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A scene from Meghaduta with the yaksha and the cloud messenger, with the first verse of the poem - on an Indian stamp (1960)
Artist's impression of Kalidasa composing the Meghaduta

Meghadūta (Sanskrit: मेघदूत literally Cloud Messenger)[1] is a lyric poem written by Kālidāsa (c. 4th–5th century CE), considered to be one of the greatest Sanskrit poets. It describes how a yakṣa (or nature spirit), who had been banished by his master to a remote region for a year, asked a cloud to take a message of love to his wife. The poem become well-known in Sanskrit literature and inspired other poets to write similar poems (known as "messenger-poems", or Sandesha Kavya) on similar themes. Korada Ramachandra Sastri wrote Ghanavrttam,[2] a sequel to Meghduta.

About the poem[edit]

A poem of 120[3] stanzas, it is one of Kālidāsa's most famous works. The work is divided into two parts, Purva-megha and Uttara-megha. 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.[4] 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 Sandesa Kavya or messenger poems, most of which are modeled on the Meghaduta (and are often written in the Meghaduta's Mandākrāntā metre). Examples include the Hamsa-sandesha, in which Rama asks a Hansa 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.

The great scholar of Sanskrit literature, Arthur Berriedale Keith, wrote of this poem: "It is difficult to praise too highly either the brilliance of the description of the cloud’s progress or the pathos of the picture of the wife sorrowful and alone. Indian criticism has ranked it highest among Kalidasa’s poems for brevity of expression, richness of content, and power to elicit sentiment, and the praise is not undeserved."[5]

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).

Simon Armitage appears to reference Meghaduta in his poem ‘Lockdown’.

It is believed the picturesque Ramtek near Nagpur inspired Kalidasa to write the poem.[6]

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.[7]

Composer Fred Momotenko wrote the composition 'Cloud-Messenger', music for a multimedia performance with recorder, dance, projected animation and electronics in surround audio. The world premiere was at Festival November Music, with Hans Tuerlings (choreography), Jasper Kuipers (animation), Jorge Isaac (blockflutes) and dancers Gilles Viandier and Daniela Lehmann.[8]


Indian filmmaker Debaki Bose adapted the play into a 1945 film titled Meghdoot.[9]

See also[edit]



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

  • The Bengali poet Buddhadeva Bose translated Meghadūta into Bengali in 1957.
  • Dr. Jogindranath Majumdar translated Meghaduta in Bengali keeping its original 'Mandakranta Metre' for the first time published in 1969
  • Acharya Dharmanand Jamloki Translated Meghduta in Garhwali and was well known for his work.
  • Moti BA translated Meghduta in Bhojpuri Language.
  • Many Nepali poets such as Jiwanath Updhyaya Adhikari, Shiva Kumar Pradhan, Biswa Raj Adhikari have translated Meghduta in Nepali language[10]
  • Mukhathala G.Arjunan translated Meghaduta in Malayalam keeping its original 'Mandakranta Metre'


  1. ^ "Meghdutam". Retrieved 28 February 2012.
  2. ^ Korada, Ramachandra Sastri (1917). Ghanavritham.
  3. ^ Pathak, K. B. (1916), Kalidasa's Meghaduta, pp. xxi–xxvii.
  4. ^ Wilson (1813), page xxi.
  5. ^ Keith, A. B. (1928). A History of Sanskrit Literature, p. 86.
  6. ^ "History | District Nagpur,Government of Maharashtra | India". Retrieved 2020-07-02.
  7. ^ Joshi, Nana. "A Visual Interpretation of Kalidas' Meghadūta". Joshi Artist. Retrieved 1 January 2014.
  8. ^ "Alfred Momotenko-Levitsky, composer".
  9. ^ Sanjit Narwekar (1994). Directory of Indian Film-makers and Films. Flicks Books. p. 59. ISBN 978-0-948911-40-8.
  10. ^ Monica (2018-04-23). "Writer Pradhan passes away". The Himalayan Times. Retrieved 2022-01-09.

External links[edit]

About the work