|| १- Shakuntala ||

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With a new update, this time on Shakuntala 😊 There are many versions to this story, but we have chosen to follow one of the simplest.

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SHAKUNTALA

Leaning onto the couch, Krishna started His narration.

"Years and years ago, Brahmarishi Vishwamitra was performing Ghor Tapasya. His tapasya was turning the world topsy-turvy, and thus the apsara Menaka was sent to distract him, which she did successfully. They lived together for ten long years, completely and fully in love with each other. Their true love gave birth to a baby girl Shakuntala. She was named thus as she was as flighty as a bird. Menaka, being an apsara, couldn't have worldly attachments. Thus, she gave the child to her human counterpart, Vishwamitra. But the Brahmarishi wanted to continue his tapasya. Knowing that his friend, Maharishi Kanva's Ashram was nearby, he went there to request Kanva to take care of Shakuntala. After Kanva assured Brahmarishi that he would take care of Shakuntala, Brahmarishi left for his tapasya"

"And thus, Shakuntala had two fathers", said Rukmini.

"Exactly Priye", said Krishna, smiling.

"And then Swami?", asked Nagnajiti.

"Shakuntala was brought up by the birds of the forest near Kanva Maharishi's ashram. That added another meaning to her name", said Krishna. "Shakuntala grew up into a beautiful young woman, whose love for Nature made her shower her love towards all animals. Her love for them kept the animals happy. The deer ate the fruit she fed them, the rabbits always sat on her lap. Thus, was Shakuntala"

"And then came Maharaja Dushyanta", said Mitravinda, eyes glowing with curiosity.

"Yes. He was the King of Hastinapura, one of the biggest Kingdoms even then. Dushyanta had finished a victory march, and was passing through the forest, when he heard that Maharishi Kanva's Ashram was on the way. Wanting to get blessings from the Maharishi, he went to the Ashram", said Krishna, smiling softly.

"And love happened", said Jambavati, a glowing smile of love at her husband.

"It did. Shakuntala and Dushyanta fell in love with each other at first sight. Neither could forget the other. Shakuntala's sakhis had never seen Shakuntala in a state of so much... well, forgetfulness, let's call it?", said Krishna.

"Of course. You have no idea what we eight went through", said Satyabhama, shaking her head.

"I had no clue", said Krishna, innocently. "Anyway, their love led them to have a secret marriage. For ten years, they lived together, happily among Nature's creations. But Dushyanta couldn't permanently stay with Shakuntala, irrespective of how much he wanted it. Eventually, he was called by his ministers to come back to the Kingdom. Not wanting to leave Shakuntala, but having to go, Dushyanta left, with the promise of coming back for Shakuntala. To remember him, he gave her his ring, promising to come back for her"

"And then came the curse?", asked Bhadra.

"And then came the curse. A very short time after Dushyanta's leaving, Maharishi Durvasa came to visit his friend, Maharishi Kanva. Shakuntala was lost in thoughts of her beloved, writing his name on the leaves of the Lotus, and thus, didn't acknowledge the sage. You know how Durvasa is. Angered, he cursed Shakuntala that the one who she was thinking about would forget her", said Krishna, sadly. "By that time, Shakuntala was pregnant. It was then that her father, Maharishi Kanva came to a crying Shakuntala"

"She told him all that happened?", asked Kalindi.

"She did. And he told her to wait for the birth of her child. In a few months, Shakuntala gave birth to a healthy baby boy, who was named Bharat by the sage, as he would unite the entire Bharatvarsh in the future. When Bharat was five, Maharishi Kanva asked Shakuntala to approach Maharaja Dushyanta with him. And they did, with Bharata"

"But the King didn't remember the truth, did he?", asked Lakshmana, softly, a sad smile on her lovely face.

"He didn't. When Shakuntala showed him the ring, people accused her of stealing the ring. Forcing her to give back the ring, Shakuntala was sent away, the only remembrance of Dushyanta now being Bharat", said Krishna.
Smiling at the eager faces of His wives, Krishna continued His story.

"It was at that time that Maharishi Durvasa came back to the Ashram to see Maharishi Kanva. After hearing the tale of Shakuntala, Maharishi Durvasa agreed to give Dushyanta his memories. Soon after, Dushyanta came to the Ashram of the Maharishi, begging for Shakuntala and his son back. At that very same time, Brahmarishi Vishwamitra came to visit his daughter. Seeing that he had a grandson, the sage blessed Bharat with Victory wherever he goes"

"And they went back to Hastinapura, where Dushyanta with Shakuntala ruled the Kingdom for many years, before retiring to the forests, giving the reigns of the Kingdom to Bharata", continued Krishna.

"Maharaja Bharata fathered Maharaja Shantanu", said Rukmini.

"Who is the father of the patriot and the grandfather of the Pandavas and Kauravas", said Satyabhama.

"Exactly. The story starts taking many twists, starting from the day Maharaja Shantanu went for a hunt near river Ganga", said Krishna. 

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