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Bharat plays with lion cubs
Painting by Raja Ravi Varma
|Born||Sage Kanva hermitage|
|Father||Dushyanta of Hastinapura|
In Hindu scriptures, Bharata (Sanskrit: ???, Bharata i.e., "The cherished") is an emperor and the founder of the Bh?rata dynasty and thus an ancestor of the Pandavas and the Kauravas in the Sanskrit epic Mahabharata. Though the Bh?ratas are a prominent community in the Rigveda, the story of Bharata is first told in the Adi Parva of the Mahabharata, wherein he is the son of Dushyanta and Shakuntala. The story of his parents and his birth is also related in Kalidasa's famous play Abhijñ?nash?kuntala.
According to the Mah?bh?rata (Adi Parva), Bharata was the son of King Dushyanta and Shakuntala and thus a descendant of the Lunar dynasty of the Kshatriya Varna. He was originally named Sarvadamana ("the subduer of all"); the Mah?bh?rata traces the events in his life by which he came to be known as Bharata ("the cherished"). Bharata's exploits as a child prince are dramatised in Kalidasa's poetic play Abhijñ?na??kuntalam.
According to a dramatized version of the events by the poet Kalidasa, the king Dushyanta married Shakuntala on his hunting expeditions in forests. He was captivated by Shakuntala's beauty, courted her in royal style and married her. He then had to leave to take care of affairs in the capital. She was given a ring by the king, to be presented to him when she was ready to appear in his court. She could then claim her place as queen. Shakuntala gave birth to his child who was named by the Sage Kanwa named as Sarvadamana. Surrounded only by wild animals, Sarvadamana grew to be a strong child and made a sport of opening the mouths of tigers and lions and counting their teeth.
Vishnu Purana accounts the extent of Bharatavarsha,
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uttara? yatsamudrasya him?dre?caiva dak?i?am
var?a? tadbh?rata? n?ma bh?rat? yatra sa?tati?
"The country (var?am) that lies north of the ocean and south of the snowy mountains is called Bh?ratam; there dwell the descendants of Bharata."
He ruled virtuously and earned great fame and was known by the titles of "Chakravarti" (emperor) and "Sarvabhauma" (Sanskrit: ?????????). Bharata performed many sacrifices and Sage Kanva was the chief priest at those sacrifices. Bharata performed a hundred Horse sacrifices on the banks of the Yamuna, three hundred on the banks of Saraswati and four hundred on the banks of the Ganga. He again performed a thousand Horse sacrifices and a hundred Rajasuya. He also conducted sacrifices such as Agnishtoma, Atiratra, Uktha and Viswajit. He also performed many thousands of Vajapeyas.
Bharata had a son named Bhúmanyu. In the Adi Parva of Mahabharata, it tells two different stories about Bhúmanyu's birth. The first story says that Bharata married Sunanda, the daughter of Sarvasena, the King of Kasi Kingdom and begot upon her the son named Bhumanyu. According to the second story, Bhúmanyu was born out of a great sacrifice that Bharata performed for the sage Bharadwaja.