Centuries before our modern epidemic of distraction, ancient Indian poet Kalidasa shared profound insights on the gift of living fully in the present. His lyrical verse “Look to This Day” beautifully captures the essence of being grounded in the here and now rather than dwelling on past regrets or future worries.
Kalidasa sees today as the most vital point, urging us to immerse ourselves completely in the privilege of simply being alive. Reconnecting with his timeless wisdom can inspire much-needed presence amidst our chaotic times.
“Look to This Day” Poem:
Look to this Day,
for it is Life – the very Life of Life.
In its brief course lie all the verities
and realities of your existence:
the Bliss of Growth,
the Glory of Action,
the Splendor of Beauty.
For yesterday is already a dream
and tomorrow is only a vision;
but today, well-lived,
makes every yesterday a dream of happiness
and every tomorrow a vision of hope.
Look well, therefore, to this Day.
Such is the salutation of the Dawn.
The Poem in Sanskrit:
(उषावंदनम्) Salutation of the Dawn
अद्य भावय सुदिनम्!
Look to this Day!
जीवभूतः काल एषः । प्राणस्य प्राणः ।
For it is Life, the very Life of Life.
अस्मिन् स्वल्पकाले सत्यमये तव सतः सत्यं तिष्ठति
In its brief course lie all the
Verities and Realities of your Existence;
The Bliss of Growth,
The Glory of Action,
The Splendor of Beauty;
ह्यस्तु स्वप्नः ।
For Yesterday is but a Dream,
श्वस्तु आभासः ।
And Tomorrow is only a Vision;
कर्मकुशलतया आचरिते अद्य
But Today well lived makes every
गतदिनानि आनन्दस्वप्नमयानि भवन्ति ।
Yesterday a Dream of Happiness, and every
भाविदिनानि आशाप्रभया ज्वलन्ति ।
Tomorrow a Vision of Hope.
अतः सुदिनं अद्य सम्यक् भावय!
Look well therefore to this Day!
Such is the Salutation of the Dawn.
Meaning of “Look to This Day”
At its core, Kalidasa’s poem emphasizes staying focused in the present moment. He sees today as containing the true “Bliss of Growth” and the “Splendor of Beauty” that comprise the tapestry of a life fulfilled. Kalidasa argues we must approach each new dawn as a precious opportunity offering its unique gifts.
The present alone allows us to fully engage in life rather than remaining distracted by what came before or what’s to come. He encourages us to live so well that each today becomes “a dream of happiness” that nurtures the soul. Tomorrow is just a hopeful vision, but the present is real.
About the Author Kalidasa
Kalidasa was a renowned 4th-century Indian poet and playwright considered one of the greatest writers of any era. Though details of his life remain scarce, his mastery of the Sanskrit language produced exquisite poetry combining natural imagery with philosophical wisdom.
Kalidasa is known for works like his epic poem “The Dynasty of Raghu” and the drama “Shakuntala” – often heralded as among India’s greatest literary achievements. His writings reflect an aristocratic Hindu society at its cultural zenith while conveying timeless messages for living.
Timeless Lessons from the Poem
Several powerful ideas emerge from Kalidasa’s timeless verse:
- Don’t fixate on past regrets or future uncertainty; instead, revel in the gifts this moment offers.
- Approach each day as a fresh chance to grow, create, and love – free from the limitations of yesterday or tomorrow.
- Completely immerse yourself in the beauty, magic, and bliss inherent in the present. This moment is all we have.
- Make today meaningful through mindful, intentional living so it becomes a happy memory rather than regret.
- Remember each morning that life is a privilege. Spread compassion to all.
- Cherish ephemeral moments; they form the tapestry of a life fulfilled when woven together.
- Keep perspective; the past is just a dream, the future only a hopeful vision. What matters most is now.
Though composed centuries ago, these lessons resonate profoundly in our distracted modern era.
Applying Kalidasa’s Wisdom Daily
Here are some suggestions for living Kalidasa’s teachings:
- Train mindful awareness of the present through meditation, deep breathing, and nature.
- Fully engage your senses – notice details easily overlooked. Savor, touch, listen.
- Approach mundane tasks with curiosity, appreciation, and awe. Find nobility in small acts.
- Establish rituals that ground you in the now before sleep, upon waking, while eating, or walking.
- When the mind wanders to past failures or future plans, gently return focus to this moment.
- Truly feel the blessings you have right now. Take nothing for granted.
- Replace complaint with gratitude. This day contains all you need to be fulfilled.
Centuries later, Kalidasa’s moving poem still offers powerful motivation to live each day to the fullest. By staying grounded in the moment, we can unlock life’s meaning and magic. As Kalidasa reminds us, today, well-lived becomes the path to growth, beauty, and bliss. May his wisdom inspire us all to embrace the gift of being present.