Friday, 30 October 2015

Raghuvamsha: Sarga 1 | Shloka 2

After a customary prayer in the first shloka, Kalidasa proceeds to explain the nature of the task that he has set for himself.

क्व सूर्यप्रभवो वंशः क्व चाल्पविषया मतिः |
तितीर्षुर्दुस्तरं मोहदुडुपेनास्मि सागरम् ||

kva sūryaprabhavo vaṁśaḥ kva cālpaviṣayā matiḥ |
titīrṣurdustaraṁ mohāduḍupenāsmi sāgaram ||

In this verse, Kalidasa modestly tells that he, blinded by his desires [ मोहात् ] intends to detail the story of the descendants of the sun god [ सूर्यप्रभवो वंशः] although he considers himself incompetent [अल्पविषया मतिः]. Here, he compares his intellect to a small raft [उडुपः] and the excellence of the solar clan to the vast non-navigable oceans [दुस्तरं सागरम् ].

ಅಲ್ಪಮತಿಯಾದರೂ [अल्पविषया मतिः], ಮೋಹದಿಂದ  [ मोहात् ] ಪ್ರಭಾವಿತನಾಗಿ ಸೂರ್ಯಕುಲಸಂಜಾತರಾದ [ सूर्यप्रभवो वंशः] ರಘು-ಮುಂತಾದವರ ಕಥೆಯನ್ನು ಹೇಳುವುದಕ್ಕೆ ಹೊರಟಿರುವ ತನ್ನ ಕಾರ್ಯವನ್ನು ತೆಪ್ಪದಲ್ಲಿ [उडुपः] ಮಹಾಸಮುದ್ರಗಳನ್ನು [दुस्तरं सागरम् ] ದಾಟುವಂತಹ ದುಸ್ಸಾಹಸಕ್ಕೆ ಹೋಲಿಸುತ್ತಾನೆ.

some thoughts:

- The phrase [ सूर्यप्रभवो वंशः] can also be interpreted as the dynasty as brilliant as the sun.

- The solar dynasty (also known as the Ikshvaku dynasty after the very first king) has produced some of the most celebrated kings of India like Harishchandra, Bhagiratha, Raghu and Rama who are regarded as role-models. 

- The task of describing the lives and deeds of these great kings is what made Kalidasa consider himself incompetent for the task. Here the modesty is mostly genuine as he reflects on how insignifcant his contribution is compared to these great kings! 

- note on modesty and Indians: 
We Indians value modesty as a very important virtue. For example, we expect our leaders to be simple and modestly dressed. We like to downplay and have a very strong (almost mocking) attitude for our own contributions. We have all heard the (self) joke that the contributions of Indians to mathematics is 0 innumerable times! However, this seems to be a trend that picked up only in the last 1000 years. This quote from Al-Beruni (900 AD) is informative in this regard:
The Hindus believe that there is no country like theirs, no nation like theirs, no king like theirs, no science like theirs, their haughtiness is such that if you tell them of any science or scholar in Persia, they will think you to be an ignoramus or a liar
I guess the flow of time time has reversed this?


  1. Indian scholars were so modest that they never used to put their name on their work. We know the corresponding authors because they were mentioned in works of other people.

  2. There is difference between humbleness of the truth and arrogance of ignorance. However both seem identical. India then and India now, quite much a downfall. I wonder although, what must have kept her surviving until yet!!!! "Aahoo Bharatha!!!"

  3. Great effort...... All the best.....