stayed at the ashram for some time. They both spent time together and Shakuntala also fell in love with the King. King Dushyanta married Shakuntala there in the hermitage. Before departing Dushyanta gave Shakuntala a royal ring that is a mark of their love, promising her that he would come back for her.
After King Dushyanta left, Shakuntala spent many hours of the day dreaming of her new husband and was often seen in her fantasy world. One day, a powerful Rishi, Durvasa, came to the hermitage.
Shakuntala was in her daydream and forgot to greet the Rishi properly. The sage Durvasa was infuriated at her task and cursed Shakuntala, saying that the person she was dreaming would forget her.
Dushyanta and Shakuntala After cursing when the angry sage Durvasa was about to depart the ashram then one of Shakuntala`s friend hurriedly explained to him the reason for her distraction. The Rishi realized his mistake of and change his curse by saying that the person who had forgotten Shakuntala would remember and recall everything again if Shakuntala showed him a personal token that had been given to her. Shakuntala gave birth to a son named Bharata.
Many days passed and Shakuntala was speculating why King Dushyanta did not revisit her. Then one day she decided to go to the city with her father where Dushyanta was the emperor. On the way, Shakuntala and Rishi Kanwa had to cross a river by a small boat. They drowned in the water of the river, Shakuntala ran her fingers through the water and her ring slipped off her finger without her notice.
Shakuntala went to King Dushyanta`s court but the king could not recognize her or recall any incidence. Shakuntala was hurt and disheartened. She returned to the forests and taking her son, settled in an inner part of the forest by herself. The place was isolated and devoid of the communication of the outer world. Shakuntala spent her days with her son Bharata. Surrounded only by wild animals, Bharata grew to be a strong boy as he was always surrounded by wild animals. He was famous to play with furious animals like tigers and lions, opening their mouth and counting their teeth.
One day a fisherman found the royal ring of Shakuntala given by King Dushyanta. The fisherman was surprised to find a royal ring in the stomach of a fish he had caught. The ring had a royal seal, so the fisherman took the ring to the palace of emperor Dushyanta. Seeing the rings, Dushyanta immediately realized that it belonged to Shakuntala.
Dushyanta memories of his lovely bride came rushing back to him. He instantly set out to find her and arrived at Sage Kanwa`s ashram. Dushyanta came to know that she had left the place long ago and does not stay there. He took Indra chariot and went in search of Shakuntala deep into the forest and came to see a surprising scene in the forest.
The king saw a young boy, Bharata opening the mouth of a lion and was busy counting its teeth. The king Dushyanta greeted the boy. He was astonished by the boy`s courage and strength, and asked his name. The King was surprised when the boy replied him that he was Bharata, the son of King Dushyanta. Bharata took him to Shakuntala, and thus both the King Dushyanta and Shakuntala reunited.
Shankuntala returned with her young son Bharat and the family lived happily, a happiness that passed down to their generations, the entirety of the Indian population.

No comments:

Post a Comment