Ever since I heard a recording of someone singing it at Rādhā-Ramaṇa mandīr in Vṛndāvan, I’ve been charmed by the opening verse of Krishnadās Kavirāja’s Govinda-līlāmṛta.
श्री गोविन्दं व्रजानन्दं सन्दोहानन्दमन्दिरम् ।
वन्दे वृन्दावनानन्दं श्री राधासऩ्गनन्दितम् ।।
The bold syllables are held twice as long as the few that are not in boldface. The meter is nice because it is so languid, slow, relaxed – so many long syllables.
The meaning is exquisite, though its impossible to convey the beauty of it in English.
Śrī Govinda is Braja’s bliss;
the home of concentrated bliss.
Praise to Brindabana’s bliss;
Who finds bliss in Śrī Rādhā’s company.
The name Govinda itself indicates bliss – “the one who supplies and nurtures bliss.” This being, Govinda, is the “home” of concentrated bliss. It is special bliss, concentrated. The spiritual bliss of Brahmānanda is the same in substance but is diluted and latent. In Govinda this brahmānanda becomes concentrated, activated, exalted, excited beyond limits.
The use of the word “home” is interesting too. The word is mandir, which is also used for temple. Govinda is the temple of concentrated bliss.
Kavirāja addresses Govinda first as Vraja-ānanda, then as Vṛndāvana-ānanda. What is the difference? Vraja is the entire 12 forests of Goloka, but Vṛndāvana is one of those forests, where rāsa-līlā happens on the bank of Yamuna, especially in autumn. So, the conentration of Govinda’s bliss becomes thickest and most intense there, in Vṛndāvana.
Yet, the final line is really profound and expresses the mystery of bhakti. Govinda is the source of bliss, but what good is it to be only the source of bliss? One also wants to taste bliss! So Govinda’s bliss exists as a distinct entity – his śakti, Śrī Rādhā, who allows Govinda not only to be the source of all bliss, but also the enjoyer of all bliss.
Govinda gives bliss to everyone – but he finds bliss in Śrī Rādhā.
Vraja Kishor dās