Written by London swaminathan
Date: 6 APRIL 2017
Time uploaded in London:- 18-09
Post No. 3793
Pictures are taken from various sources; thanks.
Great men think alike. Kalidasa, the most famous poet of India and a Sangam Tamil poet Sempulapeyarnirar use the water image in a beautiful way.
Kalidasa in Raghuvamsa says,
Water from the sky which is originally of one taste gains diversity of flavours in different regions. Similarly, Hari, being immutable assumes different conditions in different qualities (RV 10-17). The image gives the idea of monism.
Sempulap peyal nirar, Tamil poet who lived nearly 2000 years ago, says in Kuruntokai (verse 40):
“What are my mother and your mother to each other?
What is the relationship between my father and your father?
How did we come to know each other?
Like the (rain) water which falls on a field with red soil,
(mingle with it and becomes red)
the loving hearts have blended with each other.
Kalidasa used it illustrate monism; Tamil poet used it to illustrate the union of hearts.
(I have been emphasizing through several articles that Kalidasa lived before the Sangam age, probably around 1st century BCE. I am using 250 plus similes of Sangam poets to illustrate my point and those similes are already in Kalidasa’s seven works).
In the Kumara sambhava (2-25), he says that “the speed of the Wind Gods Maruts can be guessed from their faltering motion as is the stoppage of their current from the refulgence of waters.
As the sprouting of a seed requires water before it can make its appearance, similarly, the work of gods can be accomplished by the Cupid in diverting the mind of Siva from meditation towards Parvati (K.S.3-18)
Siva, on account of suspension of the vital airs is imagined to be a reservoir of water unruffled with ripples, a cloud not blustering up to burst into a shower, or like a lamp steady in a place free from wind (K.S.3-48)
Cupid who died leaving Rati whose very life depends upon him, is imagined as the torrent of water abandoning a lotus after breaking down a dam (K.S. 4-6)
The mind already firmly resolute and bent on its desired object cannot be diverted and is so imagined to be like downward flowing water which cannot be drawn back (K S 5-5). So Menaka’s advice to Parvati whose mind already leaned to Siva went amiss.
Seeing the moon-like face of Parvati, Siva had the water of his mind rendered clear (K S 7-74).
Water is always cool; seers are always kind!
In the Raghuvamsa (RV 5-54) Matanga cursed Pri yamvada to turn into an elephant. He fell at his feet and the sage relented afterwards. The hotness of water is due to its contact with the fire or the solar heat; what is coolness is but the natural property of water. This indicates that abut is the sage was kind-hearted.
स चानुनीतः प्रणतेन पश्चान्मया महर्षिर्मृदुतामगच्छत्|
उष्णत्वमग्न्यातपसंप्रयोगाच्छैत्यं हि यत्सा प्रकृतिर्जलस्य॥ ५-५४
sa cānunītaḥ praṇatena paścānmayā maharṣirmṛdutāmagacchat
uṣṇatvamagnyātapasaṁprayogācchaityaṁ hi yatsā prakṛtirjalasya || 5-54
“But, when I prostrated before his feet and importuned that great sage matanga relented to modify the curse as above… for the heat of water is owing to its contact with either fire or solar heat… what is coolness is but the natural property of water… isn’t it… [5-54]
The Sanskrit poets describe navel as a mark of beauty and it therefore, compared to the watery eddy (RV 6-52)
नृपम् तमावर्तमनोज्ञनाभिः सा व्यत्यगादन्यवधूर्भवित्री|
महीधरम् मार्गवशादुपेतम् स्रोतोवहा सागरगामिनीव॥ ६-५२
nṛpam tamāvartamanojñanābhiḥ sā vyatyagādanyavadhūrbhavitrī |
mahīdharam mārgavaśādupetam srotovahā sāgaragāminīva || 6-52
She who has a navel as beautiful as an eddy, and who is scheduled to become another man’s wife, that princess indumati moved past that prince susheNa of shUrasena kingdom, just as an ocean bound river moves past a mountain met by chance on its way. [6-52]
The family of Raghu with the child King comparable to the water with a lotus in the condition of a bud in it (RV 18-37). This indicates the tender and lovely heart of King Sudarsana.
शाबैकसिंहेन च काननेन।
रघोः कुलम् कुट्मलपुष्करेण
तोयेन चाप्रौढनरेन्द्रमासीत्॥ १८-३७
śābaikasiṁhena ca kānanena |
raghoḥ kulam kuṭmalapuṣkareṇa
toyena cāprauḍhanarendramāsīt || 18-37
That dynasty of Raghu with this young king sudarshana obtained similitude to the sky with new moon, a forest with a single lion-cub, and a lake with solitary bud of lotus. [18-37]
Thus Raghu’s line, whose chief was now a child,/Showed like the night while still the Moon is young,/Or like a forest where one Lion-cub/Alone doth range, or as a silent lake/Before its lilies bloom.
In the Malavikagnimitram (M.M.1-6), the skill of teacher which when communicated to a worthy student, attains greater excellence, is likened to the water of a cloud, which when dropped into a sea-shell, acquires the nature of a pearl.
Just as a stupid person becomes wise by association with the wise, similarly, the turbid water becomes clear by contact with the purifying fruit of the Kataka tree (M M 2—7)
(Rain drops falling on the day of Swati star becoming pearl in the oysters and the Kataka seed purifying water are used by Tamil poets as well; I have written about it already).
Source books :–Kuruntokai
The Imagery of Kalidasa by Dr Mrs Vinod Aggarwal
My Old articles on the same subject:
1.Kalidasa’s simile in Tamil ‘Kalitokai’ about Water Purification! (Post No.3775); posted on 31 March 2017
2. Women and Rivers in Kalidasa and Tamil literature; posted on 10 November 2014
3. Kalidasa’s age: Tamil works confirm 1st century BC. Posted on 22 January 2012
4. Nature’s Orchestra in the Forest: Sanskrit Tamil Poets’ Chorus (Post No. 3489); 27 December 2016
Posted on Post No. 1048 ; dated 17th May 2014.
- Gem Stones in Kalidasa and Tamil Literature (13 February 2012)