Kunala, son of King Acoka, is famed throughout India for the beauty of his eyes. His stepmother falls in love with him, makes advances to him, and is repulsed. In revenge she forges an order in the name of the king, commanding that his eyes be put out. The order is carried out. Kunala exclaims: "Plucked out, the eye of flesh; but gained, the Eye of Knowledge!"

Subsequently the king discovers the crime, fixes the guilt on his queen-consort, and in the presence of Kunala, threatens her with the direst punishments. Kunala begs his father not to harm the queen, extols the virtues of kindness, compassion, and forebearance, declares that in spite of the cruel suffering he has endured, pain has not stained him nor anger heated him, and concludes with the following Act of Truth: "If it be true that I have ever been kindly disposed to my mother, if it be true that I myself tore out my eyes, then may my eyes be restored!" Straightway his eyes are restored, yet more beautiful even than before.