Epic Indian Writer Kalidasa con The Cloud Messenger by Kalidasa: “Today well lived makes every yesterday a memory of happiness and every tomorrow a vision of hope.
Kalidasa, which literally translated from the Sanskrit means servant of Kali, the Hindu god and consort to Shiva, lived in the 5th century AD in northern India probably in the vicinity of the Himalayas. He was from a humble background but married a princess called Vidyawati who challenged him to study and be learned. As with many classical Indian authors, scholars have found it difficult to provide any precision to dates or events surrounding his life. However, it is agreed by many that he is the greatest Sanskrit poet and dramatist that has ever lived and the original master of Sanskrit literary composition. He seamlessly fused the traditional older religious concerns with a new modern secular Hinduism which reflected the cultural values of the sophisticated Gupta aristocracy and is thought of as a short lived brilliant renaissance that was never to be repeated but remained a perfect memory. The best of Kalidasa's authenticated works can be read here in our three volumes, namely his epic poems, The Birth of the War God (Kumārasambhava or Ktjmara Sambhava), The Cloud Messenger (Meghadūta or Meghasāndesa) and The Dynasty of Raghu (Raghuvamsa) about the kings of the Raghu dynasty. The Birth of the War God is based on old mythology about Shiva's seduction by the goddess Parvati, their marriage of the god Shiva, the birth of their son Kumara (Skanda) and the victory of Kumara over a powerful demon. The skilful, lyrical beauty of each metrically and grammatically formed stanza displays Kalidasa's complete mastery of Sanskrit. The Cloud Messenger contains one hundred and fifteen four-line stanzas, in a majestic metre called the "slow-stepper" and is the story of an exiled Yaksha (nature spirit and caretaker of the earth's treasures for the god of wealth Kubera) persuading a passing cloud to send a message to his lover bride. He describes the enchanting journey that the cloud would make to guarantee the delivery of his message and thus as readers we are captivated by deliciously detailed vivid descriptions that make it clear why this is one of the most popular Kalidasa's poems. There is a legend that makes Kalidasa one of the “nine gems” at the court of King Vikramaditya of Ujjain and a Sinhalese tradition that he died on the island of Sri Lanka during the reign of Kumaradasa, who ascended the throne in 517. We do know for certain that the poets work has inspired generations around the world and particularly evoked great interest among European artistic circles during the late 19th and early 20th century, as evidenced by Goethe and Camille Claudel's sculpture Shakuntala. He continues to be the subject of numerous films, plays, documentaries and is still widely quoted. Read on and it will be clear why this is so.