Akhil Bharatiya Kalidas Samaroh begins on Nov 4

Lalit Shastri

President of India K R Narayanan at the All-India Kalidas Samaroh at Vikram Kirti Mandir at Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh on 6 November 2000.

The All India Kalidasa Samaroha celebrated every under from the eleventh day of the bright half of Kartika under the Indian calendar of Vikram era under the joint auspices of Government of Madhya Pradesh, Vikram University and Kalidas Sanskrit Akademi, Ujjain is scheduled to be held this year from Friday 4 November to Thursday 10 November 2022.

The academic programme this year will include Research Seminar, Late Pt. Suryanarayan Vyas Memorial Lectures and an Inter-University Sanskrit Debate Competition. Hindi Debate and Sanskrit Recitation Competitions are also being organized for the students of the universities of the state of Madhya Pradesh.

The first Akhil Bhartiya Kalidasa Samaroh was inaugurated at Ujjain by President of India Dr Rajendra Prasad in 1958. 

It is important to note that Padma Bhusana late Pt. Surya Narayan Vyas had started organizing Kalidasa Jayanti In Ujjain in the thirties of the last Century. 

From the archives: LtoR Padma Bhushan Pandit Suryanarayan Vyas, BV Sohni, ICS, the then Chief Secretary Bihar, renowned Kathak dancer Uma Sharma, renowned social workerAwantika Shastri and popular poet and ex-Vice Chancellor Vikram University Shiv Mangal Singh Suman. The event was Kalidas Festival at Ujjain

After the formation of Madhya Pradesh, it was during a meeting between late Dr BV Keskar, the then Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting and late Anant Maral Shastri, both alumni of India’s leading seat of learning- Kashi Vidyapeeth – that Shri Keskar told Shri Shastri that the memory of Kalidas, the greatest of poets, and Tansen, the sixteenth Century prominent figure of Hindustani classical music, should be perpetuated by organizing Akhil Bharatiya Kalidas Samaroh at Ujjain and All India Tansen Samaroh at Gwalior. Like the Kalidas Jayanti, earlier the Tansen Samaroh also was organised on a small-scale at Tansen’s Samadhi near Gwalior. (Shri Anant Maral Shastri was Director Information and Publicity in erstwhile Madhya Bharat State from 1949 to 1956, when the States were reorganized to form Madhya Pradesh. For a short period thereafter, he was posted as Officer on Special Duty in Madhya Pradesh)

Anant Maral Shastri and Union I&B Minister BV Keskar were Sanskrit scholars and contemporaries at Kashi Vidyapeeth. (Check Alumni)

For many years, since the inauguration of both these national festivals, late Anant Maral Shastri remained the moving spirit behind these annual events as ex-officio Secretary of the organising committees formed by the State for these festivals.

This is the cover of Raghu Vansh, written by Mahakavi Kalidasa. It was translated from Sanskrit to Hindi by late Anant Maral Shastri to be presented on behalf of the Madhya Pradesh government to the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru when he attended the National Kalidasa Samaroh at Ujjain after the formation of Madhya Pradesh as chief guest in 1959. Nehru had seen a rush copy before it was officially presented to him. His first reaction was that the translation was “rather tough”. Shri Shastri had responded to this when the matter was brought up at a meeting of the organizing committee by Dr Shankar Dayal Sharma, who was then the State Education Minister, by stating: “what does Nehru know about Hindi or Sanskrit. Let him restrict himself to English and Hindustani. This book will go as it is.” This reaction was in the true spirit of Raghu Vansh and that’s what makes the nation great. Our country has tremendous tenacity as the majority of the Indian people refuse to be servile.

I recall, few years down the line, in the early 60s when students of Madhav College had created a ruckus at a morning event during the week-long Kalidas Samaroh, which was held regularly at the college ground since 1958, late Shri Shastri took the mic and announced that the venue was being shifted immediately to Ksheer Sagar. At that moment, the then college Principal late Dr Shivmangal Singh Suman, who later became Vice Chancellor of Vikram University, was present on dais.

From that evening onward, Madhav College lost the primacy and ceased to be the venue of this great event.

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