Nobody knows exactly what the Gīta Govinda is. We know some things about it. It was written in the twelfth century, somewhere in eastern India. It was written in poetic Sanskrit and consists of twelve short chapters of regularly-ordered verses. The author of the poem wrote under the name Jayadeva. The poem was performed—that is, it was sung—and within a century or two of its composition, the performing of the poem, along with music and dancing, had been incorporated into the worship programs of Vaishnava temples. For the past several centuries, the poem has been tremendously popular in India. Besides its aesthetic appeal, Jayadeva’s poem has been a primary source of inspiration for devotional sects in India. This much we know.
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