HINDUISM AND SANATAN DHARMA

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ABHIGYANA SHAKUNTALAM-by Kalidas, Oldest Love Story

 

ABHIGYANA SHAKUNTALAM ~ THE RECOGNITION OF SHAKUNTALA ~

BHARAT [ TODAY’S INDIA ] NAMED BHARAT AFTER THE SON OF KING DUSHYANT + SHAKUNTALA

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.

NOW COMING TO STORY OF SHAKUNTALA

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.

There is a 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 PRIYAMWADA
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.

After reading Kalidasa’s play, Germany’s greatest man of letters, Johann Wolfgang Goethe was inspired to pen the following lines:

“Wouldst thou the young year’s blossoms
and the fruits of its decline,
And all by which the soul is charmed,
enraptured, feasted, fed?
Wouldst thou the earth and heaven itself
in one sole name combine?
I name thee, O Shakuntala,
and all at once is said.”

From Ravvi Kumar ji. Thanks.

Link to article in Hindi–http://sanskritum.blogspot.com/2015/02/kalidas.html

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This entry was posted on February 15, 2015 by in abhigyan shakuntalam, kalidas and tagged , .

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