The fifth chapter presents the uninterrupted text in Devanagari script along with Romanized transliteration. The Appendix presents the list of verses arranged in alphabetical order for ready reference, the names of the various flowers and plants mentioned in the text are listed along with their common and modern botanical names.
Many writers in the Sanskrit tradition, masters of yore, have reached great heights in the aesthetics of literature, music and dance. It is hoped that the exposition here will inspire modern readers to revisit India's rich heritage. This book is dedicated to all the classical singers and dancers so blessed as to be able to bring to life Jayadeva's composition again and again at every performance.
Dr. Sharda Narayanan holds Master's Degrees in Physics and Sanskrit from Bangalore University and Doctorate studies from JNU, New Delhi. She currently teaches Indian Philosophy and Aesthetics in Chennai.
Dr. Sujatha Mohan is a dancer of repute in Chennais and has been teaching dance theory and practice for over 20 years. She has M.A. in Sanskrit from Madras University, M.F.A. (Bharatanatyam) from SASTRA and Doctorate in Sanskrit (Natya) from SC SVMV, Kanchipuram. Both are faculty at Department of Natya, Dr. MGR-Janaki College for Women, Chennai.
"The moment one opens the Gita Govinda book of Jayadeva, one is trans-ported to the magical land of Vrindavan, where all living creatures glow with the love of Radha & Krishna, where spring season being conducive to love is called an ally of Madana. "The humming bees and the singing birds throw even the minds of the hermits into confusion!"
As the love drama unfolds in the mind's eye with mythology's most beloved characters, we can perch on the full moon and look down at the revelry of youth and vigour in the rasa we can hide behind the tamala tree and hope Radha doesn't yield to her friend's coaxing words; words promising Krishna's love for Radha - for I know Krishna as much as Radha herself! "Don't be fooled, gentle lady!" my heart shouts as I hide behind the tamala tree!
We scoff at Radha along with her friends for her imagined hurt and jealousy but when we see her suffer deeply from viraha or separation, we understand the deep extent of longing and the seriousness of being in love ... a supreme, all-consuming love that is almost self-destructive... "Is it worth it?" we ask. Of course! For she is yearning to be united with none else than the Paramatma himself in a dark-hued curly-haired human form that would put the Greek god Adonis to shame!
The very mention of Gita Govind brings to mind melody - and the wondrous beauty of nature. Soft winds blowing from the sandal mountains and the air heavy with the scent of jasmine and ketaki, the trees laden with bloom - the skies filled with flaming flowers of ashoka and kimshuka! Cuckoos cooing after waiting patiently for the first blush of spring, bees buzzing in swarms that are likened to Krishna's glorious crown, ripe man-goes and berries welcoming the screeching parrots!
One doesn't have to be a dancer to realise that one's senses welcome the imagery and fragrance; if it inspires one to jump up and dance, the more the merrier! The experience that one goes through while travelling through the mystical love poetry compares with watching an exquisitely crafted 3-D animated film on nature with the flora and fauna looming larger than life!
The whole ethos is an anti-thesis to the concrete jungle so many of us live in. Artistes want to revel in such a world. Academicians want to present it to the world with its impeccable language styling and grammar. The poetry prompts a reader to escape reality of the concrete jungle to sylvan glades and perhaps build a rooftop garden! I hope teenagers get a chance to read the Gita Govind putting Mills and Boon (or its equivalent) on the back burner!
I met the author Sharda one evening in a social gathering. Though the buzzing that day was far from poetic, she drew my attention as she steered the parlance towards her translation work of the Gita Govind. I am very glad to see this book written by her along with Sujatha - it has an interesting and creative take to natya that is welcome, pointing out its importance and the long training that expertise calls for. The word-to-word meanings in the translation of the Ashtapadis will be very useful to dancers and the splitting up of the individual words in long Sanskrit compounds is very helpful for singers and general readers. I convey my best wishes for their success."
The marriage of rhythm and meaning that Jayadeva achieves in his poetry is unparalleled. Owing to its deep foundations in devotion and its exquisite intrinsic beauty, the Gftagovinda is very popular in music and dance of India. But its technical brilliance and literary perfections are not so well known. Since the grasp of Sanskrit language is rare in modern society, the sweetness of expression and richness of meaning are lost to most people. This book attempts to bring Jayadeva's composition closer to enthusiasts of classical music and dance, those with an interest in Sanskrit literature, scholars and artistes. With enhanced understanding of the text, it is hoped that there will be heightened enthusiasm in its performance, among artistes and audience.
The ultimate aim of every classical art form in India was to develop bhakti or devotion to the Supreme; art experience was a means to re-awaken the soul to ananda or bliss, the experience being purifying and rejuvenating. The maturity and depth of India's aesthetics in performing arts are only matched in its literary theory. Of the four abhinayas that constitute a performance in natya, viz, arigika, vacika, sattvika and aharya, it is the lyrics, vacika, that lead the other three. It is the body of poetry that anchors the whole story, mood, meaning and interpretation. Thus it is essential to understand the lyrics, the script as it were, with all its nuances, to merge with the performance and experience natya rasa.
Poet Jayadeva lived in the 12th century in Bengal - Orissa region. He composed the Gitagovinda as a draya kavya, an offering to be performed with music and dance, before Lord Jagannatha at the Temple in Puri, Orissa. In twenty-four songs it describes the love of Lord Krishna and Radha, a beautiful cowherdess, in the forest groves of the River Yamuna. It opens with the Dalavatara vandand, venerating Lord Krishna in all ten incarnations to uphold dharma, and goes on to describe the heady spring season, the separation of the lovers due to some misunderstanding, their longing for each other and final reunion. It is a highly erotic poem, physical love being taken as a metaphor for divine longing of the individual soul for the grace of the Supreme.
There are only three players in the poem, Radha, Krishna and the 45"akhf, Radha's friend and companion, who acts as messenger at their behest, taking Radha's message to Krishna and Krishna's to Radha. There is nothing in the text to show that it is the same person referred to as sakhi; on the contrary there is indication that several sakhis take the role of assisting Radha at different points. Classical dance tradition accords the status of guru to the Sabha, as she helps Radha attain Krishna, just as a spiritual mentor helps the devotee attain the Supreme. The poet's signature verse at the end of each song that invokes the Lord's blessing and invites the spectator to enter the intimate world of Radha and Krishna points to the divine nature of the theme and the privileged position of the audience.
Each chapter of this book forms a capsule in itself and the reader may go into any one quite independently of the others.
The first chapter of this book presents in a nutshell the linguistic and literary theories that show primacy of language as the vehicle of thought. The many technical references may seem difficult for the beginner, but they showcase the main points of the subject; familiarity with theory of language, poetry and verse would be advantageous in appreciating fine poetry. Our original translations of verses and quotations are given within inverted commas; where translations are taken from other books, the writers' names are clearly mentioned.
The second chapter briefly presents the performing arts background and technical aspects of dance that complement Jayadeva's composition, in or-der to comprehend the structural brilliance of the work. Familiarity with the elegant and sophisticated guidelines of gastra texts on natya would be an advantage to performers as well as spectators.
The third chapter gives a background to the Gitagovinda in terms of its historical context, time, cultural influences and relevance in the arts.
The fourth chapter addresses every verse, with translation and literary notes; the words in the verses are shown split individually with hyphens for greater clarity, to the extent possible without disturbing the text. In preparing the notes, several Sanskrit commentaries on the Gila Govinda have been consulted, chiefly - Sanjivani, Padadyotanika, Jayanti and Bhasatika (Hindi).
The Nrtyalaksanasahitam Gitagovinda Mahakavyam is a Sanskrit book published by Saraswathi Mahal Library, Thanjavur, that has abhinaya movements and gestures with raga and tala suggested for verses of the first six-teen songs. It records the dance presentation tradition in Natyam at that time although the date and authorship are unfortunately not known. Prominent features of the suggested dance techniques have been included here, a comprehensive treatment being too vast for the present work.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
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