Around 2000 years ago, Kalidas was a maestro of Sanskrit grammar.
Counted among the 9 gems in the court of King Vikramaditya of Ujjain, his childhood is yet a mystery.
Yet, people say that he formerly resided in Dashapur in today’s world Mandsaur.
Stories pertaining to his excellence in grammar are difficult to believe.
Kalidas Marries Vidyottama
The story goes-
A king had an extremely beautiful and learned daughter named Vidyottama.
Her fame had reached the distant lands.
The princess grew proud of her learning and claimed-
“Whoever defeats me in a scriptural debate shall be my bridegroom”
Hence, many aspirers came to win her hand, but all lost to her wits.
Humiliated at their defeat, the scholars decided to wed her to the most foolish of men.
Kalidas cuts the branch of a tree
Suddenly, they spotted a man cutting the branch on which he was seated.
The panditas thought, “Who can be more foolish than this man who cuts his own seat.”
The Panditas cheat Vidyottama
Thinking thus, they brought him home.
Subsequently, he received royal hospitality, food, clothing and residence.
Thus, this improved his physique.
They then told him-
“Oh young man, Listen carefully, we shall wed you to a beautiful princess.
On reaching the palace, speak in gestures.
Beware don’t purk out a single word.”
The man agreed.
On reaching the palace, they told the princess-
“Our preceptor wants to debate with you.
However, he has undertaken a vow of silence.
Hence, he shall only converse in gestures.”
The princess agreed.
Kalidas debates with princess Vidyottama
The crowds gathered in the assembly hall to witness the memorable verdict.
1) The princess raised one finger.
The foolish man thought “this princess wants to poke my eye, Hence I shall poke both her eyes, as tit for tat.
So, he showed her two fingers.
The panditas interpreted-
“You consider the universal cause to be one.
But he says two, Purusha and Prakti, create this universe.
The princess applauded his wits.
Thus, he earned a point
2) Now the princess raised five fingers.
Again, Kalidas wrongly interpreted it as a slap, Hence he showed her a punch.
The Panditas interpreted-
“You say that the five senses are extremely powerful but according to him they can be curbed by the fist of jnana or discrimination.
Likewise the princess showed numerous gestures which the panditas skilfully tackled.
Eventually, The princess lost the match and married the foolish participant.
After the marriage when he entered her chambers, she heard a camel grunting.
So she enquired. “Which is this animal?”
Kalidas laughingly replied (It is Utta, Utta- incorrect pronunciation of camel).
On hearing his poor speech, the princess at once understood the deceit and angrily banished the man saying-
“First, learn to read and write then come and show me your face”
These harsh and blatant words pricked the corner of Kalidas’s heart.
He retorted “I shall return more knowledgeable than you, Oh princess.”
Goddess Saraswati pleased
So saying, he ventured into the forest to propitiate Saraswati Devi, the goddess of learning.
When Goddess Saraswati didn’t turn up he decided to quit his life by jumping into the Saraswati Kunda.
Pleased by his devotion, the goddess Immediately appeared and blessed her devotee.
By her grace, he developed unparalleled command over speech and grammar. Hence, he popularized as an undefeatable scholar.
Kalidas earns a reputable name
Back in the palace, Kalidas called his wife by reciting a spectacular Sanskrit shloka.
On hearing the sublime words, she danced in joy to see a transformed being.
Thereafter, she fell at his feet and begged forgiveness.
Thus, It is due to this foolish woman that the great scholar Kalidas came into being.
Lesson from the story of Kalidas
Whether this story is true or false is immaterial. However, we derive valuable teaching.
“However foolish one is, if there is desire for learning, success is guaranteed.”
No other poet saw that fame that he tasted.
Works of Kalidas
Kalidas was endowed with blessings by the goddess of learning which was reflected in his remarkable representation of ideas and delicate portrayal of nature.
1) Abhigyan Shakuntalam-
The play describes the love-story of Dushyant Shakunta.
The metaphors used herein are timeless portrayals of softness and delicateness of human character.
His play Abhigyan Shakuntalam has been translated in numerous languages such as English, German, French and Russian.
Many have even enacted and appreciated this play in the foreign countries.
The piece is one the finest books of Indian literature.
The three prominent plays of Kalidas which gained mass-acclamation are
It describes how sage Durvasa cursed Shakuntala and her reunion with her king.
2) Vikramovarshi- This is the conjugal love between King Pururava of the lunar dynasty and the celestial nymph Urvashi.
These depictions have been well-portrayed by the classic-painter Raja Ravi Verma.
The subject matters are sensuous and romantic.
3) Malavikagnimitra- Covers the love-story of king Agnimitra and the banished princess Malavika.
Mahakavya (Indian Epics)
The subject matter of the Mahakavya promotes Puranic gods and goddesses.
The two mahakavyas of Poet Kalidas are-
1) Raghuvansh (dynasty of Raghu)-
This describes the glorious legacy of Shri Rama, his ancestry and descendants.
2) Kumarasambhava (Birth of lord Kartikeya)- Covers the emergence of goddess Parvati, her marriage with Lord Shiva and motherhood for Lord Kumara (Or Kartikeya)
Kalidas showed his proficiency in using metaphors to describe the evasive play of nature
His depictions opened the visualization faculty, instilling awe in the heart of the readers.
Indeed the blessing of Goddess Saraswati worked through his words.
Ritusamhara- Involves the turmoil in the hearts of lovers during various seasons. Indeed seasons determine the changing states of mind.
Hence, here, we see the fine play of emotions with analogous use of metaphors.
Meghadoota- The story of a Yaksha sending a cloud to convey feelings of love.
Alongside, many others have been deemed as his handwritten books but still doubts remain regarding their origin.
His poetries are extremely sweet, ornate and appealing to the mind.
Hence, Kalidas is counted as one of greatest of world-poets.
Not just our countrymen but even foreigners commemorate his birthday.
By reading his books, we learn that in the world of barbarism, our country stood distinct in its morals and values.
His works were of a different class.
Thanks for reading!