Nature’s Orchestra in the Forest: Sanskrit Tamil Poets’ Chorus (Post No. 3489)

Written by London swaminathan


Date: 27 December 2016


Time uploaded in London:-  13-05


Post No.3489



Pictures are taken from different sources; thanks.






The amazing thing about India is it was the largest country in the world 2000 years ago. Invaders like Alxander, Genghis khan wetn from one end to the other part of the world and plundered the wealth of the countries they invaded. Before they returned to their starting points, whatever they “conqurered” broke into pieces. But Bharat was united for long time, though there were so called “56 Desas” (countries or Kingdoms). The second amazing thing about the olden days is that all the Tamil and Sanskrit poets followed the same customs in such a vast space. There was no internet or mobile phone or fast transport and yet they did it!


Kalidasa sings about nature’s orchestra in Meghaduta, Raghuvamsa and Kumara sambhava. Tamil poets Kapilar and Kamban echoed it in their verses.


Kapilar lived in age nearer to Kalidasa. He was the Sangam period poet who contributed the highest number of poems. He and Kalidasa sang about the flute music that originated in the bamboo forest. The holes made by the beetles in the bamboos produced music when the wind passed through its holes. Whenever the clouds made thunderous noise it served as the drum beats. Moreover, it echoed through the caves in the mountains.


When there are rainy clouds with rolling thunderous sound naturally the peacocks begin to dance. The forest is full of noises from deer, frogs and song birds. This kindled the imagination of the poets to sing beautiful verses. Sudraka, author of the Sanskrit Drama Mrcha katika (The Clay Cart) also used such imagery.


Let us look at the verses from Kalidasa:


“Who by filling the holes of the bamboos with wind breathed from the mouths of the caves, appears as if he wishes to play an accompaniment to the Kinnaras, singing in high pitch”–Kumarasambhava 1-8


And in the Meghaduta, Kalidasa addresses the Cloud Messenger (megha duta):

“The wind breathing through the hollow bamboos makes sweet music

woodland nymphs sing with passion-filled voices

of the victory over the Triple City (Tri pura);

If your thunder rumbles in the glens like a drum

would not the ensemble then be complete

for the Dance-Drama of the Lord of Beings?


the same thing is repeated in the Raghu vamsa (2-12 and 4-73)


While Dilipa is on his way he heard the hum and thrum of nature that seemed to be the full score singing of georgic deities to the accompaniment of high-pitched fluty bamboos while the air is filling their holes like a flutist, and he is all ears for that symphony as if it is having the sonata form of his glory. [2-12]

The soft breeze causing murmuring rustle in the leavers of birch trees and melodious sounds in bamboo trees, and surcharged with the coolness of the sprays of River ganga has adored Raghu on his way. [4-73]

Tamil Poets Love of Nature


Kapila, the Brahmin poet of Sangam age, sang the highest number of verses in the Sangam literature. He was a great Sanskrit scholar and must have mastered Kalidasa who lived just a few hundred years before Kapila. When a Northern King by name Brhat Dutta ridiculed Tamil he called him, and taught Tamil and made him to compose verses in Tamil. His poems were also included in the Tamil Sangam literature. To impress upon Brhat Dutta, Kapilar composed a poem Kurinji Pattu. It is nearly an imitation of Kalidasa. Kapila must have used Sanskrit to teach him Tamil


In the Akananuru verse 82, Kapilar used the bamboo flute music imagery of Kalidasa. But it has more than what Kalidasa said; here is a rough translation of the Tamil verse:-

“Beetles made holes in the bamboo trees; the wind blowing through the holes produced sweet music; on the other side the water falls made big noise by rolling the big stones; deer made noise; the humming of the bees came from another direction. Hearing this the peacocks danced and the monkeys were the audience! For the poet Kapilar it was like an orchestra with wind sound as flute, water falls as drums, deer cry as a musical instrument, humming of the beetles as lute and the peacock as bard’s wife and monkeys as the fans.

Kamban who composed Ramayana in Tamil, also has a similar scene in the Kishkinda Kanda. He describes the rainy season beautifully:

Humming of the beetles sounded like lute; the thundering clouds were like the playing of drums; peacocks looked like the girls with bangles in their arms. Red colour Kanthal flowers looked like the lamps on the stage. Karuvilam flowers looked like the eyes of the onlookers.

It is very interesting to compare both Tamil and Sanskrit literature and see the same similes, same messages and same approach in both of them




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