After Bharata, his descendants flourished as mighty Kurus. Their kingdom extended in north India, the capital city of which was Hastinapur. The successive great kings ruled from here; great not only in material prosperity but also in their strength of character. Their whole life and activity was centered around upholding the rule of Dharma – righteousness. To these noble rulers, life was meaningless if not lived according to the Dharma. For this, they even went as far as sacrificing their own lives. The Mahabharata stories presented here are in chronological order and are aimed to provide a fair amount of knowledge to our young readers.
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.
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