Abhay K., a poet and diplomat, has translated Kalidasa’s poems Meghaduta (The Cloud Messenger) and Ritusamhara (The Six Seasons) into English, capturing the original Sanskrit works’ magic and enchantment.
According to A.N.D. Haksar, a renowned translator of Sanskrit works into English, many of which have been published as Penguin classics, “Abhay K.’s translation of Meghaduta conveys a new sense of the original.”
Abhay also emphasises in his introduction how ecological sensibilities pervade Kalidasa’s Meghaduta and Ritusamhara, which should be read and reread in light of the triple threat of climate change, biodiversity loss, and environmental pollution.
According to poet and journalist Pritish Nandy, “I’ve read and published several Ritusamhara translations over the years, but this is without a doubt the most wonderful. Abhay has deftly eschewed scholarship in favour of poetry’s inherent magic. This is precisely why this rendering is so delightful. The majority of existing versions are rigid and scholarly. They have thus forfeited the original’s magic and enchantment. Abhay, as a poet, aptly captures this. This is the Kalidasa you are looking for.”
Abhay claims he has always desired to read and translate these two Kalidasa classics. However, it was during the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020 that he decided to translate the two classics after reading a poem titled “Lockdown” by UK poet laureate Simon Armitage that made reference to Meghaduta. His high school-level study of Sanskrit proved beneficial.
Abhay has also written a lengthy poem titled ‘Monsoon’ in response to Meghaduta. ‘Monsoon’ is a love and longing poem in which a poet in Madagascar implores monsoon to carry his message and the sights and sounds it encounters on its way to his beloved in the Himalayan valley of Kashmir.
The poem introduces the reader to Madagascar, Reunion, Mauritius, Seychelles, Mayotte, Comoros, Zanzibar, Socotra, Maldives, Sri Lanka, and Andaman and Nicobar Islands, as well as the Western Ghats, Aravalis, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Sundarbans, West Bengal, Bihar, Sikkim, Nepal, Uttarakhand, Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, and
Abhay K.’s translation of Meghaduta was published in July 2021, and Ritusamhara will follow in October 2021. ‘Monsoon,’ his book-length poem, is expected to be published in 2022.
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