Kalidasa and Tamil Poets on God! (Post No.3476)

Written by London swaminathan


Date: 23 December 2016


Time uploaded in London:- 18-23


Post No.3476



Pictures are taken from different sources; thanks.



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Kalidasa, the greatest poet of India, believed in the concept of One God. Like every Hindu, he also worshipped him in various forms through his poems and yet he made it very clear that God is one echoing the thought of the Rig Vedic seer: Ekam sat vipraa: Bahuta vadanti.He refers to all the important gods and goddesses in his seven works; His list includes Brahma, Vishnu, Siva and Vedic Gods Indra, Agni, Yama, Tvastra, Rudra, Surya, Prajapati,Varuna, Kubera, Kartikeya and Goddesses Kali, Lakshmi, Sarasvati, Uma, Sapta Mata and demi gods.


After referring to various Gods in various places in his works, he says:

Siva is divided threefold (Brahma, Vishnu and Siva) which points to Monism.

“May the Eternal One who is attainable by firm faith and meditation; who is hailed as the Supreme Spirit in the Vedanta, who pervades and is present in the whole of heaven and earth; to whom alone the name of Lord, not signifying any other being, is properly applied; and who is sought within themselves by those desirous of salvation by restraining the vital breaths, Prana and others, bestow upon you the highest bliss (Vikramorvasia 1-1)

The two other plays of Kalidasa open with similar benedictory stanzas in praise of Shiva.  The Raghuvamsa too opens with a salutation to Shiva. In the Megaduta and Kumarasambhava also, we come across several appreciative references to Siva (This shows he lived long before the Gupta Kings who were Parama Bhagavatas (Worshippers of Vishnu).

All these show that he was a great devotee of Lord Siva. But we must remember that he praised Brahma and Vishnu as well.


In Kumarasambhava (7-44), he praised Siva as: “That was but one form which divided itself in three ways. Their seniority or juniority is common (interchangeable); sometimes Siva is prior to Vishnu or Vishnu to Siva; sometimes Brahma to them both; and sometimes the two to Brahma”.

This sloka shows his understanding of oneness. People of his days believed in such oneness. That is why he makes a passing remark in the middle of the Kavya without much empahsis.


In the Sakuntala (1-1) he praised Siva as follows:-

“The First Creation of the Creator;

The Bearer of oblations offered with Holy Rites;

That one who utters the Holy Chants;

Those two that order Time;

That which extends, World-Pervading

in which sound flows impinging on the ear;

That which is proclaimed the Universal Womb of Seeds;

That which fills all forms that that breathe with the Breath of Life.

May the Supreme Lord of the Universe

who stands revealed in these Eight Forms

perceptible preserve you.

The most popular prayer of Kalidasa in the Raghuvamsa is taught to every child on the very first day when they go to learn Sanskrit:-


Vagarthaviva sampriktau vagarthah pratipattaye | Jagatah pitarau vande parvathiparameshwarau || – Raghuvamsha 1.1



I pray to the parents of the world, Lord Shiva and Mother Parvathi, who are inseparable as word and its meaning to gain knowledge of speech and its meaning.



Tamils followed Kalidasa

Tamils also followed Kalidasa. Sangam Literature which was nearly 2000 year old has more praise for Shiva in the Prayer. These prayers were added when they compiled the anthology in the fourth or fifth century CE, that is after Kalidasa who lived in the First Century BCE. Purananauru, Akananauru, Ainkurunuru, Pathtrupathu and Kalitokai beging with an invocation to Lord Siva. Kuruntokai has a prayer for Lord Skanda and Natrinai has a Vishnu Sahasranama Sloka (in Tamil) as its prayer. Paripatal begins with a poem on Lord Vishnu and Pathupattu begins with a poem on Lord Skanda (Murugan in Tamil). Most of the prayer songs were done by on Mr Mahadevan who translated Mahabharata in Tamil. His name in tamil is Bharatam Patiya Perunthevan (Mahadevan who sand Bharata).


Since Sangam period Tamil Poets used over 200 similes of Kalidasa (out of 1200) ,Kalidasa must have lived in first century BCE or earlier (Please see my research paper written a few years ago and posted here).


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