12 May 2014

Swami Vivekananda On Kalidasa

Kalidasa or  Kālidāsa or Kâlidâsa (Devanagari: कालिदास) was an Indian Classical Sanskrit poet and a dramatist. His most notable works are —  
  1. Abhijnanashakuntala ("The Recognition of Shakuntala"),  
  2. Vikramorvashi ("Urvashi Won by Valour"),  
  3. Malavikagnimitra ("Malavika and Agnimitra");  
  4. Raghuvamsham ("Dynasty of Raghu") and  
  5. Kumarasambhavam ("Birth of the War God");   
  6. Meghadutam ("Cloud Messenger").

In this article you'll find Swami Vivekananda's quotes and comments on poet Kalidasa and his works.

Shakespeare is indebted to Kalidasa
Swamiji told—
  • Shakespeare is indebted to Kalidasa and other ancient Indian dramatists for all his writings, and that the whole Western literature is only an imitation of the Indian.[Source]

Swami Vivekananda's mentions of Kalidasa works
Painting of a youn man, with feather pen in hand
Image source: Poetry-Chaikhana
Here you'll find Swami Vivekananda's mentions of Kalidasa's works—
  • "Gloom existed first." Those of you who have ever been in India or any tropical country, and have seen the bursting of the monsoon, will understand the majesty of these words. I remember three poets' attempts to picture this. Milton says, "No light, but rather darkness visible." Kalidasa says, "Darkness which can be penetrated with a needle," but none comes near this Vedic description, "Gloom hidden in gloom." Everything is parching and sizzling, the whole creation seems to be burning away, and for days it has been so, when one afternoon there is in one corner of the horizon a speck of cloud, and in less than half an hour it has extended unto the whole earth, until, as it were, it is covered with cloud, cloud over cloud, and then it bursts into a tremendous deluge of rain. The cause of creation was described as will. That which existed at first became changed into will, and this will began to manifest itself as desire. This also we ought to remember, because we find that this idea of desire is said to be the cause of all we have. This idea of will has been the corner-stone of both the Buddhist and the Vedantic system, and later on, has penetrated into German philosophy and forms the basis of Schopenhauer's system of philosophy. It is here we first hear of it.
    "Now first arose desire, the primal seed of mind.
    Sages, searching in their hearts by wisdom, found the bond,
    Between existence and non-existence."
    It is a very peculiar expression; the poet ends by saying that "perhaps He even does not know." We find in this hymn, apart from its poetical merits, that this questioning about the universe has assumed quite definite proportions, and that the minds of these sages must have advanced to such a state, when all sorts of common answers would not satisfy them. We find that they were not even satisfied with this Governor above. There are various other hymns where the same idea, comes in, about how this all came, and just as we have seen, when they were trying to find a Governor of the universe, a Personal God, they were taking up one Deva after another, raising him up to that position, so now we shall find that in various hymns one or other idea is taken up, and expanded infinitely and made responsible for everything in the universe. One particular idea is taken as the support, in which everything rests and exists, and that support has become all this. So on with various ideas. They tried this method with Prâna, the life principle. They expanded the idea of the life principle until it became universal and infinite. It is the life principle that is supporting everything; not only the human body, but it is the light of the sun and the moon, it is the power moving everything, the universal motive energy. Some of these attempts are very beautiful, very poetical. Some of them as, "He ushers the beautiful morning," are marvellously lyrical in the way they picture things. Then this very desire, which, as we have just read, arose as the first primal germ of creation, began to be stretched out, until it became the universal God. But none of these ideas satisfied.[Source]
  • In the evening of October 24 the train left Paris. The night was dark and nothing could be seen. Monsieur Bois and myself occupied one compartment — and early went to bed. On awakening from sleep we found we had crossed the French frontier and entered German territory. I had already seen Germany thoroughly; but Germany, after France, produces quite a jarring effect. "On the one hand the moon is setting" ( यात्येकतोऽस्तशिखरं पतिरोषधीनां — From Kalidasa's Shakuntalâ.) — the world-encompassing France is slowly consuming herself in the fire of contemplated retribution. [From Swamiji's Memoirs of European Travel II —Ed.][Source]
  • Let us remember the words of Kâlidâsa: "Fools blame the actions of the great, because they are extraordinary and their reasons past the finding-out of ordinary mortals."[Source]
  • "Man's all-wise maker, wishing to create a faultless form whose matchless symmetry should far transcend creation's choicest works, did call together by his mighty will, and garner up in his eternal mind, a bright assemblage of all lovely things, and then, as in a picture, fashioned them into one perfect and ideal form. Such the divine, the wondrous prototype whence her fair shape was moulded into being." (Shakuntalam by Kalidasa, translated by Monier Williams).  [from a letter written to Mis Muller, 7 October 1896 —Ed.][Source]
  • Never mind, उपेक्षितव्यं तद्वचनं भवत्सट्टशानां महात्मनाम्। अपि कीटदंशनभीरुका वयं रामकृष्ण तनयास्तदूहृदयरुधिरपोषिताः। "अलोकसामान्यमचिन्त्यहेतुकं हिन्दन्ति मन्दाश्चरितं महात्मनाम्" — Great men like you should pay no heed to what he says. Shall we, children of Shri Ramakrishna, nourished with his heart's blood, be afraid of worm-bites? "The wicked criticise the conduct of the magnanimous, which is extraordinary and whose motives are difficult to fathom" (Kalidasa's Kumârasambhavam.) — remember all this and forgive this fool. It is the will of the Lord that people of this land have their power of introspection roused, and does it lie in anybody to check His progress? I want no name — I want to be a voice without a form. I do not require anybody to defend me. [in a letter written to Swami Ramakrishnananda, 1894 —Ed.][Source]
  • The best I can do in the circumstances is to quote from one of our books: "May you always enjoy the undivided love of your husband, helping him in attaining all that is desirable in this life, and when you have seen your children's children, and the drama of life is nearing its end, may you help each other in reaching that infinite ocean of Existence, Knowledge, and Bliss, at the touch of whose waters all distinctions melt away and we are all one!" (A reminiscence of Kalidasa's Shakuntalam, where Kanva gives his benedictions to Shakuntalâ on the eve of her departure to her husband's place.) [in a letter written to Miss Harriet Hale, dated 17 September 1896 —Ed.][Source]

Rajas in the Westerners

From Complete Works Volume VI—[Source]
Disciple: Do you expect in view of the Rajas in the Westerners that they will gradually become Sâttvika?
Swamiji: Certainly. Possessed of a plenitude of Rajas, they have now reached the culmination of Bhoga, or enjoyment. Do you think that it is not they, but you, who are going to achieve Yoga—you who hang about for the sake of your bellies? At the sight of their highly refined enjoyment, the delineation in Meghaduta—"विद्युद्वन्तं ललितवसनाः" etc.—comes to my mind. And your Bhoga consists in lying on a ragged bed in a muggy room, multiplying progeny every year like a hog!—Begetting a band of famished beggars and slaves! Hence do I say, let people be made energetic and active in nature by the stimulation of Rajas. Work, work, work; "नान्यः पन्था विद्यतेऽयनाय"—There is no other path of liberation but this."

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