The present edition of the Meghaduta has been prepared with particular attention to the wants of university students; at the same time, much that is of interest to the general reader has been inserted. The words giving the prose order of each verse in Mallinatha's commentary are printed in the bold type, the compound words not actually given by Malli. Being enclosed in rectangular brackets. This will enable the students to find out the prose order and thereby to reading the unnecessary portions of the commentary. The translation of the spurious stanzas is also given, with short notes thereon. All the grammatical points discussed by Malli. Have been explained in the Notes, and derivations of important words given. In fact, an attempt is made to make the book as complete as possible within the limits of time at my disposal. As regards the text, Malli.'s order of the verses has been preserved, except in two cases: (i) the verse: &c. has been transferred to the second part, as it appears to form a part of the description of Alaka, and (ii) the verses &c. (II. 14) is placed after &c. (see Notes) as in the Parsvabhyudaya. in preparing the present edition of the Megh., I have consulted all the printed editions available at Bombay, and the Calcutta Ed. Of Isvarachandra Vidyasagara, and I acknowledge the help received from them: but my special thanks are due to Prof. Pathak and Mr. Nandargikar, from whose editions I got considerable help.
Kavya or literary composition according to Sanskrit writers is of two kinds and of these is either pure prose or pure poetry or a mixture of the two. Pure poetry may be either a (like the Raghuvamsa and the Kiratarjuniya or a writers on rhetories have defined a as viz, resembling Mahakavya in some of its features the Meghaduta and the Rituasamhars are Kavyas of this class.
The Khanda kavya is the nearest approach to a sustained lyrical poem in Sanskrit although fugitive stanzas of great lyrical beauty have always had greater vogue. The Sanskrit lyric may be divided according to its subject into two kinds the religious and the arotic the numerous extant stotras represent the modern form of the religious type of Khanda kavya. The erotic lyric which is the more popular of the two may be said to commence for us with the poems of Kalidasa.
The two prominent characteristics of these short pieces are Nature the poet is observant of mountains plants and the animal world of flowers the lotus is the most conspicuous and of birds we may mention the peacock the chataka the chakara the kokila and the charavaka. Scenes are depicted brilliant with blossoming trees fragrant with flowers gay with lotus ponds steeped in tropical sunshine and with large eyed gazelles reclining in the shade the bulk of this poetry consists of miniature painting depicting amatory situations or sentiments. This portraiture sometimes effected with great subtlety and charm also often becomes conventional especially in the hands of the later poets. The love depicted by Sanskrit poets it may also be remarked is not so much romantic or ethereal as ensues though rarely they do succeed in raising it to a spiritual idea.
The age of Kavya literature in classical Sanskrit may roughly be given as 100 B.C 1100 A.D though later poets now and then cultivated it with remarkable success. The Meghaduta of Kalidasa is undoubtedly the crest jewel of Khanda Kavyas an other work of the same class by that poet is tha Ritusamhara which is a poetical description of the six seasons into which the Hindu year is divided. Among other specimens more or less well known may be mentioned (1) the a small work of 22 slokas in whci yamaka is freely employed (2) in 50 stanzas descriptive of various amorous situations (3) the one of the triology whch bhartirhari is said to have composed (4) which is sometimes attributed to Kalidasa (5) evidently the work of one who is a master in this special art (6) in praise of the sun and (7) the famous dramatic lyric of Jayadeva of later authors perhaps non is superior to and matter the words of older writers.
By is of course meant Kalidasa the author of the Sakuntals Raghuvamsa etc. and it is him we are here his personal concerned with. Of his personal history very little is definitely known. The name itself signifies a servant of the goddess Durga it is probable that like so many other names it was bestowed without any referees to its original signification. But on it is based a tradition which represents him to have been an illiterate person till by the favor of the goddess he suddenly found himself endowed with the poetic genius. Kalidasa is curiously reticent about him self in his works, nor are any records of him by other writers available. Whatever we can say about his life is based on external and secondary sources, and must necessarily remain more or less a matter of guess-work. His birth-place was probably somewhere in Malwa in Central India, and from his glowing description of the city of Ujjayini it has been even suggested that he was a resident of that city. Legends are current about his having been a court poet of King Vikramaditya of Ujjayini; this is not at all improbable, as his works show considerable acquaintance with court-life. He was a Brahmana by caste and a devout worshipper of Siva, though by no means a narrow-minded sectarian. He seems to have traveled a great deal throughout India; his graphic description of the Himalayan scenes reads very much like that of an eye witness. His works bear testiqiony to his considerable acquaintance with the Vedas, the philosophy of the Upanishads, the Puränas, medicine and astronomy. Altogether he must have been a person of high culture, liberal ideas, and unpretentious learning.
The problem of the date of Kalidasa is a much-discussed one, and the last word has yet to be said in the matter.
His Date Tradition1 describes him as one of the ‘Nine Gems’ at the court of King Vikramaditya. Now, various Kings in the history of ancient India called themselves by the title of “The sun of Valour.” One of these is the supposed founder of the Sañtvat era, commencing with 56 B. C., and Kalidasa with greater probability must be placed in his time; the late Dr. Peterson also held the same view’ when he wrote, “Kalidasa stands near the beginning of the Christian Era, if, indeed, he does not overtop it.”
But many modern scholars find themselves unable to accept the traditional date, and have tried to argue that Kalidasa must have flourished under one or more of the Gupta kings. The Gupta period (about 300 A. 11—650 A. 0.) was famous in the history of pre-Muhammad an India for its revival of Sanskrit learning and arts. The late Mr. Vincent A. Smith in his Early History of India (3rd ed. 1914) tried to show that Kalidasa must have flourished in the reigns of one or more of these Gupta kings :— Chandragupta II. (e. 357—413), Chandragupta, (413—455) Skandagupta (455-480).’ Both Kumargupta II and Skandagupta, bad adopted the title Vikramãditya. Mr. Smith says —“ It is not unlikely that the earliest works of Kalidasa, namely the Ritusasphara (if that be his ), and the Meghaduta, may have been composed before A. 1). 413, that is to say, while Chandragupta IX was on the throne; but I am inclined to regard the reign of Kumaragupta II (413—455) as the time during which the poet’s later works were composed; and it seems possible, or even probable, that the whole of his literary career fell within the limits of that reign. It is also possible that he may have continued writing alter the accession of Skandagupta.” Mr. Smith thus makes Kalidasa’s literary career extend over a period of not less than thirty years. There is thus nothing wrong in the tradition about Vikramkditya being our poet’s patron; only we must arrive at an understanding as to which Vikramaditya.
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