Tuesday, December 28, 2010


Poet Jayadeva's Gīta-Govinda : A Critical Analysis 

Research Article by : Dr. Harekrishna Meher
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Lyric poems play a very significant role for development of language and literature. Whatever may be language, the poetic and musical expression of heartiest feelings reveals the inner sense of life and gladdens the lovers of music, art and literature. Sanskrit literature is prosperous with the tradition of lyric poems. In comparison to prose, Gīti or Song has some distinct attractive and appealing feature that directly touches the core of the heart of connoisseurs. The lyrical flow of Sanskrit composition has its origin from the Vedic literature, especially Sāma-Veda. In Classical Sanskrit Literature, starting from ‘Meghadūta kāvya’ of Kālidāsa, the lyric poems enjoy a prominent position in the pen of some eminent poets. Compositions such as ‘Moha-Mudgara’ and ‘Bhaja-Govindam’ of Ādi Śańkarāchārya enhance importance and beauty of Sanskrit lyric tradition with their melodious structure. 

To the arena of lyric poetry, Poet Jayadeva of twelfth-century A.D. has unique contribution in his nectar-showering pen. Jayadeva is one among the distinguished poets of Odisha, who has been immortal for his extraordinary and unique Sanskrit work. Born in the village Kenduvilva on the bank of River Prāchī, Jayadeva, a great devotee of Lord Jagannātha and the loving husband of Padmāvatī, composed such a marvellous kāvya that delights the people even in the present age with its literary loveliness and musical splendour.

Gīta-Govinda of Poet Jayadeva is a great creation depicting the eternal love-story of Rādhā and Krishna. Conglomeration of Sāhitya, Sańgīta and Kalā (literature, music and art) are simultaneously preserved in this kāvya. As enumerated in the scriptures, Sańgīta consists of Nritya, Gīta and Vādya (Dance, Song and Musical Sound).

Odissi Dance and Odissi Sańgīta have intimate and inevitable relationship with Gīta-Govinda kāvya. Regarding own lyric poem, the poet himself writes:

“Yad gāndharva-kalāsu kauśalamanudhyānam cha yad vaishņavam,
Yachchhrińgāra-viveka-tattvamapi yat kāvyeshu līlāyitam /
Tat sarvam Jayadeva-paņđita-kaveh Krishņaika-tānātmanah,
Sānandāh pariśodhayantu sudhiyah Śrī-Gīta-Govindatah // ” (GG. XII/12). 

[Whatever musical excellence in Gāndharva arts,
Whatever devotional concentration of the Vaishnavites,
Whatever relish of erotic sentiment for the connoisseurs,
Whatever playfully delineated in the literary compositions,
All those things the wise may delightfully purify
learning from the beautiful kāvya Gita-Govinda
written by the Pandit-Poet Jayadeva,
whose mind is ever-engrossed in Krishna alone.]

*(All English Translations of Sanskrit Verses quoted in this article are by the author Dr. Harekrishna Meher) 

Jayadeva’s Gīta-Govinda forms a masterpiece of lyrical composition that has been bestowing literary taste and aesthetic pleasure captivating ears and minds of the Sanskrit-lovers all around the world. Thoughts of the Vaishnavites, excellence of the devotees in musical arts and relish of erotic sentiment for the lovers of literature – all these are found intermingled in this kāvya. In the present article, endeavours have been made to throw lights on some literary aspects of this remarkable work in a critical perspective.


Nature is inevitably associated with every part of human life. From the Vedic literature till today’s literary compositions, human behaviour is attributed to Nature and Nature’s behaviour is attributed to the human beings. Every poet, somehow or other, is inclined to delineate Nature, Prakriti, in own style and presentation. In Jayadeva’s work, Nature finds a place of special importance and recognition.
In the very beginning of Gīta-Govinda, Nature is seen vividly delineated. Main theme of this kāvya is the erotic stories of Lord Krishna and Rādhā. Jayadeva likes to indicate the matter at the outset within the description of Nature in the first verse :

“Meghair meduramambaram vana-bhuvah śyāmāstamāla-drumair
Naktam bhīrurayam tvameva tadimam Rādhe ! griham prāpaya /
Ittham Nanda-nideśataśchalitayoh pratyadhva-kuñja-drumam
Rādhā-Mādhavayor jayanti Yamunā-kūle rahah kelayah // ” (GG. I / 1).

[‘The sky is encompassed by clouds.
With the hue of Tamāla trees,
darksome appear the sites of woods.
This dear Kāhnā
feels very timid at night.
O Rādhā ! You therefore please
accompany him to reach home aright.’
Thus by the words of King Nanda,
stepped ahead both Rādhā and Mādhava
towards the tree of bowers on the way.
Glory to their plays of love, secret and gay,
on the bank of river Yamunā.] 

Poet Jayadeva announces the word ‘Megha’ (Cloud) which is a prime feature of Nature and simile of Lord Krishna who is well-known as ‘Ghana-Śyāma’, darkish as cloud. In the first śloka of the kāvya, it is found that several facets of Nature such as cloud, sky, Tamāla trees, night and Yamunā river have been illustrated. Moreover, all these aspects are blackish by nature and very similar to the dark-bodied Krishna. It may be undoubtedly stated that the poet has consciously used these aspects of Nature to beautifully enhance the literary value as well as the glory of Krishna who is akin to them. Further the depiction of darkness is amalgamated with the projection of pleasurable play of Rādhā and Krishna. Rādhā is internally understood as ‘Chit Śakti’, the Divine Power of Knowledge and Consciousness in the form of Light that dispels the murky veil of ignorance in the heart of the mundane beings.  

Contextual descriptions of cloud, sky, trees such as Tamāla and creepers such as Lavańga, gentle zephyr, cuckoos, mango-blossoms, spring season, Moon, darkness, ocean and the like facets of Nature are found in a very impressive manner.Among various aspects of Nature, Flower is depicted as a prime symbol of beauty and love in literary works of many poets. Jayadeva is not an exception to this matter. In Gīta-Govinda, a beautiful Flowery Figure of Rādhā has been revealed by her lover Krishna in a verse of Canto-X : 

“Bandhūka-dyuti-bāndhavo’yamadharah snigdho Madhūkachchhavir
Gaņđaś Chaņđi ! chakāsti nīla-Nalina-śrī-mochanam lochanam /
Nāsābhyeti Tila-prasūna-padavīm Kundābha-danti Priye !
Prāyas tvan-mukha-sevayā vijayate viśvam sa Pushpāyudhah // ” (GG. X/6).  

In this verse, Rādhā’s limbs have been said to have acquired the loveliness of several flowers. Addressing his beloved with sweet loving words, Krishna states: 

[These lips of thine really bear similarity
with the beauty of flower Bandhūka.
O Self-esteemed Lady !
Thy comely cheeks compile the lustres of Madhūka.
Manifesting the beauty
of blue lotuses, thy eyes are very lovely.
The stature of Tila flower, thy nose bears.
Thy teeth, O My Dear !
spread the radiance of Kunda flower.
Serving thy fine face with these five flowers,
the Flower-shafted Love-god Cupid
conquers the entire universe indeed.] 

Such expression of floral ornamentation is really remarkable and worth-mentioning. Further, descriptions of Mādhavī creeper, Varuņa tree, Nāgakeśara flower, Kimśuka (Palāśa) flower, Bakula flower, Vanamālikā, Atimuktaka creeper, Mango tree, Betasa creeper-bower, lotus, Kuravaka flower and the like are contextually observed in this kāvya and these matters reflect an intimate relationship with Nature. Portrayal of Nature with an ecological perspective can also be marked in discussion of several figures of speech, sentiment and literary metres. 


A popular verse found in Classical Sanskrit literature about the significance of some epical qualities runs thus :

“Upamā Kālidāsasya Bhāraverartha-gauravam /
Naishadhe pada-lālityam Māghe santi trayo guņāh //” 

 In Sanskrit Literature, appreciably special significance is observed in the Simile of Kālidāsa, Gravity of Meaning of Bhāravi and Grace of Diction of Śrīharsha, the author of Naishadha Mahākāvya, and the combination of these three epical attributes is seen in Māgha-kāvya which is known as Śiśupālavadha-kāvya written by Māgha. Such remarks are maintained in case of Mahākāvyas or epic poems. But in case of Gīti-kāvya or Lyric poem, Pada-Lālitya or Grace of Diction reigns supreme in the excellent composition of Jayadeva’s Gīta-Govinda. The poet himself speaks of the special qualities of his own writing in the following lines:

" Madhura-komala-kānta-padāvalīm,
Śriņu tadā Jayadeva-Sarasvatīm //” (GG. I / 3).

Gīta-Govinda kāvya is endowed with sweet, soft and beautiful words. Musical affluence, serenity, rhythmic eloquence, lucidity, emotional touch and sweetness of meaning are the fine features of this lyric poem. Considering all these matters, it may not be inappropriate to proclaim: “Govinde Pada-Lālityam.” 

Grace of diction (Pada-Lālitya) is mostly found in Alańkāras, the Figures of speech such as Anuprāsa and Yamaka. If a consonant is used repeatedly, it forms Anuprāsa, alliteration (1). If certain letters having consonants and vowels are repeated serially with the same consonants and vowels, Yamaka Alańkāra (2) is maintained there. Viśvanātha Kavirāja in Chapter-X of his ‘Sāhitya-Darpaņa’ has thrown much light on numerous Alańkāras along with the related matters. Further, he has quoted a verse (Unmilan-Madhu-Gandha.. etc.) from Jayadeva’s poem as an appropriate example Vrittyanuprāsa, a division of Anuprāsa Alańkāra.

Gīta-Govinda is a treasure-trove of lyrical jewels. In every line of this kāvya, Alliteration with end-rhymes in the songs is exquisite with definite designs. Pada-Lālitya is seen abundantly with melodiously sweet, delicate and beautiful words. Some verses are being presented here as instances. In description of Spring season, very popular lines are: 

“Lalita-lavańga-latā-pariśīlana-komala-malaya-samīre /
Madhukara-nikara-karambita-kokila-kūjita-kuñja-kuţīre //
Viharati Haririha sarasa-vasante /
Nrityati yuvati-janena samam sakhi ! virahi-janasya durante // ” (GG. I / 3/1 ). 

[Here appears the pleasurable Spring,
wherein the delicate zephyr
of Malaya mountain
gently blows having loving embrace
of the graceful Lavańga creeper
and wherein the cottage of bowers is
filled with the sweet cooing of cuckoos
mingled with the humming of black-bees.
O Dear Friend ! Hari enjoys wandering
and dances with the young maidens
in this season which is unbearably afflicting
to the couple separated from each other.]

Contextually in other place, depiction of Spring is found in the following verse :

krīđat-kokila-kākalī-kalakalair udgīrņa-karņa-jvarāh /
Nīyante pathikaih katham kathamapi dhyānāvadhāna-kshaņa-
prāpta-prāņa-samā-samāgama-rasollāsairamī vāsarāh // ” (GG. I/9).  

[During the days of Spring season,
ears of the wayfarers
painfully feel very feverish
by the noisy sound of cooing of cuckoos
sporting in the mango-blossoms
that slowly swing by the black bees
craving for the emerging sweet aroma.
These vernal days are anyhow
passed with difficulties
by the lonely wayfarers
who in cheerful sentiments enjoy union
with their life-like maidens
attained in some moments of concentration
within their mental sphere.]  

In the two verses quoted above, the consonants ‘m’, ‘dh’, ‘k’, ‘r’, ‘l’, ‘n’, ‘th’, ‘p’, ‘s’,’m’ etc. have been used repeatedly and as such Alliteration is distinctly seen. Yamaka is also observed with the word ‘kara’ found in the words ‘madhukara’, ‘nikara’ and ‘karambita’. Also with the word ‘samā’ found in the words ‘Prāņa-samā-samāgama’, Yamaka Alańkāra is seen clearly.

In the above-mentioned two verses, the delineation of Spring season is supported with cuckoos, black bees, mango-blossoms, Lavańga creepers, gentle zephyr, delicate pleasure-bowers and the like. So with these aspects, a nice portrayal of Nature is conspicuously obtained along with the human feelings and sentiment of ‘Śrińgāra’.

Aspects of Nature such as cloud, mountain, Moon and Chakora bird are seen exemplified in a song of Canto-I. Here Upamā, Rūpaka and Anuprāsa Alańkāras are clearly noticed in the context of praise and worship of Lord Vishņu. Some lines of the lovely song addressed to Hari appear thus : 

“Abhinava-Jaladhara-sundara ! Dhrita-Mandara e /
Śrī-mukha-Chandra-Chakora ! Jaya Jaya Deva Hare ! // ” (GG. 1/2/7). 

[O Hari ! Eradicator of all evils !
Handsome like a newly appeared Cloud !
O Holder of Mandara mountain !
O Chakora Bird for the Moon
of Goddess Lakshmī’s face !
Victory to Thy Supreme Self.] 

Upamā (3) Alańkāra is observed here, because Hari has similarity with comely darkish Cloud (Jaladhara) in appearance. Cloud is ‘Upamāna’ and Hari is ‘Upameya’. Further Rūpaka Alańkāra is found here, while Hari is described as a Chakora Bird and Lakshmī’s Face as the Moon. In this case of Rūpaka (4), Upamāna is directly placed in Upameya with ‘abheda āropa’. Besides, in the wording of this sweet song, repetition of consonants such as ‘n’, ‘d’, ‘r’ and ‘ch’ etc. manifests the sweet alliterative design that conspicuously confirms Anuprāsa Alańkāra. Along with these figures of speech, Hari’s hearty love for Lakshmī is indicated in the song. In the line “Jaya Jaya Deva Hare” the name of Poet Jayadeva is hidden and it is understood with a pun.

In another context, a fine illustration of Nature is observed. Just after the arrival of night, Moon-rise is so beautifully and attractively presented in graceful words of the poet that the verse remains ever-ringing in the ears. The concerned verse appears thus: 

“Atrāntare cha kulaţā-kula-vartma-pāta-
Sañjāta-pātaka iva sphuţa-lāñchhana-śrīh /
Dik-sundarī-vadana-chandana-bindurinduh // ” (GG. VII/1).

[By this time,
as a big dot of sandal paste
on the forehead of the Direction-Damsel,
Moon, spreading own rays, illuminated
the inner area of Vrindāvana.
He had borne the beauty of a distinct stain
as if caused by sin due to own appearance
on the path of the adulterous maidens.]

A charming depiction of Moon is found here. Further, the figures of speech, namely Anuprāsa, Yamaka, Utprekshā, Kāvyalińga and Rūpaka are marked beautifully intertwined in the present verse.
In the first and second lines, the consonants ‘t’, ‘r’, ‘p’, ‘s’ have been repeatedly used and so form Anuprāsa. Also the letters ‘ñja’ and ‘ñcha’ having same ‘cha’ varga of alphabet come under the purview of Anuprāsa. In the third line also, consonants ‘v’, ‘n’, ‘d’ are found repeated and thus form Alliteration. In the fourth line, very sweet words are used having the consonants ‘n’, ‘d’ and ‘r’. So a melodious feature of the verse is automatically maintained. In the first line, the word ‘kula’ has been used twice, one cut off from the word ‘kulatā’ and another the total word ‘kula’. Thus this ‘kula’ maintained twice serially having the letters that are consonant ‘k’, vowel ‘u’, consonant ‘l’ and vowel ‘a’ reveals Yamaka Alańkāra.

Further the Moon is personified and is depicted as a fellow who has as if acquired sin. So the word ‘iva’ though normally meant for Upamā (simile), here speaks of Utprekshā (5) where ‘asambhava-kalpanā’ is maintained. The reason of acquiring sin is that Moon is inimical causing harm or obstacle to the unchaste women, who are inclined to meet their lovers secretly in the deep darkness of night. But Moon with own rays discards the darkness on their path and exposing them, appears as an impediment to their secret visit to the lovers and hence bears a clear stain on his body as a mark of that sin. Here Kāvyalińga Alańkāra (6) is observed, since the cause of the intended meaning (sin) has been mentioned.

Besides, Rūpaka Alańkāra is clearly found here, because Direction (Dik) is depicted as a beautiful dame and Moon is directly delineated to be a big dot of sandal paste (chandana-bindu) on her forehead. In both the cases of Direction and Moon, metaphor has been given and not simile. As such all these Alańkāras inserted collectively form ‘Sańkara’ and ‘Samsrishţi’ Alańkāra (7), as each of them mingled in the said verse can be traced. Such are some examples. Further several figures of speech can be determined in different contexts. All such applications of epical attributes display the dexterity of the poet in this Gīti-kāvya.


Gīta-Govinda comprises twelve Cantos (Sargas), twenty-four Songs and seventy-two Ślokas. All the Sargas are designed with various melodious Rāgas or Tunes such as Mālava, Gurjarī, Vasanta, Rāmakerī, Deśa, Guņakarī, Gauđa-Mālava, Karņāţaka, Barādī, Deśa-Barādī, Bhairavī, Vibhāsa etc. along with different (Tāla) musical modes such as Rūpaka, Yati, Ekatālī, Pratimaņţha, Āđava etc. having Ashţapadīs. By the poet, the twelve cantos have been named as ‘Sāmoda-Dāmodara’ (Canto-I), ‘Akleśa-Keśava’ (Canto-II), ‘Mugdha-Madhusūdana’ (Canto-III), ‘Snigdha-Mādhava’ (Canto-IV), ‘Sākāńksha-Puņdarīkāksha’ (Canto-V), ‘Sotkaņţha-Vaikuņţha’ (Canto-VI), ‘Nāgara-Nārāyaņa’ (Canto-VII), ‘Vilakshya-Lakshmīpati’ (Canto-VIII), ‘Mugdha-Mukunda’ (Canto-IX), ‘Chatura-Chaturbhuja’ (Canto-X), ‘Sānanda-Govinda’ (Canto-XI) and ‘Suprīta-Pītāmbara’ (Canto-XII). Some slight variations of names are seen in different editions of this book. From the name or heading of each canto, one can find the concerned topic along with alliteration bearing sweet, graceful and captivating letters.

‘Vaidarbhī’ Rīti is observed in this sweet lyrical composition of Jayadeva. Having long Samāsas ‘Gaudi’ Rīti is also found intermingled. Profusion of ‘Prasāda’ and ‘Mādhurya’ Guņas delights the heart of the readers and listeners (8). Here the style of presentation bears an amicable amalgamation of dramatic dignity and epical approach. The poet has used various Rāgas in ‘mātrā-metre’. In the midst, some traditional metres ‘varņa-chhandas’ are found inserted. Therefore this Gītikāvya Gīta-Govinda is a wonderful and beautiful blend of both kinds of metres ‘varņa-chhanda’ and ‘mātrā-chhanda’, also of dramatic and lyrical presentations. The Varņa-chhandas used in this kāvya are Śardūla-Vikrīđitam, Vasanta-Tilakā, Druta-Vilambita, Vamsastha, Śikhariņī, Prithvī, Sragdharā, Upendravajrā, Mālinī, Hariņī, Pushpitāgrā and Anushţup (9). The poet has used mātrā-chhanda mainly ‘Āryā’ and several lyrical chhandas in his innovation and musical muse. Poring upon the arrangement of Sargas, use of traditional Chhandas, Rasas and depiction of picturesque view of Nature etc., Gīta-Govinda, though a unique Gītikāvya in its genre, can be included in the category of Mahākāvya also.

Western scholars have given different opinions about the design of Gīta-Govinda kāvya. In this regard, A.B. Keith in his book ‘A History of Sanskrit Literature’ refers to some scholars. William Jones calls Gīta-Govinda as a little pastoral drama, Lassen styles it as a lyric drama, Schroeder regards it as a refined Yātrā. Pischel and Levi place it in the category between song and drama. Further Pischel styles it as a melodrama (10).

In Indian tradition, it is marked that Jayadeva has combined both traditional chhandas and lyrical tunes along with a dramatic structure. So amalgamation of these three qualities establishes this kāvya as a wonderful literary creation. As the lyrical melodious tune dominates in this kāvya, modern scholars like Abhiraja Rajendra Mishra (11) edeavour to describe it as the most ancient rāga-kāvya from which the tradition of rāga-kāvya has emerged. Hence deliberating on various views, it may be opined that Gīta-Govinda is a unique Gīti-kāvya or Rāga-kāvya with its own peerless design.

Sweetness and gravity of meaning are indeed appreciable in a verse, where Rādhā is depicted as an embodiment of Rasas present in the earthly region. Here the divine damsels namely, Madālasā, Indumatī, Manoramā, Rambhā, Kalāvatī and Chitralekhā are mentioned and understood with a double meaning. Ślesha Alańkāra (Pun) is found there where certain word expresses more than one meaning (12). The word ‘Prithvī’ means ‘Earth’ and it is also mentioned through Mudrālańkāra that indicates ‘Prithvī’ chhanda in the concerned verse which runs as follows : 

“Driśau tava Madālase vadanam Indumatyāspadam,
Gatir jana-Manoramā vidhuta-Rambham ūru-dvayam /
Ratis tava Kalāvatī ruchira-Chitralekhe bhruvā-
Vaho vibudha-yauvatam vahasi tanvi ! Prithvī-gatā // ” (GG. X/7). 

[Languid are thy eyes with intoxication (Madālasā).
Effulgent is thy face with charming moonbeam (Indumatī).
Thy gait gladdens mind of all the beings (Manoramā).
Thy thighs form the tremulous plantain tree (Rambhā).
Embellished with art is thy erotic play (Kalāvatī).
Thy brows have lovely lines of painting (Chitralekhā).
O Slim-limbed beloved lady !
Ah, present on earth,
You bear the juvenile exuberance of nymphs
who adorn the dominion of gods.]  

Contextually this verse is told by Krishna to Rādhā. Here enchanting is the presentation of pun so sweetly and witfully inserted in the concerned verse composed in ‘Prithvī’ chhanda. This metre consists of four steps having seventeen letters in each with serial arrangements of five gaņas namely, ‘ja’, ‘sa’, ‘ja’, ‘sa’, ‘ya’ along with one letter of short vowel and one letter of long vowel. It has two pauses, one in eighth letter and another in last letter of the step (13).

Similarly in another place, an example of Varņa-chhanda ‘Upendravajrā’ appears very charming and appealing in the context of Rādhā’s pangs of separation. A maiden-friend of Rādhā contextually tells Krishna in the concerned verse as follows :

“Smarāturām Daivata-vaidya-hridya !
Tvadańga-sańgāmrita-mātra-sādhyām /
Vimukta-bādhām kurushe na Rādhām
Upendra ! vajrādapi dāruņo’si // ” ( GG. IV/4).  

[Ye noble self like the divine doctor !
All the illness of Cupid-stricken Rādhā
can be cured very well
only by the ambrosia
of your loving embrace.
If you do not make her
free from this grief so far,
O Dear Upendra !
Really very cruel
more than the thunderbolt you are.]

This verse is composed in ‘Upendravajrā’ metre which consists of four steps having eleven letters in each with serial arrangements of three gaņas namely, ‘ja’, ‘ta’, ‘ja’ along with two letters of long vowel. It has one pause in the last letter of the step (14). Here the poet mentions the name ‘Upendravajrā’ that with a pun implies the traditional Sanskrit metre, along with the desired theme. Vyatireka Alankāra (15) is found here, because Krishna (Upameya) is regarded as a cruel person more than the thunderbolt (Upamāna).

Again a chhanda named ‘Pushpitāgrā’ is observed in Mudrālańkāra in a verse where Rādhā’s maiden-friend speaks to Krishna :

“ Kshaņamapi virahah purā na sehe
Nayana-nimīlana-khinnayā yayā te /
Śvasiti kathamasau rasāla-śākhām
Chira-viraheņa vilokya Pushpitāgrām // ” (GG. IV/6).  

[O Krishna !
In the days by-gone,
she was unable to endure your separation,
by the grief caused by closing of eyes,
and now how can she tolerate having sighs
the long estrangement,
looking at the branch of mango tree
having blossoms at the top ? ] 

The said verse is written in ‘Pushpitāgrā’ chhanda which consists of four steps. In first and third steps, it has twelve letters each having serial arrangement of four gaņas namely, ‘na’, ‘na’, ‘ra’ and ‘ya’. In second and fourth steps, it bears thirteen letters each with serial arrangement of four gaņas namely, ‘na’, ‘ja’, ‘ja’, ‘ra’ and one letter having long vowel (16). The poet has directly used the word ‘Pushpitāgrā’ (having blossoms at the top) as an adjective of mango-branch, and with a pun, it indicates the concerned Sanskrit metre.

In another place, name of Sanskrit metre ‘Śārdūla-Vikrīđitam’ is seen used with a pun. Contextually Rādhā’s lady-companion intimates Krishna about the bewildered condition of Rādhā. The verse runs thus: 

“Āvāso vipināyate priyasakhī-mālāpi jālāyate,
Tāpo’pi śvasitena dāva-dahana-jvālā-kalāpāyate /
Sāpi tvad-viraheņa hanta hariņī-rūpāyate hā katham,
Kandarpo’pi Yamāyate viracayañchhārdūla-vikrīđitam // ” (GG. IV/2). 

[O Krishna ! Owing to pangs of separation,
for Rādhā, her home seems to be a forest.
The group of her dear maiden-friends
appears as a trapping net.
With heavy sighs, the heat of separation
turns to be a vast forest-conflagration.
It is a matter of severe woe
that because of thy separation,
Oh, how she appears as a doe,
and Love-god Cupid for her,
has become Yama, the Lord of Death,
displaying the activities of a fierce tiger.]

The word ‘Śārdūla-Vikrīđita’ literally means ‘Playful gait of tiger’, also is a name of Sanskrit metre which comprises four steps bearing nineteen letters in each with serial arrangements of six gaņas namely, ‘ma’, ‘sa’, ‘ja’, ‘sa’, ‘ta’, ‘ta’ along with one letter of long vowel. It has two pauses, first in twelfth letter and second in the last letter of each step (17). Composing the verse in this metre, the poet has befittingly utilized both the meanings with a literary pun. Though several verses of this kāvya have been composed in this metre, the poet has distinctly illustrated this name in this context once only.
In another context, bearing the pangs of separation, Rādhā tells before her maiden-friend to make necessary steps for union with her lover Krishna. The verse describes the anxiousness of Rādhā for whom the mango-blossoms and other aspects of Nature are not pleasurable. The concerned verse appears thus:

Vikāsah kāsāropavana-pavano’pi vyathayati /
Api bhrāmyad-bhrińgī-raņita-ramaņīyā na mukula-
Prasūtiśchūtānām Sakhi ! Śikhariņīyam sukhayati // ” (GG. II / 4).

[O My Friend ! Here
florescence of new Asoka creeper
bearing few bunches of flowers
is not at all pleasurable to my eyes
and causes distress immense.
Breeze of pleasure-grove beside pond
gives me pains further.
This budding of mango-blossoms with sharp tips,
though charming with the humming of black-bees
roving over them, does not give me a gleeful sense.]  

In this verse, the word ‘Śikhariņī’ literally means ‘Something (feminine) with sharp tip’. Here it is an adjective of ‘Mukula-Prasūtih’, budding of blossoms. Besides, ‘Sikharini’ is a name of Sanskrit metre that comprises four steps, having seventeen letters in each, with serial arrangements of five gaņas namely, ‘ya’, ’ma’, ‘na’, ‘sa’ and ‘bha’, along with one short-vowelled letter and one letter of long vowel. It has two pauses, first in sixth letter and second in the last letter of each step (18). The poet has composed the concerned verse in Śikhariņī metre with a pun appropriate to the context. Thus arrangement of Sanskrit words in this verse reveals figures of speech such as Anuprāsa, Yamaka and Ślesha with poetic wit and literary dexterity.


‘Rasa’ is regarded as the form of Brahman. The Upanishadic statement “Raso vai sah” succinctly manifests the Supreme Self as Blissful Relish. In rhetorical works, Rasa has been explained as ‘Brahmāsvāda-Sahodara’ by Viśvanātha Kavirāja (19). Life and literature, both are inevitably interrelated with each other. The prime sentiment of life of mundane beings is Eros. Beauty, attraction, union and creation are the series of the artistic world. Rati, erotic pleasure, is the main instinct of all the creatures of the world. Therefore ‘Śrińgāra’ is widely known as ‘Ādi Rasa’, the first sentiment enumerated in literature.

In most of the bodies of Indian temples, erotic designs are generally noticed, even if devotees having a heart filled with devotion to gods and goddesses enter into the sites. Such designs or depictions though externally carry some unpalatable taste in contrast with inner devotional relish, yet they symbolize duality and creation of the world with a touch of aesthetic sense in the form of Eros. Mahābhārata and other various epical compositions contextually exhibit numerous verses of erotic pleasures. Such delineations may be construed as poetic lapses in one sense, but intrinsically they portray the inevitable experiences of human life filled with feelings and emotions.

Rasa (Sentiment) is the prime phenomenon in drama and kāvya. Bharata-Muni in his Nāţya-Śāstra has defined the relish of Rasa in the Sūtra: ‘Vibhāvānubhāva-vyabhichāri-samyogād Rasa-nishpattih’ (20). Vibhāva, Anubhāva and Vyabhichārī Bhāvas unitedly manifest the relish of a Rasa. All these can be observed in various contexts of description of Eros and other sentiments. The noted rhetorician Viśvanātha Kavirāja has rightly discussed all these matters in his work. Every Rasa has a ‘Sthāyi-Bhāva’, a permanent feeling or emotion. Vibhāva is of two kinds, Ālambana and Uddīpana. Both Ālambana and Uddīpana Vibhāvas combinedly reveal the previously generated Sthāyi-Bhāva. In every Rasa, Ālambana and Uddīpana Vibhāvas remain separately and these two are external cause of relish of Rasa, while Sthāyi-Bhāva is the main internal cause. Manifestation of Sthāyi-Bhāva is regarded as Rasa. Anubhāva is the factor that makes a person externally experience the internally aroused Sthāyi-Bhāva. Vyabhichāri-Bhāva, also known as ‘Sañchāri-Bhāva’, helps to nourish the Sthāyi-Bhāva already boosted up and makes it suitable for relish. Sañchāri- Bhāvas are of thirty-three kinds, namely Nirveda, Āvega, Dainya, Śrama, Mada, Jadatā, Ugratā, Moha, Vivodha, Svapna, Apasmāra, Garva, Maraņa, Alasatā, Amarsha, Nidrā, Avahitthā, Autsukya, Unmāda, Śańkā, Smriti, Mati, Vyādhi, Santrāsa, Lajjā, Harsha, Asūyā, Vishāda, Dhriti, Chapalatā, Glāni, Chintā and Vitarka. (21)

For example, Rati (Love) is ‘Sthāyi-Bhāva’ of Eros. If a feeling of love (rati) arises in the minds of a man and a woman by seeing each other, both the persons are Ālambana Vibhāva, as they are resort or shelter (Ālambana) of love. Both are the causes of emergence of love. The factors that boost up or expand Rati are ‘Uddīpana Vibhāva’ such as moonlight, pleasure-garden, lonely place, sandal, fragrance of flowers, cooing of cuckoo, humming of black-bees, attractive scenery and so on. Both Ālambana and Uddīpana Vibhāvas combinedly reveal the previously aroused Rati. Sthāyi-Bhāva such as Rati, already aroused in the hearts of the lover and the beloved through Ālambana and Uddīpana Vibhāvas, comes out or becomes manifested by Anubhāva which is the effect of Sthāyi-Bhāva. Through acting in speech or limbs, Anubhāva makes a person externally experience the internal manifestation of Sthāyi-Bhāva. Every Rasa has separate Anubhāvas. For instance, Anubhāvas of Rati, in case of union, comprise physical expressions such as sweet smile, amorous glances, kisses, moving of brows, maddening gestures etc. along with oral expressions such as speaking sweet words and the like. Lajjā, Harsha and Asūyā etc. are Sañchāri-Bhāvas in this regard. Passing through all these Vibhāva, Anubhāva and Vyabhichārī Bhāvas, Sthāyi-Bhāva Rati turns into ‘Śrińgāra’ Rasa.

‘Śrińgāra’, Eros is the prevailing sentiment of Gīta-Govinda kāvya. Both ‘Vipralambha’ (Love-in-Separation) and ‘Sambhoga’ (Love-in-Union) Śrińgāra have been elaborated in the entire lyrical composition. Vibhāva, Anubhāva and Vyabhichārī Bhāvas are observed in different contexts of erotic descriptions. According to Viśvanātha Kavirāja, without feeling of separation, happiness or excellence of pleasurable union cannot be experienced. He opines : “Na vinā vipralambhena sambhogah pushţim aśnute” (22). During love, if there is no separation, love-in-union does not acquire proper nourishment. Hence for excellence and strong effect in Sambhoga, Vipralambha has been elucidated as an essential phenomenon in human life.

In the context of sending message by the banished Yaksha separated from his beloved wife, Poet Kālidāsa in his famous gītikāvya Meghadūta says :  

“Snehānāhuh kimapi virahe dhvamsinaste tvabhogād /
Ishţe vastunyupachita-rasāh prema-rāśībhavanti // ” (23). 

[Some opine that anyhow
during the gap of separation,
affections slowly deteriorate.
But the real thing is that
due to lack of enjoyment,
relish of affections becomes enhanced,
and the affections turn into accumulated love
immensely enjoyable at the time of union.]

In the pen of Jayadeva, Rādhā is contextually described as a ‘Virahiņī Nāyikā’ and finally she enjoys union with her eternal lover Krishna. Here Krishna is presented as ‘Dhīrodātta Nāyaka’. He enjoys pleasure with several Gopī damsels. Rādhā is ‘Parakīyā Nāyikā’. She has been contextually described as Virahotkaņţhitā, Khaņđitā, Kalahāntaritā, Abhisārikā, Vāsaka-Sajjā and Svādhīna-Bharttrikā Nāyikā. In the sensuous scenario of love, Rādhā is a lovely murmuring effulgent fountain and Krishna is the vast ocean of love. Both the lives attain supreme bliss in union only. Viśvanātha Kavirāja in Chapter-III of his ‘Sāhitya-Darpaņa’ has elaborately discussed about several divisions and qualities of Nāyaka and Nāyikā (24).

Rādhā in an inner sense is deemed as Individual Self (Jīvātmā) and Krishna as the Supreme Self (Paramātmā). The external design of eroticism gives an internal meaning of philosophical phenomenon. Rādhā is considered as ‘Prakriti’ (Primordial Matter), while Krishna is regarded as ‘Purusha’ (Supreme Being). Union of Jīvātmā with Paramātmā, or of Prakriti with Purusha is understood here.

Poet Jayadeva clearly indicates the main theme of amorous pleasures of Śrī (Rādhā) and Vāsudeva (Krishna) in the verse : 

Etam karoti Jayadeva-kavih prabandham // ” (GG. I/2 ). 

[Poet Jayadeva is composing
this literary work with the stories
of erotic dalliances
done by Rādhā and Krishna.]

In Sanskrit literature, ‘prabandha’ is a general term for kāvya or gīta or literary composition. Gīta-Govinda is not simply the descriptive work of erotic pleasure of Rādhā-Krishna. Here in inner perspective, humanistic, philosophical and spiritual or theistic trends of life are also observed.

Traditionally several verses of Gīta-Govinda are melodiously sung in the temple of Lord Jagannātha. In almost all the cantos of Gīta-Govinda, for Lord Krishna, the poet has befittingly used the word “Mādhava” which means Lakshmī’s husband. (‘Mā’ means ‘Goddess Lakshmī’ and ‘Dhava’ means ‘Husband’). Further, the poet has portrayed Krishna as the source of all the ten incarnations of God in some other context :

“Vedānuddharate jaganti vahate bhūgolamudvibhrate,
Daityam dārayate Balim chhalayate kshatra-kshayam kurvate /
Paulastyam jayate halam kalayate kāruņyamātanvate,
Mlechchhān mūrchchhayate daśākriti-krite Krishņāya tubhyam namah //”
(GG. I/5).  

[My salutations to Thyself, Krishna, the Supreme Lord,
having ten types of bodily form as incarnations;
The Lord, who protected Vedas, the Divine Wisdom,
in the incarnation of Fish;
Who bore all the worlds in the incarnation of Turtle;
Who lifted up the circle of earth in the incarnation of Boar;
Who tore up the demon Hiraņyakaśipu
in the incarnation of Man-Lion;
Who deceived King Bali in the incarnation of Dwarf;
Who destroyed the Kshatriyas
in the incarnation of Paraśurāma;
Who conquered Rāvaņa in the incarnation of Rāma;
Who held plough in the incarnation of Balarāma;
Who spread compassion in the incarnation of Buddha;
and Who makes the Mlechchhas faint in the incarnation of Kalki.]

In this context, it may be remembered that Sage Vyāsa, the author of Bhāgavata-Mahāpurāņa, describes Krishna as the Almighty Supreme Being (‘Krishņastu Bhagavān Svayam’ – 1/3/28). Poet Jayadeva most probably follows the sense of Bhāgavata in eulogizing the greatness of the Supreme God.

In another place of Gīta-Govinda, Krishna playing in spring and embraced by beautiful Gopī damsels has been delineated as the Embodiment of ‘Śrińgāra’ Rasa. The verse is :  

“Svachchhandam vraja-sundarībhirabhitah pratyańgamālińgitah,
Śrińgārah Sakhi ! mūrttimāniva madhau mugdho Harih krīđati // ” (GG. I /11).  

[In every limbs, in front, freely embraced
by the beautiful maidens of Gopapura,
O Dear Friend !
during the sweet season of spring
plays sportively, the enchanted Hari,
Himself as if embodiment of Eros.]  

So Bhakti (Devotion) and Rati (Erotic Pleasure), both are beauteously blended in the inner sense of spiritual and philosophical speculations in this gīti-kāvya. Regarding own composition, the poet himself has rightly said :

“Yadi Hari-smaraņe sarasam mano,
Yadi vilāsa-kalāsu kutūhalam /
Śriņu tadā Jayadeva-Sarasvatīm //” (GG. I/3).  

[If your mind is fraught with sentiment
in remembering Lord Hari,
if you have any curiosity
in the arts of joyful dalliance,
then listen to Jayadeva’s writing literary,
that contains the words sweet, delicate and lovely.]

Thus a marvellous and sweet admixture of both Devotion-to-God and Relish of Erotic pleasure is maintained in the melodious work of Jayadeva.


Open description of erotic activities is generally not appreciated by the readers. In epical tradition as it is observed, great poet like Vyāsa in Mahābhārata (25) has distinctly inserted the erotic depiction into the pathetic context in such a manner that one can really experience the significance of both the sentiments simultaneously without any hesitation. Poets like Kālidāsa, Śrīharsha, Bilhaņa, Bhartrihari and Amaru have unhesitatingly described some open portrayals of erotic sentiments contextually. But the case of gīti-kāvya Gita-Govinda is quite different. It is purely an erotic love-poetry. Poet Jayadeva has clearly mentioned the purpose of his book, that is the “Rati-keli-kathā” of Rādhā and Krishna. So there is nothing to criticize against the elaboration of nude erotic pleasure poetized by the devotee Jayadeva.

Human life attains success with four achievements (purushārtha) that are Dharma, Artha, Kāma and Moksha. Love emerges from pleasure and a pure Sāttvika thinking emanates from love. Pure thinking paves the way for attainment of God. Complete submission of Self in the Supreme Being is the salvation. Rādhā has accomplished Kāma, the mundane enjoyment. Both Rādhā and Krishna have unveiled the passionate feelings of their hearts in the context of love elaborated in Gīta-Govinda. Relish of Rasa is regarded as equal to Brahmānanda. In this connection, the poetic delicacy of Jayadeva is remarkable indeed. His lovely words expressing sentiments of love are sweeter than all other sweet things such as madhuka-liquor, sugar, grape, nectar, milk, ripe mango and the lovely lips of beloved maiden also. Really significant is the following verse in praise of his composition:

“Sādhvī Mādhvīka ! chintā na bhavati bhavatah Śarkare ! karkarāsi,
Drākshe ! drakshyanti ke tvām Amrita ! mritamasi Kshīra ! nīram rasaste /
Mākanda ! kranda Kāntādhara ! dharaņi-talam gachchha yachchhanti yāvad,
Bhāvam śrińgāra-sārasvatamiha Jayadevasya vishvag vachāmsi //” (GG. XII /13).  

[O Liquor of Madhuka !
No noble thought arises for you.
O Sugar ! You’re very unsavoury really.
O Grape ! Who will behold you ?
O Nectar ! You’re gone dead.
O Milk ! Your essence is mere water.
You weep, O Ripe Mango !
O Lips of Beloved Lady !
Down to the nether region you go,
as long as the sweet words of Jayadeva
in this world on all sides offer
emotional feelings of erotic expression.] 

From the above discussions, it may be ascertained that Gīta-Govinda of Poet Jayadeva forms a glorious, magnificent and unparalleled literary asset of overflowing love in the sphere of Sanskrit literature. For its own epical, lyrical and aesthetic attributes as well as universal appeal, with heartiest endearments it will remain ever-remembered as a sweetest, excellent and eternal composition for all the lovers of literature all over the world. Popularity of this kāvya has been enhanced through several translations of writers from different countries even in the present day of modernity.
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(1) ‘Anuprāsah śabda-sāmyam vaishamye’pi svarasya yat’. (Sāhitya-Darpaņa, 10/3).
(2) ‘Satyarthe prithagarthāyāh svara-vyañjana-samhateh /
      Krameņa tenaivāvrittir Yamakam vinigadyate //’ (SD, 10/8).
(3) ‘Sāmyam vāchyam avairdharmyam vākyaikya Upamā dvayoh’ (SD, 10/14).
(4) ‘Rūpakam rūpitāropo vishaye nirapahnave’ (SD, 10/28).
(5) ‘Bhavet sambhāvanotprekshā prakritasya parātmanā’ (SD, 10/40).
(6) ‘Hetor vākya-padārthatve Kāvyalińgam nigadyate’ (SD, 10/63).
(7) ‘Yadyeta evālankarāh paraspara-vimiśritāh /
      Tadā prithagalańkārau Samsrishţih Sańkarastathā //‘ (SD. 10/97-98).
(8) For Guņa and Rīti, See ‘Sāhitya-Darpaņa’ (Chapter VIII & IX).
(9) For details of Chhandas, See ‘ChhandoMañjarī’.
(10) A History of Sanskrit Literature (Keith), page-191.
(11) ‘Concept of Giti and Mātrigītikāñjali-Kāvya’
        (Article by Prof. Abhiraja Rajendra Mishra).  

        Ref: http://hkmeher.blogspot.com/2008/05/concept-of-gti-and-mtrigtikjali-kvya.html
(12) ‘Ślishţaih padair anekārthābhidhāne Ślesha ishyate’ (SD, 10/11).
(13) ‘Jasau jasa-yalā vasu-graha-yatiścha Prithvī guruh’ (ChhandoMañjarī).
(14) ‘Upendravajrā jatajāstato gau.’ (VrittaRatnakara);
       ‘Upendravajrā prathame laghau sā.’ (ChhandoM).
(15) ‘Ādhikyam upameyasyopamānān nyūnatāthavā, Vyatirekah.’ (SD, 10/52).
(16) ‘Ayuji nayuga-rephato ya-kāro,
        Yuji cha najau jaragāścha Pushpitāgrā’. (ChhandoM).
(17) ‘Sūryāśvair masajas-tatāh saguravah śārdūla-vikrīđitam.’ (ChhandoM).
(18) ‘Rasai rudraiśchhinnā yamanasabhalā gah Śikhariņī.’ (ChhandoM).
(19) SāhityaDarpaņa (Chapter, 3/2).
(20) Nāţya-Śāstra (ChapterVI)
(21) Sāhitya-Darpaņa (3/ 140-141)
(22) Sāhitya-Darpaņa (Chapter 3/213, Vritti)
(23) Meghadūta (UttaraMegha), Verse- 118.
(24) Sāhitya-Darpaņa: Nāyaka (Chap. 3/30 -38) and Nāyikā (3/56 -126).
(25) ‘Ayam sa rasanotkarshī pīna-stana-vimardanah /
        Nabhyuru-jaghana-sparśī nīvī-visramsanah karah //’
         (Mahābhārata, Strī-Parva, 24/19). 

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1. Gīta-Govinda-Kāvyam (Mahākavi-Jayadeva-Virachitam)
    Edited By : Pandit Kedarnath Sharma.
    Chowkhamba Sanskrit Series Office, Varanasi, 1968.

2. The Gīta-Govinda of Jayadeva
    (Love Song of the Dark Lord),
    Editor and Translator : Barbara Stoler Miller.
    Motilal Banarsidass, New Delhi, 1984.

3. Kavi-Jayadeva-krita Gīta-Govinda
    (With Oriya Translation of Dharanidhara).
    Dharma Grantha Store, Cuttack.

4. Sri Gita-Govinda by Kaviraj Sri Jayadeva.
    Edited by : Pandit Neelamani Mishra,
    Grantha Mandir, Cuttack-2, Orissa, 1995.

5. Sri-Jayadeba-kruta Gīta-Govinda
    Oriya Translation & Edited By : Susil Kumar Das,
    Avahana Communications, Lingaraj Vihar,
    Pokhariput, Bhubaneswar-751020, Orissa, 2010

6. Sāhitya-Darpaņa of Viśvanātha Kavirāja,
    Edited By : Śālagrāma Śāstri.
    Motilal Banarsidass, New Delhi, 1977.

7. Sanskrit Sāhitya Kā Itihās,
    By : Āchārya Baladeva Upādhyāya.
    Sāradā Niketan, Varanasi, 1990.

8. A History of Sanskrit Literature,
    By : A. B. Keith.
    Oxford University Press, London, 1966.

9. The Meghadūta of Kālidāsa.
    Edited By : M.R. Kale.
    Motilal Banarsidass, New Delhi, 1991.

10. Chhandomañjarī of Gańgādāsa.
      Edited By : B.Tripathi.
      Chowkhamba Surbharati Prakashan, Varanasi, 1990.

11. Contribution of Orissa to Sanskrit Literature (Vol.-I ).
      By : R Panda and G.C. Nanda.
      Prachya Bharati Publications, Bhubaneswar, 1994.  

12. Philosophical Reflections in the Naisadhacarita
      By : Dr. Harekrishna Meher,
      Punthi Pustak, Bidhan Sarani, Calcutta, 1989.

13. Mātrigītikāñjalih (Modern Sanskrit Gitikavya)
      By : Dr. Harekrishna Meher,
      Kalahandi Lekhak Kala Parishad, Bhawanipatna, Orissa, 1997.

14. Souvenir of Jayadeva Utsav-2008,
      Odissi Akademi, New Delhi, 2008.

15. Śrīmad-Bhāgavata-Mahāpurāņa
      Gita Press, Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh. 1971.

16. Natyashastra of Bharata Muni
      Vidya Vilas Press, Varanasi, 1929.

17. Gīta-Govinda of Jayadeva
      English Translation By: Dr. Harekrishna Meher. (Unpublished)
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* Reader and Head, Department of Sanskrit,
   Government Autonomous College (CPE),
   Bhawanipatna-766001, Orissa [India]  

   e-mail : meher.hk@gmail.com  
   website : http://hkmeher.blogspot.com/

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Ref : ‘LOKARATNA’ (E-Journal) Volume-3, 2010.

'A Critical Analysis of Poet Jayadeva's Gita-Govinda' 
Research Article by: Dr. Harekrishna Meher 
Link:  http://www.indianfolklore.org/journals/index.php/Lok/search/authors/view?firstName=Dr.%20Harekrishna&middleName=&lastName=Meher&affiliation=&country
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(Copyright Reserved By the Author Dr. Harekrishna Meher) 
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