Sacred forest. Site where King Dushyanta is hunting as the play opens and where he meets and falls in love with akuntal. He is an intruder in the forest, in contrast to akuntal, who considers animals and plants her kin. Local religious devotees ask Dushyanta, who is devout, not to kill any animals in the vicinity; he assents, but his presence nonetheless upsets the balance of life in the forest, much as akuntal’s visit to his palace later in the play upsets the established order there.
King Dushyanta’s palace
King Dushyanta’s palace. Here akuntal comes to plead her case with the king, who, due to a curse, has no memory of their love. Courtiers declaim elaborate, somewhat artificial poetry whose nature imagery ironically echoes earlier, happier scenes. Significantly, it is only when Dushyanta retreats to his garden, where he has been attempting to paint a picture of akuntal’s forest home—another artificial reach toward nature’s authenticity—that deliverance from his troubles comes: a summons from Indra, chief of the gods. He requests Dushyanta’s help in defeating a powerful demon.
Sacred grove of Kashyapa
Sacred grove of Kashyapa (KAWSH-yuh-puh). After triumph in battle, Dushyanta comes here to worship. His faith and his service to Indra are rewarded: He is reunited with akuntal and meets, for the first time, their son, who shows signs of future valor. As in act 1, the action is set in a sacred wood, but now both Dushyanta and akuntal have been brought into harmony with the setting through their devotion and selfless service.