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Title: Kaladasa’s Abhigyan
Artist: Gopal Kumawat
School: Kishangarh

ShakuntalamAmbhobindugrahanachaturanshchatakan vikshmanah
Shrenibhutah parigananaya nirdishanto balakah
twamasadya stanitasamayr manayishyanti siddhah
Sotkampani priyasahacharismbhramalingitani

How the lover would not be grateful to roaring
clouds that drag the beloved into his bosom?

The celestial ones, the Siddhas, on the first day of Asada, while seated in their monsoon pavilions and showing to their beloved ones the clever pied crested cuckoos collecting each drop of water oozing from you and the rows of cranes flying against you, oh lovely dark deep cloud, shall be grateful to you and shall know you when their beloved ones frightened by your thunderous roar shall clasp them and sink into their bosoms. This 22nd verse of the early part of Meghadoot, the celebrated lyrical poem of the great Sanskrat poet Kalidasa, which is the theme of this magnificent painting, narrates that even gods feel grateful to Megha, which by its thunderous roar it drags the beloved ones into their bosoms, something which they otherwise had to so much pine for.

The arrival of the month of monsoon, the Asada, gives them occasion to be with their beloved ones under the pretext of showing to them from their monsoon pavilions the rows of white cranes flying against the dark deep clouds and the cajoling pied crested cuckoos swallowing each drop of water oozing from them. They know not how they should cajole them to sink in their embrace and respond to their desire of love. But, suddenly, the sky is filled with thunderous roar and lightening and the frightened beloved ones sink into their bosom. The ‘Yaksha’, addressing the Megha tells him that such lovers, who have frightened damsels in their bosoms, shall always be grateful to you, oh dark deep generous cloud.

This excellent work of Gopal Kumawat translates this verse into its lines and colours with great ingenuity and tremendous imaginative quality. He has used his usual medieval Kishangarh art style of Rajasthan miniature painting, which better suits a classical theme of the 3rd century Sanskrat poet. He uses the medieval Rajasthani architectural model for the pavilion and conventional costume and jewels. Instead of ‘Siddhas’ in general, he has particularized his theme with a single couple. Seated in his four pillared monsoon pavilion the hero of the theme is showing to his beloved the rows of cranes and the cajoling pairs of pied crested cuckoos. Suddenly, the sky is struck by awe inspiring lightening and loud thunderous roar of clouds. Frightened by it his beloved clasps him and sink into his bosom. Thus, the month of monsoon, Asada, brings with it both, the pangs and the pleasure of love. It kindles passion of love and parches the lover with the heat of passion but at same time also drags her to his bosom he loves most.

The Meghdoot of Kalidasa is a long lyrical poem , in which a Yaksha, exiled from his native land Alkapuri for one year by his master Kuber for some arrogance, which he committed. He comes down to Ramgiri to pass his period of exile. He loved his wife madly and was finding each day death-like without her. On the first day of Asada, the monsoon month, the curious Yaksha saw a large dark cloud, like a huge black elephant, tossing against the top mound of Ramgiri. He prayed the cloud to carry his message to his wife at Alkapuri. In the first part of the poem he describes the path leading to Alkapuri and in the second describes Alkapuri, the beauty of his wife, her love for him and all about his miserable condition without her. He praises the Megha for the benevolence he is known for.

On the verso is a label with the following entry:
Kalaira Academy, Ujain
National Kalidas Exhibition 1998
Entry No. 2
Artist Name. Gopal Kumawat
Title of Exhibit. Megdum Poem #22
Medium. Water
Price. RS 19,000
Date.

This description by Prof. P.C. Jain and Dr Daljeet. Prof. Jain specialises on the aesthetics of ancient Indian literature. Dr Daljeet is the chief curator of the Visual Arts Gallery at the National Museum of India, New Delhi. They have both collaborated on numerous books on Indian art and culture.