The Kumarasambhava of Kalidasa probably composed about A.D. 400, is the greatest long poem in classical sanskrit. It is the love story of Siva and Parvati the God and the Goddess, who are viewed as lovers and as cosmic principles. The poem of their love is a paradigm of the inevitable union between male and female played out on the immense scale of supreme divinity. Beginning with a description of Himalaya and the birth of his daughter Parvati the poem proceeds in perfectly pitched sensuous detail through a presentation of the broader setting for the divine relationship ( a warrior child is needed to lead the army of the gods), the uneasy course of events between Siva and Parvati.
Hank Heifetz is Visiting Assistant Professor, department of South Asian Studies University of Wisconsin Madison.