Indra, chief of gods, was afraid of Rishi Vishwamitra’s severe penance. He instructed Menaka to lure the great ascetic and seduce him, and thus disrupt his penance.
Menaka went to the retreat of great sage Vishwamitra. She offered her respectful salutations to the Rishi and began her ever so subtle sensual sport, while engaging him on a walk in the woods around his abode. She was draped in a cloth white as the moon, which Marut soon caused to fly with a gush of wind. Abashed, she ran after her garment, to catch hold of it, and expressed her distress and annoyance at Marut when the garment continued to remain out of her reach.
Eyeing the sensual sport of the fullsome woman barely half clad, her dazzling beauty being played about by the breeze, exerting her fair limbs in distress, unmindful of the rise and fall of her soft breasts, Viswamitra was roused with sensual affection, causing his lust to gather like a ball of fire. Beholding her thus exposed, the sage saw her ageless and exceedingly handsome form, her perfectly endowed features, and was drawn enough to move up and put his arm about her waist in companionship. He kissed her on the neck, inviting intimacy, to which Menaka responded. They spent a long time in physical intimacy, sporting with each other, just as they pleased, as if time had stopped.
Menaka conceived through their conjugal bliss and delivered a daughter. She moved to the banks of the river Malini coursing along a valley of the charming mountains of Himavat, as her pregnancy advanced. She left the new-born on the bank of the river and went away, never to look back. Lying in that desolation abounding with carnivores and other ferocios animals, the infant was protected by scores of vultures, who stood guard around her.
Rishi Kanva narrated : Those vultures protected the daughter of Menaka. I went there to perform my ablutions and beheld the infant lying in solitude of the wilderness, surrounded by vultures. Bringing her hither as I would my own daughter, I raised her as such. Indeed, the maker of the body, the protector of life and the giver of food are fathers — all three, in that order as scriptures suggest. And because she was surrounded by Shakunts (birds), I named her Sakuntala. O Brahman, know that it is thus Sakuntala has become my daughter. And so does the faultless Shakuntala regards me as her father.
Extract from forthcoming work :
SORO USHA — A Millennial Work