The earliest poet whom we can claim to be a true son of Bengal was Joyadeva, the composer of the immortal song Gita Govinda. He was a poet of the court of Lakshmana Sena, and flourished in the twelfth century, as has been proved by a colophon of an ancient copy of his poem discovered by Dr. Buhler in Kashmir. There is other evidence corroborating this fact. Jayadeva himself speaks of his contemporaries in his poetry; Bidyapati and Chandidas, poets of the fourteenth century, acknowledge Jayadeva to be their great predecessor. Also Sanatan Goswami, a learned Vaishnava writer of sixteenth century, speaks of Jayadeva as a poet of Lakshmana sena’s time.
Very little is known of the life of this poet. He was born in Kendubilva, better known as Kenduli, in the district of Birbhum. His father’s name was Bhojadeva and his mother’s Bamadevi. In early life Jayadeva left home, and it is said, began preaching the faith and love of Krishna. After passing a few years in devotion and study, Jayadeva married and settled down in his native village. The daily routine of home life was however ill adapted to the feelings of the ardent poet, and he left home once more and travelled through northern India as far as Vrindavan and Jaypur, to which latter place he seems to have been invited by the king. Nothing more is known of the poet than that he survived his wife Padmavati, and that he passed his last days in devotions in his native village, where his tomb is yet to be seen surrounded by beautiful groves and trees.
Centuries have rolled away since the death of Jayadeva, and yet to the present day an annual fair is held at kenduli by the Vaishnavas in memory of the departed poet. At this fair, flakhs of men assemble round the tomb of Jayadeva for worship, and the Vaishnavas still sing of the amours of Krishna and Radhika immortalized in the Gita Govinda.