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Story of the Birth of Shakuntala in the Mahabharata

The story of the birth of Shakuntala is found in the Adi Parva of the Mahabharata. She was the daughter of Sage Kaushika and Apsara Menaka.

Kaushika belonged to the Suryavamshi dynasty and he desired to become the most powerful living being. He renounced his kingdom and worldly ties. He started performing intense austerities to become the powerful one in the universe.

The news of the austerity started by Kaushika shook the heaven. Indra, the king of Devas, feared that he would be dethroned by Kaushika.

Indra appointed Apsara Menaka to break the celibacy vow of Kaushika.

The highly desirable and voluptuous Menaka succeeded in netting the Sage in her charms.

From the passionate union of Sage Kaushika and Apsara Menaka was born a baby girl.

Her parents abandoned her in the forest as to Sage Kaushika she was a proof of his failure to curb his desire.

The child was protected by a flock of Shakunta (birds). Sage Kanava later discovered her and named her Shakuntala.