Kalidasa is unamimously recognised as an eminent Sanskrit poet and dramatist of India. There is scarcely any Indian lierature in which we do not find adoptations of stories of Kalidasa’s works. So, in India scholars from all parts from Kashmir in the North to Chennai in the South and from Gujarat in the West to Bengal in the East have tried to solve the different problems presented by his date, life and works. Though several scholars have written on the great poet, the problems of his date, place, life and works are still unsolved. Various conflicting views have been expressed by scholars of India and Abroad about his life and works.
Regarding the date and place of Kalidasa Monier Williams writes: “This work is by the illustrious Kālidāsa, who is supposed by some native authorities (though on insufficient grounds) to have lived in Ujjayini, the capital of king Vikramaditya, whose reign in the starting point of Hindu era called Samvat, beginning 57 years B.C. Kālidāsa is described as one of the ‘nine gems’ of that monarch’s splendid court. It seems, however more probable that Kālidāsa flourished in the third century of the christian era”. Prof. A.B. Keith, an eminent scholar writes: “Kālidāsa was later than Asvaghosa and than the dramatist Bhasa; he know Greek terms as his use of Jämitra proves; the Prakrit of his dramas is decidedly later than Asvaghosa’s and Bhasa’s and he cannot be put before the Gupta age…..We must remember that Chandragupta II had the style of Viramaditya with whose name tradition consistently connects Kalidasa.” (Hist. of Skt. 1920, p. 80). Sir William Jones places Kalidasa in the first century B.C. Dr. Peterson says: “Kalidasa stands near the beginning of the christian era, if indeed, he does not overtop it.”
Kalidasa’s native place is also uncertain. He travelled widely in India and seems to have been familiar with the geography of the country from the Himalayas to Kanyakumari. From his writings it is clear that he was a devotee of Siva. The internal evidence furnished by his writings, though meagre, may well warrant the inference that his birth place was Malwa, very probably Ujjayini. The keen interest and admiration with which the poet describes the Lord Mahākāla (Siva), the river Sipra and other beauties of Ujjayini, unmistakably point to be the conclusion that he must have been a native of that holy city.
Kalidasa is admittedly the greatest classical poet of India. The Indian poets and writers have praised him like a gem in the history of Sanskrit Literature. Anandavardhana, the celebrated author of Dhvanyaloka, a standrad work on poeties, says that though this world presents on endless succession of diverse poets, yet only two or three or at the most five or six, deserve to be ranked with Kalidasa as great.
His writings mostly emphasise the implied meaning as opposed to the explicit meaning. Suggested meaning is seen to be the finest way for poetry to convey emotion. Due to this, Klidsa’s writings are classified as “uttamakvya” in accordance with Indian poetic theory.
The Indian culture is thought to be represented by Klidsa. His persona embodies Indian philosophical principles. He expresses their natural emotions in a very subtle and effective way at the same time. He used numerous Arthntaranysas, which are short expressions of profound meaning. Here are a few of them:
“अस्मिन्नतिविचित्रकविपरम्परावाहिनि संसारे कालिदासप्रभृतयोद्वित्राः पञ्चषा वा महाकवय इति गण्यन्ते । “
– ध्वन्यालोक, II.
Likewise, Jayadeva, the famous author of the Gitagovinda, extols Kalidasa as the brightest star in the Galaxy of Sanskrit poets. (कविकुलगुरु: कालिदासो विलासः) A famous Subhāṣita rightly says by praising him in the following verse:
His writings had a significant impact on both the Indian and Western cultures. These writings served as an inspiration for numerous later literary works in India. After the Meghadtam, the khaakvya and dtakvya traditions were established. Also, among the five Mahkvyas in Indian tradition, Raghuvaam and Kumrasabhavam are two significant Kvyas.
Klidsa was a subject that scholars like Yogi Aurobindo and Rabindranath Tagore fell in love with. Based on Meghadtam, Rabindranath Tagore created the exquisite poem “Cloud Messenger.” “Vlmki, Vysa, and Klidsa are the essences of the history of ancient India; if all else were destroyed, they would still constitute its only and sufficient cultural history,” states Yogi Aurobindo. These books were then translated into several Indian languages. They are being done everywhere.
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