Menaka was born during the churning of the ocean by the devas and asuras and was one of the most beautiful apsaras (celestial nymph) in the world with quick intelligence and innate talent but desired a family. Vishwamitra, one of the most respected and revered sages in ancient India, frightened the gods and even tried to create another heaven- Indra, frightened by his powers, sent Menaka from heaven to earth to lure him and break his meditation. Menaka successfully incited Vishwamitra's lust and passion when he saw her beauty. She succeeded in breaking the meditation of Vishwamitra. However, she fell in genuine love with him and a baby was born to them who later grew in Sage Kanva's ashram and came to be called Shakuntala. Later Shakuntala falls in love with King Dushyanta and gives birth to a child called Bharata after whom India was first named. When Vishwamitra realized that he had been tricked by Indra, he was enraged. But he merely cursed Menaka to be separated from him forever, for he loved her as well and knew that she had lost all devious intentions towards him long ago.
- Devdutt Pattanaik (2000). The Goddess in India: The Five Faces of the Eternal Feminine. Inner Traditions / Bear & Co. p. 67.
Menaka's choice by Kavita Kane
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