A Story for a Verse - Jayadeva

स्मरगरलखण्डनं मम शिरसि मंडनं
देहि पदपल्लवमुदारम् ।
ज्वलति मयि दारुणो मदनकदनारुणो
हरतु तदुपाहितविकारम् ॥

Jayadeva is a Sanskrit poet who has attained immortal reputation through a single work. He lived in the twelfth century and was the court-poet of Lakshmanasena. His Gitagovindam finds no parallel in world literature. Innumerable poets have tried in vain to imitate his work. The amazing fact about Jayadeva is that mellifluous words seem to be in a competition to roll out of his tongue. He is the master of exquisite compositions created effortlessly.

The present verse is taken from the nineteenth canto of Gitagovindam. Its subject is the romance between Radha and Krishna.  Jayadeva’s Krishna begs Radha thus:

I am consumed by Manmatha’s poison;
I’m burning with desire.
Adorn my head by placing your tender feet on it.
It is a sure cure to all my problems.

After a few days of composing this verse, Jayadeva felt it is a bit too much; he thought that his verse does injustice to Krishna. Having decided that Krishna should not be made to beg Radha in such a manner, he erased this verse. He slept over it and looked at the poem the next day. To his utter surprise, the verse he had erased the previous night was still there. He tried again: same result!

He burnt the leaf on which he had written the verse. No use – the verse just wouldn’t go away. Accepting the divine scheme of things, Jayadeva retained the verse. It is said that Krishna himself came as the poet and composed this verse.

An apocryphal tale tells us that there was once a rumour spread about Jayadeva’s death. His wife Padmavati, having lost all composure, did not bother to verify the veracity of the news. Grief-stricken, she committed suicide. Jayadeva came running to her and sang this ashtapadi to bring her back to life. So this is known as amrutashtapadi or pranashtapadi.

Translated from Kannada by Shashi Kiran B. N.
(The original article is from the anthology Kavitegondu Kathe.)



Dr. Ganesh is a 'shatavadhani' and one of India’s foremost Sanskrit poets and scholars. He writes and lectures extensively on various subjects pertaining to India and Indian cultural heritage. He is a master of the ancient art of avadhana and is credited with reviving the art in Kannada. He is a recipient of the Badarayana-Vyasa Puraskar from the President of India for his contribution to the Sanskrit language.