Kalidasa occupies a unique place in the world of literature. His works include
3 dramas – Malavikagnimitra, Vikramorvashiya , Shakunthala and
4 poems – Kumarasambhava, Raghuvamsha, Ritusamhara, Meghaduta
The two prominent characteristics of Kalidasa’s work are Nature and Love. All forms of Nature – from the mountain to the tiniest flower have a personality and an innate emotion.
Ritusamhara and Meghaduta are creations from the Poet’s imagination unlike his other works, which have a legendary or historic background. It has been suggested by some commentators that the theme of Meghaduta might be autobiographical.
The beautiful poetry Meghaduta, is believed to be written around 56 B.C.
It is believed that Kalidasa took inspiration for Meghaduta from Valmiki, (Rama’s message to Sita through Hanumat in the Ramayana).
Meghaduta is a lyrical piece written in Mandakrantha meter consisting of 121 stanzas; it is divided into two parts , Purvamegha and Uttaramegha.
A certain Yaksha was condemned to banishment for neglect of his duty by his master Kubera, the god of wealth. He takes up his abode on Ramagiri in the Vindhya mountains. One day, after spending eight months separated from his beloved, he sees a cloud on the peak of the mountains. Yaksha resolves to make the cloud his messenger.
Full of joy, he requests the cloud to go to Alaka, the city of the Yakshas and deliver his message to his wife. He then describes the route which the cloud should embark on. Crossing Narmada, travelling on to Vidisha, the cloud should make a detour to the glorious city of Ujjayini and visit the Holy Shrine of Siva. It should move on further to Devagiri, the Kurukshetra, cross river Sarasvati, go past the snow-clad peaks of Himalayas and reach Kailasa atop which stood the glorious city of Alaka.
In the city of prosperity, to the north of Kubera’s abode, was the Yaksha’s house with its jewelled archway, oblong well with emerald steps filled with golden lotuses. These tokens are to help the cloud identify Yaksha’s dwelling. There he would see the miserable wife mourning for her mate emaciated by the grief of separation. The cloud is then instructed to present itself before her and deliver the message in a way that will give confidence for her and comfort her. She should wait for just four months with a heart full of hope for their eventual re-union.