Do you have 20 minutes to spare?

This might just be my favorite song ever. I’ve listened to it since I was much younger and it never ceases to amaze me. This track is a duet performance featuring Pandit Jasraj, a great Hindustani singer, and Dr. L. Subramaniam, who is one of the most skilled violinists in the world, and certainly the most accomplished Indian violinist. I’ve been lucky enough to see both of them in concert individually, but this joint performance is on a whole other level.

Pandit Jasraj is performing a composition called the “Govind Damodar Madhaveti” stuti, in a raga (melodic scale) known as Sarasangi. He is accompanied on violin by Dr. L. Subramaniam.

I’ve put the meaning of the composition after the break, but I would recommend listening to this track without reading the meaning first. (I’ve only just now discovered the meaning of the lyrics, thanks to Google) Just enjoy the music. The depth and range of Pandit Jasraj’s voice coupled with Dr. L. Subramaniam’s mastery of the violin is truly stunning.

Govind Damodar Madhaveti stuti

Composed by the Vaishnava saint Bilvamangala Thakura (13th century AD?) in Sanskrit, and dedicated to Lord Krishna

Karaaravinde na padaaravindam
Mukhaaravinde viniveshayantam
Vatasya patrasya pute shayaanam
Balam Mukundam manasa smarami
I meditate upon bala mukunda (Krishna as a young boy), lying on a banyan leaf. His hands, his feet, his face… all beautiful, delicate and pure like a lotus flower.
Shri kRiShNa govinda hare murAre
he nAtha nArAyaNa vAsudeva
jihve pibasvAmRitam etad eva
govinda dAmodara mAdhaveti
“Shri Krishna! Govinda! Hari! Murari! O Lord, Narayana, Vasudeva!” O tongue, please drink only this nectar: “Govinda, Damodara, Madhava!”
vikretukama-khil gop-kanya
murari-paadarpit-citta-vruttih
dadhyadikam mohavashad-vochad
govinda damodara madhaveti
Though desiring to sell milk, yogurt, and butter, the mind of a young gopi (milkmaid) was so absorbed on Krishna that instead of calling out “Milk for sale,” she accidentally said, “Govinda!”, Damodara!”, and “Madhava!”
gruhe gruhe gopa-vadhu-kadambah
sarve militva samavapya-yogam
punyaani naamani pathanti nityam
govinda damodara madhaveti
In house after house, groups of cowherd ladies gather on various occasions, and together they always chant the transcendental names of Krishna: “Govinda, Damodara, and Madhava.”
sukham shayanam nilaye nijepi
naamani vishno pravadanti martya
te nischitam tanmayataam vrajanti
govinda damodara madhaveti
Even the ordinary mortals comfortably seated at home who chant the names of Vishnu, “Govinda, Damodara,” and “Madhava,” certainly attain (at least) the liberation of having a form similar to that of the Lord.
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