A multimedia experience on
Gīta Govinda, a
12th Century epic by Jayadeva was developed with the objective to familiarise audiences on
the fundamental concepts of Indian music, dance, art and their inter-relationships and
interpretation. The content was conceived by Dr. Kapila Vatsyayan, a scholar of
Gīta Govinda for over thirty years and an internationally acknowledged authority and pioneer of
inter-and multi-disciplinary studies in the humanities, and the arts. She is the author of
many definitive monographs on the Gīta Govinda including those on the diverse painting
schools, specially Mewar, Jaipur, Bundi and Assam.
experience consisted of a network of 13 physical and virtual multimedia spaces that
interpreted six songs of the poem spatially, laid out across two circular rings. Arranged
on the circular axis were the songs of the poem, showing various emotional situations of
Radha and Krishna in love. The two rings represented the poem's meanings through diverse
This has involved a major documentation
effort in video, audio, photography etc. - in total, forty giga bytes of
authored Gīta Govinda content was presented.
The multimedia experience makes explicit the dynamics of
the variable and the invariable in Indian arts and bears testimony to the phenomenon of
the underlying unity within the diversity of Indian culture. This was presented to the
public in December, 1997-January, 1998. Based on this material CD-ROMs are being prepared.
RANJIT MAKKUNI, a researcher at Xerox PARC,
USA led the multimedia research and design activities of the Gīta Govinda presentation at
IGNCA. He had also developed the internationally acclaimed cultural learning exhibit on
Tibetan Thangka paintings exhibited at the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco in 1989.
is a lyrical poetry in twelve chapters, sub-divided into twentyfour
divisions called Prabandha. The
author was Jayadeva of twelfth cenrtury.
In this work, the author has tried to combine religious fervour
with eroticism. It belongs to the medieval Vashnavism and describes the
love sports and pangs of separation of Radha and Krishna.
In this poem, according to the author, he has shown his mastery in
music and dance, his devotion to Vishnu, his understanding of science of
critics to examine these aspects, at the end of the work.
Each sub-division called prabandha contain two further division,
comprising mostly of eight couplets and hence it is called ashtapadi.
These ashtapadis are preceded and followed by verses in different
meters, numbering about thirteen. By
this he has shown his mastery over the science of metrics and his choice
of words are appreciated by all the later poets. There are more than forty commentaries on this work, apart from
regional versions and imitations. From
this one can understand the popularity of this work.
The lyrics of Gīta Govinda have been set to devotional music
throughout India. They have
been adapted in dance and also in painting.
All this was due to its capacity to arouse the emotions of the
audience. This is the very
reason for its translations in all the Indian
languages and in modern times into European languages.
When you hear the Gīta Govinda song or see its depiction by way
dance postures, it invokes your interest and conveys a literary flavour
and religious significance. It
gets mingled into the cultural ethos of the hearer.
It lends itself to be adapted to the different musical versions and
dance performance. Because of
its religious fervour, it was adapted by temple dancers.
Originating in Orissa, it has traveled to Bengal, Gujarat, South
India and even Nepal. Raga
and tala came to be assigned to these lyrics and they used for different
occasions to be sung or danced.
this multi-media production, we have chosen only a limited number of
verses and they are discussed from literary point of view are shown as
applied in music and dance and their renderings in temples, depicting the
madhura bhava of devotion. These
verses are also selected to show how an adept poet can adopt profane ideas
to profound heights of devotion.
About Gīta Govinda
twelfth century poet, was a contemporary of several other poets in the
court of Lakshmana Sena of Bengal, and even at a young age he attained
fame for skill in composing verses in Sanskrit with apt words, as per his
own statement in the introductory verses to Gīta Govinda. He further
says there that his mind has been made the residence of Goddess of
Learning and he was the king who made the feet of Padamavati dance to his
tunes and beats. The legend goes that Padmavati was the temple dancer at
the Puri Jagannath temple and Jayadeva married her and settled down there
to serve the Lord and Padmavati simultaneously. This tradition of Devadasi
Dance is being continued at Lord Jagannath Temple to this day. This
aspect also is discernible in his introductory verse wherein he says that
those interested in Hari smarana and those finding pleasure
in love sports may read his Gīta Govinda kayva.
The Gīta Govinda kayva
is a lyrical poem, dramatizing the love sports of Krishna and Radha on the
surface and conveying simultaneously the deep ethos of devotion of the
individual soul, its pining for God realization and finally attaining the
consummation in service of God. This Bhava is similar in both god
realization and eroticism and the cloak fits in well.
Since the Gīta Govinda
was composed specifically for dance performance during the night worship
of Lord Jagannatha, the composition is so deftly made as to be sung to the
beats of a dancer's foot movements. The author himself at the end of the
Kavya again states this fact, where he again emphasizes that the poem was
intended to the Kavya again states this fact, where he again emphasizes
that the poem intended to be a prop for meditation on Vishnu and it is
clothed in Srngara rasa by the kavi Jayadeva pandita
immersed in the contemplation of Krishna. The poem became so popular that
within a century or so, it spread to all corners of the country from east
to south, west and north and was adapted to dance, music, painting and
The Gīta Govinda consist
of twelve chapter, further divided into twenty-four songs. Each song
consists of eight couplets, it is called Ashtapadi. Chapter one and
chapter two, four five and twelve contain two ashtapadi each;
chapters three, six, eight, nine and ten contain only one ashtapadi each.
Thus there are twenty-four ashtapadis. These ashtapadis can
be set to music in different melodious ragas, which were
appreciated and followed by the poets later period. On which more than
hundred commentaries has been written in Sanskrit and over fifty more than
hundred commentaries have been written in Sanskrit and over fifty in
regional languages in India also in many foreign languages.
In this multimedia
production, a limited verses were chosen and discussed from literary point
of view are shown as applied in music and dance and their renderings in
temples, depicting of Madhura bhava of devotion and how an adept
poet can adopt profane ideas to profound height of devotion.
The first song has four
introductory verses, followed by eleven ashtapadi that describe the
purpose of the ten avataras of Vishnu and at the end prostrations
are offered for unhindered completion of the work. This is followed by
another ashtapadi where the hero of the work is hailed. Here the
author has indicated that this ashtapadi is Mangalam -
In the third song the
spring season is described with its multifarious features like pleasant
smelling and cool winds, and sweet sounds of the bees and cuckoos been
thinking of Krishna was being led by her maiden friend to these bowers
where Krishna can be found. In this hope Radha follows her friend.
In the fourth song, the
poet describes the delightful dance of love of Krishna with all gopis
in the dark forest of Vrndavana. All the gopis surround him,
embracing him with joy and caress him passionately and he praises them
hugging one, kissing another passionately, glancing at another and smiling
with other maiden in love. Jayadeva says that in reality, Krishna was
bestowing bliss on everyone.
In the eleventh song, the
poet describes the vipralambha srngara. Krishna the God of Love is
waiting Radha on the bank of river Yamuna. The poet compares the embrace
of Radha and Krishna with the lightning and the black cloud and with white
crane and dark cloud.
In the twelfth song, the
poet describes the pain and distress of Radha on the separation of
impertinent Krishna. Seeing the condition of Radha sitting in her bower
unable to move, filled by passion and setting her mind on Krishna all the
time. The sakhi goes to Krishna to tell of the state of madness
Radha, who sees him everywhere, before her mind's eye and she is alive
just with the only memory of her lover. The sakhi request him to go
quickly to meet Radha; who is waiting fully decked for the arrival of