Kalidasa is arguably India’s greatest Sanskrit poet and dramatist, his title Kavikulaguru (‘Preceptor of All Poets’) bearing testimony to his stature. Known to be an ardent worshipper of Shiva, he wrote his plays and poetry largely based around Hindu mythology and philosophy. The exactdates of his life are disputed. Some Indian scholars believe he existed around the 1st century BC, but others believe that his works may have been written around the middle of the 4th and 5th centuries AD, during the reigns of Chandragupta Vikramaaditya, and his successor, Kumaaragupta.
He was one of the so-called Nine Gems of Vikramaaditya’s court in Ujjain. The earlier claim pointing to his existence around the 1st century BC, is supported by his play on the Sunga king Agnimitra, who belonged to that period: it seems unlikely that he would have made this obscure king the hero of his play unless he belonged to that period. The Vikrama calendar also begins with 58-57 BC. However, not much is known about his personal life and background, though there are several legends and tales about his life.
Three famous plays attributed to Kalidasa are Maalavikaagnimitra (Maalavikaa and Agnimitra), Vikramuurvashiiya(Pertaining to Vikrama and Urvashi)and Abhignaanashaakuntala (The Recognition of Sakuntala). The latter is his most famous play, and was the first to betranslated into English and German.
Kalidasa is also known for his poetry. His two most famous epic poemsare Kumaarasambhavam (The Birth of Kumaara) and Raghuvamsha (The Clan of Raghu), and two famous lyrical poems are Meghaduuta (The Cloud Messenger) and Rtusamhaara (The Exposition on the Seasons).