Gita Govindam, lyrical poetry in Sanskrit celebrating the love between Krishna and the gopis, specifically Radha, is authored by Jayadeva, the 12th century devotee-poet from Orissa. The basis for this work is the 5 chapters 29 to 33 of Srimadbhagavatam (known as Rasapanchadhyaayi) which describe the events leading to the rasaleela, the great dance on the banks of the Yamuna where each gopi thinks that Krishna is with her. Srimadbhagavatam, however, does not specifically talk about a gopi named Radha though Radha is described as the very heart of Krishna in some of the other Puranas.
above theme has been developed in Gita Govindam to such an extent that
it is known as ‘Sringara Mahakavya’
wherein the predominant sentiment is sringara
(erotic sentiment) in all its various moods in relation to the divine love
between Radha and Krishna. The ecstasy of union, the agony of separation, the anxious moments
of wait for the loved one are all treated with sensitivity and poetic
excellence. The whole work is divided
into twelve chapters ( sargas), each chapter containing one or more prabandhas.
There are 24 prabandhas each containing couplets grouped into eights
called Ashtapadis, songs with a
refrain specific to that
Ashatapadi. There are in all 24 Ashtapadis
in Gita Govindam. Each Chapter may have one or more slokas
in different metres of Sanskrit poetry
interspersed with the Ashtapadis. It is said that the Poet-devotee Jayadeva
would sing the Ashtapadis and his wife Padmavati would dance to the music. There have been many choreographic works to enact and present the Ashtapadis as a dance
text of the First Chapter (प्रथमः सर्गः) with a prosaic
translation in English for those who cannot follow the Sanskrit of the
original. The translation in no way can
do justice to the poetic excellence or the beauty of expression of the original.
gathering in the sky, the forest is dark with tamala trees and Krishna is
afraid of the darkness of night.
Nandagopa asks Radha to take Krishna home safely. Victory to the love sports of Radha and
Madhava in the secrecy of every bush and bower on the banks of Yamuna, on their way home.
Saraswati, who is the chief devotee at the lotus feet of Padmavati (Radha) is writing this prabandham in which are
included descriptions of the love sports of Krishna.
are interested in the art of love then listen to these sweet and tender verses
of Jayadeva’s work.
word craft, Sharana’s compositions are
difficult to understand, there is no one to beat Govardhanacharya in depecting sringara
(erotic sentiment) and King of poets Dhoyi holds the ear of everyone. Only Jayadeva knows which words are most
appropriate to the context.
मीनशरीर जय जगदीश हरे ॥१॥
Worlds! You donned the form of a huge
fish and effortlessly recovered the
Vedas from the waters of the ocean during the great dissolution. Victory to you,
जय जगदीश हरे ॥२॥
Worlds! You took the form of a huge
tortoise on whose expansive top shell stood the Mandara Mountain (which was
used for the churning of Milky Ocean for nectar). Victory to you, O Hari!
सूकररूप जय जगदीश हरे ॥३॥
Worlds! You took the form of a gigantic
boar and lifted up the Earth (from the ocean). The Earth resting at the tip of
your white teeth looked like the mark on the bright surface of the moon. Victory to you, O Hari!
नरहरिरूप जय जगदीश हरे ॥४॥
Worlds! You took the form of a man-lion with huge sharp nails in your
lotus-hands by which you tore down the demon Hiranyakashipu like a honey-bee in
a lotus flower. Victory to you, O Hari!
Worlds! You took the wonderful form of a dwarf
(Vamans) and, outwitting Mahabali, cheated him (out of his whole kingdom) and
purified the worlds by the water from the toes of your feet. Victory to you, O
भृगुपतिरूप जय जगदीश हरे ॥६॥
Worlds! You incarnated as Bhargava
Rama and bathed the Earth with the blood of evil kshatriyas and
relieved the world of their tyranny. Victory to you, O Hari!
रघुपतिरूप जय जगदीश हरे ॥७॥
Worlds! You incaranated as Sriram and, in
war, cut and despatched the ten heads of
Ravana as pretty offerings to the presiding deities of the ten quarters. Victory to you, O Hari!
हलधररूप जय जगदीश हरे ॥८॥
Worlds! You incarnated as Balarama wearing,
on your body of pure white complexion,
clothes dark as the clouds and the dark Yamuna afraid of strikes from your
plough. Victory to you, O Hari!
बुद्धशरीर जय जगदीश हरे ॥९॥
Worlds! You incarnated as Buddha and,
with a heart full of kindness, condemned
the animal sacrifices prescribed in the Vedas. Victory to you, O Hari!
कल्किशरीर जय जगदीश हरे ॥१०॥
Worlds! You will take the form of Kalki
, like a comet, and take up a sharp sword to kill the hordes of mlechchas
who repudiate the Vedas. Victory to you, O Hari!
दशविधरूप जय जगदीश हरे ॥११॥
Worlds! You took ten different forms in
your ten incarnations.
by poet Jayadeva, which is the essence in this samsara, bestow happiness and auspiciousness on those who hear it. Victory to you, O
(End of chapter-1:prabandha-1)
before you who recovered the Vedas, held up the Mandara mountain, lifted up the
Earth (submerged in the ocean), tore apart Hiranyakashipu, duped Mahabali, decimated
kshatiryas, killed Ravana, took up the plough, showed kindness to animals and
would kill the mlechchas as Kalki, taking ten different forms on each occasion.
and sporting a garland of wild flowers,
O Hari! Victory to thee.
(जय जय…) ॥२॥
the swan in the hearts of hermits, O Hari!
Victory to thee.
(जय जय…) ||३||
people, sun for the lotus of Yadu dynasty, O
Hari! Victory to thee.
(जय जय…) ॥४॥
Garuda and the cause of happiness of the celestials, O Hari! Victory to thee.
the blemishless petals of the lotus, releasing devotees from the cycle of
births and deaths and the very foundation of the edifice of the three worlds,
OHari! victory to thee.
(जय जय…) ॥६॥
Janaka(Sita), conqueror of Dushana (brother of Khara) and the slayer of Ravana,
O Hari! victory to thee.
(जय जय…) ||७॥
Mandara and the chakora bird drinking the nectar of the moon which is the face
of Goddess Lakshmi, O Hari!, victory to thee.
(जय जय…) ॥८॥
love sport and the saffron on her breasts
leaves its mark on his chest. May the profusion of perspiration on his
body as the external manifestation of love fulfil all your wishes.
is spring time and Radha of tender limbs like the flowers of the spring season
is worried, tormented as she is by love-fever. She wanders hurriedly in the
forests following in the footsteps of Krishna and her feet start aching. Her friend now speaks to her thus:
Malaya mountain blows embracing tender clove-creepers. There is the buzz of
honey bees and the cooing of cuckoos. This is hell for those who are separated
from their lovers. In this sweet spring
time, Krishna is frolicking with a group of dancing young gopis
feel the pangs of separation, stricken as they are by the arrows of Cupid. Swarms of honey bees buzz around the
abundance of flowers on the bakula trees. In this sweet spring time etc. … … …
leaves emitting the sweet smell of musk.
The spread of golden-colored kimshuka flowers gives the
impression that they are the radiance from the nails of Cupid who pierces the
heart of young men. In this sweet spring time etc. … … …
flowers give the impression of a golden umbrella over the head of Cupid. The
cornucopia of patala flowers remind one of Cupid’s quiver full of
arrows. In this sweet spring time etc. …
flowering young karuna trees are laughing at the world which has shed
all shame in the spring season. The Ketaki flowers shaped like spear
seem to pierce the heart of those who are separated from their lovers. In this
sweet spring time etc. … … …
navamallika flowers spread their
soft fragrance during the spring season. It seduces the hearts of even hermits
and saints. Spring is the selfless friend of the young. In this sweet spring time etc. … … …
by the chameli creeper becomes ecstatic and sprouts buds. Vrindavan is purified by the water of the
Yamuna which flows in the vicinity. In this sweet spring time etc. …
remembering the lotus feet of Hari,
describes the sweet spring time in the forests of Vrindavan which gives
impetus to the erotic sentiment in the young. In this sweet spring time etc. ……
the fragrance of the half-open jasmine flowers in the forests of
Vrinadavan. Carrying the fragrance of ketaki
flowers, the spring air burns the hearts of those who are separated from their
loved ones as if it is the soul of the God of love.
the mango tree sprout buds and spreads its frgrance all round. Attracted by
this the honey bees flock to the mango
tree and hang on the sprouting buds. The
cuckoos also play and sing their songs sitting on the tops of mango trees
inflicting pain in the ears of couples separated by long distance. The wayfarers, away from home and separated
from their loved ones, have somehow to
spend their days content with the very
brief, imagined and visualsed unions with
their loved ones.
समक्षं पुनराह राधिकाम् ॥
friend (sakhi), showing her Krishna excitedly embracing many young gopis
and enjoying himself, continues her dialogue with Radha:
मुग्धवधूनिकरे विलासिनि विलसति केलिपरे
has applied sandal paste on his dark blue body, is clothed in bright yellow and
wears a garland of forest flowers. The ear-globes adorning his cheeks oscillate
while sporting and he has a beautiful smile.
Hari shines among the group of pretty young gopis engaged in
काचित् उदञ्चित-पञ्चम-रागम्॥२॥ (हरिरिह…)
gopi carrying the weight of her ample bosom embraces Krishna with manifest love
and gleefully sings in panchama raga.
Hari shines etc.
artless gopi contemplates the handsome lotus-face of Madhusudana (slayer
of Madhu, Krishna) with its moving, playful
eyes radiating passion. Hari shines …..
कपोलतले मिलिता लपितुं किमपि श्रुतिमूले।
चुचुम्ब नितम्बवती दयितं पुलकैरनुकूले ॥४॥ (हरिरिह…)
to whisper something into his ears. Another one of broad hips kisses him, her hair standing on end. Hari shines etc…..
gopi plafully leads Krishna to a pretty bower along the banks of Yamuna and starts
pulling at his clothes. Hari shines etc…
सह नृत्यपरा हरिणा युवतिः प्रशशंसे॥६॥ (हरिरिह…)
dances mingling the rhythmic tinkling of her bracelts with the melody from the
flute of Krishna who praises her for her skills. Hari shines etc.
कामपि चुम्बति कामपि कामपि रमयति रामाम्।
सस्मितचारु परामपरामनुगच्छति वामाम्॥७॥ (हरिरिह…)
embraces a gopi, kisses another, gladdens yet another, looks at another
with a beautiful smile and follows another pretty one. Hari shines etc.
चरितं वितनोतु शुभानि यशस्यम् ॥८॥ (हरिरिह…)
describes Jayadeva the secret of the
rapturous sports of Krishna in the forests of Vrindavana. May this bestow auspiciousness and fame on
those who hear this. Hari shines etc
सखि मूर्तिमानिव मधौ मुग्धो हरिः क्रीडति ॥
Radha! Krishna gladdens the hearts of the gopis by embracing them. He
leads the festival of the Love God by his handsome body dark blue as the blue
lily. The pretty gopis freely embrace every limb of Krishna who is sporting in Spring as the very embodiment of
the erotic sentiment.
कुहूः कुहूरिति कलोत्तालाः पिकानां गिरः॥
being gulped down by the serpents resident there, takes the path to the
Himalayas in the hope floating on the ice there. The cuckoos, on the other hand, are overjoyed
on seeing the smooth flowers on top of the mango trees and start cooing
परिरभ्य निर्भरमुरः प्रेमान्धया राधया।
त्वद्वदनं सुधामयमिति व्याहृत्य गीतस्तुति-
स्मितमनोहारी हरिः पातु व:
in her embrace in front of all those pretty gopis who are excited after
their frolicking with Krishna. Then Radha kisses him, saying to Krishna, in
the guise of gitastuti, that his face is nectarine. May the beautiful smile which then lighted up
Krishna’s face protect you all.