Saint Sri Jayadeva and His Celebrated Poetical Work: Gita Govinda

Spread India's Glorious Cultural & Spiritual Heritage

Introduction to Sri Jayadeva

Sri Jayadeva, a seminal figure in Indian cultural history, was a 12th-century poet, mystic, and a devout devotee of Lord Krishna. Hailing from the region of Kenduli Sasan in Odisha, though some traditions claim his origins in Bengal, Jayadeva is best known for his magnum opus, the Gita Govinda, a work that has significantly influenced the devotional music and dance traditions of India.

Early Life and Background

While not much is definitively known about Jayadeva’s early life, historical accounts and temple records suggest that he was born into a Brahmin family and demonstrated a profound spiritual inclination and poetic talent from a young age. He is often depicted in religious traditions as a saint who sang the glories of Lord Krishna and spread his devotional teachings.

The Gita Govinda: A Masterpiece of Devotional Literature

The Gita Govinda, literally meaning “Song of the Cowherd (Krishna),” is Jayadeva’s most celebrated work. Written in the 12th century, this epic poem is composed of twelve chapters, each divided into twenty-four divisions called ‘Prabandhas’. The text is rich with lyrical poetry and is written in Sanskrit.

Themes and Content

The Gita Govinda explores the relationship between Lord Krishna and Radha, his consort, with intense emotional depth and spiritual longing. The narrative delves deep into the themes of love, devotion, separation, and reunion, presenting these motifs through a series of beautifully crafted songs and dances performed by the gopis (cowherd women) of Vrindavan, with Radha being the central figure.

Each chapter details various facets of the relationship between Radha and Krishna, from their passionate encounters to moments of deep misunderstanding and subsequent reconciliation. The interplay of the divine and the human, the temporal and the eternal, is a constant undercurrent in the text, making it a profound piece of devotional literature.

Impact on Music and Dance

The Gita Govinda holds a special place in the arts, particularly in the classical dance forms of India like Odissi and Bharatanatyam. The ‘Ashtapadis’ (eight-line verses) of the Gita Govinda are often used as lyrics for dance performances. These verses not only convey the deep emotions of the characters but also offer dancers a rich canvas to express a range of sentiments through intricate movements and expressions.

Influence on Later Literature and Arts

Jayadeva’s influence extends beyond literature and dance. His work has inspired numerous compositions and has been a subject of study and admiration across generations. The Gita Govinda remains a vital part of the ritual singing in many Krishna temples in India, especially in the eastern part of the country.


Sri Jayadeva’s Gita Govinda is more than just a poetic masterpiece; it is a spiritual guidebook, a philosophical treatise, and a foundational text in the Bhakti movement. It transcends the boundaries of mere poetic work to become a vehicle of divine expression and emotional depth. Jayadeva’s devotion and literary genius have made the Gita Govinda a cherished legacy in the spiritual and cultural life of India, resonating with the devotional sentiments of many and continuing to influence the arts for centuries to come.

Spread India's Glorious Cultural & Spiritual Heritage

By Mala Chandrashekhar

Introducing Blogger Mala Chandrashekhar - a specialist academically trained in modern Western sciences, yet deeply enamored with India's timeless ethnic arts, crafts, and textiles. Her heart beats for the rich and glorious cultural and spiritual heritage of India, and she has dedicated her entire blog to spreading the immortal glories of ancient India worldwide. Through her simple yet impactful blog posts, Mala aims to reach every nook and corner of the globe, sharing India's beauty and wisdom with the world.

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