Tried googling, couldn't find answer.

Yesterday someone narrated that in Mahabharata days there was a sage (His name was Vishwamitra) was doing Tapasya to be as powerful as Shiva, Vishnu, Indra.

The gods wanted to break the Tapasya so one of them sent a beautiful dancer to break his meditation.

Tapasya was broken and when Vishwamitra looked at the dancer she became pregnant.

Daughter was named Shakuntala.

Question. According to Hindu scriptures which of the gods devised the plan to send the dancer to break his Tapasya?

  • 3
    Vishnuwanth...LOL how did u get this name?? :D
    – Rickross
    Aug 7, 2017 at 5:32
  • @Rickross I spelled the name according to what I heard. Really unfamiliar with these names.
    – Rhonda
    Aug 8, 2017 at 12:19

2 Answers 2


First of all, the name of the sage was Vishwamitra. Once he was doing a very severe austerities so Lord Indra thought that the sage has an eye on his throne. So, it was lord Indra who send a damsel Menaka to break his penance. It is mentioned in Mahabharata, Adi Parva, SECTION LXXI.

'Viswamitra, of old, having been engaged in the austerest penances alarmed Indra, the chief of the celestials, who thought that the mighty ascetic of blazing energy would, by his penances, hurl him down from his high seat in heaven.' Indra, thus alarmed, summoned Menaka and told her, 'Thou, O Menaka, art the first of celestial Apsaras. Therefore, O amiable one, do me this service. Hear what I say. This great ascetic Viswamitra like unto the Sun in splendour, is engaged in the most severe of penances. My heart is trembling with fear. Indeed, O slender-waisted Menaka, this is thy business. Thou must see that Viswamitra of soul rapt in contemplation and engaged in the austerest penances, who might hurl me down from my seat. Go and tempt him and frustrating his continued austerities accomplish my good. Win him away from his penances, O beautiful one, by tempting him with thy beauty, youth, agreeableness, arts, smiles and speech.'

Second of all it is not just Vishwamitra looked and Menaka became pregnant but they spend a quiet good time to beget Shakuntala as mentioned in next chapter.

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.

  • Ok, I thought in those days powerful sages had the ability (or perhaps some ancient medical technology?) to look at a lady and make her pregnant. Didn't Satyavati (stepmother of Bhishma) get pregnant this way with her first son who later became Rishi himself? Well, thank you for the quick answer!
    – Rhonda
    Aug 6, 2017 at 18:31
  • @Rhonda You are welcome. Btw you can read the story of Satyavati here in Mahabharata. Aug 6, 2017 at 18:38

Apart from Adi Parva of Mahabharata Sambhava Parva Chapters 71 & 72 - Shakuntala's History - Bala Kanda of Srimad Valmiki Ramayana narrates the History of Maharishi Kaushika who subsequently came to be known world over by his name Brahmarishi Vishwamitra in chapters 51 to 65.

Brahmarishi Vishwamitra had approached Emperor Dasharatha to send his sons Rama and Lakshmana with him to his hermitage to protect his yagnas from the rampages of the asuras. Intially Dashratha refuses, offering to accompany the sage himself and if required with his army, but Vishwamitra was adamant. On the advice of his preceptor Sage Vasishta, Dashratha allows his sons to accompany the sage. We all know the stories of the slaying of Tataka, Subahu and sending Marichi with his arrows to a far distant place. Most of us also know that it was during this expedition that Rama and Lakshmana acquired the knowledge of divine weapons Bala & Atibala.

After Vishwamitra finished his yagnas and austerities, Rama and Lakshmana accompany him to Mithila, on the way liberating Ahalya from an age old curse to re-unite her with her husband Sage Gautama and they reach Mithila.

There Raja Janaka welcomes Sage Vishmitra and his followers. Amongst the sages in present in Mithila was Maharishi Shatananda, the eldest son of Sage Gautama and Ahalya, and hearing from Sage Vishwamitra about his mother's liberation he welcomes Sri Rama and tells of the greatness of Brahmarishi Vishwamitra.

Indra the king of Devas thought that Raja Kaushika undertook penances to become as powerful as himself and deprive him of his throne and position. Apart from the attempt to seduce him through Menaka, which resulted in the birth of his daughter Shakuntala, Indra once disguised as a poor Brahmana deprived Vishwamitra of the fast breaking food, but by that time Vishwamitra was more in control of his senses and he quitely went back to perform austerities for another 10000 years. Indra tried to seduce Vishwamitra once again through Divine Nymph Rambha, but the infuriated sage cursed her to turn into a rock for 10000 years.

Brahmarishi Vishwamitra undertook severe austerities not to be equal to Shiva or Vishnu, nor was he interested in Indra's throne as Indra feared. Going back Vishwamitra was a noble king Kaushika. Once on his tours he came to the hermitage of Brahmarishi Vasishta and was entertained to a royal repast. This was possible by the Divine Cow known variously as Nandini, Kamadhenu, etc. gifted to him which could fulfill all the desires of its masters. Kauishka wanted it, but Vasishta would not part with it. In a pitched battle Vaishta easily vanquished the king and his army single handedly. The desire to own Kamadhenu prompted Kauishka to severe austerities and penances till he overcame his desires, conquered his senses and realized Brahman by becoming a Brahmarishi.

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