Kalidasa [कालिदास] is indisputably the greatest mastermind in Sanskrut poetry. His poetic genius has brought Sanskrut poetry to the highest level of elegance and refinement. Kalidasa [कालिदास] is the great poet of Sanskrut language, who is famous as ‘Kavi-Kulguru [कविकुलगुरु]. His style is very simple but graceful. It is not artificial and characterized by conciseness and clarity of expressions. His diction can be marked by the absence of long compounds, artificial puns and complex language. He excels other poets in his descriptions of the sublime and the beautiful especially of natural scenery and phenomena. His sentiment makes a direct appeal to the heart.  In Dhvanikaavya [ध्वनिकाव्य], the kind of poetry used suggests more than what is expressed; he is a master of acknowledged skill.

Writers have defined KhandKaavya[खण्डकाव्य] as Kaavyasyaekdeshanusari [काव्यस्य एकदेशानुसारि]. As said in Sahityadarpan [साहित्यदर्पण] any poem that is divided into chapters tells a story and is in verse form that is called PrabandhKaavya [प्रबन्धकाव्य] or KhandKaavya [खण्डकाव्य]. Generally when a poem has eight or more chapters then it is named as an epic otherwise it is known as Khandkaavya[खण्डकाव्य]. That is KhandKaavya[खण्डकाव्य]resembles Mahakaavya [महाकाव्य] in some of its features. Meghdoot [मेघदूत] of Kaalidas is a very good example of this type.

A Yaksha [यक्ष] i.e. demigod sending a message to his wife, through a rain cloud is the main concept of this poem. But the beautiful descriptions of nature, cities, people, Himalayas, Kailas Mountain, Alka[अलका] city and Yaksha’s [यक्ष] wife make this poem lively and influences the reader’s mind. Among the seven literary jewels written by Kalidasa [कालिदास] this one alone is capable of making him word famous and giving him the title of Kavi-Kul-Guru [कवि-कुलगुरु].

 

Story of Meghdoot[मेघदूत]

This poem is divided into two parts which are Poorvamegh [पूर्वमेघ] and Uttarmegh [उत्तरमेघ]. Most of the verses are composed in Mandakranta [मन्दाक्रान्ता] meter. There are 120 verses in total, 65 of them are in Poorvamegh [पूर्वमेघ] and 55 in Uttarmegh [उत्तरमेघ]. In the first 13 verses, the Yaksha[यक्ष] sees the rain cloud and requests him to deliver a message to his wife who is in Alka [अलका] city. In 13 to 65th verses many beautiful places and scenery on route to Alka [अलका] city from Ramgiri [रामगिरि] mountain are described. The heavenly beauty of Alka [अलका] city and the lifestyle of demigods i.e.Yakshas [यक्ष] are described in verses 66 to 79. Verses 80 to 86 paint the picture of Yaksha’s [यक्ष] beautiful heavenly house located near the royal palace of Kuber [कुबेर] i.e. king of demigods. The beautiful wife of Yaksha [यक्ष] and her state of her mind due to the separation from her husband is described in 87 to 106 verses. Then the shlokas [श्लोक] from 106 to 117 have the message from Yaksha [यक्ष] for his wife. In the last three shlokas[श्लोक] he thanks the cloud for helping him and wishes that his travel be smooth and that he may not be separated from his wife i.e. lightening.

Thus the message is only in twelve shlokas[श्लोक] while the rest narrates the beautiful natural descriptions.

PoorvaMegh [पूर्वमेघ]

A certain Yaksha who is the servant of king Kuber [कुबेर], is living on Ramgiri[रामगिरि] mountain as a punishment for negligence in his duty. He has spent eight months there and at the start of the rainy season he sees a black cloud resting on the peak of the mountain. Knowing that the cloud would be passing above Alka [अलका] city, Yaksha [यक्ष] who is madly in love with his wife decides to send that cloud as a messenger to his wife. The Yaksha [यक्ष] who is overjoyed with this idea proceeds to describe the route the cloud must follow before reaching Alka [अलका] city from Ramgiri[रामगिरि] mountain.

The cloud encouraged by good omens and accompanied by swans which are eagerly flying towards Manasa [मानस] lake, should fly to Amrakuta [आम्रकूट] mountain. Resting for a while on its peak he would be displaying his black beauty amidst the golden yellow mango fruit of the trees which thickly line its slopes. He should next fly over Vindhya [विन्ध्य] mountain where he could see the streamlets of Narmada [नर्मदा] river on Vindhya’s [विन्ध्य] rocky outcrop looking like beautiful designs on elephant’s back. After tasting Narmada [नर्मदा] river water he will be obstructed by Jambu [जम्बु] bowers. When the cloud showers rain, the whole of nature will become pleasant, the Kadamba [कदम्ब] will have new blossom and the sunburned forests will exhale sweet odours. In course when the cloud will come near Dasharna [दशार्ण] country, the ketaki [केतकी] buds will bloom, the trees will become noisy with the chirping of birds building nests, the forests will appear dark because of the ripe Jambu [जम्बु] trees. After visiting capital Vidisha [विदिशा] tasting the sweet waters of Vetravati [वेत्रवती] river the cloud would rest on the Nichais [नीचैः] mountain. Proceeding on his journey, the cloud would take a detour to visit the famous city of Ujjayini [उज्जयिनी]. After crossing Nirvindhya [निर्विन्ध्या] river and swelling her stream with showers he would reach Ujjayini [उज्जयिनी],a  brilliant fragment of heaven, as it were, situated on Earth. In this historic city the cloud would see the markets where loads of precious stones and jewels are exposed for sale, palaces with casements wafting fumes of incense, and terraces ever scented with flowers and reddened with the lac-dye of the feet of beautiful women. In Ujjayini [उज्जयिनी] there is a temple of Lord Shiva surrounded by a garden whose trees sway in the breeze from Gandhavati [गन्धवती] river. Here the girls who are engaged in dancing before the deity throw glances at the cloud for the early rainfall. After a night halt at some canopy the cloud must continue his journey, he would visit Gabhira [गभीरा] river and Devgiri [देवगिरी], the place of Kartikeya [कार्तिकेय] the war God. Then after worshiping him the cloud would cross Charmnavati [चर्म्णवती] river on his way. On the banks of this river is a country named Dashpur [दशपूर], it is famous for the loveliness of the local women. Next the cloud would visit the war-field of kurukshetra[कुरुक्षेत्र]. After drinking the water of River Saraswati [सरस्वती] he must proceed to the holy river Ganga, who originated from the Himalayas, and fell with her foaming waters onto the head of Lord Shiva before her descent on the Earth. After arriving on the snow covered peaks of Himalayas the cloud would catch some rest. Here the bamboo forests filled with wind give out musical sounds. Even the stones over here have the heavenly fragrance of the musk-deer. Viewing several wonders of this mountain, the cloud would then speed away towards the North through Kraunchrandhara [क्रौञ्चरन्ध्र] i.e. the hollow space in the Kraunch [क्रौञ्च] Mountain. Then he would come upon the Kailas [कैलास] mountain. On the top of this mountain stands the city of Alka[अलका], in all its glory and grandeur.

UttarMegh [उत्तरमेघ]

In the city of Alka [अलका], there are big palaces which raise their heads to the sky. They have jeweled floors and decorated walls. In Alka [अलका] youth is the only phase of life, tears flow only because of joy and separation occurs only because of lover’s quarrels and grief is caused only because of love. Trees here bear perennial flowers. The nights are bright because of moonlight and flowers of all seasons grow all year around. The wish granting tree supplies garments of every kind to the women. Houses are treasures of all types of wealth. In this beautiful city of Alka [अलका], the Yaksha’s [यक्ष] house is located to the north of Kuber’s [कुबेर] palace. The Yaksha[यक्ष), then fondly narrates the beauty of his house. There is a small well whose wall is embedded with emerald steps where Golden lotuses bloom perennially. Nearby there is a small pleasure mount with peak of sapphires set amidst golden plantain trees, an Ashoka [अशोक] and Bakul [बकुळ] trees. Between these two trees a golden stick is placed for the pet peacock of Yaksha’s [यक्ष] wife. These signs would help the cloud locate the house of the Yaksha [यक्ष], which is now rendered desolate because of its master’s absence. Its door is painted with auspicious signs. There the cloud can see the Yaksh’s [यक्ष] lonely, weeping wife, counting the months of absence that yet remain with flowers laid on the threshold or trying in vain to sing of him. The Yaksha says that she must have grown slender because of her anguish, lost interest in all pleasures and become absent minded and beside herself with the grief of separation. The Yaksha has told the cloud to deliver the message in a deep and assuring voice. He is to express the Yaksha’s [यक्ष] longing, love and hope to her and bid her not to give up. Because the curse will end after the rainy season and they will be reunited after that. The Yaksha [यक्ष] then begs the cloud to return with a message of comfort, and dismisses him with a prayer that he may never suffer separation, even for a moment, from his wife lightening.

Critical remarks

Kalidasa’s [कालिदास] highly creative powers, his poetical fluency and immense imagination and supreme culture make him a great poet of all time. In Meghdoota [मेघदूत] the first half is full of beautiful natural descriptions interwoven with human feelings and the latter half is full of human feelings framed in natural beauty. Kalidasa’s [कालिदास] imagination paints beautiful pictures: yet they are connected with truth of Nature. Everywhere we can see the keen observant skill of the poet in the descriptions of both humankind and Nature, cities and forests and earth and sky. This poem is governed by the sentiment of Vipralmbh Shrungar [विप्रलम्भ शृङ्गार] that is the sentiment expressing separation in love, but still there are no traces of envy, hatred or nervousness. The whole poem is in Mandakranta [मन्दाक्रान्ता] meter which enhances the shadow of curse on the whole poem like the cloudy dull weather in rainy season. The cursed demi god in this poem is mourning from the separation from his wife , so a mere cloud which is a combination of dust, water and wind, seems to him, capable of delivering his message to his wife. He is so much overtaken by this idea that he sees all of his surrounding in the same light of love. Trees and creepers, springs and rivers, cloud and lightening seem like lovers to him. While painting these beautiful natural pictures the poet has endowed them with a touch of reality. Like the wives of travellers hopeful of their husbands return by the mere sight of rain clouds, peacock’s pleasure enhanced by thunder, river’s eagerness to have rains, blooms of Kadamba [कदम्ब] flowers on mountains awaiting the arrival of rain cloud, leaves, flowers, fruits, village ladies who are very much happy because of the arrival of rainy season, songs of river – all these are not merely mentioned but each and every description is imprinted with emotion and appropriate thought. The poem, subject matter and poetic power of Kalidasa [कालिदास] are really blended very well in this work.

In the beginning the cloud which seems non-living comes into life while following the path directed by the Yaksha [यक्ष]. Kalidasa [कालिदास] describes the places to be seen by the cloud from a high altitude so marvelously that merely imagining that pleases the reader’s mind. Such as the streamlets of Narmada river on Vindhya [विन्ध्य] mountain look like the rangoli designs on elephant’s back , and the other one when the cloud will bend down a little to drink some water on River Charmnavati [चर्म्णवती] then he would look like an sapphire in a pearl strand. In this poem, the poet has revealed his keen sense of observation and heightened self-experience. All forms of nature from a mountain to the tiniest flower have for him a consciousness like an individual, like men or gods. The affection which the Yaksha [यक्ष] feels for the cloud is also spectacular. The Yaksha[यक्ष] has not falsely praised the cloud because he wanted him to deliver his message. The Yaksha[यक्ष ] thinks of the cloud as his own brother and says that he should deliver his message not only for Yaksha [यक्ष] but also for his own good.

While describing the route to the city of Alka [अलका] he has skillfully blended the portrayal of the various aspects of nature with the various human emotions. This description of the route in the first half of this poem is the one where the powers of Kalidasa [कालिदास] are to be seen at his best. Even in the second part in which he has to give the “message” he fills its major part with the descriptive picture of Alka [अलका] city, making each stanza a piece of masterly miniature painting. The poem never becomes a master piece because of the variety of figures of speeches used in it, but those should be blended well with the subject. In Meghdoot[मेघदूत], not even a single figure of speech seems to be out of place. Kalidasa [कालिदास] has utilized each word meaningfully. All the words have melody, shades of pictures and depth of Kalidasa’s [कालिदास] poetic excellence. According to the subject and mood of the poem the Mandakranta [मन्दाक्रान्ता] meter is used very skillfully by Kalidasa[कालिदास] throughout the whole poem. In Poorvmegh [पूर्वमेघ] nature has become very emotional while in Uttarmegha [उत्तरमेघ] the personality of Yaksh’s [यक्ष] wife has shadowed even the beauty of Alka [अलका] city. The grief of the Yaksha’s [यक्ष] wife is beyond words and time and place like the beauty of Alka [अलका] city. The condition of Yaksha’s[यक्ष]wife in separation is described with such delicateness and tenderness as to verge almost on pathos.

The distinguishing qualities of Kalidasa’s [कालिदास] style are sweetness, grace and purity. Every line has the evidence of the poet’s maturity of judgment. Simple short compounds keep this poem away from extravagance. Kalidasa [कालिदास] is an expert of all the figures of speeche but his specialty is definitely the “Upma” i.e. simile. Actually Kalidasa’s [कालिदास] style is the perfect union of pictorial power with musical expression which cannot be equaled by any other sanskrut poet. Meghdoota [मेघदूत] is one of the most popular works of Kalidasa [कालिदास].

Characteristics of Yaksha [यक्ष] and Yaksha’s[यक्ष ]wife

Yaksha [यक्ष]

Meghdoot [मेघदूत] is also known as ‘Muktak” [मुक्तक] poem. Simple words have deep meanings and the sweet language enriched with proper sentiments makes it a world class poem. The hero of this poem is not any God or a prince but a demi-god, a servant of Kuber[कुबेर]. This Yaksha[यक्ष] who is the resident of divine Alka [अलका] city gets separated from his wife because of his mistake. While spending his sentence of living on Ramgiri [रामगिरी] mountain for a year, after eight months he sees a rain cloud. As the popular saying goes, even a family man becomes desperate after seeing the rain cloud then what to say about the Yaksha [यक्ष] who is separated from his lovely wife for a year? The memories of Alka[अलका ]city his palatial house and his wife flood his mind and without thinking about the cloud’s non-livingness, he welcomes that cloud and requests him to give a message of wellbeing to his wife. He navigates the whole route to Alka [अलका], his house, description of his wife, and gives the message for his wife.

This servant of Kuber[कुबेर] has been punished and is very sad because of separation from his wife but still the artiste in him is alive. Although he is sad due to separation he does not look at the world in a sad light. He suggests to the cloud that he should rest on the mountains, watch the beautiful designs made by Narmada River on Vindhya Mountain, dancing peacocks and mountains blooming with flowers. He also suggests taking a detour for experiencing the beauty of Ujjayini city [उज्जयिनी] and purity of Mahakal [महाकाल] temple. The cloud bending on the river Charmnavati [चर्म्णवती] for drinking water seems to the Yaksha [यक्ष] like an emerald in a pearl string, somewhere he looks like black collerium. He describes Himalayas as sharpened elephant tooth and Kailas Mountain like the smile of lord Shiva. On one hand he wants the cloud to travel fast and give his message to his wife but at the same time he wishes that the cloud should drink in the view of beautiful natural surroundings. The Yaksha’s [यक्ष] generous and pleasant nature makes this poem impressive. He is very noble in his thoughts and conduct. He loves his wife very much and compares her to Seeta and indirectly himself with Lord Rama. He is very religious because he asks the cloud to stop at the holy places of Mahakal [महाकाल] temple, Devgiri [देवगिरी] mountain. He can easily connect with people through a friendly manner. Even in the end he wishes for the cloud’s safe journey without being separated from his wife lightening. This shows his non-envious nature, who always thinks of the good of others.

Yaksha’s[यक्ष]wife

The picture of Yaksha’s[यक्ष] wife is painted very delicately and tenderly. She is living in the magnificence of the Yaksha’s [यक्ष] house, in a city where people live in perfect bliss, she alone is without joy. Her heart, sour with grief, tries to find comfort in counting months of Yaksha’s [यक्ष] absence that yet remain, or in recalling sweet memories of their love. She passes sleepless nights on hard bed, every day she grows thinner; loses all interest for ordinary pleasures. But her heart is kept from breaking only by the hope of re-union with her beloved husband. Truly this is a picture of the noblest form of love. The Yaksha’s[यक्ष] wife deserves a place side by side with the other heroines of Kalidasa [कालिदास], Shakuntala [शकुन्तला], Parvati [पार्वती], Indumati [इन्दुमती] and Seeta [सीता].

 

Time of Meghdoot [मेघदूत]

Like other Sanskrut poets, Kalidasa’s [कालिदास] time is also a matter of dispute among the scholars. Tradition thinks that he was the poet at Vikramaditya’s [विक्रमादित्य] royal assembly. But there is more than one king, who had adopted the title of Vikramaditya [विक्रमादित्य].   According to many theories his time is tentatively decided between 4th and 5th century A.D.

Sources of Meghdoot [मेघदूत]

Unlike the epics Kumarsambhavam [कुमारसम्भवम्] and Raghuvansham[रघुवम्शम्]which have historical background, Meghdoot[मेघदूत] is the poet’s own creation. But the poet may have got an idea of Meghdoota[मेघदूत] from Rama’s message to Seeta through Hanuman in Ramayana. The line “she [Yaksha’s[यक्ष] wife] will look like Seeta looking at Hanuman, while hearing the message from Hanuman.

{इत्याख्य़ाते पवनतनयम् मैथिलीवोन्मुखी सा।[Uttarmegh(उत्तरमेघ)40]}.

Critics have pointed out that some expressions in Meghdoot [मेघदूत] are based on Ramayana. But this hardly distracts from the originality of his conception or the execution of his design, which is preeminently his own. Thus Meghdoot [मेघदूत] is a beautiful creation of Kalidasa[कालिदास]. His highly creative powers, his massive intellect, immense imagination, his poetic fluency and supreme culture have placed him in the very front rank of the great poets of all ages. He was the best exponent of the times in which he lived. Hindu culture found its expression in the poetry of Kalidasa. Nature plays a very important role in this poem and seems like the leading character of the story. This poem captures readers’ minds and pleases its readers by its natural descriptions, elegant linguistic characteristics and heavenly descriptions of Alka [अलका] city. As said earlier about the greatness and importance of Meghdoota [मेघदूत] this creation alone would have earned for Kalidasa, fame and respect in the literary world.

References

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