‘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)]