Composed by one of the legendary poets in the history of Sanskrit, this verse is an example of the games of the learned. The revered Kalidasa constructed this beautiful poem out of a meaningless string of sounds, in the competition of Samasya Pooranam (समस्या-पूरणम्), organised by the great King Bhoj.
Such competitions were commonly organised by advocates of literature and scholarship, and Raja Bhoj is one of the most reknowned in this respect.
In the particular context of this subhashitam, Raja Bhoj gives a seemingly non-sensical line 'tham tham thatham tham thathatham thatham thah' as a challenge for the assembly of intellectuals gathered in his court, and this subhashitam is the clever solution of Kalidasa to it.
राज्याभिषेके In the grand coronation ceremony of the king,
हेम-घटः च्युतः the golden pot fell away
मदविह्वलायाः तरुण्याः हस्तात् from the hands of an excited young girl (so excited about the coronation ceremony that she was not in her senses),
सोपानम् आसाद्य करोति शब्दम् and upon reaching the stairs produced the sound -
ठं ठं ठठं ठं ठठठं ठठं ठः "tham tham thatham tham thathatham thatham thah"!!
Kalidasa thus imagines capturing the sound made by the pot at each step. But both Kalidasa and Raja Bhoj show how rhythm and harmony can be found even in the events we would otherwise perceive as noise; for we see, the 'meaningless' string of sounds actually follows the melodiuos meter of indravajrā (इन्द्रवज्रा)!!
Such were the pastimes of the scholars!