Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Who is equal to Kalidasa?

That mahAkavi kalidAsa is one of the greatest poets is perhaps already a cliche. From Bhavabhuti to Goether several personalities have paid very rich tributes to him. In the history of world literature, from time to time one finds a gem that lauds him to the sky. Here is one such a beauty.

पुरा कवीनां गणनाप्रसङ्गे कनिष्ठिका अधिष्ठित कालिदासा ।

"Long ago when poets met together, they agreed that KAlidAsa is equal to the pinky finger."

Very insulting indeed! How could one equate Kalidasa the greatest of poets to a pinky finger?! Isnt it preposterous? Has this guy even read any of Kalidasa's works?

Well here comes the unassuming punch line as the next part of the subhAshita:

अद्यापि तत्तुल्य कवे: अभावात् अनामिका सा अर्थवती बभूव ॥

"Even today due to the absence of a poet of equal stature, the next finger remains meaningfully to be called as "anAmikA" (Unnamed)."

(In Samskrita, the ring finger is called "anAmikA".)

What a master stroke!


shankara said...

There is a small correction in the verse you have given. This is based on what I have read and heard earlier.

In the place of अनामिका सा अर्थवती बभूव ॥ it ought to be अनामिका सार्थवती बभूव ॥

सार्थवती means "meaningful" i.e. arthasahitaa.

I think this paatha is better.

shankara said...

I think I am visiting this blog for first time. I liked almost all the posts.

Can you give the complete sloka "पुरा नि:सरणो रणा:". Then only will the story be complete in a sense.


Vasu Srinivasan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Vasu Srinivasan said...


Thanks for your comments. I understood it to be सार्थवती = सा + अर्थवती. Meaning सा अनामिका अङ्गुली अर्थवती बभूव | Since arthavatI itself means meaningful, I did not think of saarthavatI being as meaningful. But your interpretation makes sense too.

I have the verse with me but the part of the verse is not clear to me. That's why I didn't post it. I will put it up anyway.