A certain yaksha who had been negligent in the execution of his own duties,
on account of a curse from his master which was to be endured for a year and
which was onerous as it separated him from his beloved, made his residence
among the hermitages of Ramagiri, whose waters were blessed by the bathing
of the daughter of Janaka1 and whose shade trees grew in profusion.
That lover, separated from his beloved, whose gold armlet had slipped from
his bare forearm, having dwelt on that mountain for some months, on the first
day of the month of Asadha, saw a cloud embracing the summit, which
resembled a mature elephant playfully butting a bank.
Managing with difficulty to stand up in front of that cloud which was the
cause of the renewal of his enthusiasm, that attendant of the king of kings,
pondered while holding back his tears. Even the mind of a happy person is
excited at the sight of a cloud. How much more so, when the one who longs to
cling to his neck is far away?
As the month of Nabhas was close at hand, having as his goal the sustaining
of the life of his beloved and wishing to cause the tidings of his own welfare
to be carried by the cloud, the delighted being spoke kind words of welcome
to the cloud to which offerings of fresh kutaja flowers had been made.
Owing to his impatience, not considering the imcompatibility between a cloud
consisting of vapour, light, water and wind and the contents of his message
best delivered by a person of normal faculties, the yaksha made this request to
the cloud, for among sentient and non-sentient things, those afflicted by desire
are naturally miserable:
Without doubt, your path unimpeded, you will see your brother’s wife, intent
on counting the days, faithful and living on. The bond of hope generally
sustains the quickly sinking hearts of women who are alone, and which wilt
Just as the favourable wind drives you slowly onward, this cataka cuckoo,
your kinsman, calls sweetly on the left. Knowing the season for fertilisation,
cranes, like threaded garlands in the sky, lovely to the eye, will serve you.
Your steady passage observed by charming female siddhas who in trepidation
wonder ‘Has the summit been carried off the mountain by the wind?’, you
who are heading north, fly up into the sky from this place where the nicula
trees flourish, avoiding on the way the blows of the trunks of the elephants of
the four quarters of the sky.
This rainbow, resembling the intermingled sparkling of jewels, appears before
Mt Valmikagra, on account of which your dark body takes on a particular
loveliness, as did the body of Vishnu dressed as a cowherd with the peacock’s
feather of glistening lustre.
While being imbibed by the eyes of the country women who are ignorant of
the play of the eyebrows, who are tender in their affection, and who are
thinking ‘The result of the harvest depends on you’, having ascended to a
region whose fields are fragrant from recent ploughing, you should proceed a
little to the west. Your pace is swift. Go north once more.
Mt Amrakuta will carefully bear you upon its head—you whose showers
extinguished its forest fires and who are overcome by fatigue of the road.
Even a lowly being, remembering an earlier kind deed, does not turn its back
on a friend who has come for refuge; how much less, then, one so lofty?
When you, remembling a glossy braid of hair, have ascended its summit, the
mountain whose slopes are covered with forest mangoes, glowing with ripe
fruit, takes on the appearance of a breast of the earth, dark at the centre, the
rest pale, worthy to be beheld by a divine couple.
Having rested for a moment at a bower enjoyed by the forest-dwelling
women, then travelling more swiftly when your waters have been discharged,
the next stage thence is crossed. You will see the river Reva spread at the foot
of Mt Vandhya, made rough with rocks and resembling the pattern formed by
the broken wrinkles on the body of an elephant.
Your showers shed, having partaken of her waters that are scented with the
fragrant exudation of forest elephants and whose flow is impeded by thickets
of rose-apples, you should proceed. Filled with water, the wind will be unable
to lift you, O cloud, for all this is empty is light, while fullness results in
Seeing the yellow-brown nipa with their stamens half erect, eating the kankali
flowers whose first buds have appeared on every bank, and smelling the
highly fragrant scent of the forest earth, the deer will indicate the way to the
Watching the cataka cuckoos that are skilled in catching raindrops, and
watching the herons flying in skeins as they count them, the siddhas will hold
you in high regard at the moment of your thundering, having received the
trembling, agitated embraced of their beloved female companions!
I perceive in an instant, friend, your delays on mountain after mountain
scented with kakubha flowers—you who should desire to proceed for the sake
of my beloved. Welcomed by peacocks with teary eyes who have turned their
cries into words of welcome, you should somehow resolve to proceed at once.
Reaching their capital by the name of Vidisha, renowned in all quarters, and
having won at once complete satisfaction of your desires, you will drink the
sweet, rippling water from the Vetravati River which roars pleasantly at the
edge of her banks, rippling as if her face bore a frown.
There, for the sake of rest, your should occupy the mountain known as Nicaih
which seems to thrill at your touch with its full-blown kadamba flowers, and
whose grottoes make known the unbridled youthful deeds of the townsmen by
emitting the scent of intercourse with bought women.
After resting, move on while watering with fresh raindrops the clusters of
jasmine buds that grow in gardens on the banks of the forest rivers—you who
have made a momentary acquaintance with the flower-picking girls by lending
shade to their faces, the lotuses at whose ears are withered and broken as they
wipe away the perspiration from their cheeks.
Even though the route would be circuitous for one who, like you, is
northward-bound, do not turn your back on the love on the palace roofs in
Ujjayini. If you do not enjoy the eyes with flickering eyelids of the women
startled by bolts of lightning there, then you have been deceived!
On the way, after you have ascended to the Nirvandhya River, whose girdles
are flocks of birds calling on account of the turbulence of her waves, whose
gliding motion is rendered delightful with stumbling steps, and whose
exposed navel is her eddies, fill yourself with water, for amorous distraction
is a woman’s first expression of love for their beloved.
When you have passed that, you should duly adopt the means by which the
Sindhu River may cast off her emaciation—she whose waters have become
like a single braid of hair, whose complexion is made pale by the old leaves
falling from the trees on her banks, and who shows you goodwill because she
has been separated from you, O fortunate one.
Having reached Avanti where the village elders are well-versed in the legend
of Udayana, make your way to the aforementioned city of Vishala, filled with
splendour, like a beautiful piece of heaven carried there by means of the
remaining merit of gods who had fallen to earth when the fruits of the good
actions had nearly expired;
Where, at daybreak, the breeze from the Shipra River, carrying abroad the
sweet, clear, impassioned cries of the geese, fragrant from contact with the
scent of full-blown lotuses and pleasing to the body, carries off the lassitude
of the women after their love-play, like a lover making entreaties for further
And having see by the tens of millions the strings of pearls with shining gems
as their central stones, conches, pearl-shells, emeralds as green as fresh grass
with radiating brilliance and pieces of coral displayed in the market there, the
oceans appear to contain nothing but water;
And where the knowledgeable populace regale visiting relatives thus: ‘Here
the king of the Vatsa brought the precious daughter of Pradyota. Here was the
golden grove of tala-trees of that same monarch. Here, they say, roamed
Nalagiri (the elephant), having pulled out his tie-post in fury.’
Your bulk increased by the incense that is used for perfuming the hair that
issues from the lattices, and honoured with gifts of dance by the domestic
peacocks out of their love for their friend, lay aside the weariness of the
travel while admiring the splendour of its palaces which are scented with
flowers and marked by the hennaed feet of the lovely women.
Observed respectfully by divine retinues who are reminded of the colour of
their master’s throat, you should proceed to the holy abode of the lord of the
three worlds, husband of Chandi, whose gardens are caressed by the winds
from the Gandhavati River, scented with the pollen of the blue lotuses and
perfumed by the bath-oils used by young women who delight in water-play.
Even if you arrive at Mahakala at some other time, O cloud, you should wait
until the sun passes from the range of the eye. Playing the honourable role of
drum at the evening offering to Shiva, you will receive the full reward for
your deep thunder.
There, their girdles jingling to their footsteps, and their hands tired from the
pretty waving of fly-whisks whose handles are brilliant with the sparkle of
jewels, having received from you raindrops at the onset of the rainy season
that soothe the scratches made by fingernails, the courtesans cast you
lingering sidelong glances that resemble rows of honey-bees.
Then, settled above the forests whose trees are like uplifted arms, being round
in shape, producing an evening light, red as a fresh China-rose, at the start of
Shiva’s dance, remove his desire for a fresh elephant skin—you whose
devotion is beheld by Parvati, her agitation stilled and her gaze transfixed.
Reveal the ground with a bolt of lightning that shines like a streak of gold
on a touchstone to the young women in that vicinity going by night to the homes of
their lovers along the royal highroad which has been robbed of light by a
darkness that could be pricked with a needle. Withhold your showers of rain
and rumbling thunder: they would be frightened!
Passing that night above the roof-top of a certain house where pigeons sleep,
you, whose consort the lightning is tired by prolonged sport, should complete
the rest of your journey when the sun reappears. Indeed, those who have
promised to accomplish a task for a friend do not tarry.
At that time, the tears of the wronged wives are to be soothed away by their
husbands. Therefore abandon at once the path of the sun. He too has returned
to remove the tears of dew from the lotus-faces of the lilies. If you obstruct
his rays, he may become greatly incensed.
The Cloud Messenger Part 1 By Kalidasa