The story being narrated is that told by the great poet Kalidas in the drama ‘Abhigyan Shakuntalam”. He has with his brilliance added few events to make the story more appealing and interesting to read.
One day while strolling along the banks of river Malini sage Kanv hears ferocious chirping of birds. Full of curiosity he goes to the spot to investigate the cause of commotion, in the otherwise peaceful jungle. He is happily surprised to find the birds hovering around a human child. He picks up the child and brings her to the ashram. As she was surrounded by birds he names her Shakuntala. Shakuntala grows up under the guidance of sage Kanv in the ashram. One day out on a hunt king Dushyant reaches the bank of river Malini. There he finds some sage collecting fire woods on its bank. On inquiring they tell him that they reside in Kanvashram which lies up ahead along the river.
Leaving his soldiers behind Dushyant enters the ashram. The king is welcomed by an extremely charming young maiden. She cordially welcomes him into the ashram. Surprised at seeing a beautiful and charming maiden in the ashram Dushyant asks her as to who she is. Shakuntala then tells the king what has been told to her by father. That Lord Indra perturbed by the deep meditation of sage Vishvamitra plans to disturb his mediation. He therefore sends apsra Menka to earth. Menka is successful in seducing the sage and with their union a girl child is born to Menka. Having succeeded in her task she leaves the child in the jungle on the bank of river Malini and returns to her heavenly abode. Deeply impressed by the words, mannerism and captivated by the beauty of Shakuntala, Dushyant asks her to marry him. Shakuntala requests Dushyant to await the arrival of her father. Dushyant however insists on a Gandharv marriage. Reluctantly Shakuntala agrees but extracts a promise from Dushyant that the child born out of their union will be successor to his throne. Dushyant bitten by the desire to possess Shakuntala agrees. With the rites of a Gandharv marriage they unite. He also gives Shakuntala his royal ring as a present. Having spent some time in the ashram Dushyant leaves. He promises Shakuntala that he will send his mighty army to escort her to his capital at the earliest. On his return to the ashram Kanv understands the complete situation and tells Shakuntala that she has done no wrong as Gandharv marriage is superior to all different types of marriage as per the dharma.
King Dushyant does not make any effort to get Shakuntala to his palace. One day lost in Dushyant thought Shakuntala fails to welcome sage Durvasha who arrives in the ashram. Enraged Durvasha curses Shakuntala that lost in whose thought she has not given him a befitting welcome in the ashram, will forget her. The inhabitants of the ashram are extremely shocked and disturbed when they hear of the curse. They implore the sage to forget and forgive and tell him all that has happened to Shakuntala. They assure him that Shakuntala regrets the omission and has accepted her mistake. The sage Durvasha thereafter says that the curse once pronounced cannot be revoked but its effect can be reduced. He thereafter says that when Shakuntala will show something to that person, he will recollect his past and remember her. Shakuntala is happy for she has the king’s ring with her. Shakuntala subsequently gives birth to a boy child. He grows up in the ashram. Then one day on advice of sage Kanv, Shakuntala along with her son and some members of the ashram start a journey to meet king Dushyant in his capital. En route the journey they have to travel by a boat to cross the river. While travelling on the boat Shakuntala by mistake drops the royal ring in the river. Without the ring to remind the king, to undo the curse, Dushyant refuses to recognize Shakuntala. She pleads, but Dushyant is unmoved. Shakuntala, there after leaves his court and returns to Kanvashram.
Fortunately, a fisherman while cutting open a big fish he hasnetted, finds a ring in its stomach. While the fisherman was discussing the issue of the ring with his other follow mates, it is over heard by the king’s soldiers. The soldiers take the fisherman along with the ring to the king Dushyant. On seeing the ring Dushyant recollects all and is full of remorse. He gives gifts to the fisherman and the soldiers and sets off for Kanvashram as the effect of the curse of sage Durvasha was over. On entering the ashram he sees a child playing with ferocious lions who has opened his mouth to count his teeth. On inquiring the boy tells him that he the son of Shakuntala. Dushyant there after accepts Shakuntala as his Queen and declares the child as prince, to be the future king or his successor. It was this son of Dushyant and Shakuntala who unified this huge land mass into one nation. The generation thereafter honoured him by calling this nation as “BHARAT VARSH”