Purandara Dasa

  • Category
    History
  • Published
    2nd Jun, 2020

The Department of Archaeology, Heritage and Museums will commence field research work at Keshavapura in Araga Gram Panchayat (GP) of Tirthahalli taluk to explore definitive archaeological evidences that may put an end to speculations regarding the birthplace of Purandara Dasa.

Context

The Department of Archaeology, Heritage and Museums will commence field research work at Keshavapura in Araga Gram Panchayat (GP) of Tirthahalli taluk to explore definitive archaeological evidences that may put an end to speculations regarding the birthplace of Purandara Dasa.

About

Who was Purandara Dasa?

  • Purandara Dasa was a saint who belonged to Haridasa tradition.
  • Prior to his initiation to Haridasa tradition, Purandara Dasa was a rich merchant and was called as Srinivasa Nayaka.
  • He became the student of Shri Vyasathirtha, the prominent madhwa guru and also the rajaguru of Vijayanagara kingdom.
  • There, Srinivasa Nayaka became Purandara Dasa. The word ‘Dasa’ means servant of god.
  • He started writing his kritis with the ankithanaama/pen name ‘Purandara Vittala’.
  • Referring to this, the proponents of the theory that Puranadara Dasa was born in Malnad point out at that ‘Nayaka’ title was attributed to locally influential people, including wealthy merchants in Malnad during the Vijayanagar rule.

Dasa’s contribution to music:

  • Purandara Dasa Pitamaha is the father of Carnatic Music, saint, philosopher and teacher. 
  • Purandaradasa was instrumental in structuring the basic lessons in Carnatic classical music.
  • These were organised into Sarali varases, Janti swaras, Alankaras, Lakshana geetas, Prabandhas, Ugabhogas, Daatu varase, Geetams, Sooladis and Kritis. 
  • He introduced the raaga Maayamalavagowlaas the basic scale for music instruction and fashioned series of graded lessons.
  • This is the structure that is still used in practise. All the lessons in Riyaz are structured that way as well.
  • Purandara Dasa is said to have composed 475,000 songs in both Kannada and Sanskrit.
  • There are 84 ragas which he identified including the ones such as Kalyani, Varali, Todi, Bhairavi, and Saveri which are popular today. 
  • Sri Thyagaraja was greatly influenced by him and offered homage to him in his Prahalada Bhakthi Vijayam.
  • Purandarasa’s work was completed by Thyagaraja, two centuries later.

Social reform:

  • Dasaru was also one of the social reformers in 14th Century.
  • Simplified worship He simplified worship for the common people who could not understand Sanskrit, the language which was much prevalent for religious purposes.
  • Most of his kritis do speak on reforming the society which has elusive barriers in terms of caste, religion and the immense lust of conquering kingdoms/wars.
  • Made music accessible to all the classical music form which was only restricted to the durbar halls of the kings was made accessible to the common man who earlier had barriers of language and status.
  • This, along with structuring the music and putting a foundation to Carnatic Music was his biggest contribution.
  • For all his works, his own guru Shri Vyasathirtha appreciated him and said “Dasarendare Purandaradasarayya” meaning “Among the devotees of Hari, Purandara Dasa is the greatest”.

Purandharagad or Malnad?

  • As ‘Purandara Vithala’ was the pen name of his compositions, it was widely believed that the mystic poet was born in Purandharagad,
  • However, many in Malnad claimed that he hailed from this region.
  • According to historians, Araga in Malnad was a buzzing commercial centre during the Vijayanagar rule, the period to which the poet belonged to.
  • Referring to the names of the places in the vicinity of Keshavapura — Varthepura, Vithalanagundi, Dasanagadde, it was argued that these places were inhibited by merchant community influenced by Vaishnava tradition to which Purandara Dasa belonged.
  • Many words that figured in Purandara Dasa’s compositions were used by people in Malnad then in their day-to-day life.

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