Shri Jayadeva Goswami was the court pandit of Shri Lakshman Sena, the King of Bengal. Jayadeva's father was Bhojadev, and his mother's name was Bamadevi. They lived in the Birbhum district of what is now West Bengal in a village called Kenubilva Gram. He was born at the beginning of the twelfth centrury AD.
Jayadeva Goswami's wife was named Shri Padmavati. When he was the court pandit of Laksman Sen, he lived on the banks of the Ganges. Approximately three hundred years before the appearance of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Shri Jayadeva Goswami lived in Bengal. He was the author of Shri Gita Govinda, which is mentioned by Krishnadas Kaviraja Goswami in the Chaitanya Charitamrita as follows (CC ML 2/11): "Day and night, in teh company of Svarupa Damodara and Ramananda Raya, Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu used to hear with great ecstasy the songs of Vidyapati and Chandidas, as well as a drama composed by Ramananda Raya. He also used to relish hearing the Krishna-Karnamrita and the Gita-Govinda. In his introduction, Jayadeva says that the Gita Govinda is a scripture describing the intimate pastimes of Shri Radha and Govinda. It may be worshiped and served by those who are extremely qualified in devotional piety. For those who are constantly remembering the rasik pastimes of Shri Hari within his mind, Shri Jayadeva has composed this divine poetic song glorifying the Lord's internal pastimes. He requests the topmost spiritually advanced souls to hear it with gravity and attention.
There are many many traditional stories regarding the life of Shri Jayadeva. The following story is generally accepted as authoritative. One day, Shri Jayadeva Goswami was composing a particulary sensitive section of the Gita-Govinda, describing Krishna's relationship with the gopis headed by Radharani. He meditated deeply on what he had written and became concerned that he had perhaps gone too far in describing the exalted character of the gopis. What he had written seemed to represent Krishna's position as being, in a sense, subordinate to that of the gopis. And yet Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. How could he be subordinate to the gopis? He had been inspired to pen a line stating that Krishna bows down to touch the lotus feet of Shri Radha. But his hand shrank from the page. He hesitated thinking, "How can I commit such an idea to writing? How can I have the audacity to put such a thing it in black and white?" At that time he decided to go bathe in the Ganges, in hopes that perhaps some inspiration would come to him.
Jayadeva Goswami went off to take his afternoon bath, leaving his wife Padmavati behind to cook the offering for the Deities. While he was away, Krishna arrived at his house in the dress of Jayadeva. Krishna went over to Jayadeva's writing desk, and there found the sheaves of palm upon which the Gita-Govinda was written. Krishna picked up Jayadeva's pen and wrote the verse with the line "dehi padapallava-mudaram," wherein it says "Krishna bows down his head to the lotus feet of Shri Radha." With this Krishna, disguised as Jayadeva, sat down and took the prasadam prepared by Padmavati. After finishing his prasadam, Krishna stepped outside and vanished. Just at that time, Jayadeva returned from bathing at the Ganges. When he asked about prasadam, his wife was perplexed. When she told Jayadeva what had just happened, Jayadeva was astonished. He was he went over to his book and saw there in wet ink the verse he had thought of writing before he had gone to bathe in the Ganges: dehi padapallavam udaram: Krishna bows down his head to the lotus feet of Shri Radha. Upon seeing that verse he said to Padmavati, "It is a miracle! See here: what I told you I was reluctant to write has been written here exactly as I thought of it." Tears of ecstasy flowed in rivers from his eyes as he understood the mystery of what had just transpired. "Padmavati!" he said, "You are most fortunate. Krishna Himself has written the line, dehi padapallavam udaram, and accepted prasadam from your own hand."
Shrila Bhaktivinoda Thakura has written that although Chandidasa, Vidyapati, Bilvamangala, and Jayadeva lived before Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was externally manifest within this world, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's conception of bhakti had arisen within their hearts and was expresed in their writings. Besides the Gita Govinda, Jayadeva Gowsami has written another book called Chandraloka.
The famous Dasa-Avatara-Gita, describing the ten avatars of Vishnu is from Gita-Govinda. Jayadeva Goswami's disappearance day is on Pausha-Sankranti. At present, at Jayadeva's birthplace in Kendubiva Gram, there is a festival every year on this day which is known as the Jayadeva Mela.
Three hundred years before the appearance of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, Sri Jayadeva Gosvami served as the court pandita of Sri Laksmana Sena, King of Bengal. Jayadeva and Padmavati (his wife and an expert dancer) used to worship Lord Sri Krishna with single-minded devotion. After some time, he left the opulent royal life to live peacefully in a grass hut in Champahatti, Navadvipa. Here Jayadeva wrote Gita Govinda.
One day while working on Gita Govinda Jayadeva felt inspired to write, "Krishna bows down to touch the lotus feet of Srimati Radharani." Jayadeva was hesitant to say something which might diminish Lord Krishna's position as the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
He went to refresh himself with a Ganges bath before honoring Radha-Madhava's maha-prasadam. In his absence, Krishna Himself, disguised as Jayadeva, wrote a line in the Gita Govinda: dehi pada pallavam udaram. The Lord also accepted prasadam from Padmavati. Upon returning, Jayadeva was astonished to see the line. Understanding the mystery, Jayadeva cried in spiritual joy and said, "Padmavati, we are most fortunate. Sri Krishna Himself has written the line, dehi pada pallavam udaram, and taken prasadam from your hand."
Gita Govinda expresses the intense feelings of separation that Sri Radhika felt before the rasa dance. It also describes the most intimate pastimes of Radha-Syamasundara. During Lord Caitanya's Gambhira lila in Jagannatha Puri, He would thoroughly relish hearing the Gita Govinda sung daily by Svarupa Damodara and Mukunda.
The author Jayadeva Gosvami describes Gita Govinda: "Whatever is delightful in varieties of music, whatever is graceful in fine strains of poetry, and whatever is exquisite in the sweet art of love-let the happy and wise learn from the songs of Jayadeva."
After finishing Gita Govinda Jayadeva visited Vrndavana and then lived his last in Jagannatha Puri. He introduced daily reading of Gita Govinda in the temple for the pleasure of Lord Jagannatha.
[Available from: www.stephen-knapp.com]
[Home page] [Back to Biographies of Saints and Sages list]