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Mar 17, 2011

Meghdootam: Kalidasa

Meghdootam is a great tribute to the richness of Indian classical poetry in general, and Kalidasa’s genius in particular, who is known as “Shakespeare of India”. Belonging to the tradition of Duta-Kavyam, Meghdootam is a love poem, natural poem, and romantic poem, besides being a social document. The poem also shows Kalidasa’s knowledge of Indian landscape and geography; and ritual prescribed in those days. One is astonished to find, romanticism and classicism, rational and physical, spiritual and emotional are going nicely with each other. An overtly, the subject matter is bound in Mandakranta meter--- a lyrical quality.

The poem is divided into two parts: “Purvamegha” and “Uttarmegha”, two distinct parts in tone and attitude. They are like two gems strung together one thread. The first part describes the journey of the ‘Cloud” over hills, rivers, and temples up to Alakapuri, a heaven on the earth; in the second part, the cloud has to deliver a message to Yaksha’s wife in Alakapuri, a beautiful city, where Yaksha’s beloved/wife is counting her days fir the hope of re-union with her husband who is expelled by Kuber “the lord of Treasure”, for neglecting the duty assign to him, and sent to Ramgiri Parbat for a year.

As the poem opens, the Yaksha has already spent his eight month of exile and yearning to meet his beloved. On the very first day month of Asadha he sees “A cloud embracing on the crest of hill” near him. He requests the cloud to become his messenger of love and
“bear a message from me
Parted form my love by the lord of treasure”.
Then he:
“describes the way,
Fitting for your journey that you will follow.”
the description of the route which belongs to the first part is the supreme glory of Sanskrit literature. Here, “Kami-Kul Guru” who is Kalidasa, describes the journey of the cloud as a pilgrimage.

The route that indicated by Kalidasa is the route of monsoon. Here, the poet says that while traveling towards North the cloud will come across the region of Mala, then it will float towards Norh-Westand will pass through Amarkoot Hill; then it will touch the foothills of Vindhyachal, where, where Reva or Narmada is flowing in zigzag motion. Then the cloud will pass through Darshan, whose capital was Vidisa. Then take a straight route and turn towards Ujjaini, the capital of Avanti. Then the description of number of number of rivers, hills, states, temples, and flowers. The description shows that the poet might have visited these places of India personally, and the artist in him was at his best when he describes these parts in this poem, which makes it immortal masterpiece of the poet.

In the second part, the cloud has to deliver the message to yaksha’s wife. Yaksha’s message is that she should not yield in grief. He calls him “gentle friend” and asks him to convey his “Unwidowed Lady”:
“Man’s fate on the earth is like a rim of wheel
Goes down and comes up again”.
He also tells her that the remaining period of his exile will end soon. The time of abhisar that is “meeting” and “mating” is near. When the time of exile will ends “we two shall taste together every desire”. Thus, ends the message that yaksha desires to sent to her beloved through the cloud. The poem ends with the words for the
“wanderer at will”:
“May you never parted from your light
Even for an instant”.

If one analyses Meghdootam as a romantic poem one has to identify the central figure of the poem. The yaksha whose claim to the title is most potent, is quite surprisingly, not even named in the poem. The poet simply calls him “A certain Yaksha”, and his wife/beloved also not been identified. There is no attempt of characterization. The whole of “Purvamegha” and “Uttarmegha” are devoted to the natural sceneries between Ramgiri and Alaka. The love interest takes backseat.

Thus, we can say that the apparent thematic simplicity of “Meghdootam” is quite misleading. It would be a gross fallacy to read the poem Simply as a love message. The actual message is rather thin and predictable. Whether the message delivered or not is left unsaid, it shows that message is not at the focal point of the poem. The cloud’s journey takes place in yaksha or the poet’s mind. The poem is poetic rendition of the state of yaksh’s mind with the aid of countless metaphors including myth, legend and tales. In its imaginative process the poem makes the semantic boundaries of love as emotion. Chandra Rajan has rightly says: “Meghdootam is more than a poem of longings and separation, with glowing description of nature, including myth and legend, dream vision and literary reminiscences, are blended with topographical and conversational dimensional to give love poem depth and multi-laired texture”. After reading the poem one can say: “Who is not delighted when Kalidasa’s perfect verses spring forth in their sweetness like the honey filled clustered of flowers.”



  2. Thank you for given this wonderful summary


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