The Mahabharata Home
(Sambhava Parva continued)
"Vaisampayana continued, 'King Dushmanta, hearing all this, said, 'Well-spoken, O princess, this that thou hast said! Be my wife, O beautiful one! What shall I do for thee? Golden garlands, robes, ear-rings of gold, white and handsome pearls, from various countries, golden coins, finest carpets, I shall present thee this very day. Let the whole of my kingdom be thine today, O beautiful one! Come to me, O timid one, wedding me, O beautiful one, according to the Gandharva form. O thou of tapering thighs, of all forms of marriage, the Gandharva one is regarded as the first.'
"Sakuntala, hearing this, said, 'O king, my father hath gone away from this asylum to bring fruit. Wait but a moment; he will bestow me on thee.'
"Dushmanta replied, 'O beautiful and faultless one, I desire that thou shouldst be my life's companion. Know thou that I exist for thee, and my heart is in thee. One is certainly one's own friend, and one certainly may depend upon one's own self. Therefore, according to the ordinance, thou canst certainly bestow thyself. There are, in all, eight kinds of marriages. These are Brahma, Daiva, Arsha, Prajapatya, Asura, Gandharva, Rakshasa, and Paisacha, the eighth. Manu, the son of the self-create, hath spoken of the appropriateness of all these forms according to their order. Know, O faultless one, that the first four of these are fit for Brahmanas, and the first six for Kshatriyas. As regards kings, even the Rakshasa form is permissible. The Asura form is permitted to Vaisyas and Sudras. Of the first five the three are proper, the other two being improper. The Paisacha and the Asura forms should never be practised. These are the institutes of religion, and one should act according to them. The Gandharva and the Rakshasa form are consistent with the practices of Kshatriyas. Thou needst not entertain the least fear. There is not the least doubt that either according to any one of these last-mentioned forms, or according to a union of both of them, our wedding may take place. O thou of the fairest complexion, full of desire I am, thou also in a similar mood mayst become my wife according to the Gandharva form.'
"Sakuntala, having listened to all this, answered, 'If this be the course sanctioned by religion, if, indeed, I am my own disposer, hear, O thou foremost one of Puru's race, what my terms are. Promise truly to give me what I ask thee. The son that shall be begotten on me shall become thy heir-apparent. This, O king, is my fixed resolve. O Dushmanta, if thou grant this, then let our union take place.'
"Vaisampayana continued, 'The monarch, without taking time to consider at once told her, 'Let it be so. I will even take thee, O thou of agreeable smiles, with me to my capital. I tell thee truly. O beautiful one, thou deservest all this.' And so saying, that first of kings wedded the handsome Sakuntala of graceful gait, and knew her as a husband. And assuring her duly, he went away, telling her repeatedly, 'I shall send thee, for thy escort, my troops of four classes. Indeed, it is even thus that I shall take thee to my capital, O thou of sweet smiles!"
"Vaisampayana continued, 'O Janamejaya, having promised so unto her, the king went away. And as he retraced his way homewards, he began to think of Kasyapa. And he asked himself, 'What will the illustrious ascetic say, after he has known all?' Thinking of this, he entered his capital.
"The moment the king had left, Kanwa arrived at his abode. But Sakuntala, from a sense of shame, did not go out to receive her father. That great ascetic, however, possessed of spiritual knowledge, knew all. Indeed beholding everything with his spiritual eye, the illustrious one was pleased, and addressing her, said, 'Amiable one, what hath been done by thee today in secret, without, having waited for me--viz., intercourse with a man--hath not been destructive of thy virtue. Indeed, union according to the Gandharva form, of a wishful woman with a man of sensual desire, without mantras of any kind, it is said, is the best for Kshatriyas. That best of men, Dushmanta, is also high-souled and virtuous. Thou hast, O Sakuntala, accepted him for thy husband. The son that shall be born of thee shall be mighty and illustrious in this world. And he shall have sway over the sea. And the forces of that illustrious king of kings, while he goeth out against his foes shall be irresistible.'
"Sakuntala then approached her fatigued father and washed his feet. And taking down the load he had with him and placing the fruits in proper order, she told him, 'It behoveth thee to give thy grace to that Dushmanta whom I have accepted for my husband, as well as his ministers!'
"Kanwa replied, 'O thou of the fairest complexion, for thy sake I am inclined to bless him. But receive from me, O blessed one, the boon that thou desirest.'
"Vaisampayana continued, 'Sakuntala, thereupon, moved by desire of benefiting Dushmanta, asked the boon that the Paurava monarchs might ever be virtuous and never deprived of their thrones.'"
Next: Section LXXIV