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
text of the Eleventh Chapter (एकादशः 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.
कृतवेषे केशवे कुञ्जशय्याम्।
निरवसादां कापि राधां जगाद ॥१॥
made Radha happy by his conciliatory words, Krishna, decked in his fine clothes, went to his arbour-bed for rest . It was
twilight which steals one’s eyes and someone spoke thus to Radha who was decked out in her finery and was in a
मधुमथनमनुसर राधिके ॥१॥
having bowed at your feet Krishna has retired to his arbour and is lying on his
bed. O pretty Radha! follow him, enemy of Madhu, into the arbour.
with the tinkling sound of the small bells in your girdle, imitate the swan in
your gait and (approach Krishna). O pretty
पिकनिकरे भज भावम् ॥३॥
the melodies from the flute of Krishna which are sweet and captivate the hearts
of young women. Listen to the cuckoos
which praise the commands of Cupid. O Pretty
करोति गतिं प्रति मुञ्च विलम्बम्॥४॥ (मुग्धे
Radha! whose thighs resemble trunks of
elephants! These creepers, with their hands of leaf buds waving in the wind,
prompt you to go to Krishna. Don’t delay
any more. O Pretty Radha! etc.
कुचकुम्भम् ॥५॥(मुग्धे ….)
pot-like breasts, adorned by a necklace
which is like a pure slender column of water, which are trembling as if in a
wave of passion indicating Hari’s embrace. Pretty Radha! etc
Radha! all your friends know that you body is ready for the love-fight. O
Chandi! go to the rendezvous with your
girdle announcing your arrival, shaking off your shyness and in a joyous
mood. Pretty Radha! etc
सखीमवलम्ब्य करेण सलीलम्।
हरिमपि निजगतिशीलम् ॥७॥(मुग्धे ….)
taking the support of your Sakhi with your hand having nails as the
arrows of Cupid, announce your arrival to Krishna by the tinkling of your
Pretty Radha! etc
this song by Jayadeva more beautiful than the necklace stay perpetually in the
throat of those whose minds always rest in Hari. Pretty Radha! etc
is immersed in thought thinking about you : “Radha will come, she will see me, tell me about her love,
embrace every limb of mine and feel happy and engage in love play”. He mentally
visualises seeing you, trembles, bristles,
makes love, sweats and when he recovers from his reverie, he swoons not
श्यामसरोजदाम कुचयोः कस्तूरिकापत्रकम्।
to your eyes, put tapinchcha blossoms
in your ears, adorn your head with blue lotus flowers, mark your breasts with
deer musk. This is how women deck themselves while going to the rendezvous
where they meet their paramours.
Darkness completely envelopes these young women in dark blue clothes.
women of easy virtue on the way to meet their paramours are completely
enveloped by this darkness which is darker than the tamala petals and which, like the touchstone for
testing gold, serves as the touchstone for testing their love.
निकुञ्जनिलयस्य हरिं निरीक्ष्य
सखी निजगाद राधाम् ॥५॥
Hari, radiant in gold and gem-studded
necklaces, armlets, bracelets, girdle etc, at the entrance to the love-bower
Radha was overcome by shyness. Her friend (sakhi )spoke to her thus:
face lit up in a smile with the urge for love sport in this beautiful
bower-house! enter the bower and go near
with necklaces curling on your breasts!
sport with Hari on the bed made of fresh ashoka blossoms. Enter
of body as soft as flower! Sport with
Hari in the clean bower-house made of heaps of flowers. Enter the bower…..
रसवलितललितगीते ॥४॥(प्रविश …)
whose songs are full of rasa and melodious! sport with Hari in the bower which is cool and
fragrant as the breeze from the malaya mountain. Enter the bower…..
पीनकुचकुम्भजघने ॥५॥ (प्रविश …)
of heavy breasts and broad hips! sport with Hari in the bower of thick creepers and tender leaves. Enter the
urged on by the arrows of Cupid! Sport with Hari in the bower where bees
intoxicated by the flower honey are humming. Enter the bower…..
दशनरुचि रुचिरशिखरे ॥७॥(प्रविश …)
of radiant white teeth and beautiful tresses!
Sport with Hari in the bower which is full of the sound of cuckoos
cooing. Enter the bower…..
॥८॥ (प्रविश …)
Murari! Bestow hundreds of auspicious things on the king of poets Jayadeva who
creates all comforts for Padmavati. Enter the bower…..
चित्तेन चिरं वहन्नयमतिश्रान्तो भृशं तापितः
च पातुमिच्छति सुधासम्बाधबिम्बाधरम्।
तदलङ्कुरु क्षणमिह भ्रूक्षेपलक्ष्म्यास्तव
दास इवोपसेवितपदाम्भोजे कुतः संभ्रमः ॥६॥
Radha ! Krishna has been carrying you in his heart for long and he is very much
tired and tormented by Cupid. He wants to drink the nectar of your lips which
are red as the bimba fruit. Adorn his lap for a few seconds; don’t be
agitated; he has been bought over by the beauty of your arched eyebrows and is
bowing down at your lotus feet.
प्रविवेश निवेशनम् ॥७॥
eyes and entered the bower-house with her pretty anklets tinkling.
the ocean with its tumultuous billows on a full moon day, was filled with
different moods and emotions on seeing her. She saw Hari, who had long been
desiring her with one emotion, his face in the grip of joy as well as of Cupid.
long and far-reaching like the foams on the dark waters of the Yamuna. She saw Hari ….
on his dark and soft body resembled the blue lotus flower surrounded by the
yellow-coloured particles of pollen .
She saw Hari ..
as if they were a pair of khanjana birds on a lotus flower blooming in
the midst of a lake in Autumn. She saw
स्मितरुचिरुचिरसमुल्लसिताधरपल्लवकृतरतिलोभम् ॥५॥ (हरिमेकरसं…)
shining like the sun looked as if they were together examining the lotus-face
of Hari. His lips red like tender leaves
were lighted up by a beautiful smile creating desire for love sport in women.
She saw Hari …
flowers resembled like dark clouds penetrated by the rays of the sun. The mark on his brow by sandal paste
resembled the orb of the moon rising out of darkness. She saw Hari …
he was excited about love sport and his body was handsome with the radiance of
the gem stones in his ornaments. She saw
been described by Jayadeva. Instal in your heart Hari who is the essence of meritorious
deeds done by you
her eyes shed profuse tears of joy as if it was the profusion of sweat produced
in their (eyes’) effort to reach upto the ears transgressing their corners.
edge of the bed and was concealing her smile in the guise of scratching her ear
or some other part of her body. When her
friends left the bower she looked at the face of her lover who was under the
control of the arrows of Cupid. Then it was as if doe-eyed Radha’s shyness
itself fled ashamed.
the slayer of Mura whose arms were dotted with the blood of the elephant, Kuvalayapeeda,
which was playfully killed by Krishna with his strong arms which were adorned
with mandara flowers by Lakshmi to mark this victory and which Krishna himself
adorned with saffron to celebrate the joyous occasion.
श्रीगीतगोविन्दे शृङ्गारमहाकाव्ये राधावर्णने
नाम एकादश: सर्गः