It is our great privilege to present this revised edition of Sri Jayadeva Gosvami's Gita-govinda, based on the Hindi translation published in 2003 by our Gurudeva, nitya-lila pravista om visnupada Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja. This new volume has been adapted from Sripada Bhaktivedanta Aranya Maharaja's original English translation made available from Gaudiya Vedanta Publications in 2005.
5n Gita-govinda is the zenith of all literatures; the poet himself confidently tells his audience this fact at the beginning as well as at the end of his divine masterpiece. This great classic is an immaculate presentation of sacred amorous love, manifested in this world by a genuine Vrajavasi, a resident of the topmost spiritual realm. It was by the desire of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu that this intimate vision of madhura-rasa was revealed in this world, providing a means for Him to relish the moods of Sri Radha, In addition, it affords a view of the unimaginable, confidential reality of Goloka Vraja for the conditioned souls of Kali-yuga. This Gita-govinda and other Gosvami literatures, with their pristine descriptions of the erotic mellow, are indeed the very medicine to alleviate our hrd-roga, the disease of lust contaminating our hearts. Throughout his epic masterpiece, in the eighth verse of many of the astapadis, Sri Jayadeva assures us that his words are just the remedy to counteract the foulness of Kali.
The present edition is the fruit of over ten year's devoted labor. Those of us who worked on the current volume have strived to present the delicate subject matter tactfully. We hope that persons who feel that Gita-govinda is beyond their level of qualification, will find this edition approachable. The beauty of the poetry and the inconceivable genius of Jayadeva Gosvami are perfectly capable to captivate and melt the heart. All of us who helped with this production are grateful to have been given this opportunity. It has been a thrilling experience, and we relished many hours of joy as we repeatedly chewed the words of Sri Jayadeva Gosvami's sweet, astonishing poem.
We pray that today's publication will be happily received in the society of devotees, as well as in academic and cultured circles around the globe. Please excuse any mistakes that may have eluded us. If our work is acceptable to our guru-varga, then we give all credit to our beloved Gurudeva, Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja, who fearlessly took the responsibility to keep Sri Gita-govinda in circulation, thus preserving our Gaudiya heritage for heritage.
Praying for the blessings of Srila Gurudeva and Sri Jayadeva,
We here with present a new edition of Sri Gita-govinda, the famous composition of the pre-eminent transcendental poet, Sri Jayadeva Gosvami. This publication is born out of the causeless mercy of the founder of Sri Gaudiya Vedanta Samiti, acarya kesari nitya-lila pravista om visnupada astottara-sata Sri Srimad Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Gosvami Maharaja. May he be pleased with our offering.
To enter into the internal mood (bhavartha) of such a sublime text as this Gita-govinda, one needs proper qualification. To read any great literary work and understand the words at their face value is one matter, but to appreciate the profound sentiments by which one becomes truly familiar with the text is entirely another experience. Comprehension of the literal meaning of words is generally a simple affair, whereas assimilation of their underlying emotional Significance is not so easy. Therefore all ancient scriptures traditionally begin by defining specific parameters of eligibility for prospective readers. Some deeply realized authors have strictly forbidden unqualified persons to study their compositions and have even pronounced curses upon those who might dare to delve into that for which they are ineligible. What is the necessity of such strict prohibitions? They are needed because unqualified persons will inevitably misinterpret elevated texts. The result is that both the author and the unqualified reader lose the potential benefits from such literature, and instead accrue harmful effects.
In the beginning of the auspicious invocation of his book, the worshipful Sri Jayadeva Gosvami has also clarified the subject matter of eligibility thus:
yadi hari-smarne sarasam mano
yadi vilasa-kalasu kututhalam
srnu tada jayadeva-sarasvatim
"If at all your heart yearns for that remembrance of Sri Hari which bestows all happiness, if you are hankering to contemplate upon Sri Hari with intense affection, and if you are overwhelmed with curiosity to know about Sri Hart's skill in His amorous pastimes, then by all means read this book. You may find this poetry very sweet and pleasing, but if you do not nurture these three desires, then this moving and lyrical literature is not for you. Only if your heart is full of intense eagerness to fathom Sri Hari's love dalliance will you be able to appreciate my mellifluous and inspiring poetry."
Even after explaining the situation so explicitly, the poet Sri Jayadeva was still unable to communicate his point to the unqualified sector of society. Mundane readers begin to read this text, being attracted by its charming linguistic embellishments. Yet in the end, because they are not competent to grasp its real essence or internal significance, they resort to insulting the crest jewel of poets Sri Jayadeva as if his composition were something crude. And so they must, for they do not recognize the divinity of Sri Hari. They are not even inclined to approach the precincts of sweet contemplation upon Him. Being confined to their experience of identifying themselves with the physical body and senses, they consider sensual gratification to be the utmost limit of happiness. What can such slaves to lust ever understand about the affairs of transcendental love described by Sri jayadeva Gosvami?
Therefore the most worshipful Sri Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami has stated in Sri Caitanya-caritamrta:
kama, prema-dohakara vibhinna laksana
lauha ara hema jaiche svarupe-vilaksana
atmendrtya-priti-vancha-tare bali 'kama'
krsnendriya-priti-iccha dhare 'prema' nama
kamera tatparya-nija-sambhoga kevala
"The characteristics of worldly lust and transcendental love are completely different. If mundane lust is likened to iron then spiritual love can be likened to gold. The desire to give satisfaction to one's own senses is called lust. However the desire to satisfy the senses of Sri Krsna is called pure love, or visuddha-prema. The goal of lust is one's own enjoyment, whereas the purpose of this immensely powerful prema is simply to make Sri Krsna happy."
How many people can understand the gravity of Srila Kaviraja Gosvami's words, especially those who are continuously absorbed in their own sense gratification? For them, the supra-mundane loving pastimes of Sri Radha-Krsna are nothing but the play of lusty desires. If they could love someone to the point of total abandonment of all social customs, Vedic religious principles, and bodily connections - as Sri Radhika and Her friends have done - then one day they might also have some idea about the principles underlying these pastimes. Only after making such sacrifice is it possible to understand that selfless prema can be expressed only by those who do not cherish even the slightest ambition for their own pleasure.
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