Gita Govinda manuscript c. 1550.
The Gita Govinda (Oriya: ଗୀତ ଗୋବିନ୍ଦ, Devanagari: गीत गोविन्द) (Song of Govinda) is a work composed by the 12th-century poet, Jayadeva, who was born in Kenduli Sasan near Puri in Odisha. It describes the relationship between Krishna and the gopis (female cow herders) of Vrindavana, and in particular one gopi named Radha. This work has been of great importance in the development of the bhakti traditions of Hinduism.
The Gita Govinda is organized into twelve chapters. Each chapter is further sub-divided into twenty four divisions called Prabandhas. The prabandhas contain couplets grouped into eights, called Ashtapadis. It is mentioned that Radha is greater than Krishna. The text also elaborates the eight moods of Heroine, the Ashta Nayika in its verses, which over the years has been an inspiration for many compositions and choreographic works in Indian classical dances.
The work delineates the love of Krishna for Radha, the milkmaid, his faithlessness and subsequent return to her, and is taken as symbolical of the human soul's straying from its true allegiance but returning at length to the God which created it.
The first English translation of the Gita Govinda was published by Sir William Jones in 1792, where Kalinga (ancient Odisha) is referred to as the origin of the text. Since then, the Gita Govinda has been translated to many languages throughout the world, and is considered to be among the finest examples of Sanskrit poetry.
Barbara Stoler Miller's translated the book in 1977 as Love Song of the Dark Lord: Jayadeva's Gita Govinda (ISBN 0-231-11097-9). The book contains a foreword by John Stratton Hawley and includes extensive commentary on the verse and topic of the poem.
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