The Message of the Koel – Introduction

The कोकिलसन्देशः, or The Message of the Koel, takes the reader on a literary tour across southern India and into Kerala.  A lovesick husband, snatched from his beloved’s side as they slept, dispatches a koel, the Indian cuckoo, to their home in central Kerala with a message to sustain her until he can return.

Composed by the 15th century poet-scholar, Uddaṇḍa Ṥāstrī, the The Message of the Koel is a celebration of the lush, temple-studded land of Kerala, Uddaṇḍa’s adopted home.  The following series of Verse for the Week aims to introduce the reader to the poem with a representative selection of verses.

The poem starts in Kanchipuram, in today’s Tamil Nadu, from which the hero bids his messenger depart with all speed.


वन्दस्वारात् प्रियसख पुनर्दर्शनायात्र शौरेः

काञ्चीभर्तुः  करिगिरितटे पुण्यमेनं विमानम् ।

आधत्ते यत् कनकवलभीनीडलीनैः कपोतै-

रद्याप्यम्भोरुहभवमखालग्नधूमाभिशङ्काम् ॥  १६ ॥

Listen to this verse

‘Nearby, my dear friend,

bow down to that sacred shrine of Viṣṇu,

Lord of Kāñcī,

upon the Karigiri

that you might be granted to return

and visit him here again.

The pigeons nesting upon the tower’s golden top

make it seem as if the smoke of Brahma’s sacrifice

is even today curling about the temple.*                                          Verse 16

*The famous Varadaraja Perumal temple of Kanchipuram houses Viṣṇu in a shrine – today called Punyakoti Vimanam – upon a mound known as the Karigiri or ‘elephant hill’.


 The Message of the Koel will soon be available as a printed book and in eBook format.  To book a copy in advance, please contact us or add a comment to this post.

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