Saturday, 10 March 2018

Kalidasa’s Kumarasambhavam and the Significance of Nepal as a Promoter of World Peace

Kalidasa’s Kumarasambhavam and the Significance of Nepal as a Promoter of World Peace
Prof. Dr. K. V. Dominic
(Paper presented  at the 37th Annual International Conference on Mountain Literature held at Lakeside, Pokhara (Nepal) on 1-2 March 2018)

Kalidasa’s Kumarasambhavam seems to be one of the ancient most classics in Mountain Literature. Mahakavi Kalidasa is supposed to have lived in the 4th and 5th century CE. It must be admitted that we have absolutely no trustworthy information regarding the personal history of Kalidasa. Where and when was he born?  Who were his parents?  When did he die? etc are unknown to us. The poet has studiously observed utter silence about himself in his works. He was the least of an egotist that he wanted only to have his poetical productions stand as an immortal monument. The most popular theory about his period of life is that he flourished during the reign of Emperor Chandragupta II, and therefore lived around 4th-5th century CE. He was one of the nine poetic jewels in the emperor’s court. Kalidasa’s major works are: Aphijnanasakuntalam, Malavikagnimitram, Vikramorvasiyam. They are all plays. Kumarasambhavam and Raghuvamsham are long epic poems of Kalidasa. In addition, he has written the lyric poems Meghadutam and Ritusamharam. All his works were written in Sanskrit.
Kumarasambhavam talks about the birth of Kumara, the first son of Lord Shiva and Parvati. The abode of Lord Shiva was Himavan or Himalaya, and this country Nepal is part of it. Thus you can be proud of living in a divine holy land where Lord Shiva lived with his wife Parvati. The epic has been divided into seventeen cantos or chapters and basically talks about the courtship of lord Shiva and Parvati. The majority of chapters have vast details about the love and romance between Shiva and Parvati.
The story goes like this: Sati, the daughter of Daksha and once the wife of Siva, was born as the daughter of the mountain Himalaya and Mena. On attaining youth, she was sent, at Narada's advice, to attend upon S'iva who had been practising penance for losing his wife on one of the Himalayan peaks. In the meanwhile the gods, who were harassed by the demon Taraka, went, with Indra at their head, to the self-existing God, Brahma, for counsel. Tarakasura was invincible in his might because of a boon he got from God Brahma. The gods propitiated Brahma with appropriate prayers and he revealed himself to them, and suggested them a way to remove Taraka, their powerful enemy. The only hero to lead the host of Heaven against him and to destroy him was the son of the Dark-necked God, S'iva.   And the gods were told to induce the Trident-holder to take Parvati to wife. Indra, the leader of the gods, thought of Kama and the Mind-born presented himself before his master for order. Kama was entrusted with the mission of shaking the self-restraint of S'iva, who had been practising austerities on the snow-clad peaks of the Himalaya, ever since the self-immolation of Sati. The god of the flowery bow started on the mission, accompanied by his faithful consort Rati and his comrade Vasanta. He appeared on the peaks of the Himalaya, and all of a sudden trees and plants put out fresh sprouts, the earth became clad untimely with vernal glory, the beast of the forest and the fowl of the air showed the influence of Kama. Kama found an unconscious weapon in Parvati who was there, with the permission of her father, to attend upon God S'iva, whom she secretly loved and wanted to marry. The God of love succeeded in disturbing the peace of mind of S'iva for a moment only. But the fire of anger flashed through his third eye on discovering the cause of his disturbance and burnt Kama even as he was preparing to strike him. S'iva then vanished from sight, and Parvati, discomfited at heart, returned home with her two companions. Rati, on seeing her consort turned into a mere heap of grey ashes, lamented over the sad loss, and called upon Vasanta to arrange a funeral pyre, on which she declared her intention of burning herself. The preparations were being made when suddenly a voice in the air commanded them to desist, as Rati would be united once more with Kama as soon as the Trident-holder would lead Parvati to the altar. Parvati, sorely disappointed, cursed her unmatched beauty and seeing no other way to gain her object resolved to practise penance and, permitted by her father, resorted to a forest for that purpose, though much against the wishes of her mother. There she continued mortifying the flesh by all the known processes and was not daunted by the severest tests of penance, ever undergone by the ascetics. S'iva at last relented and came to the penance-forest, disguised as a Sanyasin, to test the strength of Parvati’s attachment. He found fault with the great God, called him bad names, laughed at his poverty and declared him altogether unworthy of her hand and of any heroic attempts at austerities to that end, till at last Parvati could bear it no longer, and in great anger desired her maid to turn him out. Then the great God revealed himself to her and declared that he was thenceforward entirely at her disposal being won over by her penance. Parvati requested him formally to apply to her father for her which he consented to do. The great God then mentally summoned the seven sages to his presence and, on their presenting themselves before him with due respect, he asked them to go to Himalaya and request him on his behalf to bestow his daughter in marriage on him. The sages praised Siva in suitable terms and started on their mission. In a short space of time they reached Oshadhiprastha, the capital of Himalaya, the beauty of which they much admired and descended into the palace of the Mountain. Himalaya received them with proper respect and veneration and after praises had been mutually bestowed—by the Mountain upon the sages and by the sages upon the mountain—asked them in courteous terms the purpose of their visit and they told him and the Mountain showed his delight by asking his daughter to salute the sages as S'iva's bride. They then fixed the date of the marriage for the fourth day from that day, returned to S'iva, informed him of the success of their mission and, permitted by him, went back to their celestial abode. Himalaya made great preparations for the coming marriage in which the townsmen also took an active part. The city was splendidly decorated and when the auspicious time came the bride was made to bathe and the marriage decorations were put on her, an arrow being placed in her hand as enjoined in the case of a Kshatriya maiden. The bridegroom's party, formed of all the principal divinities, arrived in due season and was received in great pomp by the bride's party. The ladies of the town greatly admired the bride and the bridegroom and praised Brahm for having united two persons so worthy of each other. The marriage was concluded at the auspicious hour, all the rites attendant upon a Hindu marriage being duly performed. The newly married couple then saluted Brahma who pronounced a blessing upon it. The goddess Sarasvati also blessed the two. After the conclusion of the marriage the guests dispersed, while S'iva lived at the house of the bride. The first month after marriage was spent by S'iva and Parvati in the palace of Himalaya in Oshadhiprasttha. After that the happy couple wandered through various mountain tracts until at sunset they reached the summit of the mountain Gandhamadana, where, seated on a stone-slab, S'iva described the sunset to Parvati. There they drank wine brought to them by the guardian deity of the Gandhamadana grove. S'iva, with Parvati, then entered a house of precious stones furnished with all luxuries, called into existence by his mental power and passed twenty five years there enjoying the happy company of his wife.
After sometime, Shiva and Parvati were blessed with a son whom they named Karthikeya. He grew up and killed the demon and restored peace and the glory of Lord Indra and the divine world. Thus ends the beautiful Kumarasambhava written by Kalidasa.
This holy land which gave birth to Karthikeya who killed the demon Tarakasur or the embodiment of evil, and restored peace in the divine world, has similar mission in the present world where hundreds of Tarakasuras dance around us to drag us into the ocean of blood, violence, terrorism, and war. Thus this holy country Nepal, though a small one, has great divine potential and can act as an ambassador of peace, love and happiness to the world. Nepal is such a country which was never conquered by the British even though they were ruling entire India for more than 100 years. It’s not that they didn't try to but they couldn't. That shows the divine providence as well as moral and physical courage of the Nepalese people.  True that this country was under the rule of kingship for 240 years but it was never allowed to be conquered by outsiders. In the civil war for democracy you had to sacrifice just below twenty thousand people but several millions of Indians were killed by the British during India’s 90 years of struggle for independence. Of course your population is just 30 million whereas ours is 1350 million.
When Kumarasambhavam remains as a glittering star which showers rays of happiness, love and peace, there are some tragic episodes regularly occurring on the lap of the same Himalaya in the Western side which have produced Mountain literature which itches our minds and grieves our hearts. I am referring to the Siachen Glacier where the Line of Control between India and Pakistan ends. Siachen is the highest battlefield on earth. More than 4000 soldiers of India and Pakistan have sacrificed their lives, mainly due to natural calamities of frostbites, avalanches etc. The irony is that those precious lives have been lost for guarding a place where not even a blade of grass exists. This Everest, the abode of Lord Shiva and Parvati, where peace and happiness should prevail always, should not have been made into a battlefield. As I mentioned earlier, war-mongering, blood-thirsty, anarchist Tarakasuras still live among us, particularly, among our administrators. It is the duty of the peace embracing nation like Nepal to dissuade these fighting countries from their irrational confrontations.  I have written two poems about this Siachen catastrophe. The first one is titled “Siachen Tragedy” published in my book Multicultural Symphony in 2014 and the second one is named “Tribute to Siachen Martyrs” published in my next collection Contemporary Concerns and Beyond in 2016. Now let me read both the poems:
Siachen Tragedy*
Siachen glacier,
milky white grey hair of Himalaya.
Seventy kilometers long
and height ranging from
four thousand to six thousand metres
Twinkling by sun, moon and stars
Rarest beauty on earth for the heavens
Winter, winter, winter, forever and ever
Snowfall is thirty five feet
temperature minus fifty Celsius
Not a blade of grass grows
yet world’s highest battlefield!
Thousands of soldiers of India and Pakistan
fight with Nature to secure their frontiers
Billions are spent for their outposts
Siachen glacier feeding several rivers
irrationally axed and dug
inviting vagaries of harmless Nature
Avalanche lodged on seventh April
buried hundred and twenty four soldiers
and eleven civilians under eighty feet snow
Isn’t it high time the governments
stopped challenging benevolent Nature?
*The tragedy took place on 7 April 2012

Tribute to Siachen Martyrs

What a heart-bleeding eye-flooding
scene on the front page of newspaper!
Four month old daughter Meenakshi
shown her father’s frozen dead body!
Lance Naik B. Sudheesh meeting
his darling lone daughter for the first time!
Alas neither of them identifies each other!
What a depressing sobbing sight for mass assembled!
Tsunami of groans, laments, weeps and sighs!
Youth of twenty nine, Sudheesh had planned
to visit home on leave after a month
Could come a month before immersing all in tears!
Married Shalu, degree student three years back
Thus sacrificed his life for the nation along with
nine others in Siachen Glacier at Indo-Pak border
Were buried under thirty feet huge avalanche
Bodies could be recovered only after seven days
Thousands are still patrolling there
ready to die for their nation any moment
Siachen Glacier highest battle field on earth
Twenty thousand feet above sea level
Lowest temperature minus fifty degree
Average winter snowfall thousand cubic meters
Nothing lives there except Indo-Pak soldiers
Indian army controls area since 1984
More than two thousand soldiers
sacrificed precious lives for India and Pakistan
When hundred and fifty crores people
cozily sleep with family in both the countries
thousands of young lives are compelled to leave their family
to fight with merciless climate for no reason or gain
When thousands die of hunger everyday on either side
hundreds of millions are spent on this vulnerable place
Whose craze it is? For whom it is? People’s welfare?
People aren’t iron-hearted to see their patriots
suffer so sorely and sacrifice their precious lives
Let dove of peace fly over Indo-Pak borders
nay, borders of each and every nation
God, kindly sow seeds of peace, love and
compassion in the minds of all nations’ heads

Let me wind up my paper reinstating Nepal’s role as a promoter of world peace. As a member of United Nations Organization, Nepal has been helping the UNO in maintaining peace by sending its troops to UN Peace Keeping Force. The Nepalese Army and Nepal Police have been deployed in many conflicting areas of the world by the UNO as a peacekeeping force. Nepalese troops played a vital role to maintain peace in Kosovo, Lebanon, Somalia, Congo, Sierra Leone, East Timor and so on. Nepal has diplomatic relation with many countries of the world. Foreign policy plays an important role in making such relations. Nepal has made a substantial contribution to the UN peacekeeping operations since 1958 AD. The performance of Nepalese army in peacekeeping operations has earned a good reputation in the world. Nepal has made its identity as a peace-loving. It doesn't attack other but maintains friendly relation and follows the principle of neutrality with the countries of the world. It wants to establish a good relationship with every country and promotes world peace.

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