Dushyanta, the king of India and hero of this poetic drama. Falling in love at first sight with akuntal, he persuades her to marry him secretly. In fulfillment of a curse, he forgets about her thereafter until a ring he gave her is shown to him. Reunited first in heaven and then returned to Earth, they live happily for many years.
akuntal, the daughter of a Brahman and a water nymph. She returns the king’s love and marries him but remains in her sacred grove after his departure to await her foster father’s return. After her husband fails to recognize her, she is taken away to heaven by a strange winged being. She gives birth to a son before she and her husband are reunited.
Kanwa, a wise hermit and akuntal’s foster father. Having the gift of omniscience, he knows all about the secret wedding. Informed by a supernatural voice that akuntal’s son is destined to rule the world, he blesses the union and sends akuntal off to her husband. Her premonitions of evil prove true when Dushyanta fails to recognize her.
Mathavya, the king’s jester. To be near akuntal, the king breaks off his hunting, pretending that his motive is to humor a wish of Mathavya.
Bharata, the son of akuntal and Dushyanta. Carried to heaven for a reunion with his wife, Dushyanta finds a young boy playing with a lion. The boy proves to be his son, who accompanies him and akuntal back to Earth.