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III.-Chronology of his works and his


By Mahamahopadhyaya Hara Prasad Shastri, M.A., C.I.E.

The young poet, Kālidása, had to serve his apprenticeship in a beautiful country full of hills, dales, plains and small rivers. As a Brāhman he held himself aloof from war and diplomacy, except so far as they form a part of the literature of the country. What is he to write ? Youth is beautiful and nature is beautiful. The description of natural objects would be the most suitable subject for a novice in poetry. Kālidāsa passed his novitiate in writing the Rtusamhāra. He was indeed induced to write on the seasons, because he found all round the country he inhabited, descriptions of seasons almost in every inscription. He thought perhaps it would be doing a service to his country, if he could describe all the seasons together. So he undertook to write the Rtusamhāra. The language is not yet polished. It is still full of repetitions, faults of grammar, faults of style and crudity of expressions. Thomson in his “ Seasons" is full of historical allusions and he is always trying to reproduce scenes of ancient days in different seasons. But Kālidāsa never thinks of history in his work on

He delineates what he sees. He begins with the summer because in Northern India the astronomers always began their year with the vernal equinox ushering in the hot season. His power of observation though poetic and keen has not yet been fully developed. He does not go deep either in describing the beauties of nature or the beauties of womanhood. But his fancy is very active. He sees beauty where others see nothing. The first shower of heavy rain carries away worms, grass and dust and Kálidāsa watches the motion with a poet's eye. The rills


meandering and he watches its serpent-like shape which frightens the frogs. One thing is certain. The one great peculiarity of Kālidāsa's early poetry is that he admires nature more ardently than the fair sex.

He reads the traditions of his country, he receives a finished education, and he devotes himself to the stage. His next work is a patriotic drama. Vidisā is a part of Malwa and the history of Vidisā forms the subject of his first histrionic work. The horizon of his travels does not go much beyond the Avantis or modern Malwa.

He reproduces the history of Agnimitra and gives the heroine the name of Mālavikā. Since the fall of the Pradyot family of Ujjain and the absorption of all the Avantis into the Magadha Empire the constitution of Vidisā into a kingdom under the suzerainty of the great Brāhman Agnimitra fires the imagination of the young poet and he writes a drama that would delight the people of Malwa. Indeed the fall of the Buddhist Empire of Asoka and the rise of the Brāhman Empires appear to be good themes for young poets. In this poem too, Kalidasa always prefers Nature's beauty to that of the fair sex.

He often indulges in such expressions as “the motion of young shoots of flower-trees leaves the dancing girls far behind.”

The horizon of his travels expands and he goes beyond the boundary of Malwa in his Meyhaduta. He commences from a point beyond the eastern boundries of Malwa, goes round it, entering it in the east touching various places of interest and goes far beyond it in the north. His love is still sensual, his admiration of Nature still ardent, but his language much more polished and his style much more attractive.

A change comes over the spirit of his poetry. He goes deep into the nature of things and human passions, and human sufferings interest him not. He goes to the Vedas for his heroes and picks up divine or semi-divine beings for the theme of his poetry, and produces his second drama the Vikramorousi on the stage. The scenes are changed from earth to heaven as the celestial predominated over the terrestrial. But his love is still a passion and his admiration of nature no less ardent.


Another change comes over the spirit of his poetry. The Vedas please him not. They are too dry and too unsympathetic and he must leave them. He seeks solace in devotion and his religion becomes Saiva. Now he determines to glorify his deity in a becoming fashion. He has already mastered all that is on earth and in the air and must launch into ideas celestial. He begins with the Himalayas where he ended in his Meghadūta. The scene changes to the heaven of Indra from that to the higher heaven of Brahma and from that to the higher heaven of Siva. Heatones for devoting long years of youth in the description of ardent and passionate love for the female sex by reducing Kāma the embodiment of passions into ashes. Henceforth his love is an absolutely divine sentiment and no passion.

Pārvati wants to be united to Siva, not a union of the flesh but a union of the spirit. Such an idea of lofty and spiritual love is unknown in the literature of any country and it is by such a union that Kālidāsa wanted to sing the glory of his God.

Kālidāsa first exercised his poetic mind in writing on things human and then on things divine. The first was uot much elevating. Its moral aim was at best doubtful. The second was too high for ordinary humanity to understand and act upon. So in his old age he tried to blend the divine with the human and produced two of his poems--one a drama and the other an epicm which have extorted the admiration of the whole world. His drama, the Sakuntala is a happy blending of the divine with the human. Sakuntala is half celestial and half human. As a human being left under the care of a human sage her love was ardent and passionate. But as soon as she was carried to the celestial world she became quite a different being with a much loftier idea of love and union with the object of her love. In Kumarasambhava and in Sakuntala, Kālidāsa's conception of the beauty of the fair sex changed greatly. In the Kumarasambhav. Madan failed to attract Mahādeva and he took shelter behind Pārvati. That is terrestrial beauty falling far short of the divine sentiment. In Sakuntala too she is carried to a far higher region where the beauties of the Earth cannot reach her.

But his last and greatest work is the Raghuvasmā in which he describes the descent of the Godhead himself on Earth. Here Kalidasa was strong enough to measure his sword with the divine poet Valmiki. But he left him far behind. Valmiki's Rama, though divine, is a mere portrait without a background. Kālidāsa gave him that background, but that is not all. Kālidāsa's conception of God as the Creator and moral Governor of the world is much higher than that of Valmiki. God means to human imagination the absolute perfection of all the higher human faculties in a thoroughly cultured man and he makes his Rama the embodiment of all the perfections that human mind could conceive. But in the background he keeps his ancestors and his successors who represent not all but one or two qualities in perfection. Dilipa represents the perfection of obedience, Raghu of prowess, Aja of love, Dasaratha of kingly virtues and these usher in Rama, embodying the perfection of all the virtues represented in his ancestors.

This is the order in which Kālidāsa's works were written, and this order shows the gradual development of his mind. From the fanciful appreciation of nature he rose by steps, well-marked and well-defined to the highest conception of Godhead and the highest conception of the relation in which man stands to his Creator.

I think it would be convenient to deal at this place with the question whether all the seven books attributed to Kalidasa are really the works of one and the same man. There is no doubt that the Raghuvamsa and the Kumārasambhava are both written by one poet, for there are some verses common to both and only a bit improved in the later work. It is also true that the Sakuntula is also written by the same author who wrote the two epics, for there are sentiments which are briefly expressed in one but elaborated in the other. One instance will suffice. The bees being attracted by the fragrance of Parvati's breath is elaborated in a scene in the first Act of Sakuntala. The same is true of the Meghadūta in which we find the character of the Yaksas (given in brief in the Kumārasambhava) fully and thoroughly elaborated



In the Vikramõrvasi, too, the ideas elaborated in the 4th Act are to be found in a nascent condition in the Meghaduta and even in the Kumarasambhava. But scholars differ in their opinion as to the genuineness of Rtusamhāra and Mälavikāgnimitra. An opinion was long held that Malavikāgnimitra was an imitation of Kālidasa's work and there was some show of reason in the fact that in the prologue the poem is described as a new one but careful reading of the dramas of Kālidāsa has revealed the fact that they are all by one and the same person. It is a part of Kālidāsa's dramatic art that he introduces the female character in the very beginning and shows her beauty in three different positions. In the Sakuntalā the heroine is first shown in the posture of watering the plants, then in the posture of loosening the tightness of her garment and then in the posture of surprise and dismay when the bee attacks her. In the Pikramör vasi Urvasi is introduced to the audience in a state of swoon. That is one posture. She was returning to her senses. That is the second posture. Then she expresses her interest in her saviour by a third posture. Kálidāsa is careful not to make the thing tedious by introducing many postures. He thought that these would be quite enough and he seems to be absolutely in the right. This is exactly what he has done also in Malavikāgnimitra. Mālavikā is introduced to the audience as dancing. That is the first position. She stands still after a fatiguing dance which forms the second position. The jester's crude attempt at witticisms makes her smile by displaying her fine set of teeth over the deep red lips. This is the third position. It is scarcely possible for a later poet of India to enter so deeply into the Art of Kālidāsa so as to successfully imitate him in thus displaying the beauties of his female characters.

What these critics call imitations are really the expressions of an apprentice poet which in later age he polished and beautified. As regards the Rtusamhāra there are many points which are common with the rest of his poems. In Rtwsamhara the apprentice poet was confined to the scenes and surroundings of only one district in India. But in his later works in the description of

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