Jaydev 12th century Sanskrit poet and one of the five 'gems' of the court of laksmanasena, the others being govardhan, sharan, umapatidhara and dhoyi. Jaydev's monumental work is the Gitagovindam.

According to the Gitagovindam, Jaydev's parents were Bhojdev and Vamadevi and his wife was Padmavati. He was born in the village of Kenduvilva, on the bank of the river Ajaya. However, little is known about Jaydev's life and he has been variously described as an inhabitant of Mithila or Orissa. Legend goes that he was, for a period, the court poet of the king of Utkal. Sridharadasa's poem Saduktikarnamrta quotes 31 verses from Jaydev, with five being from the Gitagovindam. Two verses ascribed to Jaydev are preserved in the Sikh Adi Granth or granth sahib. In some later works such as Bhaktamala, sekhashubhodaya etc. there are many stories relating to Jaydev and Padmavati. [Kanailal Ray]

Gitagovindam Jaydev's Sanskrit poem about the love affair of radha and krishna was a source of inspiration for vaisnavism, which interpreted it as an allegory of the human soul's love for the divine. The poem has greatly influenced Bangla padavali. Learned and popular audiences in India and elsewhere have continued to appreciate the emotional lyricism of the poem on the theme of separated lovers.

The poem, really a kind of drama of the ragakavya type since it is usually acted, consists of twelve cantos containing twenty-four songs. The songs are sung by Krishna, Radha or Radha's maid and are connected by brief narrative or descriptive passages. The appropriate raga for each song is noted in the text.

Although the poem originated in eastern India in the twelfth century and remains most popular there, it spread throughout the subcontinent in the centuries following its composition. As early as the thirteenth century, it was quoted in a temple inscription in Gujarat, in western India. Apart from Bengal and Orissa, its songs form an important part of the devotional music and literature of South India. The songs were introduced into Kerala in the sixteenth century and are still sung in temples there. Furthermore, the poem provided subjects for medieval Rajput painting.

The first English translation of the Gitagovindam was by william jones in 1792. It has subsequently been translated into most modern Indian languages and many other modern European languages as well. Notable English versions include Edwin Arnold's The Indian Songs of Songs, George Keyt's Sri Jayadeva's Gita Govinda: The Loves of Krishna and Radha, S Lakshminarasimha Sastri's The Gita Govinda of Jayadeva, Duncan Greenlees' The Song of Divine Love, Monica Varma's The Gita Govinda of Jayadeva, Barbara Stoler Miller's The Gitagovinda of Jayadeva. [Paresh Chandra Mandal]

See also bangla music.