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Who is the author? Kalidas or Viddyottama? A Research Study

Dr. Kamal Kishore Mishra

Asst Professor Dept Of Sanskrit, University of Kolkata

Download Project Background

The research is based on an exploration comprising oral testimony, writings, available texts, works of Kalidasa that include lyrics, epic and drama. Brief synopsis of the project is given below:

  • Devotional texts in Sankrit, Pali, Singhalese, oral testimonies, ancient literature and manuscripts as well as inscriptions are materials for in-depth analysis. The inter-relationship between Princess Vidyottama, Emperor Vikramaditya, the priestly practices of Kashi and Ujjain and Kalidas on one hand and Sri Lanka’s ruler, Raja Kumardas, Kamini, Kirandi, Kataragama on the other hand, is quite revealing.
  • Detailed scrutiny of the latent and apparent meaning and the context in which terms are utilised in reference to Kalidas and Vidyottama are noteworthy. Examination and deliberations of the concealed significance referring to the omnipresence of Vidyottama, is centre-stage in this quest. The examination also dwells on the significance of women’s names that occur in the works: such as Kaushiki, Shakuntala, Priyamvada, Dharani, etc. It is interesting to note that these women are seen conversing in Sanskrit whereas as per the order of those times, women were supposed to speak in Prakrit.
  • “Kath” is the root word for “Katha” and “Kathanak”. The works of Kalidas are women centric delineating with great sensitivity their feelings, emotions and experiences. From the text to the presentation encompassing all aspects of life, these creative compositions are essays in artistic expression. Love has been presented in graceful, divine and skilful forms with unmatched similes. Ritu Samhar depicts romanticism symbolised through the beauty and changing nature of the woman. Meghdootam reflects the pain and anguish of Yakshini; Raghuvansham describes evocatively incidents from the time of Dilip to Agnivarna; Abhigyan Shakuntalam covers tenderly the meeting and separation and finally the recognition of Shakuntala; Malavika Agnimitram evocatively mirrors the feelings of the imprisoned Malavika, the conspiracy of Rani Dharini and the strategies of Kaushiki; Vikramorvarsiyam dwells on the pain and anguish of the accursed Urvashi.
  • In all the works, women have been portrayed sympathetically as honour bound and upholder of values whereas men have been portrayed as rulers, comedians, passionate about hunting, intoxication and attraction towards women. The glory of women, her desire for knowledge and reflections in wisdom, articulation and skilful use of language and her innate sensitivity are evident throughout. If Raghuvansham reflects the Suryavanshi clan (solar dynasty), then the other works are reflective of the Chandravanshi clan (lunar dynasty), are seen from the perspective of a woman, all of whom are in important positions and situations.
  • In these works, the name of Kalidas appears 49 times as detailed below:
    • Nineteen times in Raghuvansham (“Mahakavi Kalidaskritau”)
    • Seventeen times in Kumar Sambhavam (“Mahakavi Kalidaskritau”)
    • Twice in Meghdootam (“Mahakavi kalidasvirachite”)
    • Once in Abhigyan Shakuntalam (“Kalidasgratith vastunabhigyanshakuntalam
    • Twice in Vikaramorvasiyam”(“Ahamasyam Kalidasgratithvastuna naven” and “sampoornamidam ShriKalidaskritam Vikramorvarshiyam”)
    • Twice in Malavika Agnimitram (“abhiditosmi vidvatparishada Kalidas”and “Shri Kalidaskritau Malavikagnimitram”)
    Usually in Sanskrit manuscript tradition, the author writes the desired clan’s Lord’s name rather than penning his own name. Going against this Sanskriti tradition, in the works of Kalidas, it is found that the name of the author has been mentioned 49 times. This raises a doubt whether indeed he was the author.
  • Usually, the works of ancient India begins with a dedication to the family or the clan deity whereas in these works (of Kalidas) they begin with a dedication to Shiva-Parvati. This again raises a doubt that needs enquiry.
  • There are thus several issues that beg revisiting and re-examining the works of Kalidas. Even though the task of analysing the works from woman’s perspective started in 1960, yet such pointers solicit review afresh.
  • Women’s sexuality is explored in detail in all the seven works.

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