Gita Govinda: The Eternal Love Songs of Lord Krishna
by Pandit Ragunath Panigrahi
A Comprehensive 3 CD Collection of Jayadeva's Classic Poetry
THE GITA GOVINDA
The episodes of the GITA GOVINDA have been sung, painted, sculptured and danced throughout India and has been one of the most powerful sources of inspiration to the Indian people for the last 800 years. It tells of the mystic love of the God-shepherd Krishna and his eternal beloved, the shepherdess Radha. This poem, which was written in Sanskrit describes all the phases of love —earthly or heavenly—desire, waiting, meeting, separa¬tion, doubt, jealousy, and last of all-ecstasy. These are all narrated in a poetic form of unparalleled beauty. Many Oriya poets have since written works in praise of Krishna, but none have attained the same popularity as Jayadeva's GITA GOVINDA. It was as a result of this work that the Radhakrishna Cult first started. Beginning in Orissa, it spread across India like wildfire.
The Radhakrishna Cult was at its height during the reign of the emperors of the Ganga dynasty, between the 11th and 15th century. They were responsible for instigating the tradition of sacred dancing girls—the Marians—in the Jagannarth Temple. On completion, the GITA GOVINDA was immediately adopted for use in the regular cele¬brations of the cult. All other liturgical work was put aside. Little by little, all the temples in Orissa started doing the same thing. The chronicles during this period state that in the 15th century, many singers and musi¬cians were specially brought in to perform the GITA GOVINDA every day in the sanctuary of the Jagannath Temple, during the ritual dancing of the Maharis.
THE RADHAKRISHNA CULT
Up until the 13th century Radha had no place in the Vishnuite cult, and was never represented—even asso¬ciated—with the Lord Krishna. It was only after the inclusion of the GITA GOVINDA in the liturgy that she became known and accepted by the believers to be of equal standing—or nearly—as Krishna. It seems impos¬sible now to imagine this cult without her. Krishna and Radha had become an indissociable whole, and the true soul found in Radha the means to attain God. Carnal union in Divine love had become the symbol of total fusion, where all distinction is banished.
MUSIC IN ORISSA
The State of Orissa is located in the middle of India, where the North meets the South. The vast influence of different religions and cultures has made Orissa’s cultural heritage rich and varied. Nourished by strong native elements and impregnated by the Hindustani and Carnatic styles, the music of Orissa possesses its own particular flavour. It is sometimes fervent, some¬times contemplative, sometimes descriptive, with a lyricism full of emotion and sensuality. Since ancient times, the arts of this region have been closely linked: music with dance, dance with sculpture, paintings with music—all of them fed by the religious fervour of the Oriya people, for whom artistic expression was one of the most direct ways of obtaining Moksha or The Supreme Liberation. Thus, the temple was the source, par excellence, for artists, scholars and sages to draw their creative inspiration such was the Jagannath Temple in Puri.
- Milena SALVINI
JAYADEVA'S lyrical poem
in twenty four songs
1. Poet Jayadeva: His Times and His Message
SINCE A COUPLE OF CENTURIES before the second millenary of the Christian era, the Pala dynasty of Bengal sought to bring about a definite synthesis of the Buddhist contributions, especially on the esoteric front, in the form of terse and cryptical songs well known as the CARVA (1). But the succeeding dynasty of the Sena kings—determined to revive the essential grandeur of Hindu orthodoxy—put forth the cult of Vishnu, the God of Love and the Protector of the universe. Their vigorous faith became an indispensable arm against the early 13th century invasion of the Muslims.
Poet in the court of Lakshmana Sena (1185-1206), Jayadeva blended the official cult of Love with the leaven of the doctrine of the sahaj (the Spontaneous, the Innate) which had been cherished as the golden link between the liberated Masters of the earlier Carya compositions. In sharp contrast with the orthodox Hindu standpoint, this doctrine had for goal the sublimation of the Libido: instead of a self-imposed chastity to blow off all propensities of the perceptions, with a view to kindle the sole lamp of knowledge within, instead of a dehydration of the integral being, this was the path of a progressive elevation through sensual "enjoyment" of life. Identified with the cosmic Male principle, the seeker was on the look-out—through the intercourse with his partner in flesh and blood—for the cosmic Female principle. Or else, in communion with the universal soul, with the ardent Beloved, with Radha, he longed to unite with the Lord, with Govinda (the Custodian of Light), know under so many mythological names and associations: Krishna ("the Dark God"), Hari ("the Master of Yoga", Bhagavad gita xi/9). Keshava ("the One with beautiful locks")... In order to receive and contain in his being the supreme Joy, the seeker had to mature his clay-made receptacle by the process of an emotional blossoming. A discipline which resulted in a conquest of the laws of Nature and of gravitation. Basis for a radical transformation—that of the seminal force—this path led towards Love as the quintessence of gold (nikashita hema). At this stage, permanently electrified as in an erotic tension, the seeker—become the Master—falls in rapture as a spectator of the coition between Radha and Krishna, Aphrodite and Hermes, the eternal Lover and his Beloved.
Across the songs composed by the most popular poets of Eastern India—Jayadeva, Vidyapati and Candidasa, all three having lived between the 12th and the 14th cen¬turies—we reach a culmination of the sahaj experience in the movement of Shri Chaitanya (1446-1533), that Bengali apostle of Love. The bulk of sacred literature, both in Sanskrit and in Bengali, gives more than an inkling of Chaitanya's admiration for these three poets. Then the bauls, those moon-struck minstrels of Bengal, will emerge out of Chaitanya's esoteric Vishnu cult.
Jayadeva's birthplace Kenduli (Kenduvilva) in the district of Birbhum—not far from the university- founded by the Poet Tagore—has been since ages the annual rendezvous of the seekers of the sahaj. Jayadeva had left his village and spent quite some time in Puri, at the shrine of Jagannatha ("Lord of the Universe", one of Vishnu's names). There, in Orissa. He met Padmavati: daughter of an orthodox Brahmana from the South of India, dedi¬cated to the Lord's temple as a dancing-girl, she was to become Jayadeva's muse and companion and spouse. Was it just a coincidence that the greatest Poet living in Bengal should go down to Orissa to greet his inspi¬ration coming all the way up from the land of the Dravida? Accepting it as such would no doubt minimize the signification of Orissa as the meeting point between the mutually enriching and complementary cultures of the North and the South of India. Conscious of his role in history as a poet on the lookout for new art-forms, Jayadeva could not but feel transfigured by the contri-butions of this ritualistic dancer who was a blazing flame of Love: the Gita Govinda is the outcome and consum¬mation of the intense inward life led by this couple of Gandharvas in a human form. At an age when he was no more in his twenties, jayadeva seems to have obtained from Krishna the youthful sensuality of marveling and the lyrical dint to depict this pastoral of Vrindavana: every Indian from Kashmir to the Cape Comorin is fond of this Song Celestial from the very soil of India. Translated in the major languages of the world, it has often been described as the Indian Song of Songs (3) "Though'its language is not as pure (...) as that of the great lyrics", writes one of the most eminent Sanskrit scholars of our times, "but the tale (...) has been developed with a sovereign artistry" (4).
Judging even from Jayadeva's mere excellence in hand¬ling the sound elements to give vent to the emotional charge of the content, we can well understand the traditional image of Jayadeva as a vast and stately Pandit (scholar). A conviction which leads to question this ambiguity 'from the purists' point of view: was it deliberately that Jayadeva gave such a "primitive" turn to his language? Was it not a symptom of degene¬ration in the personality of the Court-Poet brought about by a marriage, "uneven" according to set social standards? We surmise that Jayadeva's choice was made with a great lucidity: far from being indifferent to the distinct and accelerated evolution of the powerful and young regional languages (like the Maithili and the Bengali), how could a conscientious Poet confine himself to the stereotyped effects of rhetoric, originating from a fast-dying past? He whose only dream seems to have been the working out of a novel art form—a-throb— within the reach of the meanest of the human creatures, could not stop short of linguistic simplification which was nonetheless painstaking. Did he also not dream of an art form which—in the manner of the classical Greek tragedians—could bring about a purification of the masses by the elevation of the sentiments? Precisely; behind an apparent literary structure, the Gita Govinda constantly reminds us of the popular opera forms (yatra) that need to be seen on the stage... Divided into 12 acts and 24 scenes, it is a show "remarkable in its beauty" (5), minutely chiseled. It is evidently as such, as a Divine Comedy to be performed from village to village, temple to temple, that—down the ages since the time of Jayadeva— the Gita Govinda has been jealously preserved, revita¬lised and commemorated by the people of the Subcontinent. Set to ragas and to infallible rhythmic patterns, this play is a permanent incentive to a ritualistic dance: every stanza therein is an invitation to explore the inlaid symbo-logical motives. Open to improvisations by competent hands, in keeping with the essential India approach to music and dance, this fabulously popular masterpiece has inspired a genuine spiritual uplifting to people of all times and ol all faiths. A trivial detail like Radha's toilet before receiving Krishna comes aglow with a sea of suggestivity: decorating the breasts of the delightful milkmaid with a delicate paste of sandalwood becomes an occasion of meditation on this multiple and fleeting creation woven around the Absolute One, represented here by the twin buds of passion. Follow the circle in the direction of the unfolding universe, or else —in the way the Buddhists choose to turn their wheel of prayer—to reach an existential negation.
Leaving all such speculations to more dexterous authorities, let us now switch over to the most objective data of this exceptional recording.
2. The Poem: the Drama
SENSUALITY IN THE HANDS OF JAYADEVA attains a climax of an all-round festivity: a feast of sound and colour and touch and idea and, above, all, a feast of spiritual gratifications. Though Jayadeva's masterly dealing with the sound at times overshadows other fea¬tures of his genius, no school of painting in India has ever shown a cold shoulder to the visual felicity of the Gita Govinda. Right from the famous renderings by the Kangra painters (late 18th century) or the less known illustrations of the Mewar School (preserved in the Rajasthan Pracya Vidya Pratisthan of Udaypur, Us. No. 1586], each verse of this poem has drawn the deepest devotion of the aesthetically aware souls: the haunting landscapes by the starry night: the writhing of the young bodies of the milkmaids enlivened like a luscious mango branch lavish with maturing fruits: the sweetness of a love- Radha enhancing—through the transmutation of the erotic longing—the purification of the emotions, have become classical steps leading to the quest of the Divine Love.
from CD in-lay
Sitar: The most popular of the stringed instruments
of North India. It has a long. wide, wood neck, onto
which two gourds are fixed, thus serving as the sound
boxes. The Sitar has 7 principal strings. 16 to 24 mobile
frets and a certain number of sympathetic strings which
reinforce the vibrations and the volume.
Flute: Made from bamboo, it is one of the most
ancient instruments on India. It is also one of the best
known. Its melodic sounds with their infinite nuances
reveal the presence of Krishna, the flute-playing God.
This instrument is the symbol of Union.
Pakhawaj: A cylindric drum that accompanies dances
and devotional songs of North India. Its varied resonance
reinforces the emotional guality of the voice.
Swaramandal: A kind of Santour that first appeared
in the 15th century. It is usually used only in vocal
accompaniment. It has metal cords and only one per
Tambura: This is used throughout India by soloists.
or with small groups of musicians. It is a drone instrument and its main function is
continually to maintain the fundamental notes of the Raga.
Raghunath PANIGRAHI (born: 1934), very early in his life, learnt from his father the classical way of singing the Gita Govinda. as preserved in the temple of Jagannatha in Puri (Orissa). Student of Shri Madu Paparao of Vizianagram (Andhra Pradesh), Raghunath had for some time even worked under the great master PALUSKAR. A regular artist of the All India Radio (Cuttack) since 1948. he has undertaken with his troupe several national and international tours. Having lent his voice in playback to several films produced in Orissa and in the South of India, Raghunath—by the side of his wife Sanjukta, a brilliant dancer—is one of the most genuine interpreters of the Gita Govinda.
The vision of the clouds [2:43]
1. Praise to the Ten Emissaries of the Lord of Love [8:41]
2. Praise to the Lord of Love [4:19]
3. Solitary Radha now roaming in the forest [7:41]
4. Go Radha and join your Lord at the Spring festival [7:27]
5. Radha in gloom [5:27]
6. The day when Love came to awake the pair of birds on the bosom of Radha [8:18]
7. Krishna's plight to have neglected Radha [8:14]
8. Radha's messgenger to Krishna [7:41]
9. She feels even her necklace too heavy on her breasts [5:24]
10. How miserable he feels without you O Radha [5:31]
11. He is pouring out your honeyed name with the notes of his flute [6:29]
12. She prays you to come and see her O Lord [6:37]
Why does he not come as yet [7:52]
14. Who is she busy now flirting with him [5:56]
15. Why should he deprive me of his presence [5:33]
16. How can she bear his radiance [4:04]
17. Krishna at the feet of Radha [10:05]
18. Counsel to Radha [4:54]
19. Quench me with the nectar of your lips! [7:56]
20. Radha on the bed of fresh leaves [5:32]
21. Frail like a flower among flowers [5:00]
22. The Slave of Radha's Love [7:36]
23. Revive, O Radha, my ensnared heart! [8:42]
24. The Feast of Love [6:17]
Hymn to Sarasvati [2:16]
Pandit Ragunath Panigrahi, chant & swaramandal
Hemanta Kumar Das, sitar
Jayantha Kumar Mukherjee, flute
Banamali Baharana, pakhawaj
Total Duration: 166:13 min or 2hr 46min 13sec
Format : MPEG Audio
Format version : Version 1
Format profile : Layer 3
Bit rate mode : Constant
Bit rate : 320 Kbps
Channel(s) : 2 channels
Sampling rate : 48.0 KHz
Resolution : 16 bits
Writing library : LAME3.97
Included Full Scan
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