Kalidas - The Legendary Poet of Ancient India

Kalidas was the greatest poet and playwright of ancient India. He was Classical Sanskrit author. His plays and poetry are primarily based on Hindu Puranas and philosophy.

Kalidas was born in ancient India, during the 4th-5th century CE. It is widely believed that he was born in Ujjain, a city in present-day Madhya Pradesh, India.

Kalidas’s life story is itself a very interesting as well as a lesson for us.

In the early life Kalidas wasn't always so wise. In fact, there was a time he was considered to be one of the stupidest people in the kingdom. Both his parents were died at his very young age na the was brought up by a kind man who was also illiterate. Kalidas used to help in feeding cattle and taking care of them. Apart from this he was a big devotee of Goddess Kali and used to worship everyday in the Kali temple of the village. Hence, his name became Kalidas.

In that kingdom there was a beautiful princess- her name was Vidyottama. From a young age she displayed extraordinary talent and intelligence. The King and Queen appointed Guru Vararuchi to train her well. As she was growing up, she continued to demonstrate her exceptional talent as she mastered in literature, arts, and debates. However the princess was arrogant and was very proud of her knowledge. Vidyottama and her parents announced in the kingdom that her marriage would be with a scholar who would defeat her in a debate. She defeated many wise scholars from various fields.

One day she even defeated her Guru Vararuchi and insulted him as well, refusing to marry.

One sunny day, Kalidas was sitting on a branch of a tree, trying to saw it off. But he was sitting on the wrong end of the branch. This act of sheer stupidity was observed by Guru Vararuchi. He’s wanted to play a trick on the arrogant princess, to teach her a lesson. He decided to present him to the queen as a suitable match for her.

In order to conceal his stupidity, he asked Kalidas to pretend that he was a great sage, who was observing a vow of silence. Kalidas readily agreed, and he presented him to the princess Vidyottama, saying that Kalidas would only communicate by way of gestures.

The debate began in the presence of King and all scholars. Vidyottama raised her index finger indicating, there is only one supreme God. Kalidasa assumed that the princess is indicating to poke his one eye. In response he showed two of his fingers indicating he would poke both her eyes. But here, a scholars intervened. He explained to Vidyottama that Kalidasa is responding to her actual question by saying there are two supreme power one the God Himself, and the other individual soul. Vidyottama was impressed. Then, she showed her palm indicating the five senses. Kalidas again assumed the princess was indicating to slap him. So, he showed her a folded fist, indicating he would punch her if she slapped him. Quickly the scholars intervened again and explained that Kalidas was indicating the control over the five senses. The princess was suitably impressed, and the couple was married without much delay.

Kalidas's stupidity could be concealed for only so long, and the night of the wedding Kalidas blurted out something inane. The princess realised that she had married a prize fool. Furious, she threw him out of her palace, and her life.

The dejected Kalidas wandered around, till he came to the bank of the river. He contemplated taking his life when he suddenly saw some women washing clothes on the edge of the river bank. He observed that the stones which the women were pounding with clothes, were smooth and rounded, while the other stones were rough and ragged. This observation hit him like a thunderbolt, and it dawned upon him that if stones could be worn through and change their shape by being pounded upon by clothes, then why couldn't his thick brains change, by being pounded upon by knowledge!

Kalidas thus grew determined to become the wisest and most learned man in the country, and to achieve this end he started indulging in intellectual pastimes, reading, meditating and praying to his goddess Kali to grant him divine knowledge. His wish was fulfilled.

He mastered in literature became the greatest poet and dramatist that India has ever seen.

Kalidas's contribution to Indian literature is tremendous. Though his writings were in Sanskrit, they have been translated into numerous languages. The famous and popular work by Kalidas are

Kumarasambhavam, Abhigyanakuntalam, Raghuvaṃsa, Meghaduta, Vikramorvasiyam.

Kalidas was believed to be one of the Navaratna in Samrat Vikramadity’s kingdom.

Kalidas Books - You can buy on Amazon from below Links