The beauty of Sanskrit poetry: a weaver, Bhoja and Kalidasa

It was a common saying that in Raja Bhoja’s kingdom, Dhara everyone was a poet. An ambassador from a far-off country was highly skeptical of this, and decided to verify it for himself. So off he went into the kingdom far away from the king’s palace. After a long search, he found a poor weaver hard at work. At last, the ambassador thought that he had finally found someone who would certainly not be able to do justice to the tag of a poet. So, taking the weaver with him, he arrived at the palace of Bhoja.

Here are the lines sung by the weaver at the palace:

काव्यं करोमि नहि चारुतरं करोमि यत्नात् करोमि यदि चारुतरं करोमि ।
भूपालमौलिमणिमन्डितपादपीठ हे भोजरोज कवयामि वयामि यामि ।।

Translation: I compose poetry but not very well. If I make an effort, I would be able to do well. Oh One whose footrest is encrusted with jewels from the crowns of kings, Oh Raja Bhoja, I compose poetry, I weave, (and now) I leave.

——-

In the palace of Bhoja was that jewel among poets, Kalidasa. One day Bhoja decided to play a nice trick on our unsuspecting friend. Bhoja took a courtier with him to Kalidasa’s home. When Kalidasa opened the door, Bhoja hid himself behind it. The courtier entered Kalidasa’s home and broke the news that their beloved Raja Bhoja had passed away. Kalidasa was overwhelmed with emotion, and composed the following verses impromptu:

अद्य धारा निराधारा निरालम्बा सरस्वती।
पंडिताः खंडिताः सर्वे भोजराजे दिवंगते।।

That is,

“Today Dhara is without support. The Goddess of Learning, Saraswati is also without support. All scholars are overwhelmed with grief at the departure of Raja Bhoja to heaven.”

—-

On hearing these beautifully composed lines and overcome with emotion at the grief felt by his faithful poet at his passing away, Bhoja revealed himself from behind the door. Color returned to Kalidasa’s face on seeing his beloved master. Bhoja asked Kalidasa to repeat the lines he had composed just a few moments back.Kalidasa, the most versatile among those who can be called versatile, replied thus:

अद्य धारा सदाधारा सदालम्बा सरस्वती।
पंडिताः मंडिताः सर्वे भोजराजे भुवंगते।।

which means,

“Today Dhara is ever supported, and so is Goddess Saraswati. All scholars are adorned now that Raja Bhoja has descended on earth.”

———

2 Responses to The beauty of Sanskrit poetry: a weaver, Bhoja and Kalidasa

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