Love is in the Air!

Indian myths are full of love stories. We already posted one of our favorites last year - the story of how Nala won over the warrior princess, Damayanti, with a little help from a busybody swan!  As we count down to Valentine's Day, we'll feature our favorite love stories from ancient India - that wouldn't be out of place in our world today.

Let's now go to ancient India where we meet Shakuntala and learn that sometimes love needs forgiveness to last.

Shakuntala and Dushyant

Shakuntala lived in the forest with her family of hermits, who liked to live simply surrounded by nature. Also, forest creatures as friends? Count us in!

One day, a king, Dushyant, went hunting in the same forest in which Shakuntala lived.  He chased a deer but it ran away from him. When he finally found the deer, he saw that it wasn't alone!  A kind and beautiful young woman was feeding it leaves.  Dushyant saw how caring she was to the deer, dropped his bow and arrow, and wanted to know who she was.  It was none other than Shakuntala.  They started talking -Dushyant was so amazed at her kindness and intelligence.  Shakuntala thought he was wise and funny.  They both fell in love and decided to get married in the forest. He had to return to his kingdom, but he gave her his ring and promised to send his soldiers to bring her to his kingdom.  

While she waited for him in her family's hut, a famous wise man, Durvasa, stopped by.  While Durvasa was very smart, knew many things, and helped people, he had a bad temper.  He knocked on the door, but Shakuntala was daydreaming about Dushyant and her trip to his temple - she forgot to say hello and invite him in.  Durvasa was really angry at what he though were bad manners and put a curse on her - just like she forgot about Durvasa, Dushyant would also forget about Shakuntala. Shakuntala was so upset!  Her friends begged him to change his curse. Realizing he had a tantrum, Durvasa felt bad and said a countercourse - Dushyant would remember her if she gave him something important to him.

Days go by, and Shakuntala's still waiting.  Her father gets annoyed and takes her to Dushyant's kingdom.  Shakuntala brings Dushyant's ring.  Along the way, she drops the ring he gave her.  When they finally meet Dushyant, he doesn't remember her (Durvasa's curse was powerful!) and sends Shakuntala away.

Dushyant not remembering Shakuntala

She became so upset that she asked Mother Earth to help her disappear.  At the same time, a fisherman finds the ring and gives it to Dushyant - the ring breaks the spell and he finally remembers!  When Dushyant can't find Shakuntala, he feels terrible that he didn't bring Shakuntala back with him to the kingdom.  He feels worse that he sent her away.  Once Mother Earth sees that Dushyant is truly sorry for his mistakes, she returns Shakuntala to the forest.  Shakuntala sees that Dushyant is truly sorry and  forgives him. 

She decides to go to the kingdom with him.  Dushyant never takes Shakuntala granted again.  

Did Durvasa ever learn not to have tantrums?  Well, that's a story for another day.