“Dheera Sameere Yamuna” – Jagannatakam (1960) – Telugu Feature Film

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Faded Into Oblivion Series by Vicky Iyengar is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

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Gita Govinda – The Honolulu Musuem of the Art

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Actress Krishna Kumari – Charcoal Pencil Drawing

The Art of Madhura Bhakthi & P Susheela’s Pietistic Interpretation!

An Ashtapadi from the Telugu Feature Film “Jagannatakam” (1960) starring Amarnath, Krishna Kumari & Girija with musical score by Gudimetla Ashwathama in Raga Bhoop.

Considered to be among the finest examples of Sanskrit poetry, Jayadeva Goswami’s  (c.1170) magnum opus “Gita Govinda”, composed in the 12th century, is an integral part  of the world cultural heritage. It marks a watershed in the development of Kavya literature (taken as symbolical of the aberrational human soul but retracing to the Supreme God), as it departed from the more rococo style to a simple vernacular.

The Gita Govinda is organized into twelve chapters namely Sāmodadāmodaram (Exuberant Krishna), Akleshakeshavam (Blithesome Krishna), Mugdhamadhusūdanam (Winsome Krishna), Snigdhamadhusūdanam (Tender Krishna), Sākāṅkṣa puṇdarīkākṣham (Passionate Krishna), Dhrṣta vaikuṇṭa (Audacious Krishna), Nāgaranārāyana (Dextrous Krishna), Vilakṣyalakṣmīpati (Apologetic Krishna),  Mugdhadamukunda (Unpretentious Krishna), Chaturachaturbhuja (Tactful Krishna), Sānandadāmodaram (Joyful Krishna) & Suprītapītāmbara (Exultant Krishna). Each chapter is further sub-divided into twenty four divisions called prabandhas. The prabandhas contain couplets grouped into eights, called Ashtapadis with more stature accorded to Radha  than Krishna (the Supreme). The text also amplifies the eight moods of heroine, the Ashta Nayika Bhavas, which has been an catalyst for many compositions and choreographic works in Indian classical dances.

The poem has been translated into most modern Indian languages and many European languages. There is a German rendering which Goethe read by F. H . van Dalberg. Dalbergs version was based on the English translation done by William Jones published in the Transactions of the Asiatic Society, Calcutta in 1792. A verse translation by the German poet Friedrick Rukert was begun in 1829 and revised according to the edited Sanskrit and Latin translations of C. Lassen in Bonn 1837. Notable English translations are: Edwin Arnold’s The Indian Song of Songs (1875); Sri Jayadevas Gita Govinda: The loves of Krisna and Radha (Bombay 1940) by George Keyt and Harold Peiris.

Gita Govinda Sahitya: Sri Jayadeva Goswami

dhīra-samīre yamunā-tīre vasati vane vanamālī
gopī-pīna-payodhara-mardana-caṃcala-karayuga-śālī
rati-sukha-sāre gatam abhisāre madana-manohara-veśam
na kuru nitambini gamana-vilambanam anusara taṃ hṛdayeśam
vigalita-vasanaṃ parihṛta-rasanaṃ ghaṭaya jaghanam api dhānam
kisalaya-śayane paṅkaja-nayane nidhim iva harṣa-nidānam
śrījayadeve kṛtahariseve bhaṇati parama-ramaṇīyam .
pramudita-hṛdayaṃ harim atisadayaṃ namata sukṛta-kamanīyam
ధీర సమీరే యమునా తీరే వసతి వనే వనమాలి
గోపి పైన పయోధర మర్దన క్యామ్కాల కారయుగ శాలి
రతి సుఖ సారె ఘటం అభిసారి మదన మనోహర వేషం
న కురు నితంబిని గమన విలంబనం అనుసరటం హృదయసం
విగళిత వాసనం పరిహృత రాసనం ఘ్తాయా ఝాగానం అపి దానం
కిసలాయ సాయనే పంకజ నయన్ నిధిమ్ యువ హర్ష నిధనం
శ్రీజయదేవే కృతహరిసేవే భణతి పరమ రమణీయం
ప్రముదితా హృదయం హరిం అతిసాధయం మమతా సుకృత కమనీయం

To listen to one of  Susheela’s “madhura bhakthi” (for actress Krishna Kumari) – theosophical rendering of Ashtapadi with such spontaneous ease  is to feel what transcendental music can do to the subconscious faculty as you close your eyes and subsume its sound – “vanamali”, “rati-suka sare”, “śrījayadeve kṛtahariseve” et el. Her effervescent rendering connecting the human realms and mystical interpretations makes us appreciate its dimensions – the verisimilitude of her performance simply enthralls.

Susheela’s love for this great art of playback and her intricate and elaborate technique that captures the originality and verve, the high range and incredible momentum  in “na kuru nitambini”, “kisalaya-śayane paṅkaja-nayane” & “nidhim iva harṣa-nidānam” are anything short of consequential and entirely contagious. The subtle beauty of this rendition really shines with Susheela’s sav·oir faire, song of the divine captures meaning and reverence it deserves.

Try it once for the sake of nostalgia…….just monumental!


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