Mithila, The Native Place of Kalidas


Anand M. Sharan*



(Bihar Times)There are widely diverging opinions about the native place of Kalidasa. These differences have arisen primarily from his work – Meghadutam where he describes scenes from the Himalyas ; naturally, people from Bengal, Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh think that his native place must have been one of these states.

Three famous plays written by  Kalidasa  are Malavikaagnimitram (Malavikaa and Agnimitra), Vikramorvashiiyam( Pertaining to Vikrama and Urvashi) and Abhigyaanashaakuntalam (The Recognition of Sakuntala). The last work is his most famous play .

Kalidasa also wrote his famous poems. His two famous epic poems are Kumaarasambhavam and Raghuvamsham (The Clan of Raghu), and two famous lyrical poems are Meghadutam (The Cloud Messenger) and Ritusamhaaram ( about six seasons in sequence starting with the Summer which would amount to beginning with the Chaitra month ) .  

Krishnanand has done a very detailed analysis on the works,  time , and place of Kalidasa . He even lists the important years of his life stating approximate years when he wrote various dramas etc. It is an impressive work by Krishnanand rarely attempted by any one.

However, in arriving at his findings, he has mixed anecdotes with historical facts and come up with his findings. Therefore, there is a need for determining the native place of  Kalidasa based on historical facts and evidences  alone where these anecdotes are discarded. The present work was undertaken with this objective in mind.



It has been determined  that Kalidasa was in the court of Chandragupta II Vikramaditya .  Kalidasa  was present as one of the nine gems in the court of Chandra Gupta II. It should also be clarified that having gems in the court was an old tradition of Mithila which was a part of Gupta kingdom . Actually, Samudragupta himself was a poet and played Veena. There are coins showing Samudragupta holding Veena  in his hand.


There are  numerous literature in Sanskrit  where we find the names of  King Janaka , Yajnavalkya, Gargi, Maitriyi , Ashtvakra  - all from Mithila which belonged to the Magadha kingdom  These are in addition to the great epics of Hinduism.

Similarly, many stories in Puranas , and Upanishads written in Sanskrit - had their origin in the  pre – history period in Magadha . Later on we also have the following from Magadha:

  1. Arthashashtra ( 350–-283 BCE ) – Kautilya
  2. Yogasutra (2 nd century BCE )- Patanjali
  3.   Buddha-Charita (70 A.D.),- Ashwaghosha
  1. Kamasutra (  2nd to 4th century AD ) by Vatsayana

In the history, Ujjain is considered as the native place of Kalidasa because he mentions its name in Meghadutam at many places.

If we try to find the availability of Sanskrit literature at Ujjain at the time of or before  the time of Kalidasa which extended between the  4th to 5th century AD , we will find no literature. The name of Bharthari  from Ujjain appears in the sixth century AD as the author of  three Satakas .

An important point to note is that could Kalidasa have developed all his refined knowledge of Sanskrit without a formal environment in Sanskrit at Ujjain ?  His Sanskrit writings are much more refined than Ashwaghosha’s mentioned above.

Therefore, one can reasonably infer that Kalidasa acquired or developed his knowledge of Sanskrit in Magadha -  not in Ujjain. There were no other places in India at that time where such an opportunity existed for Kalidasa.


In the time of Kalidasa, Ujjain was ruled by Sakas who were enemies of the Gupta dynasty. In spite of Samudragupta’s ( Chandragupta II’s father ) victories, the Sakas exercised their independence from Magadha ( see Fig. 2 showing locations of Patna  whose ancient name was Pataliputra  which was the capital of Magadha  , and Ujjain  ).  The distance between Pataliputra and Ujjain is very large, and due to the enmity between the two kingdoms, travel or marriages of persons between these two kingdoms was very unlikely.

Chandragupta II Vikramaditya was victorious over the Sakas and the dates vary as to when it took place ? It varies between 388 AD to  402 AD .  Chandragupta II Vikramaditya ruled from  375 / 380 AD , and the facts that Magadha had a tradition of having elites in the court, Kalidasa could have been in the court at Magadha in the years before his king annexed the Saka kingdom .

It is a historical fact that Magadha had School of Mathematics and Astronomy at Pataliputra and after the victory of Chandragupta II, a school was opened at Ujjain which was made the second capital . Thus, Kalidasa could have gone  to Ujjain in the court there. 



Krishnanand has done a detailed study of various works of Kalidasa and gives the reason for this ( Kalidasa’s native place ) as Mithila based on  the important points mentioned by Kalidasa.

Kalidasa knew about Mithila, and that he wrote his work - Raghuvamsham about  the Gupta Dynasty. In Raghuvamsham  where he writes extensively about Samudragupta – it  shows his familiarity with Magadha because Samudragupta ruled from Magadha ( Pataliputra ) only.

Regarding Ujjain, he mentions Ujjain in  Purva Meghadutam Shlokas 29 to 40 but not extensively in the Raghuvamsham. He mentions it only in 6/ ( 34,35 ) in Raghuvamsham.


On the other hand, he has used Mithila or Maithilah  in Raghuvamsham very extensively in 11/ (29, 32, 36, 37, 38, 43, 47, 48, 55, 56, 63, 71, and 73 )

From these, one can clearly see his detailed knowledge of Mithila besides Magadha.



In the Meghadutam,  the messenger has been asked to take the message from Ujjain to the Himalyas where the beloved / wife lived .

The fact that the wife lived in the area of Himalyas itself shows that Kalidasa was from Magadha ( Mithila ) otherwise, living in Ujjain he could not have married a girl in the enemy territory that far away .In those days the marriages took place in nearby villages.



Krshnanand approximates the village to be Uchchaith in the Madhubani district about 14 miles (  22.4 kilometers ) east of Sitamarhi.  There is a mound near the village called Kalidasdih.  There are statues of Kalidasa and his works here.

This village is on the foot of the Himalyas (the Terai Region ), and the descriptions of the cloud in the Meghadutam are quite appropriate at the time of Kalidasa  at this location when India was full of forests.


In this work,   brief reviews of ( a ) Kalidasa’s works , ( b ) his time , and ( c )  the Sanskrit literature available to him - were undertaken. After that, the political conditions prevailing in India at that time at Magadha and Ujjain were discussed. It was shown that Chandragupta II took many elite ( called  gems )  from Magadha to Ujjain which was his second capital and this opened the possibility that Kalidasa could have gone to Ujjain from Magadha. It was also shown that , at the time of Kalidasa  , there was no prior Sanskrit literature available at Ujjain other than those from Magadha.

Finally, based on the descriptions in the Meghadutam and Raghuvamsham, it was concluded that Kalidasa’s native place was on the foot of the Himalyas at Uchchath in the Mithila area in the kingdom of Magadha.


*Professor ,Faculty Of Engineering, Memorial University Of Newfoundland, St John’s, Newfoundland, Canada