The theme in Ashtapadi and the Author:
The Ashtapadi songs are called "GEETHA GOVINDA MAHAA KAAVYAM", which is said to be the ancient form of Sringaara Kaavyams. These are full of Sringaara Rasapravaaham. In short, These songs describe the celestial love between Raadhika Devi and Krishna, The Egoistic nature of Raadhika, Her Anger towards Krishna, Her viraha thaapam (sorrow in separation), reunion and their Sallapam. This Kaavyam is composed by Sri Jayadeva Swamigal, from self experience of the Godly principle within. Sri Jayadeva was said to be living in the 12th century in the village "Kindu Bilwam" near Puri Jagannath in the present Orissa State, born to the saahtwic brahmin couple known as Sri Narayana Sashtri (also called Bhojadevan) and Smt.Kamala Devi (also called Radha Devi). In his early age Sri Jayadeva lost his parents and was staying in a Kutir in the forest, composing songs and singing them with music in praise of Sri Krishna. Sri Jayadeva is said to be the avathar of Sri Puri Jagannath.
Padmaavathi was born to a devoute Brahmin Deva Sarma, who,during his prayers longed for a child and promised to present the child after growth to the Lord Jagannath Himself. When she became of marriageable age, Sri Deva Sarma, in fulfilment of his promise, offered her to Lord Jagannath, who ordered the chief priest in his dreams to take the child to Sri Jayadeva and get her married to him. Lord Jagannath informed the priest that Jayadeva is none other than Himself. Thus, the girl was left at the Kutir of Sri Jayadeva, against his wish, who refused to enter into Gruhasthaasrama. Due to the stead fastness of Padmaavathi & her Bhakthi and service to him, he considered it as God's will and ultimately married her in the normal way. Sri Jayadeva enacted the scenes of this Kaavyam while composing it along with Padmavathi dancing to the tunes. Thus, this Kaavyam is a living monument of Srigaara Rasa Bhaava.
The summary of contents of Ashtapadi:
Like Bhagawatham describing Krishna Leela and Raasakreeda in 12 Skandams, Ashtapadi also has 12 Sargams, containing 24 Ashtapadi songs. Each song comprises mostly of Eight stanzaas with the exception ofone or two Ashtapadis which are less or more than 8 stanzaas. (This kaavyam was placed before the Raja Sadas and this has been named as Ashtap0adi by the Pandits and Raja. The contents of Sargams, in short, are:
1. Picturisation of Dasaavathaarams of Krishna and the prabhaavams of the Lord in various avathaars are described in priase of Lord in the first two Ashtapadis. The third & fourth Ashtapadis are the description of Vasantha Kaala Varnanai & Raasa Leela of Krishna with other Gopis in Brindaavan described by the Sakkhi.(1 to 4 Ashtapadis- 1st Sargam called: "Samoda Damodarah")
2. Raadhikaa's grief as Krishna is enjoying with other Gopis, ignoring her totally and getting herself annoyed, being too possessive of Krishna and staying alone in the kutir made of plants and requesting Sakkhi to go and explain to Krishna Her plight and to fetch him to Her to accept Her. (5th and 6th Ashtapadi - 2nd Sargam called: "Aklesa Kesavah").
3. Krishna's realisation of his mistake of ignoring Raadhika & spending his time with other Gopis.(7th Ashtapadi-3rd Sargam called: "Mugddha Madhusudhanah").
4. Sakkhi explaining the Viraha Thaapam suffered by Raadhika and pleading to God to please Raadhika by His presence before Her.(8th & 9th Ashtapadi - 4th Sargam called: "Snigddha Madhusudhanah").
5. Sri Krishna asking Sakkhi to pacify Raadhika & fetch Her to Him. (10th & 11th Ashtapadis - 5th Sargam called: "Abhisaarikaa Varnane Saakaamksha Pundareekakshah").
6. Sakkhi explaining the aweful condition of Raadhika due to Viraha Thaapam and Her inability to move & requesting Lord to go to Her.(12th Ashtapadi - 6th Sargam called: "Sothkkhantta Vaikunttah").