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(Sambhava Parva continued)

Kanwa continued, 'And Sakra, thus addressed by her, then commanded him who could approach every place (viz., the god of the wind) to be present with Menaka at the time she would be before the Rishi. And the timid and beautiful Menaka then entered the retreat and saw there Viswamitra who had burnt, by his penances, all his sins, and was engaged still in ascetic penances. And saluting the Rishi, she then began to sport before him. And just at that time Marut robbed her of her garments that were white as the Moon. And she thereupon ran, as if in great bashfulness, to catch hold of her attire, and as if she was exceedingly annoyed with Marut. And she did all this before the very eyes of Viswamitra who was endued with energy like that of fire. And Viswamitra saw her in that attitude. And beholding her divested of her robes, he saw that she was of faultless feature. And that best of Munis saw that she was exceedingly handsome, with no marks of age on her person. And beholding her beauty and accomplishments that bull amongst Rishis was possessed with lust and made a sign that he desired her companionship. And he invited her accordingly, and she also of faultless features expressed her acceptance of the invitation. And they then passed a long time there in each other's company. And sporting with each other, just as they pleased, for a long time as if it were only a single day, the Rishi begat on Menaka a daughter named Sakuntala. And Menaka (as her conception advanced) went to the banks of the river Malini coursing along a valley of the charming mountains of Himavat. And there she gave birth to that daughter. And she left the new-born infant on the bank of that river and went away. And beholding the new-born infant lying in that forest destitute of human beings but abounding with lions and tigers, a number of vultures sat around to protect it from harm. No Rakshasas or carnivorous animals took its life. Those vultures protected the daughter of Menaka. I went there to perform my ablution and beheld the infant lying in the solitude of the wilderness surrounded by vultures. Bringing her hither I have made her my daughter. Indeed, the maker of the body, the protector of life, the giver of food, are all three, fathers in their order, according to the scriptures. And because

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she was surrounded in the solitude of the wilderness, by Sakuntas (birds), therefore, hath she been named by me Sakuntala (bird-protected). O Brahman, learn that it is thus that Sakuntala hath become my daughter. And the faultless Sakuntala also regards me as her father.'

"This is what my father had said unto the Rishi, having been asked by him. O king of men, it is thus that thou must know I am the daughter of Kanwa. And not knowing my real father, I regard Kanwa as my father. Thus have I told thee, O king, all that hath been heard by me regarding my birth!'"

Next: Section LXXIII