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Gita Govinda - The Song Of Love And Bhakti

Ranjani Saigal

Kala Tarangini and the Spanda School of Dance hosted an evening with Dr. T.S. Sathayavathi, an eminent musicologist and a senior disciple of legendary musician Sangeetha Kalanidhi Late Sri R.K. Srikantan. She presented a Carnatic classical concert followed by an enlightening lecture that presented insights into the Gita Govindam. The event was held on September 22, 2018 at the Nashobha Valley Technical High School. 

The event opened with a Carnatic concert by Sathayavathi, accompanied by Ulhas Rao on the Mridangam and Kalyan Gopalakrishnan on the Violin. The concert was simply mesmerizing. Titled Narayana Smaranam, the concert presented beautiful compositions dedicated to Lord Vishnu. The overarching theme was Bhakti and each piece truly was a devotional outreach to Mahavishnu while of course laudable for its technical brilliance. 

The second half of the evening was a lecture demonstration by Dr. Satyavathi into the subtleties of Gita Govindam. The exposition was masterful. Her knowledge of Sanskrit and music made for en extremely insightful talk. This composition of Jayadeva is remarkable in many ways. It speaks in brilliant verse of the love between Radha and Krishna. The composition has been attributed to making the Persona of Radha famous for until then Radha is hardly heard of.  This composition spread from north to south and east to west very quickly at a time when there was no social media on internet and thus speaks to the value of the work. 

“This poem is like the Khajuraho temple. If you see at eye level you see eroticism and if you look up you see the divine” said Sathyavati. “Darkness is used at the beginning of the poem to set the stage of  scene of the poem. That darkness symbolizes ignorance. “

She spoke of the tale told through the Ashtapadi of how the Bhakta is overwhelmed with love for the Lord and the Lord  equally pines for the devotee. However the devotee has to make the effort to go to the Lord. It is important to leave your ego out and then alone will the Lord accept you. 

The presentation was interspersed with dances to the Ashtapadi by Sangita Raghunathan, Suman Adhisheh in Bharatanatyam style and Shamoyita Mukherjee in Oddissi style. 

The evening was a truly on of the finest for any spiritual aspirant or dance enthusiast. 

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