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Samsara and Sakuntala

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Samsara literally means ‘the continuous flow.’ The flow is a cycle starting at birth, life, death and reincarnation within Hinduism. Sakuntala is a nymph who was the daughter to Vishvamitra by a nymph Meneka. Sakuntala’s story revolves around her love, marriage, separation and her re-union with the king Dushyata.


The essay below explains the purpose of "patient suffering" as a means for all men to escape from "samsara" in the Hindi faith, and use of Sakuntala as an exemplary representative of the necessity and effectiveness of "patient suffering."


Sakuntala was left in the forest which was her birthplace. She got her nourishment from birds until Kanwa, a sage, found her. Love between Sakuntala and king Dushyanta started while she was under the care of the sage Kanwa. Sakuntala’s sight led king Dushyanta to fall in love. The king induced her to the Ganharva, a mutual yet easy declaration of mutual acceptance. As a pledge to his love before returning to his city, Dushyanta gave Sakuntala a ring. Durvasas, a sage, visiting Kanwa cursed Sakuntala to be forgotten by the lover. However, having thought over the curse, the sage promised that the curse would be lifted once the king Dushyanta saw the ring. Sakuntala set in search of his husband. On the way, she took a birth in a sacred pool where she lost her ring. The curse could not lift due to the lack of the ring, so the king did not recognize Sakuntala.

Sakuntala tries to convince the king of their meeting, but this makes her suffer more. She could not convince him. A fisherman caught a large fish where he found the ring, the ring of recollection. The fisherman took it to the king who recognized his ring, which led to his subsequent acceptance of Sakuntala and her son Bharata. Patient suffering is evident in Sakuntala’s case. The missing ring of recollection is the sole course of Sakuntala’s sufferings. There is a happy re-union after an exceedingly long duration of accumulated suffering.

Samsara and its Shortcomings

Turning mind from Samsara is freeing you from every attachment life in the realms of Samsara. The precious human rebirth, karma, impermanence and the Samsaric suffering allow us to develop this freedom. The precious human re-birth has been considered precious having evaded the following suffering, birth in paranoia, hunger and thirst, animal birth, birth within uncivilized lands, birth as a god (with unusually long life where the aftermath is the rebirth in a less and painful states), life on incorrect views and finally birth when no Buddha appears. At this time, one does not get the Buddhist teachings and, therefore, no knowledge on how to free from Samsaric suffering. Impermanence talks of the ways in which every human life may end not necessarily at old age. Karma depicts that actions lead to a casualty. Positive actions lead to positive results and vice versa where the latter causes suffering. However, teachings inform that the negative deeds have positive aspects. The aspects are put in place when one gets to purify him or her from the negativity created. This purification may be applied through the four powers, action regret, re-preparation of the resulting ill effects, resolution and laying in place the first three powers.


If negative experiences predominate, suffering is mainly experienced. Samsaric suffering is as a result of cumulative negative actions. Samsara may be compared with the sitting on the end of a needle. It is suffering all through. Discern between right and evil should help in doing away with unacceptable actions. The corresponding result will help in freeing Samsara.

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