Sunday, 23 December 2012

Kalidasa as critic


King Bhoja Vikramaditya had just completed writing the Champu Ramayana. Wishing to have it corrected, prior to publication, by his Court poet, Kalidasa- who was hiding from his munificent patron in the boudoir of some slut- he composed the following line- 'What flower can yet flower upon a blossom fair?'- and promised half of his Kingdom to whoever could best complete the couplet.
The prostitute, in whose garret Kalidasa was evading his Royal pain-in-the-ass patron, having somehow divined the identity of the old lecher she was harboring, wrote the couplet on her wall and the poet, thinking it her own composition, completed the verse with 'Her cauliflower ears in the weeds of her hair'- except he didn't actually write that but something stupid like 'girl, the lotus of your eyes in the lotus of your face'
The ho-bag promptly dropped Kalidas down an elevator shaft and like pushed a big piano down on him or something and, not even stopping to check he was dead, rushed off to the King to claim her half of the Kingdom.
The King asked her (I'm not making this up) if she'd personally verified the death of her patron. The slattern admitted she'd been in too much of a hurry to personally stave in his skull or batter out his brains. The King hastened to Kalidasa's side, but it was too late, the Archpoet was on the point of death. The poet tells his glorious patron that he had now realized the impermanence and vanity of human life and would like to spend his last moments in Religious meditation. The King promptly reads out his Champu Ramayana. However, since Kalidasa did not survive long enough to hear and comment on its concluding Yuddha and Uttara Kanda chapters, the great King tore them out of his masterwork.
The moral of this story is that if you find a great poet half dead down an elevator shaft, don't miss the opportunity to read out your poetry to him. His cries of pain will be 'like nectar poured into your ears'
In this way Kalidas, as critic, gave more pleasure than ever he had as poet- at least to his Royal patron.
There is a lesson here which, as Gandhi used to say, all who run may read.
Mind it kindly.

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