Gita Govinda

An outline.. Magic of sounds

Sujatha R
20 min readApr 30, 2021

“If remembering Hari enriches your heart..
If his pastimes amuse you..
Listen to the Saraswati of Jayadeva,
in the soft words of his songs”

यदि हरिस्मरणे सरसं मनो यदि विलासकलासु कुतूहलम्
शृणु तदा जयदेवसरस्वतीम्

An opening verse from Gita Govindam, with Jayadeva inviting his audience. A few years back, I attended the spoken Sanskrit workshop, and the teacher had talked about it in an enchanting manner. And here I am listening, and writing about it.

Jayadeva was a poet from Orissa in the 12th century. Some believe that he is from Bengal. While he composed these couplets on the pastimes of Radha and Krishna, his loving wife Padmavathi danced to the verses in the Poori Jagannath temple. Each astapadi was a set of 8 verses and the collection of 24 astapadis was called Gita Govinda, the song of the Lord.

I was inspired by this playlist by Ramesh Krishnakumar. Both Hindustani and Kerala style rendition, and weaved with lyrics, meanings, and great visuals. Another playlist rendered in the enchanting Kerala style.

What to expect in this post? The amazing history of its time travel, the magic of the sounds, some vocabulary analysis, passages on beauty of Brindavan, the rasa leela tattva, and meaning of some of the verses.

The theme of Gita Govinda

A story of immense love, separation, and union. Though the story slowly builds up, it seemed that every astapadi had these kind of elements.

*The serene woods of Brindavan by the banks of Yamuna.. brindavana vipine.. yamuna teere. The magic of Spring is in the air.. sarasa vasantam. The intimacy between trees, flowers, bowers, cottages, crawling vines, cuckoos and the hovering bees.

*The young gopi vadhus are swayed by the charming looks of Hari.. mohana madhu roopam. Manmatha is busy striking the arrows of love. Radha is getting jealous and cannot bear the separation.. tava virahe keshava

*Krishna too is pining for Radha. A sakhi helps in the exchange of messages. And the song of patch-up and union of Radha and Krishna.

*The divine pastimes engraved in the heart of the hermits. muni jana maanasa.. hari charana smaranam.. Jaya jagadisha hare..

*Natha Hare.. Jagan natha hare.. The poet Jayadeva revels singing the mysterious play of the Lord.. muditam.. mangala ujjwala geetam.. keshava kheli rahasyam..

Test of Time Travel

What makes a piece of literature stand the test of time?

There was such beauty, simplicity, and charm in the words. Gita Govindam had its influence pan India. In Kerala, it had inspired the mohini attam dance form and the sopana sangeetham style. Rana Kumbha who had built the famed fort of Kumbhalgarh, had written a commentary on Gita Govinda which had influenced the Rajput paintings that we see today. some of the hymns became part of the Sikh holy scripture, the Sri Guru Granth Sahib. And apart from influencing Pahari paintings, Manipuri dance, it had influenced the Chaitanya Vaishnava moment in Bengal, and is chanted in the Poori Jagannatha temple.

Tyagaraja Swami was elated after hearing chandana charchita, and then he composed Endharo Mahanubhavulu. Gita Govindam was also translated into German in the 1800s. Tagore was inspired by Gita Govinda and we can see the parallels of soft sounds and vocabulary. And songs like Priye Charusheele , Radhika Krishna tava virahe were adopted in Telugu movies. Such was the spread of this work.

Stamp series on Jayadeva

Raasa Leela?

The verses could mean a different thing. There is usually great meaning in our puranas. Is there a deeper meaning? Outwardly, the lyrics seem of unwavering love and passion.

Though we put up with so many acts, somewhere within, there is a seeking of bliss. May be that is Radha? In every kind of deep emotion, we experience the surreal feeling of our existence. May be that’s Radha?

Bheeshma’s unwavering surrender to Krishna in his last words. The devotion of the likes of Meera bhai, Kabir, Tyagaraja. Union of human with the divine. May be that's Radha?

Krishna’s sweet music and the mandalas of gopikas swaying in ecstasy.. The silent music of the Universe.. May be that’s the raasa leela?

The cosmic dance of the planets and their moons around the Sun in our solar system saura mandala.. the electrons spinning around the nucleus.. the floral petal arrangement in concentric rings.. the sprouting of leaves in a circular fashion. May be that’s the raasa leela?

The attention that we seek.. The unseen arrows of wit, charm, passion, and love.. Not just when Cupid strikes.. May be that’s the raasa leela?

Manmatha-Kaamadeva paradigm

There is a liberal reference to Manmatha in Gita Govinda.

In the words of Gita, “desire” is the root cause of every action.. The cycle of procreation is “dharma aviruddha kaama”.

Shiva was disturbed in his deep state of meditation by the arrows of Cupid, and burns him to ashes with his fury. Desire itself was vanished from the world. But then, he unites with Parvati, and forgives manmatha. And hence manmatha remains invisible and unseen to everyone in the world busy sowing seeds of desire and procreation.

In Saundarya Lahari, it is described that manmatha’s minister is the season Spring.. His ammunition is the bow and arrows made with flowers and bees.. And the delicate mountain Wind malaya sameera is his chariot.

The words “manmatha”, “kaama deva”, “rathi” relate to “desire” and “enjoying”. Manmatha is also called “an-anga” as he is invisible and silently does his job of spreading desire in the world. Radha is burning in “kaama dahana”. Even the mere sight of mango buds torments her like Manmatha’s arrows “shara jaala”.

Jayadeva’s poetic imagination uses quite a bit of allegory of this kind. The quiver cup of flowers.. the arrows and nails of petals..

On a more philosophical note.. bhakthi is like kaama or iccha in the higher plane. While Kaama pulls us to the outer world, surrender bhakthi and inquiry pulls us to the inner world.

Viraha Vedana

Be it Sita Devi in Sundara Kanda or Yaksha Patni of Meghadootha or Radha of Gita Govinda.. When separated, there are pangs of Viraha Vedana.

Seedathi Radha vaasa gruhe.. Radha starts lamenting in the kitchen.. In Sundarakandam, Sita has the seedathi moment, and in Bhagavad Gita, Arjuna too experiences, and his mighty Gandeeva slips from his hand when he realises the enormity of the fight.

Radhika too faces the torment of tapana, dahana in the fire of viraha. Things that she once enjoyed no longer seem desirable. Nindati chandana.. indu vadana.. Radha curses the cool chandana and the magical moonlight that once comforted her. She grows lean and frail..krisha. Even her favorite ornament seems too heavy to bear.

Radha goes hysterical and starts laughing crying lamenting hasathi, rodati, vilapati. She does not care about her lajja and even feels like ending her life.

Realm of magical Sounds

I wondered why it felt so enchanting after listening to a few astapadis. Why did it sound so different from the usual Sanskrit of the mantras and the shlokas, and the Sanskrit of Kalidasa and Shankaracharya?

The Sanskrit shlokas are usually full with mixed consonants making the pronunciation a little difficult. It felt like Gita Govinda was not a bit hard on the tongue and the ear. It felt like the absence of mixed consonants. Absence of higher vowels and forceful sounds. Absence of the tongue rolling back in retroflexes. I conducted a little experiment making an alphabetical listing of the words from Gita Govindam. And I was kind of right and surprised.

In the opening verses, he invites his audience.. He is the master expert in weaving context and beauty, sandharba and shuddhim of the vaak and geervaani, meaning जयदेवः एव गिरां सन्दर्भशुद्धिम् जानीते

Words absent with these beginnings.
No words beginning with higher vowels ‘ai’, ‘au’,
Retroflexes absent - ‘’, ‘h’, ‘’, ‘h',
Some forceful sounds absent 'jha', 'tha', 'dha'
Word distribution
150 words beginning with ‘ka’ vs 10 words with ‘kha’
50 words beginning with ‘ga’ vs 5 with ‘gha’
50 ‘ca’ vs 3 ‘cha’, 50 ‘ja’
50 ‘ta’, 75 ‘da’, 100 ‘na’
150 ‘pa’, 20 ‘ba’, 40 ‘bha’, 120 ‘ma’
20 ‘ya’, 70 ‘ra’, 10 ‘la’, 200 ‘va’
235 including 3 types of ‘sa’, 30 ‘ha’

This was just a small glance of word beginnings and does not included analysis of in-between sounds. A great play on the realms of sounds and not just at a meaning level. Sitting on the pinnacle of devotion, the sweet waters of Saraswati was pouring out of Jayadeva.

The force of Sounds originates from different points in our spine. Think of Veena and the variable position of the sliding fingers.

The pa , ya and sha series of aksharas are from the lower centres of our spine. The na and ma words brings a resonating feel in the head.

Poets like Shankaracharya and Kalidasa have used the la sounds for oozing out rasas and emotions. lalitha lavanga, lubda. A lot more can be examined in this field with a lens of linguistics and sounds.

In words having double sound or a nasal stop like ujjwala, lajjita, pallava, chumbita, nitimba, nikunja, chanchala.. it seems like the extra musical gamaka jankaar or pull of the string of our internal Veena.

Some of the words are in distorted Sanskrit making it sound easy and casual. ‘keshi’ for keshava, pashyati ‘dishi dishi’.. searching here and there.. ‘Nishi Nishi’ dark nights. And the context being poetic, it seems to me, there is an absence of formal sentence completion. This brings in some simplicity

Alright, let’s dive into the woods of Brundavan and enjoy the divine song of raasa lila.

Gita Govindam Opening Verses

Typically, a song in that era began with an invocation. Unlike the orthodox style of his times, Jayadeva puts the context itself as invocation and takes the holy names of Radha, Madhava and Nanda. In the second invocation, he cleverly places the name of his wife Padmavati, whom he treated as a part of their combined devotion.

The entire Gita Govinda song is a one-evening stance of the events. Nanda instructed Rādha, both Rādha and Mādhava are on the go homeward, and then the happenings.. are transcendentally exquisite.

“Clouds thicken the sky.
Tamála trees darken the forest.
The night frightens him.
Rádhá you take him home.”
They leave at Nanda’s order,
Passing trees in thickets on the way.
Until secret passions of Rádhá and Mádhava
Triumph on the Jumna riverbank.”

मेघैः मेदुरम् अंबरम् वन भुवः श्यामाः तमाल द्रुमैः नक्तम्
भीरुः अयम् त्वम् एव तत् इमम् राधे गृहम् प्रापय इत्थम् नन्द निदेशितः
चलितयोः प्रति अध्व कुंज द्रुमम् राधा माधवयोः जयन्ति यमुना कूले रहः केलयः

Radha hugging a tamala tree(bay leaf)

“Jayadeva, wandering king of bards
who sings at Padmavati’s lotus feet,
was obsessed in his heart by rhythms
of the goddess of speech.
And he made this lyrical poem from tales
of the passionate play
when Krishna loved Sri Radha”

वाक् देवता चरित चित्रित चित्त सद्मा पद्मावती चरण — चारण
चक्रवर्ती श्री वासुदेव रति केलि कथा समेतम् एतम् करोति जयदेव कविः प्रबन्धम्

1. Pralaya Payodhi Jale

The first astapadi is a short invocation on the 10 avataaras of the Lord. jaya jagadisa hare .. jaya jagadisa hare.. It seems Jayadeva himself is rocking the cradle.

In the turbulent waters of deluge.. pralaya-payodhi-jale, dhruta vanasi vedam.. he protected the vedas.

2. shrita kamala kuca mandala

A short invocation to Vishnu, Krishna, Rama describing the charming looks and acts of valor.
jaya jaya deva hare.. jaya jaya deva hare..

He resides in the heart of Lakshmi Devi.. shrita kamala kuca mandala

GG audio 1, GG audio 2, Sanskrit word meanings

The raasa leela and the stories of Radha and Krishna begin from here.

3. lalitha lavanga: Spring at Brindavan

A beautiful description of Brindavan in Spring. English Translation slightly adapted from Barbara Miller.

In the woods of Brindavan by the river Yamuna. The malaya winds caresses the fragrant lavanga clove.., the creeper twines on the Mango tree.. montages of bowers, vines, cottages, bees and flowers.. exuding the fragrance of the Tamala leaves (Bay leaf).. golden stamens of Kesar.. Manmatha in action.. quivers of flower cups.. arrows like petals..

GG Audio 3, Sanskrit word meanings

Poor Radha is desperately looking out for Krishna. A friend comes running to her and paints a picture of Brindavan.

Oh Radha..

lalita lavanga latA .. pariSeelana.. kOmala malaya sameerE
Quivering vines of lavanga.. caressed by.. the gentle mountain breeze

madhukara nikara .. karambita kOkila koojita.. kunja kuTeerE
The droning bees.. the crying cuckoos.. resound in the forest huts

viharati haririha .. sarasa vasantE.. nrutyati yuvati janEna samam
And Hari dwells here.. in the bliss of spring.. dancing with young women (repeats)

sakhi ..virahi janasya durantE
Oh friend.. a cruel time for deserted lovers..

unmada manOratha.. vadhoojana.. janita vilApE
The young women are whining in fantasy..

The Bees swarm over flower clusters to fill the bakula branches.. alikula samkula.. kusuma samuha. The tamala tree (bay leaf) fresh leaves absorb strong scents of the musk deer mruga mada sourabha. The youthful hearts are torn apart by the mental arrows like the petals of the flaming red kimshuka flowers.

The gleaming kesara flower pistils are like golden scepters of Love kanaka danDa. Trumpet flowers paatala are like arrows in Love’s quiver. Tender buds of Karuna bloom into laughter seeing modesty abandoned vigaLita lajjita jagad..avalOkana taruNa karuNa.. krutahAsE.

Sharp blades of ‘Ketaka’ flowers are like Manmatha’s weapons shearing hearts of the maids in love. Scents of twining creepers mingle with perfumes of Madhavika, Malati and jasmine flowers. Intimate bonds bewilder even the hermit hearts. Budding mango trees tremble from the embrace of rising vines of atimukta. Brindavan forest is sanctified by the meandering Yamuna river and yearners get Moksha here.

Jayadeva revels in hari charaNa smruti sAram.. a beautiful Vana varnana in the vasanta samaya and the madana vikaara in the young minds.

What a blissful description through the poetic lens of Jayadeva.. We hardly think of cloves, bay leaves, and kesar beyond our kitchens. How deftly he places the spices and the alchemy with the wind and perfume. Some of the trees and plants reminded me of my neighborhood in Bangalore.

lavanga cloves, kesar saffron with golden septres, tamala bay leaf with musk deer smell
flamy red kimshuka like nails — paatala trumpet flowers looking like quiver — bowers
bakula, ketaki flowerwith arrow like petals, mango buds

4. chandana charchita

Dushyant Sridhar, in one of his talks gives this beautiful Illustration. There were 5 lakh women in Brindavan young old everyone loved Krishna and he gives his word that everyone could experience him one or the other time.

The Uncle of the house is having his lunch. He requests aunty for more Dal. Aunty gets in to the kitchen and suddenly gets drowned in the beautiful music flowing in.. And she is boiling milk for her little Krishna instead of getting dal for Uncle.. It was her turn that day.

Radha’s friend continues with her narrative and describes the act of each gopika as though to kindle the already burning Radha. All the maids of Vrndavana seem to be enjoying Krishna’s company except for the poor forlorn Radha.

chandana charchita .. neela kalebara.. peeta vasana.. vanamaali
Smeared with sandal paste on his bluish body, he is wearing a yellow silk robe and garland of vanamaali.

hari iha mugdha vadhoo nikare.. vilaasini vilasati keelipare..
Hari revels with the charming vadhus.. this is his play khel (repeats)

One gopi with a heavy bosom peenapayOdhara, her heart is throbbing for him, another gopi vadhoo is singing a high pitch panchama rAgam. Another mugdha vadhoo is rolling her eyes on him vilOla, and meditating on his lotus face vadana sarOjam. A gopi with curved hips nitambavatee bending to hear Sruti and gets excited pulakita touching his cheek.

In the banks of Yamuna yamuna jala koole.. under the bower kunja, another girl pulls his girdle kanchi daama. Another gopi claps her hands to the beats karatala taala..and her bangles valayam dances to the music of vamshi. Hari praises a gopi dancing to his flute’s tone. He hugs one, kisses another, is delighted with another. Slishyati chumbati ramayati

GG Audio 4

5. Sanchara adhara sudha

Poets have opined that.. “Among Gods, Rama tops in his looks and among Goddesses, it is Lalitha Devi.. But Krishna has got the looks of both Rama and Lalita Devi, making him charmingly irresistible.”

While Hari roamed in the forests enjoying raasa-leela with the gopi vadhus, Radha’s envy drove her away. But anywhere she tried to retreat, the wild vines and the buzzing bees depressed her. She opens up to her friend.

From his swirling lips.. sprout the sweet notes.. into his alluring flute
sancharad-adhara sudha..
madhura dhvani mukharita..
mOhana vamSam

The rasa of Hari’s divine play.. my mind recalls.. playing, laughing, mocking me (repeats)
rAsE.. harimiha.. vihita vilAsam
smarati manO mama.. kruta parihAsam

His swaying eye glances.. his rocking crown.. his dangling ear rings rubbing his cheeks
chalita druganchala
chanchala mouLi
kapOla vilOla.. vatamsam

A moon like crown circling the.. peacock plume.. on his hair.
Like a rainbow, he appears in his fine cloth amidst the clouds
(peacocks and clouds remind of krishna)
chandraka chAru.. mayoora Sikhan..kesham
dhanu.. suvesham

Young and round hipped gopa vadhus desire his kiss
Tender sweet lips.. like new born leaves.. flashing smiles
gOpa kadamba nitambavatee.. mukha chumbana .. lObham
madhura adhara.. pallava kalita.. dara smita SObham

Vines of his throbbing arms circle a thousand gopis..
Of his hands and feet. the studded jewels..break the dark night.
pulaka bhuja.. pallava.. valayita.. yuvatee sahasram
maNigaNa bhushaNa kiraNa

His forehead lalaatam is adorned with chandana bindu
Heavy laden bosom girls.. are in rapture.. Alas He has no heart for me
peena payOdhara.. parisara mardana.. nirdaya hrudaya

Makara kundala earrings adorn his sublime cheeks
His yellow robe peeta vasana is admired by muni, manuja, sura, asura alike.

Meeting me under the kadamba tree, he calms my fear of the Kali Yuga.
I am unable to stop thinking of him..
kali kalusha samaya antham

Standing under kadamba tree. Round kadamba fruits upon up like spikes on rain.

GG5 Audio 5

6. sakhi he.. keshi madanam udaaram

Rama is known for his gunas but Krishna for his mischief and pranks. Yet, Radha loves Krishna for whatever he is.

Radha recalls a blissful evening they spent together and begs her friend to make those magical times with Krishna come back.

Lonely forest hut.. I reach..where he secretly waits in the night
nibhruta nikunja gruham gata yA.. niSi ..rahasi nileeya vasantam

My trembling eyes.. search for him.. as he laughs
chakita vilOkita.. sakala diSa rati.. rabhasa bharENa.. hasantam

sakhee hE.. kESi madhana mudAram
O friend.. Keshava’s love is immense

In our first meeting.. bashfully.. he flatters with his sweet talk
prathama samAgama.. lajjitayA.. paTu chATu

With his sweet smile.. he was glowing
mrudu madhura smita.. bhAshitayA

GG Audio 6

Bewildered Krishna

7. maam iyam chalita

Oh Oh.. It is revealed in this astapadi that Radha had first seen Krishna with other gopikas, and had stormed away in anger. And the friend was merely making up these stories to tease the poor Radha.

The camera now zooms on the lovelorn Krishna. “Oh No, what should I do? How do I make up? Her eyebrows may be twitching in anger. I was afraid and didn’t even stop her when she stormed away! I will never repeat this mistake. She is always in my heart..”

She saw me surrounded in the crowd of women,
and stormed away..
maam iyam chalita.. vilokya vrutham vadhoo..

I was too ashamed
Too afraid to stop her
Damn me ! My wanton ways
Made her leave in anger

hari hari harAtadaratayA
sA gata kupitEva

What will she do, what will she say to me
for deserting her this long?
I have little use of wealth or people
or my life or my home..
kim karishyati.. kim vadishyati.. saa chiram.. virahEna
kim dhanEna.. janEna kim.. mama jeevitEna.. gruhENa

I see angry face and her curvy eye brows
like a pair of bees hovering on a red lotus
kuTila bhru.. kOpa.. SOna padma.. brahmara

I know you are You are saddened
khinna masuyayA

You haunt me appearing and disappearing
druSyasE.. puratO ..gatAgata mEva

Forgive me now
I wont do this again
Give me a vision Dehi Sundari
kshamyatAm aparam.. edruSam ..nakarOmi
dEhi sundari.. darSanam mama ..manmadhEna

Jayadeva signs off in this verse stating he is born in ‘Bindu Bilva’ lineage and made his lineage glorious like the moon that brightens the star-lit sky. Krishna the star of Rohina and his love for Radha.

Krishna says did Manmatha mistake him for Shiva?

Lotus stalks garland my heart,
Not a necklace of snakes !
Blue lily petals circle my neck,
Not a streak of poison!
Sandalwood powder, not ash,
is smeared on my lovelorn body!
Manmatha, don’t attack, mistaking me for Shiva!
Why do you rush at me in rage?

Her brow is his bow
Her glances are arrows
Her earlobe is the bowstring.

Languishing Radha

8. Nindati chandanam.. indu vadanaam

When in separation from a lover.. when in viraha vedana, even the pleasant things of life seem miserable. This is one of the stages in viraha. Be it Sita in Lanka or the Yaksha patni of Megha dootha or in modern days, somethings don't change.

In a clump of reeds on the Yamuna riverbank where Madhava waited helplessly, Radhika’s friend spoke to him.

nindati chandanam.. indu kiraNam..
She slanders the sandal balm and the moonbeams.

saa virahe.. tava deenaa..
She clings to you Madhava

She evokes you in deep meditation.
She laments, laughs, collapses, cries, trembles
dhyAna layEna
vilapati hasati visheedati rOditi chamchati munchati tApam

Forlorn Radha

9. Radhikaa krishna radhika.. tava virahe keshava

The friend further describes to Krishna.. Radhika is pining in love for you.

An excuisite garland on her chest
is a burden to this frail waisted girl

stana vinihita mapi.. hAra.. mudAram
kruSa tanuriva.. bhAram

Krishna, Radhika suffers in your desertation
rAdhikA krishNa rAdhikA
rAdhikA tava virahE kESavA (repeats)

Her own breath seems like Manmatha’s fire. Svasita pavana.. madana dahana. Her tearful eyes are gazing for you in every direction disi disi kirati. Her eyes seem like lotuses cut off from the stalk. nayana naLina miva.. vigaLita nALam

She does not seem to stop pressing her palms against her cheeks. tyajati an.. pANi talEna.. kapOlam. She is chanting Hari Hari in your viraha. haririti haririti japati sa kAmam

Furlorn Krishna

11. Dheera sameere.. yamuna teere

The sakhi informs Radha. “Madhava waits for you. He meditates on you without sleeping. Do not wait for any further and go to the banks of Yamuna.”

rati sukha sArE
gatamabhi sArE
madana manOhara vESam

He ventures in secret to savor your passion, charmingly dressed

nakuru nitambini gamana vilambana

Radha, dont let your hips idle, follow the lord of your heart.

dheera sameerE
vasati vanE vanamAlee

In the woods on the wind swept Yamuna bank,
Krishna waits in wildflower garlands

He plays your name to call you on his flute. nAmasamEtam.. kruta sankEtam.. vAdayatE mrudu vENum. He cherishes the pollen that touches your body. Seeing a feather fall or a leaf stir, he imagines you are coming.. patati patatrE vichalati patrE.
Leave your noisy anklets tyaja manjeeram. Goto the woods my friend and hide in the dark cloak. chala sakhi kunjam.. neela nichOLam

Languishing Radha

12. Pashyathi dishi dishi

Radha’s sakhi goes back to Krishna and tells him that Radha is in a similar state and burning in the fire of separation.

pashyati dishi dishi.. rahasi bhavantam
Radha is looking all around for you.

naadha hare.. jagannaatha hare..
seedati raadhaa.. vaasa gruhee..
Oh lord of the world, Oh Hari.. She is very sad in her cottage (repeats)

13. Yaami he kamiha sharanam

While the moon rose, Lonely Radha cried her pain aloud.. What is the point of my youth, beauty, jewels, and the wonderful moonlit night when her Lord is not with her?

Whom can I seek for refuge here?
My friend’s advice deceives me.

yAm ihe.. kam iha.. SaraNam
sakhee jana vachana vanchitam

Just when we promised to meet, Hari avoided the woods.
The flawless beauty of my youth is barren now.
kadhita samaya api.. harir..
mama viphalam idam ..amala roopam..api yauvanam

death is better than living in a barren body
mama maraNam Eva varam ati

spring night torments my loneliness
madhura madhu yAminee

even the bangle and ornament pain me
valayAdi maNi bhushaNam

garlands are hurting me like Love’s arrow
kusuma sukumAra hanti

I wait here .. among countless forest reeds
aham iha hi nivasAmi.. na vigaNita vEtasA (reeds)

Languishing Krishna

19. Priye.. Charusheele

Finally, they meet. Unwilling to settle so quickly, Radha keeps turning away her face and Krishna implore. Hari stammered his blissful words.

Krishna pleads to Radha..“Oh beautiful one.. Please Please.. Do not be angry with me like this. Show me your lotus face. Even a few words shall radiate moonlight from your teeth and dissolve my sorrow.” vadasi yadi kinchidapi.. danta ruchi kaumudee

“If you feel enraged at me Radha, Inflict arrow wounds with your sharp nails! dehi nakha ghatam.. Bind me with your arms! Bite me with your teeth! Or do whatever excites your pleasure!”

“Oh Radha, you are my jewel, my life. My heart pleads to you. tvamasi mama bhushaNam.. tvamasi mama jeevanam

“Your hibiscus blossom foot color my heart. Let me dye your feet. Place your foot on my head. A flower destroying the poison of love.. “smara garaLa khanDanam”

There is a story behind this astapadi. Apparently, Jayadeva hesitates writing the last line on the palm leaf “Place your foot on my head.” And the Lord himself has a conversation with Jayadeva’s wife Padmavati and completes this line.

Jayadeva starts praising his wife as she was so fortunate to meet the Lord whom he has been pining for. Hence the last line signs off as

jayatu padmAvati ramaNa jayadEva kavi bhAratI bhaNitam iti gItam..
Victory to Padmavati’s husband Jayadeva for this literary gem.

These were the sweet sweet words of Jayadeva. iti chaTula chATu paTu chAru vachana.

Escatic Krishna & Radha

23. kisalaya shayana

When her friend was gone
Smiles spread on Radha’s lips
Finally, there is union with the divine. Radha sametha Krishna.

Narayana is faithful now. Love me Radhika..
kshaNam adhunA nArAyaNam
anugatam anusara rAdhE

“Oh Radha, rest your lotus feet on the bed of soft leaves.”
kisalaya Sayana talE.. kuru kAmini.. charaNa naLina..

I hope you were able to get a sense of Brindavan, raasa leela and the words.. Do listen to the songs and deepen the word sense gradually. Let me know if you have any feedback. Checkout Barbara Miller’s book if you enjoyed some of the English snippets which I have used in some places. Listen to the playlist if music is your way. I have provided links for Sanskrit word to word and verse level translations.

I am writing another post on this topic. “Words of Gita Govinda” is an attempt to introduce frequent and catchy words under categories.

Next time when you feel a breeze of wind followed by the sway of the leaves and the wobble of the flowers, be ready to be swept into the magic of raasa leela.


Anvaya: (Yet to check)



Sujatha R

I write.. I weave.. I walk.. कवयामि.. वयामि.. यामि.. Musings on Music, Linguistics & Patterns