Jayadeva was a Sanskrit poet circa 1200 AD. He is most known for his composition, the epic poem Gita Govinda, which depicts the divine love of Krishna, and his consort, Radha. This poem, which presents the view that Radha is greater than Hari, is considered an important text in the Bhakti movement of Hinduism
A Brahmin by birth, the date and place of Jayadeva's birth are uncertain. Based on a reading of the text of his work, either the village of Jayadeva Kenduli in Bengal or the village of Kenduli Sasan in Odisha are likely candidates though another Kenduli in Mithila is also a possibility. Recent studies show scholars still disagree on the issue. Jayadeva, a wanderer, probably visited Puri at some point and there, according to tradition, he married a dancer named Padmavati though that is not supported by early commentators and modern scholars.
The poet's parents were named Bhojadeva and Ramadevi. From temple inscriptions it is now known that Jayadeva received his education in Sanskrit poetry from a place called Kurmapataka, possibly near Konark in Odisha.
Historical records on Jayadeva's life
Inscriptions at Lingaraj temple, and the more recently discovered Madhukeswar temple and Simhachal temple that were read and interpreted by Dr. Satyanarayan Rajaguru have shed some light on Jayadeva's early life. These inscriptions narrate how Jayadeva had been a member of the teaching faculty of the school at Kurmapataka. He might have studied there as well. It must have been right after his childhood education in Kenduli Sasan that he left for Kurmapataka and gained experience in composing poetry, music and dancing.
The songs in Gita Govinda are known as 'Ashtapadis', and the raga forms used are somewhat different from those of the present time. There is no single or perfect form of rendering the Gita Govinda at present. It is divided into 12 cantos, and there are 24 songs set to 12 classical ragas and five taals.
Jayadeva was instrumental in popularizing the Dasavatara, the ten incarnations of Vishnu in another composition, Dasakritikrite. Furthermore, the classic Tribhangi (threefold) posture of Krishna playing the flute gained popularity due to him.
Two hymns possibly composed by Jayadeva have been incorporated in the Guru Granth Sahib, the holy book of the Sikh religion. The hymns are written in a mixture of Sanskrit and eastern Apabhramsa. There are records narrating how Jayadeva's work had a profound influence on Guru Nanak during his visit to Puri.