Who was Kālidāsa?
This is a very significant verse about Kālidāsa in the Indian tradition. He has not told anything about himself in any of his works. Also, no other records about him written by anyone else are available. Very little about his personal history is known, but it is evident from his literary works that he had traveled throughout India. With that, he was very much acquainted with the Vedas, Upanishads, Purāņas, medicine, astronomy, etc. Also, he must have been a modest and intelligent person of high culture and liberal ideas.
Interestingly, the above fact also reflects modesty and humility of the great poet that he does not speak much about himself in his works. This very fact brings him to the category of ‘Great’ poets.
Further, in Raghuvaṃśam, the poet says:
Works of Kalidasa
Some of the most noted and genuinely identified works of Kalidasa are –
- Abhijñānaśakuntalam (“The Recognition of Shakuntala”)
- Vikramorvaśīyam (“Urvashi Won by Valour”)
- Mālavikāgnimitram (“Malavika and Agnimitra”)
And the epic poems:-
- Raghuvaṃśam (“Dynasty of Raghu”)
- Kumārasaṃbhavam (“Birth of the War God”)
And the short poems:-
- Meghadūtam (“Cloud the Messenger”)
- Ṛtusaṃhāram (“The cycle of the seasons”)
This does not mean that the other works were anyway less important and less brilliant. His genius has been recognized in India from very early times, as well as in the western world. His poetic genius has brought Sanskrit poetry to the highest level of elegance and subtlety.
His style of writing makes him different from other poets in Sanskrit literature. His style is pure, simple, genuine, and brief. An unaffected simplicity of expression and easy flowing language are the markings of his writings.
His diction is marked by the absence of long compounds, complex constructions, over-written rhetoric, and artificial puns
He exceeds other poets in the description of the noble, the beautiful, and natural scenery and phenomena. He is a mastermind in the use of similes too; take this verse from Mālavikāgnimitram, for example:
His works mainly focus on the suggested meaning rather than the literal meaning. Suggested meaning is said to be the best expression of sentiment in poetry. Hence, Kālidāsa’s works fall under the category of ‘uttamakāvya’ on the basis of Indian poetics.
Kālidāsa is considered as the representative of Indian Culture. His character follows the ideals of Indian thought process. At the same time, their natural feelings are expressed by him very delicately and effectively. Many Arthāntaranyāsas are used by him that are able to express deep meaning in few words. Some of them are as follows: