JAYADĒVAR

Jayadēva, the illustrious author of Gīta Gōvinda was born in Orissa, in a village called Kindubilva. He was an Oriya Brahmin and adorned the court of King Lakshmaņa Sēna. His parents were Bhojadēva and Ramādēvi. He became an erudite scholar in his early life and spent most of his time in meditation. Jayadēva married Padmāvathi, who was given as an offering to the Jagannātha temple. Both of them spent their time singing the glories of Lord Sri Krishņa. In the meantime he began writing his masterpiece – the Gīta Gōvinda.

The gīta gōvinda is a sřňgāra mahākāvya in 12 sargas and is written on high flown Sanskrit. It consists of 24 songs and each song contains 8 charaņas. Hence it is called ashţapadi. The ashţapadi hymns are the earliest examples of regular compositions being set in a rāga and tāļa. The union of individual soul with universal soul is the theme of Gīta Gōvinda and Rādha, Krishņa and sakhi are the main characters figuring in this work.

The ashţapadi hymns belong to the realm of sacred music and are sung in concerts. They are dvidhātu prabandhas consisting of two sections - udgraha and dhruva (pallavi and charaņa respectively).

In the tenth sarga of the Gīta Gōvinda, 7th charaņa of the 19th ashţapadi, Jayadēva wrote 'smara garala khanďanam mama sirasi manďanam dēhi pada pallava mudaram' meaning Oh Rādha, the poison of love has gone up to my head. Place your tender feet on my head; the poison will come down. When Jayadēva wrote thus, he felt it was not appropriate to state that Rādha's feet should be placed on Krishņa's head. He scored off those lines, left the manuscripts and went to have an oil bath.

During his absence, Lord Krishņa came in the disguise of Jayadēva, with the oil smeared on his body and on the plea that some fresh idea had suddenly struck him, he asked Padmāvati to get the manuscript. He rewrote the same lines struck off by Jayadēva and pretending to go to the backyard for his bath, disappeared. The true Jayadēva returned after bath and had his meal. While in the afternoon he took the manuscript to continue the work, he was astonished to find that the very line which he had scored off were again written there and asked his wife who wrote those lines. Padmāvati replied, "Don't you see even the oil drops that fell from your body while writing?"

Then Jayadēva realized that it was Lord Krishņa that came to restore those two lines. He also extolled the spiritual greatness of his wife as she had the supreme fortune to see the Lord and immortalized the incident by referring to himself as 'Padmāvati ramaņa Jayadēva kavi' in the last charaņa.

The King of the province, Lakshmaņasēna, once grew jealous of Jayadēva's reputation. Hence he wrote a work parallel to the Gīta Gōvinda and caused his own work and Jayadēva's to be placed on the altar of the shrine of Jagannātha of Puri to see which was accepted as the superior work by God. When the gates of the temple were opened, it was found that Jayadēva's work was on one hand of the deity and the King's work cast on the corner of the floor. From this time onwards, the King became a sincere admirer of Jayadēva and Padmāvati and treated them with great respect. The queen became jealous of Padmāvati and was waiting for an opportunity to play some mischief.

Once when the king and Jayadēva went for hunting, the queen came to Jayadēva's wife and communicated a false report that Jayadēva had met with a tragic end. The moment Padmāvati heard this, she fell down unconscious and died shortly afterwards. When the King later came to know of all that had happened, he unsheathed his sword and rushed to kill the queen. But Jayadēva held his hand and said, "Padmāvati had died hearing of my deminse. But as I am alive, she will regain her life"

So saying, he sang the 19th Ashţapadi 'Vedasiyadi' and at its end sprinkled water on his wife's face. To everyones surprise Padmāvati woke up. Since this incident the ashţapadi acquired significance and came to be known as sañjīvani ashţapadi.

In the famous temple of Jagannāth at Pūri, even now one or two ashţapadis are sung everyday after the pūja. King Kumbha Rāna, husband of Saint Mīra Bāi has written a commentary on the Gītagōvinda entitled Rasikapriya.

Jayadēva is an illustrious Sanskrit composer. His work occupies a high place in sacred music. All the hymns contain a maňgaļa slōka at the end. The place where Jayadēva began and completed the hymns has since been called Jayadēvapura. Annual festival in memory of Jayadēva is held every year at Kendul, his birth place. The whole of Gīta Gōvinda is sung during the festival.