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Meghdoot & Romanticism

Kālidāsa was a Classical Sanskrit writer, widely regarded as the greatest poet and dramatist in the Sanskrit language of India. 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.

Much about his life is unknown, only what can be inferred from his poetry and plays. His works cannot be dated with precision, but they were most likely authored within the 4th–5th century CE.

The six works identified as genuine are the dramas Abhijnanashakuntala (“The Recognition of Shakuntala”), Vikramorvashi (“Urvashi Won by Valour”), and Malavikagnimitra (“Malavika and Agnimitra”); the epic poems Raghuvamsha (“Dynasty of Raghu”) and Kumarasambhava (“Birth of the War God”); and the lyric “Meghaduta” (“Cloud Messenger”). Megjhdut consists of two parts, namely, Poorv Megh (55 Shlokas) and Utter Megh (65 Shlokas).

Kalidas requests a Cloud to be his ambassador and travel form Ramtek to Ujjain and convey his feelings and emotions. It reminds many famous English Poets, William Wordsworth (1770-1850) Lucy Gray, Gordon Ryon’s (1778-1824) She Walks in Beauty and Robert Browning’s (1812-1889) My Last Duchess. Kalidas’ period is fifth century, whereas all these poets emerged much later, at least 1300 hundred years. It is not known whether they have studied Kalidas or not. Even Raja Bhartruhari, who has written just 300 shlokas has written them much later and has impact of Kalidas on his Shringar Shatak.

The Romanticism, in Europe, is a result of the great personality, who propounded the famous concept “Liberty”, John Stuart Mill in 1833. He defined poetry as “feeling itself, employing thought only as the medium of its utterances. Feelings had begun to receive emphasis and is found in most of the romantic definitions or poetry. William Wordsworth defined poetry as “the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings”. It is true that the best poetry is that in which the greatest intensity of feelings is expressed. Samuel Taylor Coleridge of “Kubla Khan” believed that the imagination as the supreme poetic quality, a quasi-divine creative force that made the poet a godlike being. Samuel Johnson had seen the components of poetry as “invention, imagination and judgement”. Robert Blake has some different view that that “One Power alone makes a Poet: Imagination, the Divine Vision.”

The poets of that period placed great emphasis on the working of unconscious mind, on dreams and reveries, on the supernatural and primitive view of the world. The last is most important because that enables a poet to imagine without so called restrictions of morality and ethics. It is valuable. Once Wordsworth advised a young poet, “You feel strongly, trust to those feelings and your poem will poem will take shape.”
Robert Burn’s famous and much acclaimed poem “On My Love like a Red Red Rose….” is really a powerful expression of romanticism. It is immensely powerful expression of feelings which are intense. However, what Mahakavi Kaalidas has composed in Utter Megh is superb and mellifluous, enchanting, and enthralling. I feel following two shlokas are sufficient to substantiate the immense longing of the Kaalidas. He, in these as well as other shlokas in Utter Megh, has described the most heart touching language. Those lines create the image of his lover in front of the eyed of a reader. His lover appears divine and with an enviable beautiful. And his lover, in no way, less beautiful, impressive and a tantalising beauty than Cleopatra.

गत्‍युत्‍कम्‍पादलकपतितैर्यत्र मन्‍दारपुष्‍पै:
पत्रच्‍छेदै: कनककमलै: कर्णविभ्रंशिभिश्‍च।
मुक्‍ताजालै: स्‍तनपरिसरच्छिन्‍नसूत्रैश्‍च हारै-
र्नैशोमार्ग: सवितुरुदये सूच्‍यते कामिनीनाम्।।
Shlok: 19
तन्वी श्यामा शिखरीदशना पक्वबिंबाधरोष्ठी:
मध्ये क्षामा चकितहरिणीप्रेक्षणान्ंनिम्ननाभि
या तत्र स्याद्यूवतिविषये सृष्टीरादयेव धातु: ||

To sensitise the minds of people with such delicate nuances of emotional world shall make people feel more beautiful, empathising and sensing. It will, help to re-shape the minds of youngsters and that can be instrumental in gender justice in the society.

Mukund Bhalerao| mukundayan@yahoo.co.in | @mukundayan|

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