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(kä'lĭdä`sə), fl. 5th cent.?, Indian dramatist and poet. He is regarded as the greatest figure in classical Sanskrit literature. Except that he was retained by the Gupta court, no facts concerning his life are known. His three surviving plays are Sakuntala (or Shakuntala), Vikramorvasi, and Malavikagnimitra. These court dramas in verse (nataka) relate fanciful or mythological tales of profound romantic love intensified and matured by adversity. Sakuntala, which is generally considered his masterpiece, tells of a maiden, Sakuntala, whom King Dushyanta marries. The king is bewitched so that he forgets his bride until a ring he gave her is discovered in the body of a fish. In Kalidasa's two epics, Raghuvansa and Kumarasambhava, delicate descriptions of nature are mingled with battle scenes. The other poems of Kalidasa are shorter and almost purely lyrical. Meghaduta [cloud messenger] is a description of the regions of India crossed by a cloud traveling between a tree spirit and his wife. Ritusamhara describes the course of pastoral love through the six seasons into which Indians divided the year.


See B. S. Miller, The Theatre of Memory (1984); studies by M. B. Harris (1936) and K. Krishnamoorthy (1972).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



Dates of birth and death unknown. Ancient Indian poet and playwright of approximately the fifth century; Indian tradition sets Kalidasa’s life in the first century B.C.

Folk legends depict Kalidasa as a shepherd who, on the strength of his talent, rose to the position of court poet. His works were closely linked with the previous development of the folklore epic and literature, but nature and the life of the people were his main source of inspiration. In the poem Raghu-vamsha (Dynasty of Raghu) and the chronicle of the legendary dynasty glorified in the Ramayana, Kalidasa paints a picture of the lives of many of the country’s peoples and condemns a ruler who disregarded the interests of his subjects. The epic poem Kumara-sambhava (Birth of Kumara, the War God) and the lyric poem Ritu-samhara (Cycle of the Seasons) celebrate the triumph of simple human feelings and the all-conquering force of love.

Kalidasa’s drama is evidence of the high development of ancient Indian theatrical art; it reveals a joyous world of harmony and reason, negating the boundary between the all-powerful deity and supposedly powerless man. Based on themes from the Vedas and the Mahabharata, Kalidasa’s dramas commented on contemporary events: the scene with the fishermen and the guards in Abhijnana-shakuntala (Shakuntala Recognized by a Ring Token), the judgment of Agnimitra in the satirical ending of the drama Malavikagnimitra (Malavika and Agnimitra), and the new, completely earthly interpretation of the theme of the love of King Puruvaras for a celestial girl in Vikramorvashiya (Urvashi Won by Valor). Kalidasa’s dramas, which affirm the value of the human personality, have been translated into many Eastern languages and almost all the European ones. They are still performed all over the world.


In Russian translation:
“Stseny iz Sakontaly, indiiskoi dramy.” (Translated and with a foreword by N. M. Karamzin.) Moskovskii zhurnal, 1792, part 6, books 2–3.
Sanskritskie poemy. Vologda, 1890.
Dramy. Translated by K. Bal’mont, introduction by S. F. Ofdenburg.
Moscow, 1916.
“Potomki Ragkhu.” Leningrad, 1940, nos. 15–16.
Sakuntala. Moscow, 1955. Izbrannoe. Moscow, 1956.


KaFianov, V. I., and V. G. Erman. Kalidasa: Ocherk tvorchestva. Moscow, 1958.
Pyzhova, O. V. “Ob esteticheskom ideale Kalidasy.” In the collection Iz istorii esteticheskoi mysli drevnosti i srednevekov’ia. Moscow, 1961.
Serebriakov, I. D. Ocherki drevneindiiskoi literatury. Moscow, 1971.
Ivanova, N. M. Kalidasa: Bibliogr. ukazateV. Moscow, 1957.
Upadhuaya Bhagwat Saram. India in Kalidasa. Foreword by E. Thomas. Allahabad, 1947.
Ruben, W. Kalidasa: Die menschliche Bedeutung seiner Werke. Berlin, 1956.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


?5th century ad, Indian dramatist and poet, noted for his romantic verse drama Sakuntala
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
(17.) An identical amorous surveillance takes place between Hariscandra and his wife in Candakausika, Act I; both were surely inspired by Kalidasa's Abhijiianafakurztala (Warder and Kunjunni Raja, NA, p.
Eddery later made most of the running on the Brian Meehan-trained Tumbleweed Glen in the mile nursery, and made all on Kalidasa, trained by Peter Chapple- Hyam for Robert Sangster, in the 7f fillies' juvenile maiden.
On more than one occasion unfortunate to come up against better-than- anticipated opposition, Kalidasa has a solid chance here.
Kumarasambhava of Kalidasa, with the Commentaries of Mallinatha and Sitarama.
Elhida, one of Tregoning's nine winners this season, comfortably opened her account over six furlongs at Goodwood with a defeat of Kalidasa, second in Thursday's May Hill Stakes.
As with most classical Indian authors, little is known about Kalidasa's person or his historical relationships.
In the first article, "Courtly Love and the Aristocratic Household in Early Medieval India," Daud Ali focuses on the well-known Sanskrit dramas, Malavikagnimitra (Kalidasa), Ratnavali and Priyadarsika (Harsa), from, the fourth to the seventh century C.E., with reference to representations of romance in courtly literature.
nDavid Loder strengthened an already highly impressive juvenile fillies' hand when Calando quickened away in the final furlong to beat Kalidasa by two and a half lengths in the May Hill Stakes, writes Graham Dench.
Lectures du Natyasastra (Paris 1992) (reviewed lyrically in this journal by Edwin Gerow, a scholar not given to eulogistic hyperbole: "Avanavagupta on Kalidasa and the Theatre," JAOS 117 [1997] 343-46); a translation of the plays of Kalidasa: Le theatre de Kalidasa (1996); an edited collection of article: Theatres indiens (1998); and Pourquoi le theatre?
Tregoning is keen to give Elhida a chance in Pattern-race company and, at this stage, favours the Flying Childers as her next start following a smooth success over Kalidasa on July 28.