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Kalidasa writing "The Cloud Messenger (Meghaduta)", 375 CE illustration

Meghadūta (Sanskrit: मेघदूत literally "cloud messenger")[1] is a lyric poem written by Kālidāsa, considered to be one of the greatest Sanskrit poets.

About the poem[edit]

A poem of 111 stanzas, it is one of Kālidāsa's most famous works. The work is divided into two parts, Purvamegh and Uttaramegh. It recounts how a yakṣa, a subject of King Kubera (the god of wealth), after being exiled for a year to Central India for neglecting his duties, convinces a passing cloud to take a message to his wife at Alaka on Mount Kailāsa in the Himālaya mountains.[2] The yakṣa accomplishes this by describing the many beautiful sights the cloud will see on its northward course to the city of Alakā, where his wife awaits his return.

In Sanskrit literature, the poetic conceit used in the Meghaduta spawned the genre of sandesha kavya or messenger poems, most of which are modeled on the Meghaduta (and are often written in the Meghaduta's mandakranta metre). Examples include the Hamsa-sandesha, in which Rama asks a hamsa bird to carry a message to Sita, describing sights along the journey.

In 1813, the poem was first translated into English by Horace Hayman Wilson. Since then, it has been translated several times into various languages. As with the other major works of Sanskrit literature, the most famous traditional commentary on the poem is by Mallinātha.

An excerpt is quoted in Canadian director Deepa Mehta's film, Water. The poem was also the inspiration for Gustav Holst's 'The Cloud Messenger Op. 30' (1909–10).

Visualisation of Meghadūta[edit]

Meghadūta describes several scenes and is a rich source of inspiration for many artists. An example are the drawings by Nana Joshi.[3]

See also[edit]



The Meghadūta has been translated many times in many Indian languages.

  • Dr. Jogindranath Majumdar translated Meghaduta in Bengali keeping its original 'Mandakranta Metre' for the first time published in 1969


  1. ^ "Meghdutam". Retrieved 28 February 2012. 
  2. ^ Wilson (1813), page xxi.
  3. ^ Joshi, Nana. "A Visual Interpretation of Kalidas’ Meghadūta". Joshi Artist. Retrieved 1 January 2014. 

External links[edit]

About the work