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Kalidasa is acclaimed as Kavikula Shiromani  (crest jewel among the family of poets). This eminent poet and dramatist has been a source of inspiration for centuries. His compositions are as fresh today as when they first appeared.

It is said that the truly great stand upon no middle ledge; they are either famous or unknown. Kalidasa, the distinguished poet of ancient India, has turned out to be both. He has achieved Like Panini, centuries before him, Kalidasa is purported to have been a dunce to begin with. He was married to an erudite princess, Vasanti, through trickery. She took a vow that she would only marry one who could overcome her in a scholarly disputation. It did not take long for her to realize that she had been tricked into marrying a fool by Vararuchi, a noted poet, who had scores to settle with her. She had spurned Vararuchi’s proposals as she was afraid that he was superior to her intellectually. The princess had rejected several suitors as less accomplished than herself. Then one day, Vararuchi witnessed a handsome fellow engaged in a really stupid task. He was trying to cut the branch of a tree on which he was perched. The rejected suitor thought that the fellow would be an “ideal” life partner for the haughty princess. Vararuchi and his accomplices presented the woodcutter before her after dressing him in gorgeous clothes. She was taken in by his handsome appearance and supposed scholarship.fame through his works like Abhijnana Shakuntalam, but we know very little about his life. A lot of folklore has grown around his persona.

The date or place of his birth are not known. Scholars have to laboriously piece together conjectural evidence provided by his works and historical inscriptions. This is more guesswork than actual facts. We are equally ignorant about what name his parents had given him. Kalidasa appears to be a later name which the poet got after winning the grace of the goddess. According to Narayana Pisharoty, a modern scholar who collected various references about the poet’s life, Kalidasa’s original name was Nilakantha and he was a Brahmin by birth; Priya was his wife, and he was a householder before coming to Ujjain (ancient Ujjayini), in today’s Madhya Pradesh.

Several places in the country claim the honour of being the place of his birth like, Mandasor near Ujjain and Damodarapura in the Madhubani district of Bihar, according to a Mithila tradition. This is because Kalidasa’s birthplace has also been identified with Mithila. The village of Gaddasingaru in Bengal, too, lays claim to the honour. According to a widely prevalent tradition, Varanasi could have been the poet’s birthplace. He is supposed to have married Vasanti, daughter of King Bhimasukala of Varanasi. Kalidasa’s wife was also known as Vidyottama. According to another version, the poet never married.

As Kalidasa’s works contain references to rishis with ashrams in the Himalayan region of Kashmir, some scholars have claimed that Kalidasa belonged to Kashmir. This claim seems far-fetched for the simple reason that as a premier nature poet he was merely describing the grandeur of the lofty mountains. To reinforce the argument they also say that the poet originally belonged to Kashmir, but migrated to Vidarbha to escape the devastation caused by the Hunas. This again is improbable as the foreign invaders came several centuries after the great poet.

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