Sunday, June 08, 2008

Kalidas to Kamalesh - Bringing epics back to earth with Google Earth

kamalesh dwivedi

I spent the weekend reading Kamalesh Dwivedi's book - a translation of "Kalidas' Meghadutam"  The book title translates to "Megha" means cloud and "Dutam" means messenger. The book consists of poems from a husband asking the clouds to carry back a message to his wife who he misses.
Kalidas' Meghdutam - Kamalesh Dwivedi

In the introduction to the book Kamalesh Dwivedi  writes about how his moving to Colorado and leaving his family behind in Minnesota inspired him. I think if more modern techniques of communication had not existed he may have sought the help of the clouds to convey his message to his wife. Now being a CIO with successful stints at tech companies Kamalesh Dwivedi adds a technology twist to the translation. The book contains images from Google Earth to show the places mentioned by Kalidas about 1500 years ago and it must have been a tough job to research and find these places as names must have changed.

Google Earth shows places mentioned 1500 years ago in Kalidas' Meghdutam - Kamalesh Dwivedi

Kamalesh is a linguist and his mastery over Sanskrit gave him an edge in translating Kalidasa's Meghdutam into a modern day version. He told me he learnt my mother tongue - Telugu also as a hobby.

Sanskrit & English translation in Kalidas' Meghdutam - Kamalesh Dwivedi


About Kalidas:

According to a researcher at Colorado State university
"KALIDASA, (kaalidaasa), India's greatest Sanskrit poet and dramatist. In spite of the celebrity of his name, the time when he flourished always has been an unsettled question, although most scholars nowadays favor the middle of the 4th and early 5th centuries A.D., during the reigns of Chandragupta II Vikramaaditya and his successor Kumaaragupta. Undetermined also is the place of Kaalidaasa's principal literary activity, as the frequent and minute geographic allusions in his works suggest that he traveled extensively

Wikipedia says 'Kalidasa (3rd-4th cent AD) is easily the greatest poet and playwright in Sanskrit, and occupies the same position in Sanskrit literature that Shakespeare occupies in English literature"

I met Kamalesh Dwivedi after he became the SVP and CIO of Network Solutions. See my previous post. Rising from humble beginnings he got inspiration from his father Pandit Ramchandra Dwivedi who was a Sanskrit teacher and a Purohit at the village Kesath, which is approximately 20 miles southeast of Buxar in Bihar. Kamalesh completed his Engineering degree from IIT and and a master's degree in engineering from Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada.

He has established a chair at his alma mater , IIT kanpur in honor of his father Pandit Ramchandra Dwivedi who taught Sanskrit in the village middle school for thirty years starting in 1940's. During the Quit India Movement of 1942, launched by Mahatma Gandhi, he was kept in captivity by the British in the central jail at Buxar. He got out of the jail by teaching Sanskrit to the daughter of the British jailor ( Source : ).

I heard about this epic during the bedtime stories my mother used to tell me about during my childhood in India. The book is a great gift and is self-published. The book contains Sanskrit and the English interpretation side by side to make it easy to read.

Reading this book added to the great respect I have to the Scholar and technologist - Kamalesh Dwivedi.

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