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!
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