Thursday, February 21, 2019 | ePaper

Great Poet Kalidasa’s poetry: Imagery and similes

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Dasharatha's hunt: Dasaratha saw many beasts as he was hunting. Although he saw a peacock fly very close to his chariot, he did not shoot his arrow. For, as the peacock spread its tail feathers before him, it reminded him of his wife's hair adorned with

Literature Desk :
alidasa’s poetry is celebrated for its beautiful imagery and use of similes. The following are some specimen verses from his works.
One celebrated example occurs in the Kumarasambhava. Uma (Parvati) has been meditating even throughout the summer, and as the monsoon arrives, the first raindrop falls on her:
 Still sat Uma though scorched by various flame
Of solar fire and fires of kindled birth,
Until at summer's end the waters came.
Steam rose from her body as it rose from earth.
With momentary pause the first drops rest
Upon her lash then strike her nether lip,
Fracture upon the highland of her breast,
Across the ladder of her waist then trip
And slowly at her navel come to rest.
Kumarasambhava 5.23-24
Translation by Ingalls
The beauty of this verse is held to result from ‘the association through suggestion of numerous harmonious ideas.’ Firstly (as described in Mallinatha’s commentary), the description suggests signs of her physical beauty: long eyelashes, pouting lower lip, hard breasts large enough to touch each other, deep navel, and so on. Secondly (as described in Appayya Dikshita’s commentary), it suggests her pose as a perfect yogini: her motionlessness through pain and pleasure, her posture, and so on. Finally, and more subtly, in comparing the mother goddess to the mother earth, and the rain coursing down her as it courses over the surface of the earth, it suggests earthly fertility. Thus the verse harmoniously brings to mind beauty, self-restraint, and fertility.
In another work, King Aja grieves over the death of Indumati and is consoled by a hermit:
Raghuvnasa 8.90
O king! You are the finest among men with self-control.
It is not fit of you to be struck by sorrow like the ordinary folk.
If a great wind can move a tree and a mountain equally,
how is the mountain better?
Dushyanta describes Shakuntala to his friend :
She seems a flower whose fragrance none has tasted,
A gem uncut by workman's tool,
A branch no desecrating hands have wasted,
Fresh honey, beautifully cool.
No man on earth deserves to taste her beauty,
Her blameless loveliness and worth,
Unless he has fulfilled man’s perfect duty-
And is there such a one on earth?
Abhijnanasakuntalam 2.10
Translation by Arthur W Ryder
At Indumati’s swayamvara, princes are downcast as she passes by without showing interest :
As Indumati walked past each king and went to the next king (in a ceremony of choosing her husband), the king's face would turn bright and then pale. It was like watching a line of houses in the night as a dazzling lamp passed by.
Literal translation:
And every prince rejected while she sought
A husband, darkly frowned, as turrets, bright
One moment with the flame from torches caught,
Frown gloomily again and sink in night.
Raghuvansa 6.67    Ryder
Dasharatha’s hunt: Dasaratha saw many beasts as he was hunting. Although he saw a peacock fly very close to his chariot, he did not shoot his arrow. For, as the peacock spread its tail feathers before him, it reminded him of his wife's hair adorned with flowers of different kinds and how it would become disarranged during their lovemaking. Rghuvansa 9.67
Rama’s coronation is announced:
The news of the beloved Rama being crowned as king gave special  joy to every citizen, like a stream that wets every tree in a garden.                                                                                                           
Raghuvansa 2.13
The loveliest verses of Kalidasa, are found in Meghaduta, the meaning of which is given as follows -
When I try to draw your picture and show in it that I am bowing at your feet, with a ‘kawa-a type of chalk,’ on the rock; due to emotional outbreak, my eyes get wet. The Krutanta or Yama himself does not wish to have our meet in the picture itself...
Similarly the beauty-symbols of a woman has been so beautifully shown in a verse of Kalidasa’s Meghaduta.
This verse is as such that its meaning can only be understood word-wise, given as follows -
Tanvi - slim Shyama - aprasuta bhavet shyama, tanvi ch navayauvana - comment
- a grownup woman who has not yet enjoyed the sex with some male and thus has not yet any experience of pregnancy and the like...
shikhari dashana - a woman having,
Well arranged clean white teeth
-having the color of her lips
Like the color of a morning reddish Sun
-having her waist so short
-having the glimpse of a frightened deer
- having a deep navel
-a slow walker, due to heavy hips
- slightly bent forward,
due to good enough weight of her grown up breasts
and for the last line the meaning is: such a woman is the idol of beauty for any woman.

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