Life of Govinda Das
Govinda Das was born in a Baidya family in Srikhanda, Bardhaman, in his mother’s ancestral home. He was the younger son of Chaitanya and Sulochana. Sirkhanda is one of the centers of Gaudiya Vaishnavism at present. Govinda Das’s grandfather Damodar Sen was also a poet and he was the author of Sangit Damodar. According to the Chaitanya Charitamrita, Govinda Das in his early life was at a Shakta, a worshipper of the Goddess Shakti.. He and his brother Ramchandra were both initiated into Vaishnavism by Srinivasa Acharya.
Contributions of Govinda Das
Govinda Das was one of the leading poets of the Vaishnava Padabali movement; Vaishnava Padabali is a Bengali poetry based on Radha-Krishna legends written from 14th to 17th centuries. In this movement, Govinda Das was mostly influenced by the works of Maithili poet Vidyapati and so he travelled to his village of Bishphi in Madhubani to meet and collect his works.
.Govinda Das’s poetic contributions are preserved in two texts- ‘Sanghamitra-Madhava’ and ‘Gitamrita’. Poems of Govinda Das reflect the trysts of Radha-Krishna, their anxiousness and Radha’s unhapiness especially at Krishna’s wanton ways. His poem ‘Shyam Abhisare Chalu Binodini Radha’ (Radha goes to meet Krishna) talks about how Radha comes to the woods to meet Krishna. When finally they meet, each gazes on the other and their hair bristles with excitement. Another poem of Govinda Das naming ‘Rasabati Radha Rasamaya Kanha’ shows how the lovers fight and exchange angry words with each other but at last it all ends with an embrace.
Often, Govinda Das himself enters the scene and directly addresses one of the characters. It is a part of the vanity (bhanita) line at the end; a traditional line which introduces the name of the poet. Govinda Das’s poetry has been translated into English by Arun Biswas, Priscilla Denise Levertov and others. He is also the author of the play ‘Sangit Sadhak’ along with that Govinda Das was considered as a Kaviraj by Jiva Goswami.
Influence of Govinda Das
Govinda Das influenced the next generations with his poetry as well. In 1884, Rabindranath Tagore composed the opera ‘Bhanusingher Padavali’. Writing under the disguise of an unknown 17th century Bhakti poet, Tagore also included a song of Govinda Das ‘Sundari Radhe Aoye Bani’ (beautiful Radha comes to the forest), which he set to music as well. Govinda Das’s songs are still regularly performed in Kirtans especially among Vaishnavas.
(Last Updated on : 18-06-2019)
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