(Sambhava Parva continued)
“Vaisampayana said, ’The monarch then, as he proceeded, left even his reduced retinue at the entrance of the hermitage. And entering quite alone he saw not the Rishi (Kanwa) of rigid vows. And not seeing the Rishi and finding that the abode was empty, he called loudly, saying, ‘What ho, who is here?’ And the sound of his voice was echoed back. And hearing the sound of his voice, there came out of the Rishi’s abode a maiden beautiful as Sri herself but dressed as an ascetic’s daughter. And the black-eyed fair one, as she saw king Dushmanta, bade him welcome and received him duly. And, showing him due respect by the offer of a seat, water to wash his feet, and Arghya, she enquired about the monarch’s health and peace. And having worshipped the king and asked him about his health and peace, the maiden reverentially asked, ’What must be done, O king! I await your commands.’ The king, duly worshipped by her, said unto that maiden of faultless features and sweet speech, ’I have come to worship the highly-blessed Rishi Kanwa. Tell me, O amiable and beautiful one, where has the illustrious Rishi gone?’
“Sakuntala then answered, ’My illustrious father hath gone away from the asylum to fetch fruit. Wait but a moment and thou wilt see him when he arrives.’
“Vaisampayana continued, ’The king not seeing the Rishi and addressed thus by her, beheld that the maiden was exceedingly beautiful and endued with perfect symmetry of shape. And he saw that she was of sweet smiles. And she stood decked with the beauty of her faultless features, her ascetic penances, and her humility. And he saw that she was in the bloom of youth. He therefore asked her, ’Who art thou? And whose daughter, O beautiful one? Why hast thou come into the woods also? O handsome one, gifted with so much beauty and such virtues, whence hast thou come? O charming one, at the very first glance hast thou stolen my heart! I desire to learn all about thee; therefore tell me all.’ And thus addressed by the monarch, the maiden smilingly replied in these sweet words, ’O Dushmanta, I am the daughter of the virtuous, wise, high-souled, and illustrious ascetic Kanwa.’
“Dushmanta, hearing this, replied, ’The universally-worshipped and highly-blessed Rishi is one whose seed hath been drawn up. Even Dharma himself might fall off from his course but an ascetic of rigid vows can never fall off so. Therefore, O thou of the fairest complexion, how hast thou been born as his daughter? This great doubt of mine it behoveth thee to dispel.’
“Sakuntala then replied, ’Hear, O king, what I have learnt regarding all that befell me of old and how I became the daughter of the Muni. Once on a time, a Rishi came here and asked about my birth. All that the illustrious one (Kanwa) told him, hear now from me, O king!