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Kalidasa

  • Category
    History
  • Published
    20th Feb, 2020

In the latest Budget 2020, the Finance Minister of India cited some poets in her Budget speech. The famous Kalidasa was also among them.

Context

In the latest Budget 2020, the Finance Minister of India cited some poets in her Budget speech. The famous Kalidasa was also among them.

About

  • Kalidasa’s Raghuvamsa was quoted by Finance Minister during her Budget 2020 presentation in the Parliament.
    • It said that just as Surya collects vapour from little drops of water, so must a government collects taxes—lightly.
  • The three major themes of Budget 2020 are:
    • aspirational India
    • a caring society
    • economic development for all

Facts about Kalidasa

  • Kalidasa was a Classical Sanskrit writer, widely regarded as the greatest poet and dramatist in the Sanskrit language of India.
  • Much about his life is unknown, only what can be inferred from his poetry and plays.
  • His plays and poetry are primarily based on the Vedas, the Ramayana, the Mahabharata and the Puranas.
  • His surviving works consist of three plays, two epic poems and two shorter poems.
  • His works cannot be dated with precision, but they were most likely authored within the 4th–5th century CE.
  • Palaeographic evidence: The earliest paleographical evidence of Kalidasa is found in a Sanskrit inscription dated c. 473 CE, found at Mandsaur's Sun temple.
    • His name, along with that of poet Bharavi, is mentioned in a stone inscription dated 634 C.E. found at Aihole, located in present-day Karnataka.
  • Influenced: Kalidasahad great impact on Rabindranath Tagore. Meghadutam's romanticism is found in Tagore's poems on the monsoons.
    • Father of Modern Medicine Sir William Osler always kept on his desk a poem written by Kalidasa.

Theories locating the origin of Kalidasa

  • Himalayas, Ujjain and Kalinga: Scholars have speculated that Kalidasa may have lived near the Himalayas, in the vicinity of Ujjain, and in Kalinga.
    • This hypothesis is based on Kalidasa's detailed description of the Himalayas in hisKumarasambhava, the display of his love for Ujjain in Meghad?ta, and his highly eulogistic descriptions of Kalingan emperor Hem?ngada in Raghuva??a (sixth sarga).
  • Kashmir: Lakshmi DharKalla (1891–1953), a Sanskrit scholar and a Kashmiri Pandit, concluded that Kalidasa was born in Kashmir, but moved southwards, and sought the patronage of local rulers to prosper. The evidence cited through Kalidasa's writings includes:
    • Description of flora, fauna and geographical features common to Kashmir, but not Ujjain or Kalinga: saffron plant, deodar trees, musk deer, tarns, glades etc.
    • Reference to certain legends of Kashmiri origin, such as Kashmiri text NilamataPurana mentioned in ShakuntalaNikumbha.
  • Some scholars positGarhwal in Uttarakhand to be Kalidasa's birthplace.

Legends around Kalidasa

  • According to folklore, Kalidasa became a great poet because he sought to study Purana and other ancient texts in order to seek revenge from a princess who mocked Kalidasa for being an unintelligent man when he had come to pursue her hand in marriage.
    • Challenged by the princess, Kalidasa visited a Kali temple and was inspired to learn Sanskrit.
    • He then wrote three epics Kumarasambhava, Meghadutaand
  • Another legend is that he visited Kumaradasa, the king of Sri Lanka formerly known as Ceylon and, because of some treachery, Kalidasawas murdered there.
  • Theory of multiple Kalidasa: Some scholars believe that all the works attributed to "Kalidasa" are not by a single person.
    • From the 8th and 9th centuries, there may have existed three noted literary figures that share the name Kalidasa.

Literary works

  • Kalidasa wrote three plays:
    • Malavikagnimitram(Pertaining to Malavika and Agnimitra) tells the story of King Agnimitra, who falls in love with the picture of an exiled servant girl named Malavika.
    • Abhijnanasakuntalam (Of the recollection of Shakuntala) tells the story of King Dushyanta who, while on a hunting trip, meets Shakuntala, the adopted daughter of a sage, and marries her. It was among the first Sanskrit works to be translated into English.
    • Vikramorvasiyam (Urvashi Won by Valour) tells the story of mortal King Pururavasand celestial nymph Urvashi who falls in love.
  • Kalidasa is the author of two epic poems:
    • Raghuvamsa is an epic poem about the kings of Raghu dynasty.
    • Kumarasambhava describes the birth and adolescence of the goddess Parvati, and her marriage with Lord Shiva.
  • Kalidasa also wrote two khandakavyas (minor poems):
    • Ritusamharadescribes the six seasons by narrating the experiences of two lovers in each of the seasons.
    • Meghaduta(The Cloud Messenger)describes the story of a Yaksha trying to send a message to his lover through a cloud. This poem is elegiac in nature through which Kalidasa created his own genre of poetry. Kalidasa set this poem to the mandakranta meter, which is known for its lyrical sweetness.
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