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upapannam idam subhru
svayam hi vrnute rajñam
kanyakah sadrsam varam
Translation by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada:
King Dusmanta replied: O Sakuntala, with beautiful eyebrows, you have taken your birth in the family of the great saint Visvamitra, and your reception is quite worthy of your family. Aside from this, the daughters of a king generally select their own husbands.
Purport by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada:
In her reception of Maharaja Dusmanta, Sakuntala clearly said, “Your Majesty may stay here, and you may accept whatever reception I can offer.” Thus she indicated that she wanted Maharaja Dusmanta as her husband. As far as Maharaja Dusmanta was concerned, he desired Sakuntala 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 Sakuntala to accept the marriage, Maharaja Dusmanta reminded her that as the daughter of a king she could select her husband in an open assembly. In the history of Aryan 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 Sitadevi accepted Lord Ramacandra as her husband and that Draupadi 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 gandharva marriage. Generally the parents select the husband or wife for their daughter or son, but gandharva 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 ksatriya families. Maharaja Dusmanta’s acceptance of Sakuntala as his wife was sanctioned by Vedic culture. How the marriage took place is described in the next verse.