GitaGovinda is the best known composition of Jayadeva. It is a lyrical poetry that 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 Ashtapadi.
Jayadeva sings to the joy of Krishna, wishing him joyous togetherness of Radha, addressing him variously like Govinda, Maadhava, Hari, Keshava etc., according to the situation, and hence it is called Gita Govindam, like Bhaja Govindam i.e., devout yourself unto Govinda. And Radha is none else than Krishna, the very fount of his lila sakthi creative power. She transmutes His glory into prema ananda or Maharaas, the zenith of blissful happiness, in which alone He takes pleasure. This is the idea of Gita Govindam. It symbolizing the longing and striving of the individual, for communion with God, culminating in blissful union of Jeevathma & Paramatma.
Gitagovinda is the portrayal of madhurabhakthi. Madhurabhakthi means the union of the jeevathma with Paramathma. The Lord feels the separation of the jeevathma , more than the jeeva itself. We do not seem to bother having come away from Him. But He is pained to see us go & tries all sorts of methods to bring us near..sometimes, by winning our hearts with His soundarya & kalyana gunas. And other times punishing us to make us see the wordly pleasures are not permanent. Then we blame Him for all our misfortunes like Radha did, calling Him heartless. The saki(friend) acts as Acharya(teacher) to make us see our foolishness in rebuking Him, when He’s needed the most. The Lord shows here in Gita Govinda that He holds us dear, even if we turn away.
Importance of GitaGovinda – Dr. Saroja Ramanujam
The king who ruled the country then was a poet also. He composed many verses on Lord Jagannatha of Puri. But his compositions were not as popular as that of Jayadeva. Seeing that everyone sang and read the Gitagovinda of Jayadeva he also wrote another kavya in the same name and ordered that only his work should be read and sung by all and who does not obey this command will be punished. Out of fear people stopped singing the Gitagovinda of Jayadeva.
Once when the king went to the temple he saw Jayadeva singing his kavya in front of the Lord and demanded explanations as to why he did not sing the composition of the king. Jayadeva as though afraid , said that the kavya of the king was nevertheless great but it has to be tested which of the two the Lord holds dear. Then the king agreed as he was also a great devotee of the Lord and they placed all the works of the king and also that of Jayadeva at the feet of the Lord and went home, after locking the door.
The next morning when they opened the door of the sanctum sanctoram of the Lord they saw Jaydeva’s Gitagovinda adorning the feet of the Lord while that of the king was thrown on the floor. The king went away grief-stricken and did not eat or drink anything the whole day and went to sleep with heavy heart. The Lord appeared in his dream and said that the king was grieving without any reason because what happened was to show that the Gitagovinda of Jayadeva is dear to His heart though He valued also the work of the king. The Lord told him to respect the Gitagovinda of Jayadeva and popularize it. From that time the king became a disciple of Jayadeva and studied Gitagovinda and also spread its fame.
Another scene was enacted by the Lord to show the greatness of Gitagovinda. A female vegetable vendor who used to go in the night to gather vegetables used to sing the ashtapadhis while she was plucking the vegetables. The Lord who was drawn by her devotion and His love for the adhtapdhi of Jayadeva used to go behind listening to her singing. As she went round the plants the peethambara of the Lord was torn in places by the thorns and branches of the plants. It was the leela of the Lord to show the devotion of the woman to the world that the following morning when the priest opened the door and was astounded to see that the garment of the Lord was torn in places. He told this to the king and both were very sad that this was happened and thought that some aparaadha was done to the Lord by them. Then in the night the Lord appeared in the dreams of both and told them what happened. Then the king brought the woman to the court and gave g her enough wealth and told her to sing the ashtapadhi all day with free heart in front of the Lord.By this the king concluded that Jaydeva must be the king of devotees , bhaktharaja. This is an example to show that the Lord elevates His devotees to the exalted position to be respected by all.