‘Oh my love! O my virtuous one!’ So addresses Krishna his beloved Radha in this 12th century song in Sanskrit by Jayadeva. His Gita Govindam, literally The Song of Krishna, consists of 12 chapters with a total of 24 songs, most with eight padas or couplets (therefore also called Ashtapadi). In addition, there are 70 to 92 shlokas (depending on versions) in this great literary work, a true treasure of India.
Jayadeva was the court poet of king Lakshmanasena (1179-1205), a Vaishnavaite king. Jayadeva and his wife Padmavati enjoyed a long and happy marriage. There is an interesting story associated with this particular Ashtapadi. When he was composing this song, the following verse came to his mind :
स्मर गरल खण्डनम् मम शिरसि मण्डनम् देहि पदपल्लवम् उदारम् ।
Place your tender feet on my head as an ornament to refute Cupid’s poison.
But he hesitated to write it down. Radha placing her feet on Krishna’s head? It is culturally so unacceptable! Without putting it down in the palm leaves, he left the incomplete song in his wife Padmavati’s hand and went to the river to bathe. While he was away, Lord Krishna is said to have taken Jayadeva’s form and visited his home. Taking the palm leaves from Padmavati, He wrote the very words that Jayadeva had hesitated to write. When Jayadeva returned, he saw the verse written down and realised that Lord Krishna himself had visited his home and written this verse.
Gita Govindam is a story of just one night, a night highly charged with emotions and passions. There is loneliness and longing, flirtation and jealousy, anger and pride and above all, the tenderness of love. This is lyrical and sensuous poetry, openly erotic in places; Jayadeva’s words will certainly make you blink or blush if you are old-fashioned. That said, however ‘old’ your ‘fashions’ are, surely it can’t be older than these words from the 12th century ! My song choice of today is relatively mild, only PG rated so you can read on..
The songs of Gita Govindam have come to be sung in different ragas in different regions of India though Jayadeva did set them to ragas. In the South, they are normally sung to the tunes set by Pudukkottai Gopalakrishna Bhagavatar but of course musicians and music composers may choose to present them in their own chosen ragas.
Priye! Charusheele! is refrain of song number nineteen from the 10th chapter. Radha is upset and angry with Krishna. In this song, he cajoles and flatters her, displaying his own love, longing and passion for her. I have chosen to present two of my favourite renditions here today. (note: different subsets of the verses are sung)
The first is by O.S.Arun, in raga Vasanti. He is in great voice and this raga suits the mood of the song quite beautifully.
The second rendition is by T.M.Krishna in Mukhari. The viraha bhava is beautifully expressed in this raga. You can listen to it here (song 3).
Footnote (Lyrics) :
वदसि यदि किङ्चिदपि दन्त रुचि कौमुदी हरति दर तिमिरम् अति घोरम् ।
स्फुरदधर सीधवे तव वदन चन्द्रमा रोचयतु लोचन चकोरम् ॥
प्रिये ! चारुशीले ! प्रिये !चारुशीले !
मुञ्च मयि मानम् अ निदानम् सपदि मदनानलो दहति मम मानसम् ।
देहि मुख कमल मधु पानम्
प्रिये ! चारुशीले ! प्रिये !चारुशीले ! ॥ -1-
vadasi yadi kinchidapi danta ruchi kaumudI harati dara timiram ati ghOram
sphuradadhara sIdhavE tava vadana chandramA rOchayatu lOchana chakOram
priyE! chArushIlE! priye! chArushIlE!
muncha mayi mAnam a nidAnam sapadi madanAnalO dahati mama mAnasam
dEhi mukha kamala madhu pAnam. priyE charushIlE! priyE charushIlE!
If (yadi) you say (vadasi) even (api) some small thing (kinchid), the moonshine-like (kaumudi) beauty (ruchi) of your (tava) teeth (danta) steals away (harati) the very (ati) terrible (ghOram), fearful (dara) gloom (timiram). Let my eyes (lOchana) find pleasure in (rOchayatu) in your (tava) face (vadana) with quivering (sphurat) nectarine (from sIdhu=nectar?) lips (adhara) just like (implied) the chakora bird (chakOram) takes pleasure in the moon (chandrama).
O Beloved (priyE)! O virtuous one (chAru=beautiful shIlE=of character)!
Please set aside (muncha) this unfounded (a nidAnam) anger (mAnam) on me (mayi)! The fire (analah) of passion (madana) burns (dahati) my heart (mAnasam=mind) at present (sapadi). Please give (dEhi) me a drink (pAnam) of nectar (madhu) from your a lotus-like face (kamala mukha) (alternate : give me a nectar like (madhu) kiss (pAnam) from your lotus-like (kamala) mouth (mukha)).
O Beloved (priyE)! O virtuous one (chAru=beautiful shIlE=of character)!
सत्यमेवासि यदि सुदति मयि कोपिनी देहि खर नख शर घातम् ।
घटय भुज बन्धनम् जनय रद खण्डनम् येन वा भवति सुख जातम् ॥ –2-
satyamEvAsi yadi sudati mayi kOpinI dEhi khara nakha shara ghAtam
ghaTaya bhuja bandhanam janaya rada khaNDanam yEna vA bhavati sukha jAtam
O One with beautiful teeth (su dati)! If you are (tvam asi) truly (satyamEva) angry (kOpinI) with me (mayi), wound and injure me (dEhi shara ghAtam) with your sharp (khara) nails (nakha). Fetter me (bandhanam) by bringing together (ghaTaya) your arms (bhuja), cause me (janaya ) hurt (khanDanam) with your teeth (rada), or whichever way (yEna vA) makes you happy (bhavati=happens, sukha=happiness, jAtam=born).
त्वमसि मम जीवनम् त्वमसि मम भूषणम् त्वमसि भव जलधिरत्नम् ।
भवतु भवतीह मयि सततम् अनुरोधिनि तत्र मम हृदयम् अति यत्नम् ॥ –3-
tvamasi mama jIvanam tvamasi mama bhUshaNam tvamasi bhava jaladhiratnam
bhavatu bhavatIha mayi satatam anurOdhini tatra mama hRdaya ati yatnam
You are (tvam asi) my life (jIvanam), you are (tvam asi) my ornament (bhUshaNam), you are (tvam asi) the supreme jewel (adhiratna) of the ocean of my existence (bhava jala). That (tatra=in this matter) you may be (bhavatI) gracious (anurOdhini bhavatu) with me (mayi) here (iha), in that (implied) my heart (hRdayam) will always (satatam) make the utmost effort (ati yatnam).
नील नलिन आभमपि तन्वि तव लोचनम् धारयति कोकनद रूपम् ।
कुसुम शर बाण भावेन यदि रञ्जयति कृष्णम् इदम् एतत् अनुरूपम् ॥ –4-
nIla nalina Abhamapi tanvi tava lOchanam dhArayati kOkanada rUpam
kusuma shara bANa bhAvEna yadi ranjayati kRshNam idam Etat anurUpam
O slender one (tanvi)! Though (api) your (tava) eyes (lochanam) resemble (Abham) a blue lotus (nIla nalina) now, in anger, (implied) they wear (dhArayati) the appearance (rUpa) of a red water lily (kOkanada). If (yadi) they (idam) are transformed (bhAvEna) into flower-tipped (kusuma) arrows (shara bANa) (note: cupid’s love arrows are flower-tipped arrows) they will dye/redden (ranjayati) the dark-hued one (kRshNa) to match (anurUpam) (i.e he will be flushed with love).
स्फुरतु कुचकुम्भयोः उपरि मणि मञ्जरी रञ्जयतु तव हृदय देशम् |
रसतु रशना अपि तव घन जघन मण्डले घोषयतु मन्मथ निदेशम् |॥–5-
sphuratu kuchakumbhayOh upari maNi manjarI ranjayatu tava hRdaya dEsham
rasatu rashanA api tava ghana jaghana maNDale ghOshayatu manmatha nidEsham
The pearl (manjari) mani (ornament) on top of (upari) your (tava) water-pot like (kumbhayOH) breasts (kucha) quiver (sphuratu) on your (tava) chest (hRdaya=heart, dEsham=place). Let the girdle (rashanA) also (api) tinkle, make sounds (rasatu) on your compact (ghana) hip and loin (jaghana) areas (maNDalE) to proclaim aloud (ghOshayatu) Cupid’s (manmata) command (nidEsham).
स्थल कमल गञ्जनम् मम हृदय रञ्जनम् जनित रति रङ्ग पर भागम् ।
भण मसृण वाणि करवाणि चरण द्वयम् सरस लसत् अलक्तक रागम् ॥ –6-
sthala kamala ganjanam mama hRdaya ranjanam janita rati ranga para bhAgam
bhaNa masRNa vANi karvANi charaNa dvayam sarasa lasat alaktaka rAgam
Like excellent (ganjanam) land-growing lotuses (sthara kamala), your feet (implied by next verse) delight (ranjanam) my (mama) heart (hRdaya) producing (janita) the pleasure of love (rati), colouring (ranga) another part (para bhAgam). Tell me (bhaNa vANi), what if I colour (karavANi=if I do, rAgam=colour) your two (dvayam) soft (masRNa) feet (charaNa) with red juice / lac (alaktaka) so they glitter (lasat) in passion (sarasa)?
स्मर गरल खण्डनम् मम शिरसि मण्डनम् देहि पद पल्लवम् उदारम् ।
ज्वलति मयि दारुणो मदन कदनानलो हरतु तदुपाहित विकारम् ॥ –7-
smara garala khaNDanam mama shirasi maNDanam dEhi pada pallava udAram
jvalati mayi dAruNO madana kadanAnalO haratu tadupAhita vikAram
Place (dEhi=give) your tender (pallava-tender leaf) feet (pada) on my (mama) head (shirasi) as an ornament (manDanam) to refute (khanDanam) Cupid’s (smara) poison (garala). Cupid’s (madana) destructive (kadana) fire (analaH) burns (jvalati) intensely (dAruNah) in me (mayi), let your feet (implied) take away (haratu) that (tat) disquietitude (vikAram) caused by (implied) that fire (upAhita).
इति चटुल चाटु पटु चारु मुर वैरिणः राधिकाम् अधि वचन जातम् ।
जयति जयदेव कवि भारती भूषितम् मानिनी जन जनित अति शातम् ॥ –8-
(alternate rendition for last two lines:
जयतु पद्मावति रमण जयदेव कवि भारती भणितम् इति गीतम् )
iti chaTula chATu paTu chAru vairiNah rAdhikAm adhi vachana jAtam
jayati jayadEva kavi bhAratI bhUshitam mAninI jana janita ati shAtam
jayatu padmAvati ramaNa jayadEva kavi bhAratI bhaNitam iti gItam
Such (iti) were the sweet (chaTula) pleasing words (chATu) words (vachana) uttered (jAtam=happened) by the clever (paTu) and endearing (chAru) Krishna (=the enemy (viriNah) of Mura) to Radha (rAdhAm adhi). May the poet (kavi) Jayadeva’s well-adorned (bhUshitam) literary composition (bhArathI) result in (janita) extreme happiness (ati shAtam) for women folk (mAninI jana). [Alternate : Victory (jayatu) to the husband (ramaNa) of Padmavati. Such (iti) is the literary composition (bhArathi) uttered (bhaNitam) by the poet (kavi) Jayadeva, a song (gItam) of praise (paNita)]
33 responses to “Priye Charusheele”
I like the this version by Unnikrishnan http://karnatic-mp3.blogspot.com.au/2011/05/priye-charusheele-punnikrishnan.html
Different feeling altogether – how much the ragam makes a difference to the lyrics
I listen to Unni’s version often, I really like it too!! But the mood of Vasanti matches the mood of the words so well…
When I saw the caption I thought you are going to play Balamuralikrishna’s rendition.
I did consider that first, but most Carnatic music fans have no doubt heard that already..and also I was in the mood for Vasanti and O.S.Arun has done such a good job with it 🙂
Must read up on Gita Govindam ; I am completely ignorant on this. Like you, I also seem to be in the mood for Vasanti. Lovely rendition by OS Arun.
Kudos on the translation. Its a long one and you’ve brought out the essence beautifully in English.
Vasanti sounds delightful doesn’t it! Glad you enjoyed it. Many of the songs of Gita Govindam have been sung by Balamurali Krishna, they are available in Raaga.com . I know you don’t enjoy our classical dance forms, but the Odissi danced to the Ashtapadis..its just gorgeous!
Thanks for reading the translation Ramesh, you might well be the only one who does! I normally don’t count the time I put into blog posts but this was onerous as it was long and complicated. There was a moment I wondered why I bothered, but then I decided I bothered just for myself so it doesn’t really matter how much time it took…. I’m happy at least one person has a look 🙂
well ..my son definitely has spent quite some time with your translation.. and he is no mean translator himself( http://vishnuvkblog.blogspot.in/2013/)..do carry on the good work!!
Thank you for your comment..I had a quick look at your son’s blog, I will examine it in more detail at my leisure. There is such treasure in Sanskrit literature but which is largely inaccessible to the ordinary person. Efforts in translation by whoever has the interest and skills make it available to a much larger group of people, doesn’t it…Thank you for your encouragement.
I suppose you are aware of the Clay Sanskrit Library at http://www.claysanskritlibrary.org? I have a few of their books and refer to them often. A wonderful collection of Sanskrit literature translated into English by professors and scholars and presented side by side with the Sanskrit original, making it easier for native english speakers, although, readers native to the Indian subcontinent, like me, may find some translation a tad confusing.
No, I didn’t know about it! I just quickly checked it up – looks like a treasure trove! Thank you so much for the link, I am very grateful. I will certainly make good use of it in the future.
OS Arun’s rendtion in Vasanti was done with such exquisite care and did justice to the substance of the song. This ragam brought back melodies that I had heard a long while back. It is possible to compose some haunting viraha or dirge with this raga. Listen to : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d0bO4EwSFkk This ragam’s is only one note remove from Mohanam: chatusruti dhaivata is replaced by suddha dhaivata… and there lies the difference. The transition from suddha dhaivata to tara shadja, that wide gap is probably what contributes to the yearning, pining mood that finds distinctively in Vasanti.
Suja – I am also very familiar with the Odissi renditions of Ashtapadi. It is amazing how this particular composition came down to the South and became so popular.
There is a sampradaya of singing Jayadeva’s ashtapadi in Kerala temples, in a singing style that predates the present day Carnatic music. It is called Sopana Sangeetham (singing at the steps to the sanctum) which has old ragas (gramaragas) that are mostly defunct. This singing style, was probably influenced by the Tamil panns and are considered as remnants of the archaic margi tradition as opposed to the desi music (all modern classical forms). The kottipadi seva as its is usually known – you would see this in a Krishna temple in Kerala where the singer plays the idakka, a percussion instrument that also serves as a string instrument considering that the timbre can be altered by the player by pulling on the strings.
Hi Jay, As always your comment is interestingly full of info. Even I wondered about how different Vasanti sounds to Mohanam though the difference is just one note. I had kept trying to ‘feel’ Mohanam while I was listening to O.S.Arun but I just couldn’t!! I really havent much of this raga though, like you, some parts reminded me of film music..there is a lightness, isn’t there. It seems to be called Bhupeshwari or Bhupkali in the North but as its a newly developed raga, its not really mainstream. I listen to a very nice Lalgudi thillana which I enjoy very much..I hope you have heard it? Its in an album called Tillas by GJR krishnan and Vijayalakshmi, available or Spotify and other online radios.
Very interesting to hear about Sopana Sangeetham, I will try and listen to it on the internet. I had never heard of the Idakka, thanks for that bit of knowledge.
I stumbled into your blog and found to be delightful.
The link below is from Harigovindan, one of the best Sopana Sangeetham exponent, singing this same song.
You might find it interesting.
Welcome to my blog 🙂 Thank you for your kind words, I am glad you find my blog enjoyable. Thank you for sending me that link. oh Wow! What a voice Harigovindan has!! Love the rhythm too..I had intended to search for Sopana sangeethem after reading Jay’s comment; thank you for saving me the effort!
i truly appreciate the time you have spent on this translation and can only reiterate how well spent it is!
loved it. please take the time and effort to do it for the other ashtapadis too, at your pace.
will wait patiently for them.
Thank you Raji for your encouraging words !! It is a labour of love, such translations.. And yes, I have plans for translating at least two others which I like very much, perhaps later this year. The world of music is an unending font of inspiration!
I just heard the OS Arun piece. As someone pointed out in the youtube comments, it is so close to the “abke ham bichde…” of Mehdi Hasan!
Did you do any posts on Mehdi Hasan? Would love to read them.
Hi Srinivas, There is a similarity to ‘abke bichde’ isn’t it..even in the style! But OS Arun’s melody is very distinctive as his style so I dont quite see it as a ‘lift’.. No, I havent done any posts on Mehdi Hassan. When I was in a Ghazal mad stage, I found amongst my friends a deep schism between the Ghulam Ali fans and the Mehdi Hassan fans – and I was always very strongly in the former set 🙂 I have written on Ghulam Ali’s songs..Mehfil Mein Baar Baar and Awargi. I think you will like it..
I didn’t call it a “lift”. An “Influence”, perhaps…
I did read your piece on Awargi – one of my favorites – and enjoyed it too.
I was a fan of Ghulam Ali and I heard very little of Mehdi Hasan. Gave it (ghazal listening) up when I found my Urdu to be woefully inadequate.
Brilliant translation! Thank you so much.
You are welcome 🙂
Beautiful translation…. Blissful rendition by both OS Arun & Unni Krishnan. The mood caught in Raaga Vaasanthi is just divine !! Thanks Suja.
Thank you for the nice comment, glad you enjoyed it!
Hi.. I am new to your blog.. I am new to carnatic music as well.. Apart from a very brief stint with veena at a very young age.. I have just now strted listening to carnatic music.. Your blog is the go to thing for me when i search for anything related to.music now a days.. And now after may be a month of listening daily in the morning for 20 min or so.. I get these adrenaline surges when i can identify and connect similar sounding phrases in other songs.. I don know if i can spare more time As i work full time and have a toddler son..
1.Can you suggest a way in which i can hone my listening.. Do i need to prepare play lists for each raaga and hear..
2.And I liked the way you enumerated the raga for each stanza in m.s. ammas bhaja govindam.. Because these ragamalikas are nice to hear but i cant check the raga.. Can you give the raga for each verse for m l vasanthakumari s sancharadara/ raase harimiha ashtapadi..
Hi Arti, Welcome to my blog! I am glad that my posts have proven helpful to you. What you are doing is a great first step to learning to appreciate Carnatic Music. I am a great believer in background listening while I am busy with household chores like cooking, cleaning, ironing etc. With a small child, even those times are for multi-tasking I know 🙂 But even snatches of music retained will give you the ability to link and recognize. As to honing your listening, it is rather boring to stick to only one raga, isn’t it? Why don’t you choose 3 or 4 of the ragas which appeal to you and make a playlist of different songs in the ragas you have chosen. At first listen passively, just absorbing the music. With repeated hearings you will start picking up the similarities between different songs in the same raga which will lead to raga recognition in the long run.
I am not really familiar with MLV’s sancharadara. I’ll keep it in mind for a future post.
I never imagined O.S.Arun would mesmerize me like this. Great rendition. It is like listening to my fav kishore. thanks.
This rendition totally fascinated me when I heard it first – I kept listening to it in a loop, unable to put it off! I too have never heard O.S.Arun sound quite so good…As to Kishore, the quality of the voice is quite irreplaceable!
What a wonderful rendition by O.S. Arun. The best of all renditions IMHO. Apart from the ones mentioned here…I did find this Shankar Mahadevan’s rendition (https://youtu.be/ic5ij02Q6VM) and Sikkil Gurucharan’s honest modulations in the same Vasanthi ragam (https://youtu.be/Eu_CW2CZ19g).
Also, I took liberty and posted my grandfather’s violin solo here: https://youtu.be/EpAnYt75HVU
Thanks for all the wonderful work you do!
Absolutely – I think it’s a great rendition! In fact the whole album is good. Thanks for posting the links, I think I have heard Shankar and Gurucharan’s renditions before. Unfortunately your grandfather’s solo link is not working….
Apologies – I modified the video uploaded on YouTube and did not provide the appropriate link. Here it is: https://youtu.be/jtVQ4yC3WXk
So Beautiful! Amazing work! Thank you so much for the efforts.
Thank you 🙂