Being one of the oldest and mother of several other languages, Sanskrit is a classical literature which requires genius of poets and great thinkers to achieve world-renown. Kalidasa is one of them, a Sanskrit poet, dramatist and the greatest Indian writer. It is believed that he lived around 5th century CE.
His poems suggest but nowhere declare that he was a Brahman (priest), liberal yet committed to the orthodox Hindu worldview. His name, literally “servant of Kali,” presumes that he was a follower of the god Shiva, whose consort was Kali, though occasionally he tributes other gods, notably Vishnu. Many scholars believe that he must have some association with Chandra Gupta 2 as his works reflect the cultural values of that serene and sophisticated system of government. A deep affection for the city of Ujjain is visible in his works, it cannot be said with certainty that he lived there. But through his poems it is considered that he must have travelled a lot, he had extensive and intimate knowledge of the geography, flora and fauna of the Indian subcontinent. It is also evident that he was well-versed in the Vedic lore as well as fine arts.
Also, he was very much inspired by Bhasa and his works. Kalidas wrote seven works. ‘Kumarasambhava’ and ‘Raghuvamsha’ are his two epic poems. ‘Malavikagnimitra’, ‘Vikramorvashiya’ and ‘Abhijnana Shakuntala’ are his celebrated plays. ‘Meghaduta’ and ‘Ritusamhara’ are also poetical works of great distinction.
- Malavikagnimitra : This is probably the first drama of Kalidasa. The first few verses in this drama, where he salutes earlier poets and humbly draws the attention of the audience to himself, proves this. The story is quite simple. The princess of Vidarbha, Malavika, while on her way to meet King Agnimitra, gets lost in the forest due to an accident. The chief of the forest outpost finds her and assigns her to the services of the queen’s palace. It is a love story about King Agnimitra and Malavika.
- Vikramorvashiyam : This is an adaptation of a Vedic story of the King Pururavas of the Lunar Race and Urvashi, the great apsara of the heavens. King Pururavas, a forefather of the Kauravas and Pandavas, happens to rescue Urvashi from the demons who had abducted her. They fall in love with each other immediately.
- Abhijnanashakuntalam : This is the most celebrated among all of Kalidasa’s works in which the Kavikulaguru picks up a small incident in the Mahabharata turns it into a magnum composition. It is a love story about King Dushyant and Shakuntala, the foster-daughter of sage Kanva. The story of Shakuntala appears in the ‘Adiparva’ chapter of the epic Mahabharat.
By, Khushali Thakar