Act I. The King encounters Sakùntala while hunting with his men near the remote woodland monastery where she lives. The King woos her, and overcoming her initial fear, promises that he will return, giving her a ring by which to remember him.
Act II. Daydreaming about the King, Sakùntala fails to hear the hermit Durvasas's entreaties to open the monastery's gate to admit him. Angered, he curses Sakùntala, proclaiming that the King would not remember her. Sakùntala begs a cloud to carry a message to the King. Harita returns to the monastery, and tells Sakùntala that she is with child.
Act III. The King is restless, and not entertained by the dancing girls who perform for him. Sakùntala arrives with her entourage, but when she attempts to present her ring of remembrance to the King, she realizes that she has lost it. The curse is fulfilled, and Sakùntala rushes out of the palace to drown herself in a lake. However, belatedly, a fisherman arrives, having found the ring, and presents it to the King, who suddenly remembers Sakùntala. Servants enter, bearing Sakùntala's infant child, and the King cries out in anguish. But Sakùntala's voice descends from heaven (having been taken up into the heavens by a cloud of fire), and tells the King not to despair, for their child will become the hero of the future age. All the people kneel and worship the infant.