Kalidasa’s Women and Tamil Women

ramalakshmana sita hanuman

Tribhanga pose of Rama, Lakshmana, Sita wth Hanuman.

Research paper written by London Swaminathan

Research article No.1526; Dated  28    December 2014.

The concept of womanhood, physical features of women, their beliefs, the customs they followed were amazingly similar from Himalayas to Kanyakumari, the Land’s end. This shows that their thoughts, words and deeds were same from their birth to death from North to South. It stands as a proof for the sons of the soil theory. They did not come in to India from foreign lands. They were born and brought up here and died here with their own beliefs. Wherever they went they took their beliefs. If they had come from outside India, customs like swayamvaram would have existed outside India. Hundreds of such customs are not found anywhere in the world except in Tamil and Sanskrit literature. Even their standing pose (tribhanga) was same from Indus valley to the southernmost tip.

Hindus have a custom of describing a woman’s body features from head to foot if it is human. If it is a goddess they have to describe her features from foot to head. This customs is followed in Tamil and Sanskrit literature. No one dares to look at the Goddess straight into her eyes. Even her side glance is enough to fulfil all the desires of millions of people, they believed. So they started describing her from foot to head. For ordinary women it was vice verse.

odissy tribhanga

Tribhanga in Odissi Dance

Following body features are same in Kalidasa and Sangam Tamil literature. We can see most of them in Valmiki Ramayana as well.

1.Women were always compared with the rivers and cities. Rivers were women and the sea was their husband.

2.Women were married on the Rohini Nakashatra (asterism) day as she was considered the favourite wife of the Moon.

3.Moon was considered the husband of all the 27 Stars. In other cultures Moon was a woman.

4.All the good qualities and virtues are given feminine names. This custom is followed until today (Karuna, Shanti, Satya, Anandi,Saumya, Saubhagya etc)

5.If someone sneezed, women thought some other women are thinking about their husbands.

6.Women counted their days when their husbands went on travel or Government service (such as war, foreign trips with Kings). It is in Meghaduta of Kalidasa and Sangam literature.

7.Kalidasa described women as wonderful creations of Brahma. He described them as Brahma’s Art Work! In Tamil they were compared to Anangus, who can “kill “anyone by their look.

8.Each City in India has a goddess protecting the city (Nagara Devata). Even Ravana’s Lanka had a city goddess- Lanka Devi.

pinnu senchataiyal

  1. Women’s Body Features:

Hair – It is always compared to peacock feather in Kalidasa and Sangam literature

Gait- It is always compared with swan or goose

Thigh – Trunk of an elephant or Plantain/Banana Tree stem

Eyes: Deer

Voice: Koel or Parrot

Belly Button: whirlpool; vortex

Eye throbbing: Left is good for women; Right is good for men.

Hair do: If the husband is away they don’t decorate their hair

Fasting: They fast for good children and Husband’s long life

Chaste women: Chaste women have miraculous powers, but they rarely use them.

Symbol of Love: Chakravaka birds are described as symbol of love; they always remain together.

Tree and Creeper: Men are trees and Women are creepers in both the languages.

Face of Women: Bright and cool like Moon

Paintings: Both men and women had paintings of their beloveds

Teeth are compared to white flowers

Lips are compared with corals or Bimba fruit

Broad Chest/breast, Narrow waist, Broad Thighs are the features of Indian women.

Women longed for children and believed male children will help them to go to heaven.

Women wanted heroic children and mothers were called Veea Mata in Tamil and Sanskrit literature.

More than 200 topics are similar in Kalidasa and Tamil literature including the above topics on women. This shows that Sangam Tamils knew very well Kalidasa’s works and used them. Unknown Prakrit poets of Gatha Saptasati also imitated Kalidasa, but they were not known to anyone, because their products were secondary productions. Very rarely we see originality; may be one or two like Hala are exceptions.

dance line drawing

Gatha Sapta Sati never touched Tamil God Skanda where as Kalidasa and Sangam Poets dealt with Skanda Murukan in the same way. Gatha Spata Sati touched Lord Ganesh where as neither Sangam poets nor Kalidasa dealt with Lord Ganesh.

My forty year research in to Sanskrit, Tamil and Prakrit literatures show that Tamils and Prakrit poets knew Kalidasa works by heart. Rev G U Pope who studied Tamil and Sanskrit works wrote about it 150 years ago.

Under 200 topics I have more than 1000 references. I have given one below:

In Syama – vine I see your slender limbs;

Your glance in the gazelle’s startled eyes

In the cool radiance of the moon in your face

Your tresses in the peacock’s luxuriant train

Your eye brows graceful curve in stream’s small waves

But alas! O cruel one, I see not

Your whole likeness anywhere in any one thing – Kalidasa’s Megadutam 103

kerala beauties

“Conferring the radiance of the moon

On the faces of lovely women,

the entrancing tones of wild geese

on their gem-filled anklets,

the Banduka’s vibrant redness

on their luscious lower lip,

the splendour of bountiful autumn

is now departing – to who knows where – 3-25- Kumarasambhava

Also Sakuntala Act 2-10,11, Rtu Samharam 3-24/26`

Tamil Kalitokai 55, 56 (This part of Kurinji Kali was composed by Brahmin poet Kabilan, who was well versed in Sanskrit)

Dr G U Pope said that Kabilan followed Kalidasa.

“ Hero wanted to say something about my features. He looked at my forehead which was like crescent moon, but it was not the crescent moon. Face looked like moon but there were no dark spots like moon; shoulders looked like bamboos; but this was not born in the hills; eyes were like lotus flowers; but not from the pond; she walks like a peacock, but she is not a bird; she spoke like a parrot; but not actually a parrot. He pretended praising me like this.

“ Your glance is like the glance of a deer; your hair is soft like swan’s; you are like a pea cock; your shoulders are like bamboos and they are the boats that helps one to cross the Sea of Lust; your breasts are like the buds of areca nut tree.

thathrupam pen

Comparing women of Kalidasa with Sangam Tamil works bring out many literary gems from both the literatures.

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