Kalidasa Raghuvamsham (Sanskrit Text, Transliteration and English Translation)

Item Code: IHL234
Publisher: Rupa Publication Pvt. Ltd.
Author: Rajendra Tandon
Language: Sanskrit Text, Transliteration and English Translation
Edition: 2010
ISBN: 9788129115867
Pages: 902
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 8.7 Inch X 5.7 Inch
Weight 1.16 kg
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Book Description
From the jacket

The Raghuvamsham, the largest of Kalidasa’s work in both scope and size, is not just a mythological story of Raghu’s dynasty; it is a magnificent edifice of fact, mythology, political morality and ethics in ancient India. While reading through the poem one marvels at the insight of Kalidasa – inarguably one of the greatest poets of all times – into diverse fields and issues.

With a modern translation of the same, Raghuvamsham invites you to the world of Raghu and Rama, Indumati and Sita – a world ruled by principles and ethics.

As with all the writings of Kalidasa, Raghuvamsham is rich in unique poetic images of nature, sringara, viraha and of moral values. Kalidasa weaves deep religious and ethical issues into the rich tapestry of the life of several kings of the dynasty.

Rajendra Tandon is a Master of Arts in English literature and a Bachelor of Law. He was a member of the Indian Revenue Service. He has studied Sanskrit, Hindi, Punjabi, Urdu, Mathematics, Physics and Law. He takes a keen interest in Indian history, Indian miniature painting, astronomy, fine arts, Indian and Western classical music and gardening. He lives in Mumbai.


Rama was already worshiped and was a household name when Kalidasa lived and wrote his great poems and plays. He also had access to the Valmiki Ramayana. So, when he made up his mind to write a poem on an epic scale, what could have been a better subject than the life and the glorious deeds of he family of Rama, that is, the Raghuvamsham? He talks of this motivation in the shlokas 5 to 9 of the first canto of the Raghuvamsham.

Kalidasa meticulously planned the architecture of the epic that he was about to write. A mere recital of the kings’ lives, of their mundane deeds, of the wars they had fought, of territories they had conquered would not do. He cast a glance around. He was well versed with the lives of the contemporary kings and queens. He had studied the textbooks available that dealt with rajaniti, administration of an empire and of justice. He had a sound knowledge of Indian history and geography. He knew reasonably well about warfare. He was already an accomplished poet of nature, of shringara, viraha, karuna, vatsalya and other rasas of Sanskrit poetry, drama and literature. He knew of the Indian seasons intimately. He was one with nature in all its aspects. He was well versed in Indian mythology. So, Kalidasa decided to put all this knowledge into the writing of the Raghuvamsham. And how well did he succeed?

Each of the nineteen cantos of the Raghuvamsham takes up a distinct theme for development. Of course, Kalidasa writes of a king’s administrative policies and acumen several times. But that was inevitable. He was writing about a dynasty of kings. He wrote of the personal qualities and the character of quite a few kings, as well. Kalidasa, besides being a realist, was an idealist to the core. Hence, besides writing about the existing practices like consultation with ministers on all the important issues of the state, the poet laid emphasis on idealistic choices and desirable practices.

Another remarkable feature of the Raghuvamsham is Kalidasa’s portrayal of the life in hermitages, descriptions of the modes of travel, highlighting the proximity the rural folk and the hermits could feel with the king. His detailed accounts of the journeys into the countryside are illuminating. He does not miss even a pug mark or a bird’s song!

In the Raghuvamsham, Kalidasa takes the reader around India with the armies of Raghu. He describes in sharp visuals the life of the soldiers on the battlefield and while traveling to their next destination. He does not overlook the condition of the elephants and of the horses accompanying the soldiers. He describes in cantos Kalidasa writers of the changing seasons, like vasanta, and summer. He shows us the life of the kings and their women in private and in public. He writes of a royal hunt and of fun and games in water, in different seasons, giving us an intimate look at the modes of recreation among the royals.

In the Raghuvamsham the reader will find erotica as well as sadhana. Human emotions like a father’s love for his child, a husband’s sense of loss over his wife’s death, and so on, have been lovingly delineated. The last canto shows the reader a rake’s inevitable progress to his doom.

The epic has fascinating scenes of confrontation between Rama and Ravana, between Rama and Parshurama and several other characters. There is never a dull moment in it.

Kalidasa’s knowledge of astronomy comes out strong in various references to the planets, constellations and the stars. These have been explained in detail in the notes to the main text.

The Raghuvamsham narrative is replete with mythological references. All these fascinating tales have been retold in the notes and explanations offered at the end of the book for the context of their use.

In the next chapter, Raghuvamsham, A Critical Appreciation, I have highlighted some of the finest portions of this work. It will help your appreciation of the magnificent words and literary acumen of Kalidasa if you read this chapter carefully. It is my belief that while talking of Kalidasa to a discerning audience it is my duty to bring to their notice the wealth of lofty thoughts and unmatched images hidden in each word of this masterpiece.

I have translated the Sanskrit text in free flowing language. I have not made an effort to write verse. That is not possible. However, I have tried to convey Kalidasa’s sense as truly as possible. Every word, every phrase has been checked.

Extensive notes have been supplied for mythological, astronomical, political, economic, ecological, social and other references in the text. I have not provided any notes to the chapter, Raghuvamsham, A Critical Appreciation because all the references are covered by the notes appended to the main text.

For the Sanskrit text I have relied upon Kalidasa Granthavali, edited by Sitaram Chaturvedi and published by Bharat Prakashan Mandir, Aligarh and the Works of Kalidasa edited by C.R. Devadhar, published by Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Private Limited, Delhi. I have made a generous use of The Practical Sanskrit – English Dictionary by Vaman Shivram Apte, published by Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi. The last is a monumental work of epic proportions. No expression of gratitude is enough for the enlightenment provided by the learned author.

The translation is entirely mine.

I am indebted to my wife Swarn and my daughter, Bindu for going through the manuscript and checking for errors if any. I am grateful to my publishers, Mr. R.K. Mehra and Mr. Kapish Mehra for taking interest in my project of translating Sanskrit classics into English and publishing these books for the discerning readers. They are doing a service to our civilization by bringing out such books as a part of their diverse publishing programme.

I thank my editor, Mr. Kadambari Mishra for taking pains to edit the manuscript in her good humoured yet meticulous fashion.

I owe a debt to my companions on the morning walks in ‘The Club’ at Andheri [West], Mumbai. I share my love for Kalidasa’s writings with them on a daily basis. I use them as a sounding board for several ideas. I pester them with Kalidasa’s detailed descriptions of flowers and birds, a number of which are around us in the large, well endowed garden where we walk.

A request to my readers. Go through the writings of Kalidasa at leisure but in detail. His writings are an ocean of literary gems. The more you dive, the more you will fid. You can never have a surfeit of Kalidasa. His writing is always fresh. His similes are astonishing. His images are original and stunning. Just keep your mind’s eye open when you read him. I have marveled at his turn of the phrase each time I read a new shloka. You too will marvel.


Preface ix
Kalidasa: His Life and Times 1
Raghuvamsham: A Critical Appreciation 31
Canto One: Arrival at Vasishtha’s Ashrama 79
Canto Two: Nandini’s Boon 122
Canto Three: The Coronation of Raghu 160
Canto Four: Raghu’s Conquest of the Universe 169
Canto Five:Arrival of Aja at the Swayamvara 236
Canto Six: Indumati’s Swayamvara 275
Canto Seven: The Marriage of Aja 317
Canto Eight: Aja’s Mourning 352
Canto Nine: Dashratha goes Hunting 398
Canto Ten: The Birth of Rama 441
Canto Eleven: Sita’s Marriage 479
Canto Twelve: The Death of Ravana524
Canto Thirteen: The Return from Dandaka vana 571
Canto Fourteen: Sita’s Exile 611
Canto Fifteen: Rama’s Ascendance to the Heavens655
Canto Sixteen: The Marriage of Kumudvati 700
Canto Seventeen: The Reign of Atithi743
Canto Eighteen: The Family Tree 779
Canto Nineteen: The Sringara of Agnivarna 805
The Raghuvamsham: Notes 835
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