Kavi Kulguru Kalidasa

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“Sanskrit” is the soul of India; something that can never be separated from the soul of the various languages of this land. It had been, for ages, the language of thinking class of the country in which the thinkers of old days had found an apt instrument to communicate their ideology to others.

Sanskrit literature has a rich and long literary tradition. Many poets and composers have presented beautiful literary efforts. Kavi Kulguru (Chancellor of Poets) Kalidasa was the one of the greatest poets in Sanskrit literature. His floruit cannot be dated with precision, but most likely falls within 4th Century AD. This is the period of the Gupta Dynasty. An insight into the biography of the great Indian poet Kalidasa provides us with an immense amount of detailed information about the places he traveled and the kind of life he led. He made a perfect verbal presentation of entire India in his poems. The flora-fauna, the emotional ties, the rivers and mountains and the history of India-nothing escaped from his sight. After Vyasa, Kalidasa alone deserves that coveted place among the foremost of Sanskrit poets.

Nothing apart from his works is known with certainty about the life of Kalidasa. So we talk only about his poems and plays.

The poems he wrote were usually of epic proportions and were written in classical Sanskrit. His creations were used for fine arts like music and dance. Kalidasa was well acquainted with contemporary sciences and arts, including politics and astronomy. His contributions to Indian literature are outstanding. His writing efforts are described in short for quick acquaintance of readers of ISEEINDIA.

Poetry

• Raghuvansham is an epic poem about the kings of the Raghu dynasty.

• Kumarsambhavam is an epic poem which narrates the birth of Kartikeya, Parvati being sent by her father to serve the meditating Siva, Manmadha attempting to create love in Siva for Parvati, Siva destroying Manmadha in his fury, Parvati’s penance for Siva, Siva agreeing to marry Parvati, Siva and Parvati living in marital bliss, etc.

• Meghdut is the story of a Yaksha trying to send a message to his lover through a cloud. Kalidasa set this poem to the ‘mandākrānta’ better known for its lyrical sweetness. It is one of Kalidasa’s most popular poems and many researches and studies have been in progress.

The loveliest verses of Kalidasa, are found in Meghadūta, which are given as follows –

  • ॥twāmālikhyat pranayakŭpitā dhāturāgai shilāyāha।
    mātmānm te charanapatitam yavdichhami kartum।
    astraistravanmuhu upchitairdrushtirālŭpyate me।
    krurastasminnapi na sahate sangamam naŭ krutantāh॥

– Meaning: when I try to draw your picture and show in it that I am bowing at your feet, with a ‘kawa-a type of chalk’, on the rock; due to emotional outbreak, my eyes get wet. The ‘Krutāntā or Yama’ himself does not wish to have our meet in the picture itself…

Plays

• Malavikagnimtra tells the story of King Agnimitra, who falls in love with the picture of an exiled servant girl named Malavika. When the queen discovers her husband’s passion for this girl, she becomes infuriated and has Malavika imprisoned, but as fate would have it, Malavika is in fact a true-born princess, thus legitimizing the affair.

• Abhijnana-Sakuntalam, a drama composed in seven This act is one of the best not only in Sanskrit literature, but in the literature of the world. It is from Mahabharata in quite narrative form; but, Kalidasa turned the same into an elegant work of art with a lot of innovations. Love in union and separation are both depicted in this drama with a greater degree of perfection. The dramatic power and poetic beauty of this unique work have elicited the highest praise and admiration from the scholars all over the world.

• Vikramorvasiyam is the story of mortal King Pururavas and celestial nymph Urvashi who fall in love. As an immortal, she has to return to the heavens, where an unfortunate accident causes her to be sent back to the earth as a mortal with the curse that she will die (and thus return to heaven) the moment her lover lays his eyes on the child which she will bear him. After a series of mishaps, including Urvashi’s temporary transformation into a vine, the curse is lifted, and the lovers are allowed to remain together on the earth.

The world salutes the great poet..Many awards with his name, many mahotyavas and festivals has been taking place in India and abroad in his honor. NASA has named a spot on Mercury in honor of Kalidasa. We proud to have such a great Ratna in our treasure.

References:
1. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kalidasa
2. http://www.kalidasaakademi.nic.in/About_Kalidasa/about_kalidasa.html
3. http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/messenger/multimedia/messenger_orbit_image20111121_1.html

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