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Indian Poets and Composers
Biography of Jayadeva


Jayadeva lived in the twelfth century and is well-known author of the musical epic Geeta Govinda. He hailed from Kenduli village in Prachi Valley between Bhubaneswar and Puri. He spent most of his life at Puri and composed the songs of Sri Geeta Govinda as musical offerings to Lord Jagannath. Padmavati, his beloved wife, danced to the songs that are choreographed by Jayadeva. The composition was probably performed first on the twin occasions of the dedication on the Srimandir and the coronation of Kamarnava as the crown prince in 1142 AD, during the reign of Chodaganga Deva, the founder of the great Ganga Empire in the east coast of India, Jayadeva, a great scholar and composer was a devetee first and poet next. His Sri Geeta Govinda is a glorification of the essence of Jagannath Chetana or Jagannath Consciousness - the path of simple surrender, which later Sri Chaitanya popularized as the Gopi Bhava or the Radha Bhava.

Gitagovinda has become the main prop of Odissi dance. It also has an enormous influence on the patta paintings of Raghurajpur. As a beautiful, ornate kavya, Gitagovinda received appreciation at home and aboard. It’s sonorous diction and rhythmic musical excellence have created a unique place for it in world literature. Gitagovinda consists of twelve cantos or sargas including twenty-four songs and seventy-two slokas. It is designed to be sung in definite ragas and talas. It has been rightly observed that a narrative thread runs through the songs, lending it a dramatic structure.

Critics have attempted to classify the literary genre of Gitagovinda. Lassen consider the poem as a lyrical drama and Jones calls it a pastoral drama. Levi regards it as a refined yatra. Keith compares it with the festival-plays in Bengal, resembling the rasa of Mathura, where the episode of Krsna-lila is performed accompanied by song and music.

Because of the division of the poem into sargas, Keith finally regards it as belonging to the generic type of kavya. On the subject S.K. De observes, “As a creative work of art, it has a form of its own and it had defied conventional classification”. This observation of De is close to the reality, since Gitagovinda is an original piece of work of remarkable beauty, which defies the traditional settings of laghukavyas or khandakavyas, such as Meghaduta. It also does not conform to the traditional setting of laghukavyas or khandakavyas, such as Meghaduta. It also does not conform to the muktaka type, namely, the Ritusamhara or even the Nitisataka. However, Gitagovinda is a gitikavya or lyrical poem. The title of the work, Gitagovinda bears special significance. It suggests that in this book of songs, the greatness of Lord Krisna, who is in the role of a cowherd, is celebrated.

The following introductory verse by Jayadev explains the poet’s intentions:
vagdevata-caritacitrita-cittasadama
padmavati-carana-carana-cakravarti
srivasudeva-ratikeli-kathasametam
etam karoti jayadevakavi-prabandham.

The verse expresses the Jayadev, who is obsessed with rythms of the Goddess of Speech (i.e. Saraswati), who sings at the lotus feet of Padma (or Laksmi), composes this lyrical poem narrating the tales of the passionate love between Vasudeva and Sri.

From the beginning, the poet is clear about what he is going to narrate and the style he is going to employ. The love-play of Radha and Krisna is described in the 12 cantos of the Gitagovinda through phases of origin and growth of love, obstacles on their path and consummation of love. All this described in about 72 traditional classical Sanskrit verses cast in metres like Vasantatilaka, Sragdhara, Sardulavikridita, Harini, etc. The 24 songs are designed to be sung in Karnata, Gujjari, Gondakiri, Desakhya, Desavaradi, Vasanta, Bhariravi, Malava, Ramakeri, Malavagauda, etc.

Raghunath Panda has made a scholarly attempt to discuss the literary from of Gitagovinda. He considers t hat the poet has succeeded in composing a Prabandha Kavya. According to Poetics, Sanskrit Kavyas are of two varieties, namely Prabandha and Muktaka. In a Prabandha Kavya, a ocoherent plot having a story element forms the core of description. Desire, love, separation and finally the union of Radha and Krishna give Gitagovinda the shape of a Prabandha Kavya. From the point of Musicology, a Prabandha type of song is identified as ganaviesah prabandhah. According to Laksmanasuri, the author of the Srutiranjani, the song contain four dhatus such as (i) Udgraha, (ii) Malapaka, (iii) Dhruva and (iv) Abhoga. Antara was added to the list making the dhatus five. Besides, these dhatus, six angas or limbs are also conceived to form the part of the prabandha type of song. They are-Svara, Biruda, Pada, Tana, Pata and Tala. Though these integral parts convey different meanings, yet they give a sort of unity to the variety of Prabandha-songs. All the songs of Gitagovinda contain all the dhatus and six angas. Thus the Prabandha character of Gitagovinda is established. Jayadev, the master of poetics and musicology, could combine poetry and music in his immortal work. Geeta, babya and nrutya constitute the soul of Gitagovinda, which is the fountainhead of Odissi music and dance.

Jayadev was from Orissa, Say Bengal Scholars

In a major turning point in the controversy over the birth place of 12th century Sanskrit poet Jayadev, known all over the world as the writer of Geet Govinda. Kolkata scholars asserted at a national seminar at the Utkal University or Culture, Bhubaneswar, that the poet was born in Orissa and not West Bengal.

Mr. Asish Kumar Chakraborty, Superintendent of Gurusaday Museum, Kolkata revealed that way back in 1979 he had submitted a report to the famous Jayadev scholar Dr. Kapila Vatsayana proving that Kenduvilva village in Birbhum in West Bengal could not be the birth place of the poet. He was followed by historian Prof. Satyakam Sengupta of Koikata who corroborated him and said that it is the Kenduli village on the banks of river Prachi in Puri which is the birthplace of the poet. Both the scholars cited a number of socio-cultural, architectural and philological evidences to prove their point.

 

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