Skip to main content |

Pujya Dr. K.C. Varadachari - Volume -4




It is very well-known that poetry and mysticism go together.  Indeed poets are said to be the initiators of mystic tradition.  Mysticism however is something much more serious than the expression of the process of immergence into the Infinite or the Absolute, the losing of oneself or ‘expiring’ in the Divine, and an expression of anubhava or experience that is beyond all thought and speech and even vision and audition.  Though the Sruti is so called because of its ‘clairauditionary nature’ yet the Absolute is beyond it also.


Kalidasa rightly known as Mahakavi and perhaps Bharat’s greatest Poet ever, has distinguished himself in so many directions.  Creative Genius is his by natural right.  Much has been spoken and written, and again and again.  He has been through centuries adored and idolised not only by his countrymen but by eminent rasajnas, enjoyers of beauty of expression and thought.  Indeed some of our modern writers are discovering layers and layers of divine meanings in his writings.  One distinguishing feature of ancient poets and writers of India (perhaps elsewhere also), is that they had encyclopeadic knowledge of arts and techniques – veritable sarvatantra svatantras, which gave them a polished simplicity of expression that could illuminate the deepest layers of individual consciousness and draw out of human hearts hidden and suppressed and repressed memories, feelings and sentiments, undreamt of by the waking consciousness.  Suggestions or dhvani is of a more fundamental character than the  mere evoking of other images on the basis of mere similarity of sounds or sound-effects.


It is not my present purpose to dilate on the glories of Kalidasa. Yet the dramatic element of his nature is by the best considerations profoundly ‘sublimative’ of one’s nature.  By sublimation I mean the usual process by which the so called natural or lower processes of response are substituted by higher types of responses or are transformed imperceptibly into higher types of responses or creative responses. Dramatic presentation is distinguished from natural events of one’s life by this ‘imperceptible transformism’ if I may so call this - though it is said to be a kind of catharsis or purification or a kind of midwifery even as the Socratean dialectic that attempts to through light and loveliness over the sordid and the ugly, terror and tyranny and so on, even whilst disclosing the highest and noblest of human values and divine destiny awaiting man.


The Meghaduta of Kalidasa reveals the sublimative process engendered by the contemplation of one’s beloved that has entered the phase of deepest absorption in the ideal of one’s eternal partner ( sahadharmacharini ). This sringara-yoga attains the fullest fruition in the viraha-yoga and reveals the mystic possibility and meaning of the soul’s separation from the Divine as a heightening of the meditative contemplation, a disjunctive unity, lighting up the entire beings of both the lover and the beloved, and fulfilling itself in a Samadhi ( unitive intellectuality or co-existential experience ). The Yaksa in being punished to a life of separation from his beloved was indeed lifted up to a higher level of absorption in his beloved. This abhyasa so to speak was what the Alvars had fully seen to be fruitful for the total absorption through uninterrupted contemplation-meditation ( tailadharavacchina ) which is really what was called bhakti or devotion in all its forms. This virahanubhava was exploited for ananyacintana and became a central force in sringaranubhava so much to be identified with it.


 The inward processes of the soul as it yearns for the beloved seem to be repeated at higher levels in the Mystic heart and rapture of the soul as it approaches and recedes and recedes and approaches the being and personality of the Highest is fully brought out in this bhava. No wonder some have said that Sringara is the sole  rasa.


The experiment with this rasa in the Meghaduta was indeed profoundly successful and reached sublimity – thanks to the spiritual genius of Kalidasa.


The dramatic experiment however is distinguished by another type of sublimity. The three dramas of Kalidasa form a grand triology in the spiritual sense. Differentiated as to the characters there runs a thread of continuity marking the spiritual ascent of the human to the level of a divine Nature. It is singularly inspiring to see in this the transformations of the hero and heroine : Malavika and Agnimitra, Sakuntala and Dushyanta, Urvasi and Pururavas. Malavika is a human women, Sakuntala is a half-divine, Urvasi is fully divine. This means so much in the line of love which the human feels - a human amour in the first, dignified and yet amorous, the second is already fully saturated  with divine passion that yearns for the divine and yet is not sure of its raptures and indeed this transcendence of human passion works itself through the motif of the viraha, and culminates in the reunion, the third is the yearning for the Divine in fullest measure but achieved again by a kind of twofold viraha, and transformations  that bode a great final Union. Beneath the outward guise or the progress of love, we see another idea of deepest import : the use of the ‘other woman’ who makes one’s life sublime, lifts the life of the human above the material and the too–human which the understanding queen fully appreciates and cooperates with. It is a significant truth that it is the purpose and fulfillment of women to lift her husband to greater heights. Kalidasa saw how this ‘divine passion’ can be ignited in the soul of man through the alchemical activity of beauty purity and divinity of the ‘other’ woman.


The ancient thought had in the personality of Yagnavalkya the Sage par excellence, shown how Katyayani and Maitreyi were to him the earthy–wise and heavenly or divinely–wise spouses. Though bigamy is prohibited by law in our country – for other reasons of social and individual nature, the concept of two, one of the material order and the other of the transcendental was common. The gods of Hinduism have two spouses, earthy and heavenly – Bhudevi and Sridevi – representatives which show full  life is had when both the spouses sublimate the life of the man and make for his transcendence to the  highest nature. We know that the sublimating activity of the Divine Women is a common enough idea in ancient times – We can perceive the adulations given to Kadambari of Bana because of the supreme power and sacrifice of love seen in the lives of Mahalaksmi, Mahasveta and Kadambari herself  which made for the restoration of Pundarika and Chandrapida.  Women by her love can save. By her descent she can uplift the human man : this is Kalidasa’s great message.


That the three dramas of Kalidasa reveal the growing stature and personality of Man through the catalytic and igniting beauty purity and divinity of the ‘Other’ women is quite evident to any one who had begun to study them from this new angle of vision. This is no mere speculative thesis. For verily it is Malavika  that becomes semi-divine in Sakuntala to lift Dusyanta to be the father of the glorious Bharata. It is she who becomes Urvasi, the daughter of Narayana, scheduled to act as a laksmi, reveals her love for man, the Purusa, who has reached the level worthy of the love of the Divine, Pururuvas. He verily is the uplifted Agnimitra, transformed Dusyanta, who has seen the alchemical function of transforming love divine, occult, mysterious and whilst being infatuating not infamous. The Heatare of Greece are other women surely but the Indian Concept of the ‘Other’ woman (Itara) is supremely sublimating and sublime deep and earnest studies will reveal the dramatists skill in revealing that there is always a higher meaning in the apparent frivolous, suggestive of higher lines of consciousness which could only enter man by the backdoor of passion and Kalidasa shows that each one of his heroes has the supreme quality of virtuous life, self-controlled dharma-directed consciousness even when they had discovered their hearts due to some ancient occult attraction (love at first sight ? ) that would make their lives sublime.


            It is not mere intellectual company but a great experiment in truth and bliss and being.


That the ‘other’ must be always higher in the sense that she could lead one to higher levels of awareness and divine exertion is certainly one supreme criterion.  This surely all the three heroines fulfill or satisfy.  The heroes become better men after they meet their ‘other’ woman rather than worse as happens with lesser woman.  In this sense the ‘other’ woman is para-transcendence.


In tantra sadhana of the sahajiya we have reference to the ‘Parakiya’ – which is said to be better than svakiya.  Much extraordinary and indeed wrong conclusions have been drawn.  Parakiya means that one feels oneself as belonging to God or the Divine as contrasted with the svakiya as belonging to oneself.  In an illuminating way Kalidasa himself uses this word parakiya as belonging to another or the other:


            Artho nii kanya parakiya eva

            Tam adya sampresya parigrahituh/

            Jato mamayam visadah prakamam

            Pratyarpita-nyasa ivantaratma//                (IV.Act Sakuntala)


            A girl belongs to her husband (another) and has to be restored to her rightful Lord even like the soul that has to be restored to the supreme.  This simile is very important for, as I had elsewhere * suggested, the higher level is shown to illumine the lower level on the basis of similarity.  This is true upamana or instrument of true knowledge, the upameya is the ordinary restoration of the girl to the lawful husband who indeed in dharma shastras is Visnu or his amsa or symbolises Him, and obviously every girl is a Sri or laksmi or her amsa.


*  Aurobindo Patha Mandir Annual  1948  " Critique of the Pramanas "



            The parakiya sadhana in the reverse will be that practiced by all the devotees of the path of nayaka-nayakibhava.  The turning of oneself into a woman symbolically as done by the devotees is said to be the artificial way whereas the practice of the same in the sahaja way entail the treatment of the ‘other’ as Beloved and Mother and so on.  Sure it is the natural way is taken by the Divine woman in Kalidasa and the southern mystics have taken it in the metaphysical way, by turning themselves feminine in respect of the other deemed to be Male.  The path of the female however is for the metaphysicians natural also as in the case of Andal, but difficult in the view that the other is woman and wife.


            However it is clear that Kalidasa inclines to the sahaja method or natural way in a sophisticated sense that it acquires in later literature and sadhana.  The purpose of Kalidasa is to reveal the occult secret work of the Heroine in the transfiguration of the male, and ultimate transmutation of man into his divine nature preparing for divine birth.  It is the sense of transcendence that he brings into the ordinary core of life through the vision of beauty purity and divinity that marks him out as the Kavinam Kavih.


            That the Vikramarvasie is an Invaluable work intimating the descent. of the higher divinised Being as the ‘Other'  woman Into the life of the brave (dhira) who has ascended at least one step on the path of the Trivikrama (Visnu) (three stepped one) has been recognised by Sri Aurobindo more than any one else In the history of Drama.  He has himself translated the work in his own inimitable manner.


            But the life of Sri Aurobindo Himself testifies to the part played by the Mother in the process of His own evolution and the great transformation that He has been able to effect in conjunction with Her.  The Mother’s consciousness and His are one and in this integration which is possible to supramental consciousnesses of each lies the secret logic of the Infinite that is integral and integrating also of the lower planes in the light and power and possibilities undreamt of by them of themselves.


            The leap to the higher consciousness that Urvasi gave to Pururavas or Vikrama has been heralded by a great experiment in ancient times in the Myth and Symbol of the Savitri Vikrama has become Satyavan and Urvasi now becomes the Savitri and the ultimate conquest of Death that leads to the Immortal and the Real Creative Being of the transfigured being of truth.  That the high meaning of the myths that charm the inner being of all becomes clear to only those that have risen by poetic vision to the truth vision.  Sri Aurobindo saw the great epic poem of Savitri as the culmination of the Kalidasaean mystic triology and gave to the world a magnificent Myth-Symbol-Reality of the Divine Evolutionism, the Savitri.


            It is suggested that  Hindu Myth always thought of the Mother triple; Akara-traya-sampannam Aravindanivasinim/

Asesa jagatah Isatrim Vande Varadavallabham//


“I salute thee,

O Mother, who dwellest in the Lotus endowed with triple forms (of Bhudevi, Sri Devi and Niladevi) Mistress of all the worlds without remainder, who art the Beloved of the Giver of the Best”


            Sri Aurobindo had suggested a fourfold Mother who leads us beyond to the Transcendent, the Para or paratpara Transcendent of the Transcendent. The operations of the Mother in all her fourfold forms comprise the drama of Creative or Divine Evolution.


            Thus Sri Aurobindo has shown that high metaphysical reality is not barren of all being and evolution – a ballet of bloodless categories – to which alone intellectual idealism had reduced philosophy if not to something much worse, but that which a true divine insight can portray in real poetry which is nearest to it ( upamana or near measure of it) in which the words have gained and regained the original power (sphota) that includes the mythos, symbol and meaning that has significance for higher evolution and ultimate transcendence over death, ignorance, cyclical being and disintegrative and disjunctive multiplicity.  In such poetry of dramatic attainment of the Highest Peace or Santi, a new rhythm of the Veda enters and supports and perpetually satisfies the highest needs of the psyche of the world and the Universe.