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This play is based on the story of the birth of the hero Bharata in book 1 of Mahabharata and the Sanskrit play on the same subject, Abhijnanasakuntala, or The Recognition of Sakuntala, by Kalidasa of around the 5th century CE - the best known and loved of classical Sanskrit plays. In Mahabharata, Bharata's mother, Sakuntala, the daughter of a great sage and a heavenly nymph, is abandoned by her parents and brought up in a hermitage. She marries the great king Dushanta but he forgets her and she gives birth to the future world ruler without him, though they are later reconciled. Kalidasa adds many characters to the account in Mahabharata and two main new plot elements: the curse that makes the king forget Sakuntala, and the ring which she loses in the lake and is later found inside a fish, causing the king to remember.
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