About 300 years prior to the appearance of Lord Caitanya, lived a great Bengali poet named Jayadeva Goswami. Jayadeva was born here at the village of Kenduli, situated on the banks of Ajay river, a place not very far from Shantiniketan. Kenduli came across as a calm, serene and a spiritually exalted destination, perfect for one desiring to escape into the realm of transcendence. ‘The Gaudiya Treasures of Bengal’ considers itself greatly fortunate to have been able to visit Kenduli, and pray for the causeless mercy of this great Vaishnava saint.We humbly beg for His blessings and empowerment in order to rewind the clock a few hundred years and pen a few lines in His glorification.
Life and pastimes :
Jayadeva Goswami was born in the 15th century to Sri Bhoja deva and Srimati Vamadevi. He lost his parents very early on in his life. From his very childhood Jayadeva was utterly detached towards material life and exhibited the highest symptoms of devotion towards Sri Krishna. He toured extensively visiting the various sites of pilgrimage. He even began learning sanskrit and soon gained mastery over the subject.We come to understand from Gita Govinda, Jayadeva’s renowned composition, that he served as the court poet of King Lakshman Sen, the then ruler of Bengal. It is mentioned across different sources that the Sen Kings of Bengal had their early settlements here at Birbhum. At a place called ‘Sen-pahari’ , which is not very far from Kenduli, these kings even had their palace from which they once ruled.The ruins of this grand palace is visible till this day. Hence it can be safely assumed that King Lakshman Sen and poet Jayadeva were known to each other from their early days here at Kenduli. Though later, Jayadeva shifted to Navadvipa, where Lakshman Sen had his headquarters. At a place called Champahati, situated in Navadvipa, Lakshman Sen constructed a hut for Jayadeva to reside in. Jayadeva preferred to reside across the ganges in the serene surroundings of Champahati as compared to the King’s palace in Mayapur. It was here at Champahati ,that his beloved Sri Krishna once gave him His blissful darsana as Lord Gaurahari and revealed how He would subsequently appear in Navadvipa dham to inaugurate the sankirtana movement. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu instructed Jayadeva to go to Jagannatha Puri. Lord Gauranga had also revealed to him how He would later shift to Jagannatha Puri and relish Jayadeva’s Gita Govinda.
Jayadeva marries Padmavati :
Taking the instructions of the Lord to his heart, Jayadeva set out for Jagannatha Puri. Being intensely overwhelmed with emotions, he spent his days laughing and crying in ecstasy. Many people were transformed coming in contact with Jayadeva and became his followers.While in puri, Jayadeva used to take darsana of Jagannatha deva daily.
There was a brahmana named Sudeva who was exceedingly disheartened at not having a child. He prayed to Lord Jagannatha and promised that if by the Lord’s mercy he had a son, then he would engage the child as the Lord’s servant at Jagannatha Puri. If he had a daughter instead, then he would keep her as the Lord’s maidservant in the temple. The man’s prayers bore its fruit. A few days later, the brahmana was blessed with a beautiful daughter.He gave her the name Padmavati. A few years later, when Padmavati attained her youth, Lord Jagannatha appeared in the brahmana’s dream and instructed him to marry her daughter to Jayadeva Goswami. Receiving the Lord’s instructions, Sudeva and Padmavati immediately set off for Puri dham.Searching they found Jayadeva who seemed to be completely detached from this material world. The brahmana revealed the instructions he had received from the Lord and desired to hand over Padmavati to Jayadeva. But Jayadeva refused. He argued that he had no intentions of engaging in family affairs and neither did he have any money to sustain a family.He did not even possess a fixed residence.Talking thus, Jayadeva tried to turn down the brahmana’s request. But the brahmana was relentless. He explained that it was the Supreme Lord who had ordered him and thus he was helpless to disobey His instructions. Saying thus, he left Padmavati with Jayadeva and returned to his home. When Jayadeva tried convincing Padmavati, she replied that she had already surrendered her heart unto him. In this way, though reluctant, Jayadeva was left with no other option but to marry Padmavati.
Jayadeva composes Gita Govinda :
Jayadeva contemplated day and night upon the loving pastimes of Sri Krishna and Srimati Radhika. He received inspiration from within to compose Gita Govinda, the famous book that glorified the loving reciprocations between Lord Krishna and His beloved Gopis.
This love ,however should not be confused with the ordinary loving affairs of this material world.The love possessed by the Gopis was completely selfless and without the slightest tinge of sense gratification. It was this selfless love of the Gopis that attracted the Supreme Lord towards them and made Him subservient to their desires. According to the conclusions of the revealed scriptures, the loving relationship between Krishna and the Gopis exhibit the highest stage of devotional ecstasy.Such was the extent of Gopis’ selfless service attitude,especially that of Srimati Radharani, that it bewildered the Supreme Lord Himself. Krishna desperately wanted to relish this transcendental mood of Srimati Radhika and understand how His own sweetness can drive His devotees crazy.Hence taking up the mood (bhava) and the golden bodily complexion (kanti) of Srimati Radharani, Sri Krishna subsequently descended as Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu in the holy land of Navadvipa. Anyways, the appearance of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu took place a few hundred years after ‘Gita Govinda’ was composed by Jayadeva Goswami. The appearance pastimes of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu has been covered in a separate article entitled – ‘YogPeeth, Mayapur, Navadvipa – The birthplace of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’.
Coming back to our discussion, Jayadeva began composing Gita Govinda and while writing he had decorated his composition with various bhavas and rasas that depict the highest symptoms of devotional love. But while describing the pastimes where Radharani was upset when Krishna had left Her alone, Jayadeva became lost in a deep thought. Jayadeva could not gather up his courage to pen his next verse in which Krishna would try to pacify Radharani and beg forgiveness by surrendering unto Her lotus feet. “How could he possibly write something like this?”, he thought. “How could he possibly describe that the supreme Lord had bowed unto the feet of His own devotee ?”, he pondered. Thinking thus, he decided to take a break and continue with his writing after taking his bath. Informing Padmavati, Jayadeva left from his house.
Meanwhile, understanding his dilemma, Sri Krishna Himself appeared in the guise of Jayadeva and entered his house. Padmavati was surprised seeing Jayadeva return so soon. On being asked, the Lord, in the guise of Jayadeva, replied that he wanted to quickly finish the remainder of the sloka, and so he had returned. He asked Padmavati to handover his manuscript and also serve him his lunch. On receiving Jayadeva’s manuscript, the Lord added the following verse to it – ‘Dehipadapallavamudaram’ , which meant ‘Krishna bows down His head to the lotus feet of Sri Radha’. In this way Sri Krishna resolved Jayadeva’s dilemma and proved to the world that , though He is the supreme master, yet He voluntarily accepts the position of a servant when it comes to reciprocating with His devotees.
Thus the shloka now became complete –
Smara-garala Khandanang ,Mama Shirashi Mandanang
After finishing with His writing, the Lord asked Padmavati to serve Him His lunch. The Lord, disguised as Jayadeva, then relished the food cooked by Padmavati and highly praised it. Completing His lunch the Lord went inside to take rest while Padmavati began taking her lunch. Meanwhile, the real jayadeva Goswami returned after taking his bath. Seeing Padmavati already taking her lunch, before he had taken his, surprised him. On the other hand Padmavati was utterly shocked to see Jayadeva return once more.
She was now confused as to who was her real husband, the one who was taking rest inside or the one who had just returned.On hearing the sequence of events from her, Jayadeva wanted to see the modifications made to his manuscripts. On seeing that ‘Dehipadapallavamudaram’ was added at the end of it, Jayadeva understood that it was the Supreme Lord Sri Krishna Himself, who had manifested this whole pastime out of His causeless mercy. He realized that the Lord had taken the pain to come in his disguise only to pen down the words that he was hesitating to write.Realizing their good fortune Jayadeva and Padmavati were overwhelmed with ecstasy. Together they honored the mahaprasadam remnants left in the Lord’s plate. Soon thereafter, Jayadeva completed his ‘Gita Govinda’ and dedicated the book unto Lord Jagannatha.
Gita Govinda and Lord Jagannatha:
There once lived a girl named Padma. She was the daughter of a gardener who used to reside in a small village near Puri. She was expert in singing Gita Govinda ,which was very famous with the people of Orissa. So one evening, Padma was busy plucking eggplants in her garden and while doing so, she began chanting the shlokas from Gita Govinda. Lord Jagannatha was so enchanted hearing her sing the melodious verses that He could not control Himself. He atonce left the altar and travelled all the way to that garden where Padma was singing. Jagannatha was so engrossed in hearing her sing, that He completely forgot Himself. While following Padma and relishing Gita Govinda, the lord’s dhoti became torned by the thorns of an eggplant tree. A part of the dhoti even got cut off and fell onto the ground. Padma filled up her basket and soon left the garden. As soon as Padma left, the Lord returned to His altar in Puri.
The next morning the temple priests were shocked to see the Lord dressed up in a torn mud-stained dhoti. They became alarmed and immediately informed the king. The King considered the signs as inauspicious and repeatedly begged forgiveness before the Lord. So, one night Lord Jagannatha appeared in the King’s dream and related to him the actual reason behind His clothes getting torn and dirty the other day. The King was curious the next morning to find out whether what he saw in his dream had actually happened. He sent out his guards who discovered the torn portion of the Lord’s dhoti in the garden where Padma was plucking eggplants the other day.Thus the authenticity of the dream was now proven.
The King then personally visited Padma’s house and informed her family about what had happened the other night. The King arranged for the whole family to shift to Puri, where they were promised a residence with proper facilities. Thus it was decided that from then on, Padma would be reciting Gita Govinda in front of lord Jagannatha daily. The practice has continued since then .Even till this day the descendants of Padma recite Jayadeva’s Gita Govinda before Lord Jagannatha daily.
Gita Govinda and Caitanya Mahaprabhu:
vidyapati, chandidas, sri-gita-govinda
bhavanurupa shloka padena Raya-Ramananda
(Caitanya Caritamrta, Antya – 17.6)
Srila Krishnadasa Kaviraja here confirms how Ramananda Raya complemented the ecstasy of Caitanya Mahaprabhu by quoting of appropriate verses from the books of Vidyapati, Chandidas and especially from Jayadeva Goswami’s Gita Govinda.
During His later pastimes, Lord Caitanya remained greatly absorbed relishing the mahabhava of Srimati Radharani. His heart was an image of Srimati Radhika’s emotions – greatly turbulent with the feelings of union (sambhoga) and separation (vipralambha) with Krishna. It was during those times, that the nectarian verses of Gita Govinda greatly comforted Him.
Once while Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was going to the temple of Yameshwar (in Jagannatha Puri) , He heard a lady sing Gita Govinda in a very melodious voice. The Lord immediately became very ecstatic and ran to meet the singer. Being completely devoid of external consciousness , the Lord did not know whether it was man or a woman singing.As the Lord ran in ecstasy to meet the singer, thorny hedges pricked His body. Govinda, Mahaprabhu’s personal servant, ran after Mahaprabhu and stopped Him just in time. Govinda then exclaimed that it was a woman who was singing. As soon as Mahaprabhu heard that the singer was a woman, He returned to His external consciousness.He thanked Govinda for stopping Him, and remarked that He would have certainly died if He had touched the body of a woman.
It is popularly believed that after touring the various places of pilgrimage, including Vrindavana, Jayadeva finally returned to Kenduli, his birthplace.The beautiful Terracotta temple that is visible here today is situated where he once used to reside. The temple ,renowned as the temple of Sri Radhavinoda, was constructed by King Kirtichandra of Burdwan, in order to preserve the birthplace of Jayadeva. The worshipable Radha Madhava deities of Sri Jayadeva Goswami and Padmavati devi are believed to be worshipped in this temple till this day. The temple has been declared a historical heritage site by the ‘archaeological Survey of India’ who have dated its construction as early as 1683 AD. According to some, Jayadeva Goswami had discovered his beloved Radha Madhava deities from a place known as Kadamba khandi, on the banks of the Ajay river. Kadamba Khandi is a stone’s throw from the temple of Radhavinoda, here at kenduli.
According to the hearsay, it was here at Kadamba Khandi, that poet Jayadeva was once also blessed by Maa Ganga. Jayadeva used to travel several kilometers everyday in order to take his bath in the holy Ganges.Feeling compassionate upon him, Maa Ganga once personally manifested before Jayadeva and assured him that she would personally appear at Kadamba Khandi everyday so that Jayadeva could take his bath there itself and did not have to travel so far. Jayadeva was overwhelmed receiving her blessings. Such are the exalted pastimes of Kenduli.
We worship the lotus feet of our spiritual master ,whose causeless mercy has empowered us ineligible fools ,to gain entrance and take up service in this exalted abode of Kenduli. We seek shelter of this holy land, and pray that its glories remain forever imprinted in our heart.‘The Gaudiya Treasures of Bengal’ offers millions of obeisances and humbly prays to Sri Jayadeva Goswami and Padmavati devi that we advance in our Krishna consciousness, develop attachment unto the lotus feet of Lord Gauranga and are able to serve Sri Guru & Vaishnavas, by our honest and sincere efforts. We seek their blessings and compassion , in successfully rendering this humble service of reciting the pastimes and revealing the pastime places of the Supreme Lord and His beloved associates.We shall consider ourselves greatly fortunate and our existence meaningful if Lord Gaurahari and our dear spiritual master are kindly pleased with our endeavours.
What to See :
- The deities of Sri Radha Govinda and Radha Vinoda. Beside these deities are worshipped large beautiful deities of Jayadeva Goswami and Padmavati devi.
- This is the birthplace of Sri Jayadeva Goswami, and hence we should take shelter and smear our bodies with the dust of this holy place.
- A stone’s throw from the temple of Radhavinoda is Kadama Khandi, situated on the bank of Ajay river. It was here that Maa Ganga blessed Jayadeva Goswami. It is also believed that Jayadeva had found his worshipable deities from this place.
- Every year on the occasions of Jayadeva Goswami’s appearance and disappearance, a huge festival is celebrated here at Kenduli, where thousands of devotees participate.
The present temple priest , Sri Benimadhava adhikari informed us, how his forefathers had also dedicated their entire lives serving this ancient dham. Their original surname was ‘Banerjee’. However, they were subsequently honored with the title ‘Adhikari’ as they had received the right to worship these deities.
How to Reach :
One travelling from kolkata is advised to board a train from the Howrah/Sealdah station and get down at the Bolpur junction (Shantiniketan). From Shantiniketan, one can book a cab to take him directly to Sri Radhavinoda temple at Kenduli. Kenduli is hardly an hour’s ride from Shantiniketan.
Shantiniketan is one of the most beautiful places of Bengal. It was here at Shantiniketan that Rabindranath Tagore, the famous bengali poet (Nobel prize winner) ,had set up his ‘Visva-bharati’ university.The word ‘Visva Bharati’ means the communion of the world with India.
Accommodation – One can choose to put up at any of the good hotels in Shantiniketan. The birthplace of Jayadeva Goswami is hardly an hour’s ride from here.The devotees need to make prior arrangements for their prasadam.
Nearest major airport – Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport (Kolkata)
Nearest major Railway station – Bolpur
(Please note that we neither necessarily recommend these hotels/accommodation centers mentioned above nor do we guarantee that they will provide the required facilities/services to the visiting pilgrims. We are not in any way related to the governance of these hotels/accommodation centers. The visiting pilgrim is advised to choose an accommodation as per his own discretion)