The Meghasandesa of Kalidasa is often described and justifiably too, as the lyric par excellence and it has deservedly won world-wide recognition. It is conceived by the master poet as a lyric of love as well as that of nature at the same time. And it is this that distinguishes it from the usual patterns noted generally in Sanskrit literature. "The very conception of the theme of a lover in exile sending a message of loyalty, sympathy and hope to his beloved, through a cloud, is a magnificent feat of the poetic imagination. And the fiction is maintained and elaborated in detail with masterly consistency and propriety. The first part of the poem is devoted to a description, by the Yaksa, of the path to be pursued by the cloud in its progress from the exile to his wife in his native city of Alaka. It is a wonderful gallery of pictures of the Indian scenery and coloured by the feeling, tone and imagination of the lover in exile. The second part describes the city of Alaka, the residence of his wife, her appearance, and her reaction to the messenger and his message, all as imagined by the Yaksa. The longing of the exile for his beloved is symbiolic and suggestive of human love at its purest and most intense; and the agony of separation, the hope of reunion, the comfort of reciprocation and confidence in mutual loyalty, expressed in the poem, have captivated, soothed and charmed untold generations of lovers, and lovers of poety, in this country. The poem is bound to occupy an honoured place in the gallery of the world's masterpieces in lyric poetry."
The unprecedented success of the poem and the influence it wielded in Indian literature won for it the unique position of being a trend-setter. Historians of literature tried to find out a source that gave inspiration to the poet and they noticed the incident in the Rg Veda where Sarama, a dog was sent as a messenger to the Panis. In the Puranas too similar incidents can be noted. Instances of simillarities in world literature were also searched for. It is observed :2 "The fine lyric of Kalidasa, Meghasandesa, the cloud-messenger, has an echo in the legend of Kien-Niu, the young cowherd, and his bride Tsih-Nu, the heavenly weaver, and in the following lines of a Chinese poet of the 2nd century :
"O floating clouds that swim in the heaven above,
Bear on your wings these words to him I love".
Thus this wonderful creation of the poetic fancy is sought to be traced to some early source. The identity of the hero and the heroine too has become a subject of great interest among scholars. M. Krishnamachariar following the cue provided by another writer had made the following remarks in this connection :3 "The source of the theme is now discovered to be the Asadhakrsna Ekadasi, Yogini-mahatmyam. A Yaksa, Hemamali neglected his duty of culling flowers for Manasa lake and stayed away with his wife Vigalaksi. Kubera cursed him with the disease leucoderma and banished him. In the Himalayas Hemamali met sage Markandeya and on his advice he observed the Yoginivrata in the dark half of Asadha and he was restored to health and home".
t seems that the identity of the heroine was a mtter of speculation for centuries. According to a tradition current in Kerala, Kalidasa is to be identified with the hero and the heroine was none other than the sister of king Vikramaditya of Ujjain in whose court the poet is supposed to have flourished.1 Lilatilaka, a fifteenth century treatise on poetics and grammar in Malayalam has quoted a stanza from a Manipravala (Sanskrit-Malayalam) Sandeakavya styled Kakadata as follows :
स्वस्रे पूर्वं महितनृपतेर्विक्रमादित्यनाम्नः
पोक्कांचक्रे तरूणजलदंकालिदासः कवीन्द्रः।
त्वं कूत्तस्त्री वटुरतिजलो दुष्कविश्चाहमित्थं
मत्वात्मानं तवखलु मया प्रेषितः काक एव ॥
But the commentators of Meghasandega seems to accept the theory that the Ramayaria of Valmiki provided the inspiration to the poet. It was Daksinavartanatha who proposed a thesis in this respect. He advocated the view that the poet had in mind the message sent by Rama to Sita through Hanuman and in the course of his commentary he has substantiated the theory by pointing out the various suggestions made by the poet. Mallinatha following his predecessor has propounded a similar view in his Sanjivani commentary on the poem.
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