The Significance of Travel in Epic traditions of the world - Part 1

A paper titled “A Study of the Significance of Travel in Classical Sanskrit Epics with Parallels in Greco-Roman Epics” was presented by Arjun Bharadwaj at the international seminar on “Sanskrit and Cultural Studies: New Perspectives” organized by the Sree Shankaracharya University of Sanskrit, Kalady on 5th June 2017. The current article contains excerpts from the paper.

Pratimālā: The Lovely Garland from the World of Literary Games

In recent years, antyākṣarī programs in various forms, have been entertaining people. The Vividhabhāratī channel of Ākāśavāṇī (All India Radio) perhaps set the precedent decades earlier by broadcasting antyākṣarī programmes based on movie songs. In my childhood days, many programs were organized, in close circles – both friends and family, in schools and colleges, where youngsters participated in antyākṣarī programs based on film songs. Their enthusiasm for antyākṣarī made them forget other pastimes and leisure activities.


The fifteenth Sarga begins with a description of the rainy season –

कटु भेकगणेन चुक्रुशे कलकेकामुखरेषु केकिषु |
कवयः कवयन्तु तावता कविपाशः किमुपैति मूकताम् ||

Even as peacocks cooed sweetly, frogs continued to croak. Do poetasters remain silent just because great poets are busy composing poetry? (15.14)

The sixteenth Sarga has a short description of the noon –

अस्ञ्चरत्पान्थमनालपद्द्विजं सरोजकोशोदरलीनषट्पदम् |
प्रतप्तहेमप्रतिमं समस्तमप्यभूदहर्मध्यगते जगद्रवौ ||

Kālidāsa’s Influence

Kālidāsa and Other Arts

From his works, it is clear that Kālidāsa had extensive knowledge of dance, music and painting. His knowledge of dance can be estimated from his play Mālavikāgnimitram. At the very beginning, he makes his famous remark about the stage.

नाट्यं भिन्नरुचेर्जनस्य बहुधाप्येकं समाराधनम् |
The stage is a one-stop entertainment solution for people of varied tastes and orientations.

ಗುಂಡ್ಲುಪಂಡಿತ ಶ್ರೀ ರಾಜರತ್ನ ಕೃತ ‘ಮಹಾಕವಿ ಪುರುಷಸರಸ್ವತಿ’

ವಿಡಂಬನೆಯೆಂಬುದು ಸಾಹಿತ್ಯದ ಒಂದು ವಿಶಿಷ್ಟಪ್ರಕಾರವಾಗಿದೆ. ವಿಡಂಬನೆ ಅಥವಾ ಅಣಕುವಾಡು ಎಂದರೆ ಮೂಲ ಪ್ರಸಿದ್ಧವಾದ ಒಂದು ಕೃತಿಯನ್ನು ಆಶ್ರಯಿಸಿ ಅದೇ ಶೈಲಿಯನ್ನು ಅನುಕರಿಸಿಕೊಂಡು ಇನ್ನೊಂದು ಸಾಹಿತ್ಯವಿರುತ್ತದೆ. ಆದರೆ ಇಲ್ಲಿ ಯಾವುದೋ ಒಂದು ಕೃತಿಯನ್ನು ಲಘುವಾಗಿಸುವ ಉದ್ದೇಶವಿದೆ ಎಂದಲ್ಲ. ಆದರೆ ಪ್ರಸಿದ್ಧವಾದ ಮಾರ್ಗದಲ್ಲಿ ಸ್ವಲ್ಪ ಲಘುವಾದ ಹಾಸ್ಯಸಾಹಿತ್ಯವನ್ನು  ತಂದಾಗ ಹುಟ್ಟುವ ಆಸ್ವಾದನೀಯತೆ ಅವರ್ಣ್ಯ! ಹೀಗೆ  ಯಾವುದೋ ಒಂದು ಕೃತಿಯನ್ನು ಆಶ್ರಯಿಸಿ ಅದಕ್ಕೆ ಅಣಕುವಾಡನ್ನು ರಚಿಸುವುದು ಬಹಳ ಹಿಂದಿನಿಂದಲೂ ನಡೆದುಬಂದಿದೆ. ಕಾಳಿದಾಸನ ಮೇಘದೂತವನ್ನು ಕಂಡು ಅದರಂತೆಯೇ ಬಂದ ದೂತಕಾವ್ಯಗಳ ಪರಂಪರೆಯನ್ನು ಅವಲೋಕಿಸಿದರೆ ಸಾಕು ಅದರ ವೈಶಾಲ್ಯವನ್ನು ತಿಳಿಯಬಹುದು.

Nīlakaṇṭhadīkṣita: His Poetry and Wit

The subsequent sarga contains descriptions of a counsel between Taṭātakā, Malayadhvaja’s daughter and her minister, Sumati, followed by a description of the evening –

यः किलानुशरदं विजयार्थी पार्थिवं त्वरयसे गमनाय |
स प्रवर्तयसि मां न कथं त्वं बालिकेयमिति किं विशयानः ||

You would, in every autumn, encourage the king, my father, to go on a military expedition. Then why dont you do the same with me this time? Is it because you fear I am just a young girl? (8.9)

Message of Kālidāsa

As noted earlier, Kālidāsa has been the greatest yet most graceful exponent of Indian values. He has upheld the highest values of our tradition at the individual, societal and universal levels. He advocates an austere but aggressive pursuit of prosperity. Likewise, he advocates a moral but intense pursuit of desires. It is summed up in one verse describing how King Dilīpa was.

Kālidāsa and Hermitages

Kālidāsa has probably provided us with the finest pictures of the pure life led by sages in hermitages. It is among the many things that he has pioneered. From his description of life in hermitages, it is clear that a sage is one who is more humane than most humans. It is because of this that he becomes divine in the larger sense. It is not as if he has no concerns; it is just that he is concerned about everything around him. And it is not as if he has given up everything; it is just that he accommodates everything.

Kālidāsa and Similes (Part 2)


The epic opens with a magnificent hyperbole describing the great Himalayan mountains:

स्थितः पृथिव्या इव मानदण्डः ||
The Himalayas is like a great measuring scale used to measure the earth.

The narrative then moves to describing his daughter Pārvatī. We can look at a few descriptions of Pārvatī.