Ṛtusaṃhāra often written Ritusamhara, (Devanagari: ऋतुसंहार; ऋतु ṛtu, "season"; संहार saṃhāra, "compilation") is a long poem or mini-epic in Sanskrit by Kalidasa. The poem has six cantos for the six Indian seasons - grīṣma (summer), varṣā (monsoon/rains), śarat (autumn), hemanta (cool), śiśira (winter), and vasanta (spring). It is generally considered to be Kaldiasa's earliest work.
The word saṃhāra is used here in the sense of "coming together" or "group". It is often translated as Medley of Seasons or Garland of Seasons, but also mistranslated as "birth and death" of seasons, which arises from the alternate meaning of samhāra as destruction.
The changing seasons are depicted against the thematic backdrop of how lovers react to the landscape. This imbues the poem with a strong strand of erotic love (shringara) rasa. The predominant emphasis on a single rasa has been criticized as not living up to the standards of Kalidasa as mahākavi (great poet), with these "lapses" being attributed to the poet's immaturity. Sometimes even his authorship has been challenged on the grounds of weak poetic imagination.
As an example, here is verse 1.4 of Grishma, where the lovers are struggling against the heat:
- To relieve their lovers of heat,
- Women make them lie
- On their girdled, round hips covered with silken robes, or
- On their sandal anointed breasts
- Heavy with ornaments.
- They seek help from fragrant flowers
- Set in coiffures after a bath,
- To intoxicate and delight their lovers.
Of these verses (4-9 of Grishma canto) the Mysore scholar K. Krishnamurthy says:
- The sensuality and cloying love depicted in these verses is such that it cannot bring fame to any poet.
However, others have cited the primacy of shringara rasa (considered as a primeval source for other rasas), and also the balance the poet seeks to achieve by setting the lovers against the background of nature, as redeeming features of the work.
Ritusamhara was translated into Tamil and published in 1950 by T. Sathasiva Iyer
Ritusamhara has been translated into Marathi Poetry by Dhananjay Borkar and published by Varada Prakashan in 2012
- Ritusamhara, transl. Manish Nandy, Dialogue Publications, Calcutta, 1970
- Rajendra Tandon (translator) (2008). Ritusamhara (The garland of seasons). Rupa & co.
- Kalidasa, K. Krishnamoorthy, Sahitya Akademi 1994
- Kavita Nagpal (16 April 2002). "BHARAT RANG MAHOTSAV : A RETROSPECTIVE". Press Information Bureau (Govt. of India).
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