Jayadeva`s dramatic lyrical poem Gitagovinda is a unique work in Indian literature and a source of inspiration in both medieval and contemporary Vaisnavism. It describes Krsna`s love with the Cowherdess Radha in twelve cantos containing twenty-four songs. The songs are sung by Krsna or Radha or by Radha`s maid and are connected by brief narrative or descriptive passages. The appropriate musical mode and rhythm for each song are noted in the text. This poem is really a kind of drama, of the ragakavya type, since it is usually acted.Critical acclaim of the poem has been high, but its frank eroticism has led many Indian commentators to interpret the love between Radha and Krsna as an allegory of the human soul`s love for God. Learned and popular audiences in India and elsewhere have continued to appreciate the emotional lyricism the poem expresses in its variations on the theme of separated lover`s passion.
BARBARA STOLER MILLER was Professor of Oriental Studies at Barnard College, Columbia University. She had travelled widely throughout the Indian subcontinent and lived here to study Sanskrit and Indian music and art.