Meghdoot : a Kalidas masterpiece painted by Ramgopal Vijaivargiya

1600 years after it was written, 'Meghdoot' continues to captivate the imagination of its audiences, inspiring artists across genres.

Monsoons in India, are undoubtedly the most-awaited time of the year. This is probably why you will find numerous representations of the rainy season in Indian music, literature, or visual art! These representations, always seem to ‘lift the spirit’ or bring out the ‘romantic’ in you. One such poem, is ‘Meghdoot‘ or the ‘Cloud Messenger‘. The poem (believed to have been) written in the 4th century, is a global favourite!

‘Meghdoot’, a masterpiece in Sanskrit literature penned by Kalidas has inspired many artists over generations.

In this poem, Kalidas pens a tale of separation and longing of lovers during the romantic monsoon season. Presumably distracted by the thoughts of his young bride, a Yaksha (celestial attendant) is found neglecting his duties. He is thus exiled and sent to work in Central India (Ramgiri), miles away from his wife (in Alaka). Unable to bear the separation, he requests a passing cloud to carry a message on his behalf. As the Yaksha proceeds to give directions to the Cloud, the focus of the poem becomes the route the cloud would take, and the sights it would encounter.

meghdoot-kalidas-ramgopal-vijaivargiya

Kalidas was a court-poet; yet in Meghdoot, his description of nature and the Yaksha’s plight touches a universal chord. His narrative sparks imagination and ensures that the reader experiences the route of the cloud! Ujjain, Devgiri, Vidisha are a few places he wants the Cloud to visit.

The Yaksha’s wish for the Cloud to never be separated from his beloved, i.e Lightning is one of the most endearing parts of the poem.

These paintings, are a tribute to the classic literature and are part of the Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II Museum collection:

meghdoot-kalidas-ramgopal-vijaivargiya

The artist : Ramgopal Vijaivargiya

The artist lived and worked during the Swadeshi art movement in India. As he learnt under the tutelage of the Bengal art masters, his art too, reflected ‘Indian’ themes.

The Geet-Govinda series is one such example apart from the series on Meghdoot | Image : Kumar Gallery

The influence of the Bengal school is evident in his Ajanta-esque figures; the soft, dreamy rhythm and colour palette (watercoloured, not gaudy). The strokes and lines too, are calligraphic (the influence of Japanese and eastern art).

Take a look at this painting of a Ramayana-scene by the same artist.

ramayana-ramgopal-vijaivargiya

For comparison, here is a Raja Ravi Varma version of Shakuntala, another classic by Kalidas.

shakuntala-kalidas-ravi-varma
From the DAG Museum collection

Read a translated version of Kalidasa’s Meghdoot, and Shakuntala here:


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Meghdoot : a Kalidas masterpiece painted by Ramgopal Vijaivargiya