Musicality in Jayadeva’s Geetha Govinda
Candidate Name: G. K. Shubhamangala
Research Subject: Music
KARNATAKA SHASTRIYA SANGEETHA RACHANEGALA MELE SAMSKRUTHADA PRABHAAVA
Performing Arts, Bangalore University
Dr. S.N. Susheela, Professor, Bangalore University
Geetha Govinda is a Sanskrit poem written in the 12th Century by Jayadeva depicting the love of Sri Krishna and Radha, we can see the different phases of sringara in the 12 sargas (chapters).
The Geetha Govinda kavyam consists of 120 poems. There are 24 Ashtapadi prabandhams:-
The 12 sargas in the kavyams can be mentioned as follows: –
- Saamoda Daamodaram
- Aklesha Keshavam
- Mugdha Madhusudanam
- Snigdha Madhusudanam
- Saakaanksha Pundareekaaksham
- Dhanya Vaikunta Kumkumam
- Naagara Narayanam
- Vilakshya Lakshmipathim
- Mughdha Mukundam
- Chatura Chaturbhujam
- Saananda Daamodaram
- Supreetha Peethambaram
The names of the sargas itself gives the picture of that particular prabandham. The raasa leela of srikrishna with the gopikas described in the “Sri Madbhagavatham takes a new shape in the Geetha govinda where Radha one among the gopika sthrees is introduced as the heroine (naayika) in the story.
Gitagovinda had a deep impact on literature, spiritual thought as well as fine arts (such as music, dance and painting) across the whole of India for centuries. This epic featuring the love sports of the loveable, relatable, human – like God Krishna has captured the imagination of artists, scholars and common people alike across the nation.
Musicality in Geetha Govinda:-
Geetha govinda as mentioned above has 12th sargas with 24 prabhandas called asthapadi’s each song (except the 1st, 2nd and 10th ) having 8 verses. Each asthapadi is preceded by an ‘avatharika sholaka’ and ends with three or more mangala sholakas. The composers mudra is found at the end of each of the ashtapadi’s in the first verse of each song, the second half of the verse is the refrain i.e. repeated at the end of all verses.
The structure of the ashtapadi’s seems to have influenced later composers in south India. One possible example of this is the feature of the Pallavi being repeated at the end of other verses (charanas) is seen in the “devarnama / dasara pada” songs of haridasa’s and “padams” of Thaallapaka composers (15th Century and later – this could probably have emerged due to the influence of asthapadi. The usage of different meters across the gitagovinda also could have been influencing factor for these composers, as they too have experimented with a wide variety of meters in their songs.
Despite the Gitagovinda songs being sung is different musical styles in various parts of the country over several centuries, there has been no alteration in the structure or lyrics of the songs.
The prabandha-s in the Gītagōvinda have been set to specific rāga-s by Jayadēva. As mentioned earlier, the original melodies of the prabandha-s are not known today. In the editions ‘Gīta-gōvind of Jayadeva’ and ‘Śrīgītagōvindamahākāvyam’, we get the following list of rāga-s.
|Sl No.||rāga||sarga||prabandha||starting words|
|10||Dēśīvarāḍī||5||10||vahati malaya samīre|
|12||Gōṇḍakarī||6||12||paśyati diśi diśi|
|17||Bhairavi||8||17||rajani janita guru|
|20||Vasanta||11||20||viracita cāṭu racanaṁ|
The complete characteristics of the above rāga-s in Jayadēva’s time cannot be described with a great degree of accuracy. That is because though some basic definitions can be obtained from contemporary musicological texts, the exact pitch positions and embellishments of svara-s of these rāga-s in the 12th century are indeterminable. Examining the texts of the 12th and 13th century such as Bharatabhāśya, Mānasōllāsa, Saṅgītasudhākara, Saṅgītasamayasāra and Saṅgitaratnākara, we get almost similar descriptions of most of the above rāga-s except Kēdāra and Asāvarī . For example, the rāga dēśākhya is described thus: It is a ‘rāgāṅga’ rāga, does not have the svara ṛṣabha, the svara gāndhāra plays the role of graha, aṁśa & nyāsa, in the mandra (lower) register the range is upto the niṣāda svara, gāndhāra is rendered with sphurita gamaka, though the rāga normally has only six svara-s, it is rendered complete (with seven svara-s) on the flute.
Some interesting features of these rāga-s emerge from the study of the descriptions in Saṅgītasamayasāra and Saṅgitaratnākara :
- Most of the rāga-s are classified as ‘adhunāprasiddha’ (i.e. well-known in contemporary times) in Saṅgitaratnākara
- Most of the rāga-s are said to be used in the context of ṣṛṅgāra rasa
It is also interesting to note that the rāga-s mentioned by Jayadēva are said to be associated with ṣrṅgāra rasa as per Śārṅgadēva. The association of rāga with rāsa is an ancient concept in Indian music. However, it is not the rāga itself that evokes the rasa, but other factors (such as lyrics) that do so – the rāga only reinforces the rasa. The association of particular rāga-s with particular rasa-s in Indian music have been as per conventions laid down . Thus, most of the rāga-s used by Jayadēva either followed the convention of the rāga-s prescribed for ṣṛṅgāra in his times, or created a new convention of association of the rāga-s to ṣrṅgāra rasa. In the latter case, Gītagōvinda probably set a precedent for other composers in associating particular rāga-s with ṣrṅgāra rasa.
Interestingly, it appears that the rāga-s assigned to the prabandha-s of Gītagōvinda changed just three centuries later. This can be seen in the ‘Rasikapriyā’ commentary of Maharāṇa Kuṁbha of Mewar which was written in the 15th century. He mentions rāga-s such as Lalita, Vasanta, Mālavaśrī, Kēdāra, Śrī, Malhāra etc. which were probably popular rāga-s in his time. The descriptions of these rāga-s can be seen North Indian works of the 16th century and later such as Rasakaumudi of Śrīkaṇṭha, Saṅgītapārijāta of Ahōbala and Rāgataraṅgiṇi of Locana Kavi. Kuṁbha also embellished the songs by insertion of pāṭa-s, tāna-s and gamakālāpa.
In the edition ‘Gīta-gōvind of Jayadeva’, tāla-s have been specified for each of the prabandha-s. These tāla-s are: rūpaka, niḥsāru, yati, ēkatālī and aṣṭa. The tāla-s niḥsāru, ēkatāli and aṭṭa have been assigned to some varieties of sālagasūḍa prabandha-s in Saṅgītaratnākara. According to Siṁhabhūpāla, the commentator of Saṅgitaratnākara, rūpaka is the name of the ‘ānanda’ variety of niḥsāru tāla (Siṁhabhūpāla’s commentary on Saṅgitaratnākara, 5, 280). The ‘aṣṭa’ tāla could be the same as ‘aḍḍatāla’ tāla of Saṅgitaratnākara. The tāla ‘yati’ is not mentioned as one of the sālagasūḍa tāla-s. But the 12th century text Mānasōllāsa gives it’s structure as two druta-s and two laghu-s. In Odisha texts starting from the 15th century onwards such as Gītaprakāśa, Nāṭyamanōrama, and Saṅgītanārāyaṇa, we find almost similar descriptions for this tāla with the structure of two druta-s and two-laghu-s, which is identical to the structure of the sālagasūḍa tāla ‘aḍḍatāla’ given in Saṅgītaratnākara. The text Saṅgītasārasaṅgraha gives more varieties of this tāla apart from the above-mentioned structure. It is interesting to note that some of the Odisha texts mention two varieties for this tāla – the śuddha variety which is as given above and the ‘tripuṭāntara’ variety which occurs in pada-s only and not gīta-s. In Saṅgitaratnākara, in the tāla chapter, ‘tripuṭa’ has been mentioned as another name for aḍḍatāla (SR, 5, 307). From these references, it seems likely that most of the original tāla-s of the Gītagōvinda were either similar to or identical to the sālagasūḍa tāla-s. It has been mentioned elsewhere that sālagasūḍa prabandha-s were well-known and practiced in India from the 12th century onwards . It is possible that Jayadēva chose to set his songs to some of the popular sālagasūḍa tāla-s of his time, and also that his choice further led to those tāla-s becoming more popular.
When we look at the commentary of Kuṁbha, as in the case of rāga-s, the tāla-s too have changed with respect to those specified by Jayadēva. Kuṁbha specifies the tāla-s ādi, jhaṁpa, pratimaṇṭha, niḥsāra, aḍḍatāla which are again tāla-s associated with sālagasūḍa prabandha-s. Apart from these, there are also other tāla-s varṇayati, dhrutamaṇṭhaka, tṛtīya, pratitāla, jayamaṅgala specified by Kuṁbha for some of the prabandha-s. The tāla tṛtīya has been equated to the tripuṭa tāla in the 15th century text Saṅgitaśirōmaṇi (SS, 12, 59-60). In the same text, we see that varṇayati tāla has different structures, one of them identical to aḍḍatāla with two druta-s and two laghu-s (SS, 12, 91-92), pratitāla has one laghu and one druta (SS, 12, 94-95), jayamaṅgala has two sagaṇa-s – each consisting of two laghu-s and one guru. From these descriptions, we see that some of the tāla-s specified by Kuṁbha appear to be identical to the sālagasūḍa tāla-s. So, though the assignment of specific tāla-s to the prabandha-s has changed, the trend of using sālagasūḍa tāla-s for the prabandha-s continues in Kuṁbha’s time.
If we examine the Śrutirañjanī commentary by Lakṣmaṇa Sūri i.e. Lakṣmīdhara (16th Century AD), he describes ‘śūlādi’ compositions of three types – śuddha śūlādi, śālikā śūlādi and dēśa śūlādi. He further describes dēśa śūlādi tāla-s as dhruva, rūpaka, tripuṭa, jhaṁpa, aṭṭa and ēkatālī and says that the Gītagōvinda songs were probably set to these tāla-s. These tāla-s are ‘sūlādi’ tāla-s described in the 17th century texts Caturdaṇḍīprkāśikā and Rāgatālacintāmaṇi. It seems likely that ‘śūlādi’ is the same as ‘sūlādi’ and ‘śālikā śūlādi is identical to ‘śālaga śūḍa’ prabandha. It has been shown elsewhere that sālagasūḍa prabandha-s were the pre-cursor to suḷādi songs (that emerged in the 15th Century) and some varieties of sālagasūḍa tāla-s evolved into the sūlādi or suḷādi tāla-s . Therefore, it appears that the songs of Gītagōvinda, which originally used sālagasūḍa tāla-s were later set to the modified versions of these tāla-s – the sūlādi tāla-s. In several manuscripts in the Thanjavur TMSSM library, this author has come across many musical notations of gīta-s, prabandha-s and sūlādi-s. In the notations, apart from the sūlādi-s being set to their namesake ‘sūlādi tāla-s’, it is found that almost all gīta-s and prabandha-s too have been set to sūlādi tāla-s. The practice of setting prabandha-s to these tāla-s perhaps owes something to the influence of the Gītagōvinda songs being set to these tāla-s in the 16th century AD.
Apart from Lakṣmīdhara-s reference of the prabandha-s of Gītagōvinda being set to the sūlādi tāla-s, other changes in the tāla-s too could be seen after Jayadēva’s time. As mentioned earlier, the Gītagōvinda songs were set to the music of various regions such as Sōpāna Saṅgītam and modern Karnataka music. Accordingly, the tāla-s of these genres of music were used in the Gītagōvinda sung in these styles. The epic poem, set to different tāla-s in several parts of the country at various times continued to be popular with the different rhythmic structures.
We see that the Gītagōvinda has retained its identity as a popular musical work over space and time. It has influenced and been influenced by developments in Indian music across various regions, but it has always shone as a lilting musical composition. In its various ‘avatāra-s’, it has cast it’s influence on other art forms such as dance, moulded itself according to multiple interpretations at various levels and continues to enthrall rasika-s from all walks of life even in modern times.
Vid. T.S. Padmanabha Sharma
Venkateshwara Printing Press
A paper presented by Arati Rao at Bharathiya Vidya Bhavan on musicality of Gita Govinda
http://carnatica.net/special/ashtapadi-ppn-i.htm Accessed 13 June 2017
http://carnatica.net/special/ashtapadi-ppn-ii.htm Accessed 13 June 2017
http://carnatica.net/special/ashtapadi-ppn-iii.htm Accessed 13 June 2017