Thursday, November 11, 2004

"In his devotional lyric Gita Govinda (Love song of the dark lord), the twelfth-century poet Jayadeva tells the tumultuous love story of the cowherd god Krishna and his beloved Radha, a mortal whom later theologians elevated to divine status."(from the exhibit brochure)
Thus it begins:

"The sky is overcast by thick clouds. The woodlands are black with tamala trees. This boy Krishna is afraid of the gloom of the night. So, Oh Radha, take him home. Such was the command of Nanda, the herdsman. Thus arose the love of Radha and Krishna who, as they passed through the forest, sported in the bowers on the bank of the Yamuna."

There are 24 “Prabandha” or divisions, which tell of the love play, and the ache of separation between Krishna and Radha, used as an allegory for the yearning for and joy in unity with God in a devotional sense. The poem has lent itself to adaptation to dance, painting, music and temple worship. There is integration of the erotic in the concept of the consummation of this union between the two lovers, and union of devotee with the Divine.

"Wind from a lakeside garden
Coaxing buds on new asoka branches
Into clusters of scarlet flowers
Is only fanning the flames to burn me
This mountain
Of new mango blossoms
Humming with roving bumblebees
Is no comfort to me now, friend"

The vehicle of a friend or messenger gives both the poet and the painter access to portray the intimate feelings of the two lovers via their expression to an outside observer or sakhi who can cross the boundaries of their two worlds. The sakhi urges the lovers to unite.

“If you show a hungry person food, will it fill his stomach?
How can thirst be quenched by listening to the story of water?
You waste your days, O foolish one,
Looking at your beloved’s picture
Only by meeting him will you get pleasure.”

Leaving behind a cold desert of feelings in our other lives, it is this sensual poetry, these lush paintings which complete the act of seduction

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