Kalidasa Biography

Kalidasa is a legendary Sanskrit poet and dramatist. There’s very little information about Kalidasa’s personal life. Most of the scholars accept the fact that he lived during the middle of the 4th and early 5th centuries A.D. Most of his plays and poetry are mainly based on Hindu mythology and philosophy. He was an ardent worshipper of goddess Kali, and the literal meaning of his name is servant of goddess Kali.

Malavikagnimitra is considered to be the first play of Kalidasa, among his existing plays. It narrates the story of King Agnimitra, who falls in love with the picture of Malavika, an exiled maid servant. Soon the queen comes to know about her husband’s passion for this maid and exasperated with anger imprisons Malvika. But destiny takes its turn and Malavika is discovered to be the original princess and thus legitimizing their relationship.

The second play is Shakuntala which is Kalidasa’s masterpiece. This play is world renowned and translated in English and German. It is about King Dushyanta, who falls in love with Shakuntala, a beautiful girl of humble background. They are happily married and suddenly destiny takes a brutal turn and the king goes back to the court for some important business. On the other hand Shakuntala is cursed by a saint that the King would forget her. Later the saint becomes calm by listening to the requests of Shakuntala and asserts that the king will be reminded of Shakuntala when he sees the ring given by him. She loses the ring while taking bath in the river and things become worse when she comes to know that she is pregnant. Finally true love wins when a fisherman discovers the ring, and seeing it the king is reminded of his love.

Among the existing plays of Kalidasa, Vikramorvashe is the last play. It is the most mystical of his plays. This play is about the king (Pururavas) who falls in love with Urvashi,a heavenly damsel. She writes love letters on a birch leaf to her lover and goes back to heaven to enact in a celestial play. Captivated in her lover’s thought she spoils the play by calling her lover’s name while performing in the play. She is punished for spoiling the play and is exiled from heaven. She goes through a series of unfortunate events and finally unites with her lover and lives happily with him on earth.

Apart from plays, he also wrote poems. His few poetic works are are Raghuvamsha (“Dynasty of Raghu”) and Kumarasambhava (“Birth of the War God”), as well as the lyric Meghaduta (“Cloud Messenger”).