Three hundred years before the appearance of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Shri Jayadeva Goswami served as the court pandita of Shri Lakshmana Sena, King of Bengal. Jayadeva and Padmavati (his wife and an expert dancer) used to worship Lord Shri Krishna with single-minded devotion. After some time, he left the opulent royal life to live peacefully in a grass hut in Champahatti, Navadwipa. Here Jayadeva wrote Gita Govinda.
Sri Jayadeva Goswami lived for a long time in Navadwip during the reign of the king of Bengal, Lakshman Sen, making his home not far from the king’s palace. At that time, the king’s chief scholar was Govardhan Acharya. According to Ashutosh Deb’s Bengali dictionary, Jayadeva was Lakshman Sen’s court poet.
Shrila Bhaktivinoda Thakur writes in his Navadvipa-dhama-mahatmya that Lakshman Sen was delighted when he heard Jayadeva’s hymn to the ten incarnations, the Dasavatara-stotra. When Govardhan Acharya notified the king that it was Jayadeva who had composed the hymn, he became desirous to meet the poet. He went incognito to Jayadeva’s house and when he saw him, he noticed that Jayadeva possessed all the characteristics of a great and powerful spiritual personality. Deeply impressed and attracted to Jayadeva, the king revealed his identity to him and invited him to come and live in the royal palace. Jayadeva was leading a very renounced life and was therefore unwilling to live in the opulent environment of the palace. He told the king that he preferred to live in Jagannath Puri.
Lakshman Sen was disappointed by Jayadeva’s intentions. He quickly suggested that he take up residence in the village of Champa Hati, saying that it was a place suitable for a person who wished to lead a meditative life. He also promised him that he would never come to disturb him again. When Jayadeva agreed, Lakshman Sen had a cottage built for him in the village that was formerly known as Champaka-hatta, named after the beautiful garden of champa trees and the village market where Mahaprabhu’s associate Dvija Baninath received a vision of Him in the Satya Yuga, seeing Him in the form of a Brahmin whose skin was the color of champa flower. Similarly, Jayadeva had a vision here, first of Radha-Madhava, then of Their combined form as the golden champa-colored Gauranga Mahaprabhu.
While working on Gita Govinda, one day Sri Jayadeva Goswami felt inspired to write, “Krishna bows down to touch the lotus feet of Shrimati Radharani.” Jayadeva was hesitant to say something which might diminish Lord Krishna’s position as the Supreme Personality of Godhead. So, He went to refresh himself with a Ganges bath before honouring Radha-Madhava’s Maha-Prasadam. In his absence, Krishna Himself, disguised as Jayadeva, wrote a line in the Gita Govinda: dehi pada pallavam udaram. The Lord also accepted Prasadam from Padmavati. Upon returning, Jayadeva was astonished to see the line. Understanding the mystery, Jayadeva cried in spiritual joy and said, “Padmavati, we are most fortunate. Shri Krishna Himself has written this line, dehi pada pallavam udaram, and taken Prasadam from your hand.”
Gita Govinda expresses the intense feelings of separation that Shri Radhika felt before the rasa dance. It also describes the most intimate pastimes of Radha-Shyamasundara. During Lord Chaitanya’s Gambhira lila in Jagannatha Puri, He would thoroughly relish hearing the Gita Govinda sung daily by Svarupa Damodara and Mukunda.
The author Sri Jayadeva Goswami describes Gita Govinda: “Whatever is delightful in varieties of music, whatever is graceful in fine strains of poetry, and whatever is exquisite in the sweet art of love, let the happy and wise learn from the songs of Jayadeva.”
After finishing Gita Govinda Jayadeva visited Vrindavana and then lived his last in Jagannatha Puri. He introduced daily reading of Gita Govinda in the Temple for the pleasure of Lord Jagannatha. His samadhi is in the 64 Samadhis Area.
Sri Jayadeva Goswami’s disappearance day is on Pausha-Sankranti. At present, at Jayadeva’s birthplace in Kendubiva Gram, there is a festival every year on this day which is known as the Jayadeva Mela.