GITA GOVINDAM (गीतगोविन्दम्)

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
Given below is the
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.
मेघैर्मेदुरमम्बरं वनभुवः श्यामाः तमालद्रुमैः
नक्तंभीरुरयं त्वमेव तदिमं राधे गृहं प्रापय।
इत्थं नन्दनिदेशतः चलितयोः प्रत्यध्वकुञ्जद्रुमं
राधामाधवयोर्जयन्ति यमुनाकूले रहः केलयः ॥
It is evening, clouds are
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. 
वाग्देवता चरितचित्रितचित्तसद्मा
श्रीवासुदेवरतिकेलिकथा समेतं
एतं करोति जयदेवकविः प्रबन्धम्॥
Poet Jayadeva whose heart is the abode of Goddess
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.
यदि हरिस्मरणे सरसं मनः
यदि विलासकलासु कुतूहलम्।
शृणु तदा जयदेवसरस्वतीम्॥
If your mind revels in remembering Krishna and if you
are interested in the art of love then listen to these sweet and tender verses
of Jayadeva’s work.
वाचः पल्लवयत्युमापतिधरः सन्दर्भशुद्धिं गिरां
जानीते जयदेव एव शरणः श्लाघ्यो दुरूहद्रुतेः।
शृङ्गारोत्तरसत्प्रमेयरसनैः आचार्य गोवर्धन-
स्पर्धी कोऽपि न विश्रुतः श्रुतिधरो धोयी कविक्ष्मापतिः||
Poet Umapati is good at
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
प्रलयपयोधिजले  धृतवानसि वेदम्
केशव! धृत
मीनशरीर जय  जगदीश हरे ॥१॥
O Keshava, Lord of the
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,
O Hari! 
क्षितिरतिविपुलतरे तव तिष्ठति पृष्ठे
केशव! धृतकच्छपरूप
जय  जगदीश हरे ॥२॥
O Keshava, Lord of the
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! 
वसति दशनशिखरे धरणी तव लग्ना
शशिनि कलङ्ककलेव निमग्ना
केशव! धृत
सूकररूप जय  जगदीश हरे ॥३॥
O Keshava, Lord of the
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! 
तव करकमलवरे नखमद्भुतशृङ्गं
दलित हिरण्यकशिपु तनुभृङ्गम्।
केशव! धृत
नरहरिरूप जय  जगदीश हरे ॥४॥
O Keshava, Lord of the
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! 
छलयसि विक्रमणे बलिमद्भुत वामन
केशव धृत वामनरूप जय  जगदीश हरे ॥५॥
O Keshava, Lord of the
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
क्षत्रियरुधिरमये जगदपगतपापं
स्नपयसि पयसि शमित भवतापम्
केशव! धृत
भृगुपतिरूप जय  जगदीश हरे ॥६॥
O Keshava, Lord of the
Worlds!  You incarnated as Bhargava
and bathed the Earth with the blood of evil kshatriyas and
relieved the world of their tyranny. Victory to you, O Hari! 
वितरसि दिक्षु रणे दिक्पति कमनीयं
दशमुखमौलिबलिं रमणीयम्
केशव! धृत
रघुपतिरूप जय  जगदीश हरे ॥७॥
O Keshava, Lord of the
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!
वहसि वपुषि विशदे वसनं जलदाभं
केशव! धृत
हलधररूप जय  जगदीश हरे ॥८॥
O Keshava, Lord of the
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!
निन्दसि यज्ञविधेरहह श्रुतिजातं
सदय हृदय दर्शितपशुघातम्
केशव! धृत
बुद्धशरीर जय  जगदीश हरे ॥९॥
O Keshava, Lord of the
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!
म्लेच्छनिवहनिधने कलयसि करवालं
धूमकेतुमिव किमपि करालं
केशव! धृत
कल्किशरीर जय  जगदीश हरे ॥१०॥
O Keshava, Lord of the
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!
शृणु सुखदं शुभदं भवसारम्
केशव! धृत
दशविधरूप जय  जगदीश हरे ॥११॥
O Keshava, Lord of the
Worlds!  You took ten different forms in
your ten incarnations.
May this gem of a hymn composed
by poet Jayadeva, which is the essence in this samsara,  bestow happiness  and auspiciousness on those who hear it.  Victory to you, O
[Note: Krishna does not figure in this as an incarnation as He is considered the Supreme Personality of Goodhood while the other incarnations are only partial potencies of Krishna. Jayadeva has added Buddha as an incarnation to retain the conventional number of ten incarnations.]

                             (End of chapter-1:prabandha-1)    

वेदानुद्धरते जगन्ति वहते भूगोलमुद्बिभ्रते
दैत्यं दारयते बलिं छलयते क्षत्रक्षयं कुर्वते।
पौलस्त्यं जयते हलं कलयते कारुण्यमातन्वते
म्लेच्छान्मूर्च्छयते दशाकृतिकृते कृष्णाय तुभ्यं नमः ||
O Krishna! prostrations
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.
धृतकुण्डल कलित ललितवनमा॥
जय जय देव हरे ॥१॥
Resting on the bosom of Lakshmi, wearing ear-globes
and  sporting a garland of wild flowers,
O Hari! Victory to thee.
भवखण्डन मुनिजनमानसहंस॥
(जय जय…) ॥२॥  
Adorning the orb of the Sun, breaking the bonds of samsara,
the swan in the hearts of hermits,
O Hari!
Victory to thee.
जनरञ्जन यदुकुलनलिनदिनेश॥
(जय जय…) ||३||
Conqueror of the serpent kaliya, delighter of the
people, sun for the lotus of Yadu dynasty,
Hari! Victory to thee.
गरुडासन सुरकुलकेलिनिदान॥
(जय जय…) ॥४॥     
Slayer of demons Madhu, Mura and Naraka, seated on
Garuda and the cause of happiness of the celestials,
O Hari! Victory to thee.
भवमोचन त्रिभुवनभवननिदान॥  (जय जय…) ॥५॥
Having eyes resembling
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
जितदूषण समरशमितदशकण्ठ॥
(जय जय…) ॥६॥
Adornment of the bosom of the daughter of
Janaka(Sita), conqueror of Dushana (brother of Khara) and the slayer of Ravana,
O Hari! victory to thee. 
धृत मन्दर श्रीमुखचन्द्रचकोर॥
(जय जय…) ||७॥
Handsome as the newly formed cloud, uplifter of
Mandara and the chakora bird drinking the nectar of the moon which is the face
of Goddess Lakshmi, O Hari!, victory to thee.     
श्रीजयदेवकवेरिदं कुरुते मुदं|
मङ्गलमुज्ज्वलगीतं ॥
(जय जय…)  ॥८॥   
This resplendent song by Poet Jayadeva delights people
and brings auspiciousness. O Hari!, victory to
काश्मीरमुद्रितमुरो मधुसूदनस्य|
व्यक्तानुरागमिव खेलदनङ्ग खेद-
स्वेदांबुपूरमनुपूरयतु प्रियं वः ||
Krishna embraces Radha in
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.
                             (End of
Prabandha- 3
वसन्ते वासन्तीकुसुमसुकुमारैरवयवैः
भ्रमन्तीं कान्तारे बहुविहितकृष्णानुसरणां ।
अमन्दं कन्दर्पज्वरजनितचिन्ताकुलतया
वलत्पादां राधां सरसमिदमूचे सहचरी ॥
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
विहरति हरिरिह सरसवसन्ते
नृत्यति युवतिजनेन समं सखि|
विरहिजनस्य दुरन्ते ॥१॥
The cool breeze from the
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
अलिकुल-संकुल-कुसुम-समूह-निराकुल-वकुल-कलापे॥  (विहरति…)॥२॥
It is time when the wives of travellers away from home
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. …  …  …
युवजन-हृदय-विदारण-मनसिज-नखरुचि-किंशुकजाले॥ (विहरति…)॥३॥
The tamala trees are clothed in newly sprouted tender
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. …  …  …
मिलित-शिलीमुख-पाटलपटल-कृतस्मरतूण-विलासे॥ (विहरति…)॥४॥
The blooming kesara
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. … 
…  …
विरहि-निकृन्तन-कुन्दमुखाकृति-केतकि-दन्तुरिताशे॥ (विहरति…)॥५॥
It seems that the
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. …  …  …
माधविका-परिमल-मिलिते नवमालिकयाऽतिसुगन्धौ।
मुनिमनसामपिमोहनकारिणि तरुणाकारणबन्धौ॥ (विहरति…)॥६॥
Madhavi, chameli and
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. …  …  …
बृन्दावन-विपिने-परिसर-परिगत-यमुनाजल-पूते॥  (विहरति…)॥७॥
The mango tree embraced
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. …
श्रीजयदेवभणितमिदं उदयति हरिचरणस्मृतिसारं।
सरस-वसन्त-समय-वनवर्णन-मनुगत-मदनविकारम् (विहरति…)॥८॥
Poet Jayadeva,
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. ……
             (End of chapter-1:prabandha-3)    
Prabandha- 4
दरविदलित मल्लीवल्ली चञ्चत्पराग-
प्रकटित-पटवासै-र्वासयन्काननानि ।
इह हि दहति चेतः केतकी-गन्ध-बन्धुः
प्रसरदसमबाण-प्राणवद्गन्धवाहः ॥
The spring air spreads
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.
क्रीडत्कोकिलकाकलीकलकलैरुद्गीर्णकर्णज्वराः ।
नीयन्ते पथिकैः कथं कथमपि ध्यानावधानक्षण-
प्राप्तप्राणसमासमागमरसोल्लासैरमी वासराः॥
Spring is the season when
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
पीनपयोधर-भार-भरेण हरिं परिरभ्य सरागम्।
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.
ध्यायति मुग्धवधूरधिकं मधुसूदन-वदन-सरोजम् ॥३॥ (हरिरिह…)
A pretty
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…)
Some  other gopi puts her cheek against Krishna’s
to whisper something into his ears. Another one of broad hips kisses him,  her hair standing on end. Hari shines etc…..
केलिकला-कुतुकेन च काचिदमुं
मञ्जुल-वज्जुल-कुञगतं विचकर्ष करेण दुकूले ॥५॥ (हरिरिह…)
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…)
Another gopi
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.
श्रीजयदेव-भणितमिदं अद्भुत-केशव-केलि-रहस्यम्।
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
श्रेणी-श्यामल-कोमलै-रुपनयन्नंगैः अनंगोत्सवम् ।
व्रजसुन्दरीभिरभितः प्रत्यङ्गमालिङ्गितः
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.
स्निग्ध-रसाल-मौलि-कुसुमान्यलोक्य हर्षोदयात्
कुहूः कुहूरिति कलोत्तालाः पिकानां गिरः॥

The air from malayachala is afraid of
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

विभ्रमभृतां आभीरवामब्रुवाम्
परिरभ्य निर्भरमुरः प्रेमान्धया राधया।
त्वद्वदनं सुधामयमिति व्याहृत्य गीतस्तुति-
स्मितमनोहारी हरिः पातु व:
Radha, blindly in love with Krishna, locked him
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.  
इति श्रीगीतगोविन्दे  शृङ्गारमहाकाव्ये श्रीकृष्णदासजयदेवकृतौ सामोददामोदरोनाम प्रथमःसर्गः

Sri P R Ramamurthy Ji was the author of this website. When he started this website in 2009, he was in his eighties. He was able to publish such a great number of posts in limited time of 4 years. We appreciate his enthusiasm for Sanskrit Literature. Authors story in his own words :

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