Mahakavi Kalidas

Maha kavi KalidasKalidas was a renowned classical Sanskrit poet recognized for valuable contributions to Sanskrit literature. But Kalidas was not always a genius! As a young man Kalidas was so dim-witted, that one time he fell off the tree when he tried to saw off the branch while sitting on the wrong end. This act of foolishness was observed by a smart pundit passing by and he decided to use him to take revenge on an arrogant princess who was very proud of her scriptural learning and who had humiliated him. Many pundits had tried to win the princess’ hand through debates but she was too clever for them. Now when this pundit found Kalidas, all the pundits who had been humiliated by the princess sought reprisal and thought out a plan to get the princess married to the dull-headed Kalidas. They prepared Kalidas and advised him not to open his mouth threatening that otherwise he would lose the chance to marry a royal bride. As arranged at the king’s court, the silent debate between the princess and Kalidas began. She pointed one finger implying that only God is the True Eternal Being. Poor Kalidas interpreted it quite differently. He thought, “You want to poke one of my eyes… I’ll poke two of yours!” and pointed two fingers at her. The princess thought, “Yes, I have to agree that Individual Self’s true nature is that of the Supreme Self”. Like this the mute argument continued and in the end the princess was impressed by Kalidas’ insight and profundity in his gestures. She married him and lived a simple life. But as truth cannot be kept hidden for long, Kalidas’ true nature was revealed and the princess realized that he did not belong to the scholarly caliber. So she drove him away from her life. Kalidas was very dejected by this sudden change of events. He passed by a river where he saw women washing their clothes on the rocks that were smooth compared to the others. He realized in a flash that if a hard rock could be turned smooth by constant pounding, his brain too could become wise. By the grace of mother Kali, he took refuge in her and spent many days in devotion, meditation and studying the scriptures. With Her grace, he was blessed with wisdom and scholarship, and so he came to be called Kalidas (servant of Kali). Later on, he wrote great works like Megadhuta (poem on the picturesque beauty of India), Shakuntala, Raghuvamsa, etc. These works of his are celebrated and studied even today. This month, Kalidas jayanthi – the day of the birth of Kalidas – is celebrated in different parts of India. Priya Tulasi, Milwaukee, WI

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