r rdha --- is a maha bhava - 'an ecstatic concept about an exquisite beauty...' and she is the cynosure of this mini-epic gita govindam or Gita Govinda of Jayadeva. This work Gita Govindam is a lyrical dance-drama, plussed with the then romantics, poetic aesthetics and what not with a theme of vipralambha sringara - anguish in separation and joy in uniting of divine couple rdha and Krishna. The poet sings to the joy of Krishna, wishing him to be always joyous togetherness of rdha, addressing him variously like Govinda, Maadhava, Hari, Keshava etc., according to the situation, and hence it is called Gita Govindam, like bhaja govindam i.e., devout yourself unto Govinda. For easy comprehension we have put all the names as Krishna. And rdha is none else than Krishna, the very fount of his lila sakti creative power. She transmutes his glory into prema ananda, the zenith of blissful happiness, in which alone he takes pleasure. This is the idea of gita govindam
That being the viewpoint of Absolute Theology, taking hold of Applied Theology our poet Jayadeva brings rdha a little closer to our nature, under the ozone sphere within this Earthly Nature that which is also crafted by that God for our habitation, to depict her romance with Krishna to our viewpoint. Hence, rdha can be construed as Queen Nature, in a way of interpretation of this mini-epic.
And that Queen Nature always longs for her togetherness with that God as she knows none else. But that God, as a knight of cosmic-roads, will never stay put with her for a long time, and if the leauge together, there will be frolicking and merrymaking to the nth, because she is his hlaadini shakti, where shakti does not translate here as power as in taantric parlance, but it means primmary agent - primary source of gods delightment. What more is required to have unseen God with seeable Mother, or Queen, or whatever - Nature. Is it not Holy?
The dancing, singing, frolicking and merrymaking of Krishna with this type of unique milkmaids is rasa lila, rasa kriDa. This dancing in a circle, a ronde dance as we call it, in itself is a particular dance, by the singing of many milkmaids to the fluting of one Krishna. This happens only in Brindavan, all- holy woodland with thickets of basil plants, conceived only for the congregation of such milkmaids for their communion with Krishna.
'As heat is to fire, as cold is to ice, as sweetness to honey so are god's qualities to himself, so is rdha to Krishna. rdha, or rdhika, is Krishna's power brought into play so that he may have a partner in his game, who may supersensuously share his love. Her love is the highest possible, and it is when identified with her as the Supreme Lover of God that the soul attains perfection. 'Just as Krishna is essentially god and beyond Nature, so too is rdha essentially god, immaculate...' naarada pancaraatra. She is the power by which god creates, herself remaining beyond what he creates through her. She remains ever immaculate even while manifesting through Nature's three 'modes' sattva, rajo, tamo, gunNa-s, or subtle elements; she cannot be bound by the laws of their interaction, for she is the source of their activity The Gospel of Narada.
On an autumnal full moon night, the gopi-s or gopika-s, or milkmaids, attracted by the flute of Krishna, went out of their homes and met him in the groves of Brindavan. He first tried to send them back, but failed. Then the raasa began on the beach of Yamuna, and when the gopika-s were besides themselves with ecstasy, Krishna suddenly disappeared from the scene. When they came to know of this, their sorrow knew no bounds. They searched for him in every grove, bewailing all the while. When they came back... he suddenly reappeared in their midst. The dance was resumed... they roamed... played... bathed in Yamuna waters... The Cultural Heritage of India, Vol. 4, The Religions The Ramakrishna Mission.
gopika-s or the milkmaids in Brindavan are not mere girlish milkmaids, but they are all saints and sages in their earlier incarnation, or the Veda-s themselves, so says the tradition. And Krishna according his proximity to each one, wants to satisfy every soul. On such an occassion of rasa lila or rasa kriDa Krishna had to deviate from rdha in this ronde dance, in order to satisfy others. rdha's femininity spews fire at Krishna. These are the opening episodes of this drama, and we have to follow through it, rather giving a trailer of it.
These rasa lila rasa kriDa-s are not just lustful erotic dances, but they have esoteric meaning. We are trying to include esoteric meaning of this ronde dance in appropriate episode, and we are gathering some info about it. All dancing, singing and frolicking of a devotee for a perfect communion with her devoted being, as said by:
In spite of the many kinds of love, which in Greek are designated as philia (friendship), eros (aspiration toward value), and epithymia (desire), in addition to agape, (Theo. Christian love, esp. as distinct from erotic love,) which is the creation of the Spirit, there is one point of identity in all these qualities of love, which justifies the translation of them all by "love"; and that identity is the 'urge toward the reunion of the separated,' which is the inner dynamics of life. Love in this sense is one and indivisible." Paul Tillich, Systematic Theology, vol.3, (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1963), 137.
The problem of rdha is almost that of St. Theresa 'for whom ecstasy is betrothal leading up to the spiritual marriage 'in which the soul always remains in its centre with God...' The Interior Castle, Seventh Mansion, Ch. II sec. 2 4., via S. Rdhakrishnan's Eastern Religions and Western Thought.
Here also, the poet portrays that spiritual betrothal of rdha with Krishna in this work. And what lust can be attached to a devotee, if he/she sings this Psalm: ' Sing unto the Lord a new song: sing praises lustily unto him with a good courage...' Psalm 33, v. 3.
If any peripherally casual reader would like to deride or despise such philosophisation of apparently erotic expressions, they are requested to firstly read articles of Christian theologists on rdha, like Hon'ble David C. Scott, and Adam Clarke et al, whose urls are given at the end of this page.
When there are scores of websites on Jayadeva and his life, it will be unbefitting for this page to re-narrate the same. However, we may dare say that none has given any word for word translation for this work, nor for the complete translation of Gita Govinda, excepting that someone's attempt halted at the song on the eulogy of ten incarnations. There can be no exact translation of this work in any language, including the regional languages of India, because of the wordsmithy of this poet. This is as observed by Prof. T.Koteshvara Rao, Reader, SKD University. He cites, for example, one letter running into the next word, to give a completely different meaning like: vasante vaasantii - va, vaa; kusuma, sukumaaraiH - su, ku; baadhaam, rdhaam - aa, dhaa.The other main feature of Jayadeva is wordplay. Very small words with cadence, pause, tempo etc., as in lalita - lavanga - lataa - parishiilana - only a letterwith extended play. This is art of Jayadeva and there are many such examples to cite.
Tanslations or trashlations: Because Jayadeva's way of writing is so well-knit, it does not mean that others should not translate in regional languages or foreign ones, so says the above professor. But they remain a photocopy with many toner patches. We cannot possibly attain that delicacy or word arrangement in our languages. Hence, if we are translating, or calling them translations, they may please be viewed as 'communicating poet's ideas through other tongue with many redundant words...' and hence we may be doing trashlations.
There are five gurus of Jayadeva peeping into this Gita Govinda, namely 1] Valmiki for designing the work, melodrama, anguish in separation of lead characters. Ramayana is in 24, 000 verses and this work is in 12 chapters. Half of that number 24. But the aSTa padi-s, eight-footed songs are in 24 numbers. Next 2] Bharata Muni - for dance drama. 3] Vaastaayana - for romance. 4] Kalidasa - for word selection, brevity, small words with big meanings, alliterations etc. 5] Jayadeva on his own, as a trendsetter to language, grammar, poetic aesthetics etc.
There are many commentaries on this work, but rasika priya of Kumbha, and rasa manjari of Shankara Misra, shruti ranjani of Tirumala Deva Raaya, are renowned ones in Sanskrit world. There is a commentary called nritya lakshaNa samhita by Sri K. Vaasudeva Saastry. This is an exhaustive and unique commentary, not commentary exactly but a dance treatise, useful for any form of dancing schools, since every word of Jayadeva is interpreted to have dance gestures, abhinaya, mudra-s, bhangima-s. This can be reflected here once in a while, because of that work's excellence, and limitation of this work. This book is available with Tanjavore Sarasvati Mahal Library, Tanjavore, Tamil Nadu state, India.
On musical side it is sung throughout India and there are many cassettes, CDs. But some of the best renderings can be listened from HMV's cassette SPHOS 3405. A complete dance ballet is recently [meaning 2003,] telecast on sanskar TV channel, India.
All translations are approximations, and this is one among them. Further, the wrok presented here is not a poetic scholarly or highbrow work, but an elucidation of the words and expressions used by the poet, in prose, full with orthodoxy, circuitous, serpentine, self-coiling presentation in Indian routine, only to explain words used by the poet, which considerably wells the gist part of the work. Hence, the readers are requested to go more by the word-for-word section than gist. If any mistakes, typos and the like are noticed, they may kindly be tolerated / informed. pramaado api dhiimataam Whatever extra words that appear in the gist of song, than found in word-to-word section, they may please be construed as ellipted words, incorporated to bring out a meaningful paragraph or emphasis. The words arranged in word-to-word meanings are in accordance with anvaya krama, placement of words of Sanskrit to give a prosaic meaning.
1] The text is being slowly revised to UTF mode. Readers may please enable UTF to see it.
2] So also, please do not turn off pop up windows feature in browsers, since verses in RomanTranscript and Itrans are provided through friendly pop up windows.
3] Text in old fonts is also available at geocities.com/giirvaani:
This minni-epic is in twelve chapters and each chapter is given a heading as below:
|No||Ch. Heading / Sanskrit||Ch. Heading / English||Non-UTF||UTF|
|1||saamoda daamodaraH||Blissful Krishna|
|2||aklesha keshavaH||Blithesome Krishna|
|3||mugdha madhusuudanaH||Winsome Krishna|
|4||snigdha madhusuudanaH||Suavely Krishna|
|5||saakaanksha pundarikaakshaH||Passionate Krishna|
|6||dhanya vaikunThaH||Inconsiderate Krishna|
|7||nagara naarayaNaH||Shifty Krishna|
|8||vilaksha lakshmiipatiH||Apologetic Krishna|
|9||mugdha mukundaH||Unpretentious Krishna|
|10||catura catur bhujaH||Tactful Krishna|
|11||saananda daamodaraH||Delighted Krishna|
|12||supriita piitaambaraH||Exultant Krishna|
What these references contain or do not contain is left to the readers' scrutiny of each of them.
When this work was attempted in 2003 not a single ref. was available on web. Now, there are numerous. No less than hare krishna made this available then. Now they are giving a massive copy: Sri Gita Govinda (pdf) 1.08 Free - and it is everywhere on web.
1] Sir William Jone's translation, Gitagovinda, The Songs of Jayadeva, is available with millionbooks project of Internet Archives: to be searched in Works (Volume 1) - Jones, William, Sir; page 247 - 280, or so; an unproofed copy.
2] Duncan Greenlees's translation is now available with University of Michigan Digital Library Production Service; locatable with: The Song of Divine Love, Gita-Govinda. This is a publication of Kalakshetra Publications, Madras 1962. This is to be read with The Gospel of Narada, a publication of The theosophical Publishing House, Adayar, Madras, by the same author, Duncan Greenlees. This book referred in here as [GN], is a treasure book of info about Krishna and rdha. This book is presently out of print but they are making its photocopies available.
3] Rdha in the Erotic Play of the Universe - David C. Scott
4] Bible, Clarke's Commentary - Adam Clarke
5] A relatively unsung work by George Keyt, 1947, is now available with Digital Library of India, Bengalore server.
6] C. John Holcombe is not a new personality for netizens with poetic interests, and he published his poetic version of this work, available through ocasopress. Holcombe has given very elucidative analysis and numerous resources for this book in his web page textetc
7] There is a Sanskrit book with Digital Library of India, Hyderabad server, named giitagovinda kaavyam, with rasikamanjari vyAkhya, rasikapriya vyAkhya, sanjiivini vyAkhya etc. This is locatable with keywords : Gitagovinda Kavyam, Narayana Ram Acharya, Sanskrit;, 2020010005176
8] There is a Telugu book of 1877 with DLI Benguluru, with each word translated, but without gist, so-called tAtparyam; locatable with keywords: Gita Govinda Andhra Astapadi., 1990020084852, Jayadeva. 1877.