Saturday, July 14, 2012


                                              SRI JAYADEV the SAINT POET of ODISHA

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Born : 12th Century,    Father : Boja deva,     Mother : Ramadevi   Village : Kendubilva   (Odisha)


Sri Jayadev - 1

Bhakti is the easiest means of attaining the Lord.  Devotion to the Lord can be expressed in a variety of different ways.  Of them, 'Prema Bhakti' - loving God in the 'Nayaka - Nayaki Bhaava' (love towards one's beloved) is Supreme. 

Throughout our history, many devotees have reveled in Prema Bhakti for the Lord, out of which one devotee stands out... the moment we think of 'Ashtapadi' or 'Gita Govindam', it is Sri Jayadev who comes to the mind.  The couple Padmavati-Jayadev had supreme Prema Bhakti for the Lord.

Today, we shall reminisce the life history of Sri Jayadev through the following article, one that has been adapted from one of Sri Swamiji's discourses.

Sri Jayadev (Part - 1)

Jayadev was born to Bojadeva and Ramadevi at Kindubilva (now Kenduli Sasan) in Orissa district, in the 12th century. Bojadeva and Ramadevi were childless and after intense prayers to the Lord, Jayadev was born to them. He was a different kind of a child. He learnt the Vedas, the Shastras and music. He sang with a melodious voice. When the son grew up the parents desired to get him married. But, his mind was not in marriage. He had deep love for the Lord and desired to live in solitude doing tapas. When his parents died he felt free in as much as there was none to press him to get married. He lived in a forest in solitude devoted to the Lord.

Jayadev used to sit in front of the little Krishna idol and pour milk on it slowly even as he chanted the Vedas, slokas. Just as Lord Krishna taught ‘Prema Bhakti’ to Uddhava, so too, the Lord decided to teach Jayadev.
There lived a childless couple. People laughed at the lady and scoffed at her calling her ‘barren’. She prayed fervently to Lord Jagannath of Puri. She said, ‘Oh! Lord! I am unable to withstand this stigma of being ‘barren’. Please bless me with a child so that this label is removed. I promise to offer the child to your service.’ Soon after, the lady conceived and bore a beautiful child. Alas! It was a female baby. The parents, who named the baby Padmavaty, were at a loss to know how to keep their promise. Had the child been a boy they could leave the son at the temple in service of Lord Jagannath. But, it was a girl and how could they keep their promise to the Lord? The Temple authorities will not accept a girl. What was to be done? They brought up the child and when the child had grown into a beautiful young lady the parents with tears in their eyes sought the Lord, “Oh! Lord! Please show us a way out. Help us keep our promise.”

The Lord appeared to them in a dream and instructed them to take their daughter to Jayadev living the forest and have her married to him.

Very soon, the parents took their young daughter Padmavaty to where Jayadev lived. Jayadev welcomed them and enquired about them and the purpose of their visit. As soon as Jayadev heard the word ‘marriage’ he rushed away from that place! But, the deeply devoted parents left Padmavaty there in the forest. They thought, “It is God who has willed the marriage. Only what He Wills takes place. Man’s ‘sankalpa’ (Will) does not come to be.” And without a second thought left their daughter in the forest and returned home.
Padmavaty lived there in the forest unseen by Jayadev. When Jayadev went out for bath she would quickly clean his house, clean the lamp and light it. She would gather flowers and string them into a beautiful garland and place it near God. She had decided to serve Jayadev in this manner. Jayadev was surprised that everything was sparkling in his humble home and decided to find out who was doing this service. One morning Jayadev set out as usual for his bath but hid behind a tree to see who came in to do these work. He found Padmavaty entering the house and doing all the work. He then realized the Will of God. Taking her along he went to her parents and married her in conformance with the scriptural procedures. He then returned with his wife Padmavaty.

Jayadev sat to perform abhishekha to Krishna. As he began to pour milk on Krishna Padmavaty cried out, ‘Oh! Stop it. The child will catch cold if you pour milk, curd, water in this manner on His head!’

Jayadev was astounded; and confused. Until then he had been performing worship as prescribed by the Shastras and was peacefully performing them. Now, what is this that Padmavaty is saying? He felt confused. All these days there was no confusion in his way of worship. And now Padmavathy is speaking differently. He knew only the Shastric way of worship. What is this that she is speaking of? She says that the child Krishna would catch cold? It was then that he understood that the Lord had decided to teach ‘prema bhakti’ to him through Padmavati.

Slowly he learnt from Padmavaty how to worship the Lord with love and affection. Padmavaty would string the flowers beautifully into a garland; dress the Lord in exquisite manner. Everything she did was wonderful. She treated it not just as an idol but the Lord in flesh and blood. Jayadev realized why the Lord had brought 

Padmavaty to him. Both of them began to worship Radha-Krishna yugala (the couple) in a loving manner.
Jayadev wrote Gita Govindam that has today become part of Radha Kalyan, Sita Kalyan, etc. It contains 24 ashtapadis of 8 couplets each. It sings on the various Divine sports of the Divine Couple Radha-Krishna.
Jayadev would compose, sing the kirtan and Padmavaty who was an adept dancer would dance in tune. 

Once, Jayadev asked her to do ‘abhinaya’ for the ‘viraha’ (deep longing) of Radha due to separation from her Beloved Krishna. One can depict the Moon or the Sun and such other things with a ‘mudra’ (sign). But, how was lovelorn heart suffering from the anguish of separation from the Beloved be depicted by a ‘mudra’? Jayadev said to Padmavaty, ‘the body cannot be used in this. But, use your ‘manas’ and depict it.’

Padmavaty became so totally one with Radha due to the ‘manobhava’ that she at once fell down in a swoon due to ‘viraha’. Jayadev, immediately taking the role of a ‘sakhi’ (female friend), lifter her head on to his lap and consoled her that Krishna would soon be there with her. Just at this instance Radha-Krishna appeared to them, seated on the swing.

Jayadev writes his 19th Ashtapadi - Radha awaits Krishna the whole night but in vain. He does not turn up. When he visits her in the morning the love-filled anger of Radha refuses to accept his excuses.

Krishna tells Radha, ‘I have not committed any wrong. I shall prove it to you in some way. I shall place My hand inside the snake hole and prove My innocence.’

Radha points out to Him, ‘Oh! What would a snake do to the One who has the thousand-headed snake for the bed!’

Krishna tries another way, ‘I shall hold a hot iron and thus prove my innocence.’

Radha, ‘Oh! For one who holds the ‘Sudharshana Chakra’, holding a red-hot iron rod is a child’s play. You cannot fool me by this.’

Krishna tells, ‘well! I shall get the three and thirty-crores devas to speak for me.’

Radha, ‘you are the God of all gods. Will they dare to speak against you?’

Finding all His attempts to pacify Radha failing, Krishna thought a while, ‘what do My Bhaktas do to pacify me? They prostrate unto Me.’ And as a last resort Krishna falls at Radha’s feet, takes hold of them and places them on His head!

As soon as writing this ‘Astapadi’ (19th) in this manner -

‘Smaragaralakhandanam mama shirasi mandanam

dehi padapallavamudaaram’

[the delirium of love has gone to my head. Place your tender feet on it.]

Jayadev felt dismayed and shocked that such words had come out of Him. Krishna holding Radha’s feet and placing them on His head! He immediately erased them and went for his bath. He felt very disconcerted. On return from his bath he picked up his writings to fill the blank with some other words. But, Lo! He found the blank space filled with the very same words. He wondered, ‘how could it be!’

He called out, ‘Padmavaty! Padmavaty! Did you fill up this black space with the very words that I had erased?’

Padmavaty said, ‘No! How could I know what you had written? I have not seen them. It is you who had written them. Did you not come back immediately on setting out and sitting on the swing ask me to bring it to you and fill in the blank? How soon have you forgotten it!’

Jayadev at once understood that it was verily the Lord who had come and written the very same words that he had wiped deeming it to be a mistake. Jayadev felt exhilarated. He said to Padmavaty, ‘how blessed and fortunate you are that you have seen the Lord!’

Padmavaty did not understand what Jayadev was saying. Jayadev explained to her, ‘I had gone for my bath. I am back home only now. Meanwhile, the Lord has come in my form and spoken to you. The Lord has called out to you, ‘Padmavaty’!

Padmavaty could not believe her ears. She felt overwhelmed, ‘Oh! Was it the Lord who called out my name? Was it He who called out ‘Padmavaty’?’

Since the Lord gave darshan to Padmavaty and He re-wrote these lines that he (Jayadev) had erased, Jayadev added Padmavaty’s name also in the ‘mudra’ of this Ashtapadi. The earlier 18 Ashtapadis have only the ‘mudra’ of Jayadev. This is verily the proof of the Lord having given darshan to Padmavaty. While rendering the Gita Govindam, ‘nivedanam’ (offering of fruits) and ‘karpoora harati’ is shown at the end of each Ashtapadi. But, while singing this 19th Ashtapadi alone ‘nivedanam’ and ‘karpoora harati’ is done twice - once while this line ‘Smaragaralakhandanam mama shirasi mandanam dhehi padapallavamudaaram’,  is sung and again at the end of the Ashtapadi because the Lord had placed the feet of the Bhaktai on His head!

Jayadev and Padmavaty were lost in Radha-Krishna Bhakti. Forever they were singing this ‘kavya’ and dancing to its tune.

Lakshmanasena was then the ruler of the kingdom. Seeing the acclamation that Jayadev’s Ashtapadi had earned, he wrote an Ashtapadi. But, none would sing his Ashtapadi. People refused to sing the king’s Ashtapadi. To find out whose Ashtapadi the Lord desired the king placed his own Ashtapadi as well as Jayadev’s Ashtapadi in the Sanctum Sanctorum of Lord Jagannatha before closing the doors for the day. 

The next morning while all the people, the king and Jayadev were present the doors of the Sanctum Sanctorum was opened. The king’s Ashtapadi had been pushed aside while Jayadev’s Astapadi was held by the Lord on His head.

To this day Jayadev’s Ashtapadi is sung every day in Puri Jaganath Temple. It is also sung in Guruvayur Temple.

The king realized his mistake and realized the greatness of Jayadev. The king sought Jayadev’s company. The king looked upon Jayadev as his Guru. He invited him to his palace. Since the king was deeply devoted, Jayadev accepted his invitation and went to the palace along with his wife Padmavati. Jayadev did not like staying in the palace for long as he was used to living in solitude on the outskirts of the kingdom and singing the praises of the Lord. He and his wife Padmavati, dependant only on the Lord, lived a joyful life in the forest. Whenever he expressed his desire to leave, the king pleaded with him to stay a day more. In this manner some days passed. The king did not like to part with his Guru Jayadev.

However, Jayadev had no desire to stay long with the king. With a desire to escape the king he said that he wished to go on pilgrimage. But, the king said that he had also been nurturing such a desire and that it would be all the more good to make it in the company of his Guru! Thus, the king and Jayadev went on pilgrimage. And Padmavaty stayed behind with the Queen.

The Queen and Padmavaty were always together. The Queen had utmost respect for Padmavaty, as she was Guru ‘patni’ (Guru’s wife). Moreover, she always spoke about the Lord. Once, while the Queen and Padmavaty were chatting on the terrace of the palace they saw a lady committing Sati in the funeral pyre of her husband in the nearby graveyard. The Queen said to Padmavaty that since her husband, the king, was a great dharmatma such ‘pativratas’ (loyal wives) lived in the kingdom.

Padmavaty said to the Queen, ‘She cannot be deemed a ‘pativrata’. A ‘pativrata’ is one whose life goes out of her immediately on hearing about her husband’s death.’

The Queen could not accept this statement of Padmavaty. The Queen, in a manner of testing Padmavaty, arranged for a messenger to come in while she and Padmavaty were together, with the fake news of Jayadev’s death. On receiving the news Padmavaty fell down dead! The Queen was thoroughly shaken up. She thought, ‘What would I say to the king and Jayadev? She is our Guru patni (Guru’s wife).’

It happened that due to the Will of the Lord the king and Jayadev returned at this time. The king, very angry at what had happened picked up a sword to kill the Queen and then to kill himself. But, Jayadev quickly stopped him. Jayadev then sang ‘Smaragaralakhandanam mama shirasi mandanam
dhehi padapallavamudaram’
the very lines that Bhagavan had written though Jayadev had erased them and tried to replace it with some other words. This brought Padmavaty back to life!

The King invited Jayadev to sing his Ashtapadi everyday in the Temple. But, Jayadev did not like visiting the Temple at a particular time and singing the Ashtapadi as a servant of the king.

A little girl selling vegetables used to listen very attentively to Jayadev’s Ashtapadi and watch Padmavaty dance to its tune. The girl began to sing the Ashtapadi sweetly. Jayadev was overwhelmed by this and taught the girl to sing them. Bhagavan, attracted by her devotion, used to follow her like shadow. One day, the Lord dropped His ring into the girl’s basket of vegetables. The girl was unaware of this. However, while delivering vegetables at the palace this ring got into the hands of the servants of the royal palace. The matter was taken to the king. The girl was brought to the king’s presence and questioned. But, the innocent girl had no answer for it. The king believing the girl to be innocent kept her safely in the palace. He desired to know how Bhagavan’s ring had got into the girl’s basket. The Lord appeared in the king’s dream that night and said to him, ‘It is verily I who had dropped it into her basket, bound by the bhakti of the little one.’

The highly pleased king, at the behest of Jayadev, ordered the girl to stay in the palace and sing Gita Govindam and worship the Lord as she pleased. Jayadev had this girl married to a young man devoted to the Lord and had them appointed to sing the Ashtapadi for Lord Jagannatha. Even today this practice is being followed by those who have come down this lineage.

Once Jayadev was going through a forest. Unknown to him, his disciples were carrying invaluable gifts that he had refused of the king. Some robbers attacked them and deprived the group of the costly jewels and coins. They then beat up Jayadev thoroughly and threw him in to a deep well. Jayadev lay their lost in singing his Gita Govindam. He was found in this state by the king and taken to the palace and attended to.

Once these robbers came to the court of the king in the guise of virtuous Sadhus. Jayadev recognized them at once and advised the king to take special care of them! Real Sadhus do good even to those who harm them. However, these ‘Sadhus’ were shocked, for, they had recognized Jayadev to be the man whom they had pushed into the well in the forest.

They wondered, ‘Goodness gracious! This man whom we had pushed into the well is seated here next to the king. What is the special treatment is he advising the king to mete to us? Has he informed the king about our true identity? What is to be done now?’ The king hosted them for some days in the palace and as per Jayadev’s advise honoured and worshipped them as he would a Sadhu. But, these ‘Sadhus’ doubting Jayadev’s intention and therefore deeply perturbed took leave of the king. The king, at Jayadev’s behest, offered them many valuable gifts and sent some guards along for protection. This only further deepened the suspicion of the robbers in the guise of Sadhus They thought, ‘This man is out to take revenge on us. We had pushed him into a well having robbed him of his valuables. He has now set some guards to square it up.’ The guards asked these men, ‘What is your relationship with Jayadev? He seems so much interested in your welfare and has offered such honour to you?’

These ‘Sadhus’ said to the guards, ‘This minister of yours is a criminal from another kingdom. We had helped him escape punishment and in a manner of gratitude he has done this to us!’ No sooner had they said this than they were struck by thundee. Jayadev felt truly sorry for the fate of these men who had harmed him.

Jayadev and Padmavaty spent their lives totally devoted to the Lord. Padmavaty attained to the Lotus Feet of the Lord first. Jayadev lived to a ripe age before mingling with Lord Jagannath of Puri.

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