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Religious lecturer Shakuntala story-telling in Cedros

By SEETA PERSAD Tuesday, July 29 2008

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STORY TELLER: Shakuntala Jangbahadoor tells ancient story in Cedros....
STORY TELLER: Shakuntala Jangbahadoor tells ancient story in Cedros....

The Penal-based religious activist and secondary school teacher, Shakuntala Jangbahadoor had full attention of a huge audience at the home of the Mathuras in Cedros when she did the story of the character of ‘Shakuntala’ of the Maha Puran.

“Sage Vishwamitra was engaged in great austerities and penance that would give him almost absolute power over kingdom of earth and heaven.

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 spiritual discipline. Indra thought of using weapon of lust to this end,” she opened by saying.

Accordingly, Jangbahadoor said, the most beautiful Menaka, was sent from heaven to seduce Vishwamitra. Menaka tried to tempt Vishmamitra with her charming dances. After some efforts Vishmamitra fell to the lure of her beauty.

As the story goes they were married and the yogic power of Vishmamitra was broken. A beautiful daughter was born to them whom they named Shakuntala. Her assignment completed, Menaka returned to the kingdom of heaven, and Vishmamitra, left for forest retreat after handing over the new born baby to a sage named Kanva. Shakuntala grew up as a beautiful lady.

Once, King Dushyanta, happened to come near the home of Shakuntala by way of hunting. He saw Shakuntala and lost his heart to her. The king proposed to Shakuntala and they were married. Dushyanta stayed overnight and left promising Shakuntala that he would soon send for her. He gave his ring to his wife cautioning her not to lose it.

As the destiny had it, in his busy schedule of affairs of the kingdom, the king Dushyanta forgot all about Shakuntala. She was worried as news of her husband did not reach her, nor did he send anyone to take her to his palace. The worry almost turned into panic because of the fact that she was pregnant, and soon her condition was sure to reveal this truth. Kanva noticed the change in Shakuntala. He had brought up Shakuntala as her daughter and he decided to send her to her husband, king Dushyanta, where she should be accepted as his queen.

Jangbahadoor smiled as she related the story saying, the day was fixed for Shakuntala to leave. She was dressed in most beautiful silk attire and left for the kingdom of her husband in a ferry boat. While running her hands through the water, the ring slipped out of her finger. Soon it was swallowed by a fish. Shakuntala was not even aware of this fact.

She reached the court of Dushyanta, and a message was sent to the king of the arrival of ‘a woman who claimed to be his wife’. Dushyanta had lost his memory about Shakuntala and he refused to accept her as his wife. The pitiful Shakuntala tried to remind her husband about the night they had stayed together in the home of Kanva, but of no avail. Disappointed, Shakuntala left for the forest all alone and decided to give birth to the child. She named him Bharata.

Bharata grew without any human company other than her mother. All around in the jungle he encountered wild animals, plants and trees. He developed into a fearless, healthy, and active child. Lions and tigers were his friends, and he used to ride them as we ride horses. There in the kingdom of Dushyanta, one fisherman caught the fish that had swallowed the royal ring that had slipped from the finger of Shakuntala. When he cut open the fish, he found the ring. He rushed to the king and gave him the ring. On seeing his ring, the king remembered everything about Shakuntala. He was sorry to send his pregnant wife away with such rudeness. He sent his men all around the kingdom in search of Shakuntala.

“Shakuntala took her dejection with pride and walked away to build a life on her own. She did not think of revenge as such she was bent on making a good life for herself despite the fact that her husband had turned away from her,” Jangbahadoor said adding that people should spend 90 percent of the time finding a solution to the problem and ten percent on the problem.

In the end, the king learnt that Shakuntala and her son were safe. He went himself to fetch his wife and son, and begged their pardon and with due honour and festivity brought them to the palace. Later, Bharata became the king of ancient India. Since then India is also known as Bharatavarsha - the land of Bharata.

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