Kalidasa, literally meaning 'Kali's minion,' was a renowned poet and dramatist of ancient India, believed to have lived during the reign of Agnimitra, the second Shunga king. However, the exact period of Kalidasa can only be conjectured. It is inferred from his works that he was a brahmin, a devotee of Shiva, had travelled extensively and was very well versed in the arts, sciences and philosophy of his period. He lived in a city in affluent circumstances, and was well acquainted with royal courts and court politics. He was one of the 'nine-gems' in the court of king Vikramaditya of Ujjain, and also a devotee of goddess Kali. At the outset, Kalidasa was an ignoramus shepherd and once Kali gifted him with an extraordinary reward of wit. Kalidasa is generally considered to be the greatest Indian writer in Sanskrit. He is acclaimed as a poet of epic proportions, as testified by all his plays and poems.

His first work Malavikagnimitra depicts the life of King Agnimitra. The second play was Shakuntalam, the love story of Dushyanta and Shakuntala. His Vikramorvasheeyam is more mystical than the other plays. Kalidasa also wrote two epic poems, Raghuvamsa and Kumarasambhava, and the lyric Meghadut. Legends record that was murdered by a Sri Lankan courtesan during the reign of Kumaradasa.

Updated on 14th December, 2005

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