- śrī-duṣmanta uvāca
- upapannam idaṁ subhru
- jātāyāḥ kuśikānvaye
- svayaṁ hi vṛṇute rājñāṁ
- kanyakāḥ sadṛśaṁ varam
śrī-duṣmantaḥ uvāca—King Duṣmanta replied; upapannam—just befitting your position; idam—this; su-bhru—O Śakuntalā, with beautiful eyebrows; jātāyāḥ—because of your birth; kuśika-anvaye—in the family of Viśvāmitra; svayam—personally; hi—indeed; vṛṇute—select; rājñām—of a royal family; kanyakāḥ—daughters; sadṛśam—on an equal level; varam—husbands.
King Duṣmanta replied: O Śakuntalā, with beautiful eyebrows, you have taken your birth in the family of the great saint Viśvāmitra, and your reception is quite worthy of your family. Aside from this, the daughters of a king generally select their own husbands.
In her reception of Mahārāja Duṣmanta, Śakuntalā clearly said, "Your Majesty may stay here, and you may accept whatever reception I can offer." Thus she indicated that she wanted Mahārāja Duṣmanta as her husband. As far as Mahārāja Duṣmanta was concerned, he desired Śakuntalā as his wife from the very beginning, as soon as he saw her, so the agreement to unite as husband and wife was natural. To induce Śakuntalā to accept the marriage, Mahārāja Duṣmanta reminded her that as the daughter of a king she could select her husband in an open assembly. In the history of Āryan civilization there have been many instances in which famous princesses have selected their husbands in open competitions. For example, it was in such a competition that Sītādevī accepted Lord Rāmacandra as her husband and that Draupadī accepted Arjuna, and there are many other instances. So marriage by agreement or by selecting one's own husband in an open competition is allowed. There are eight kinds of marriage, of which marriage by agreement is called gāndharva marriage. Generally the parents select the husband or wife for their daughter or son, but gāndharva marriage takes place by personal selection. Still, although marriage by personal selection or by agreement took place in the past, we find no such thing as divorce by disagreement. Of course, divorce by disagreement took place among low-class men, but marriage by agreement was found even in the very highest classes, especially in the royal kṣatriya families. Mahārāja Duṣmanta's acceptance of Śakuntalā as his wife was sanctioned by Vedic culture. How the marriage took place is described in the next verse.