Lyrics from Kalidasa’s Vikramorvashi


Vikramōrvaśīyam (Sanskrit: विक्रमोर्वशीयम्, meaning Urvashi Won by Valour) is a five-act Sanskrit play by ancient Indian poet Kalidasa who flourished in the 4th Century CE, based on the Vedic love story of King Pururavas and an Apsara, a celestial nymph named Urvashi.

King Pururavas’ Praise of Urvashi
What god made you? It must have been the brilliant
Moon. Or perhaps love’s tutor in delight,
Amorous Kama. Or the spring’s abundant
Harvest of flowers.  
But some ancient sage,
Grown dull with endless rounds of Vedic chant,
Having renounced the joys of this world – How
Could he create a form so clearly right?
King Pururavas Addresses a Chakravaka Bird
How can you turn your back on me? – a king
Who has lost his dearest wife. You who shed tears
And take fright when a lotus leaf hides your love
From sight, afraid like me to be alone.

The Elephant King in the Forest
Hidden within this forest of wondrous trees,
Having abandoned all hope of happiness,
An elephant scans the vastness of the skies,
Tears of grief welling in his regal eyes.

Louis Hunt
1. Kama is the Hindu god of love. His name means “pleasure.”
2. Chakravaka birds are swans or geese that pine away when they are apart from each other even for a moment. They are emblematic of what Sanskrit aestheticians called “love in separation.”

If you have any thoughts on these translations, Louis Hunt  would be pleased to hear them.