The last vestiges of the dark night have disappeared and dawn is about to break, the blackish-greens that had shrouded the forest now lifted and the lush foliage takes on their vibrant and verdant hues. The many stars that had twinkled in the night sky have faded away and given way to a cheerful sky of cornflower blue, that still awaits the advent of red hues that will soon wash over once the dawn breaks.
The young sage who had slept near Shakuntala’s little hut has already relinquished his bed and has left for the forest to follow the prescribed routine of the hermitage. Shakuntala and her friends, Priyamvada and Anasuya, have also risen. While one of Shakuntala’s friends in a yellow sari still sleepily raises herself to get up, as she listlessly awakens from her dream state, others are fully awake. Her state of still awakening from her dreams is contrasted with Shakuntala’s preoccupied countenance, who though fully awake is engaged in daydreaming about her beloved Dushyant even in the early hours of the day, as she listlessly holds a tray of wicker to collect flowers for the morning ritual prayers.
Shakuntala’s other companion, who also holds a wicker tray in her hand sits pensively, deep in thought. The atmosphere of the hermitage is gloomy and troubled, as Shakuntala’s friends share her dejection and anxiety at the circumstance of getting no news from King Dushyant, although he has left the hermitage for his palace in Hastinapur for many days now. While Shakuntala carries on with her daily chores in a dazed state of absent-minded dejection, her two friends are also anxious about sage Kanva’s impending arrival to the hermitage back from his penances that have till now engaged him. The prospect of revealing Shakuntala’s attachment with Dushyant to him, and the possibility of his disapproval of the union, looms large in their thoughts.
Unheeding to their mental states however, nature glows afresh having left its worries the preceding night. The trees fresh in their luminous colours, are speckled by birds that sit awake perched on their branches.