Sri Purandara Dasa

An Overview of Purandara Literature (Purandara Sahitya)

Sri Purandara Dasa is considered to be the main architect of Kannada Haridasa literature. His influence on the Haridasa literature has flown like a tide which became as sacred as Ganga and it created a waves of Bhagirathi river. Purandara Dasa's doctorine is "Devotion". On holding this theory Purandara Dasa became noble person.

He is fond of Vittala, whatever service he does became Madhava's service, whatever he spoke from his mouth became the name of Sri Narayana, and wherever he went in this world those places became sacred place. He took refuge with Sri Krishna and Krishna became his intellect. Udupi's Sri Krishna position became his path of love and this became Dasa's power also.

Sri Purandaradasa's eyes filled with tears of joy whenever he thought of child Krishna. He describes in his verses-Krishna playfulness from the angle of his mother Yashoda. In some of his verses Purandaradasa has identified himself with the Gopis of Gokula and has described Krishna as if he were one of the Gopi's. Although Devaki was his mother, it was Yashoda's good fortune that she became his foster-mother and brought him up so lovingly. The child krishna was unlike other children. He would suddenly burst out crying in the cradle waking up from sleep which brought Yashoda to the cradle feeling anxious about his safety.

She would ask other Gopis to tell her, if they could, why he was crying. She would try to undo the effect of the evil eye which must have hurt her child Krishna. Naughty child Krishna would never stay at home. The whole of Gokula was his home and playground. All the cowherds and milkmaids were his playmates. Yashoda would plead with him not to go out, as the famous verse sings, "Do not go out, Ranga, beyond the threshold. If you go, the Bhagavathas will take you away". But Krishna would not listen to her. He was always fond of playing outside the home. Often he went to the other houses and ate all the butter and milk that he found there.

Unable to bear the mischief of Krishna, the Gopis complained to Yashoda who felt unhappy over this. She would cry out, "What shall I do, Krishna my son, the day has dawned", and would feel sorry at each sunrise, as it was not within her power to restrain Krishna during the day. At other times she would silence the Gopis by asking them: "Why are you complaining against my Rangayya, the idol and the beloved of all the three worlds?". If some Gopis were tired of his mischief, some of them gladly welcomed him and played with him comparing him to the moon. Whatever the complaints or praise of others, child krishna was Yashoda's dear idol. She would play with him and forget the whole world during that time. She would bless him in various ways as she gave him in various ways as she gave him a bath of oil. If he did not listen to her, she would frighten him by saying "There is a ghost, Ranga there is ghost waiting for you". She would pretend to call the ghost. Krishna then would promise that he would be quiet and request his mother not to call the ghost. If Krishna did not return home for food after his games, Yashoda would go out searching for him and asking every woman, "Did you not see my Ranga?" . Purandaradasa has given detailed description in his verses of Balakrishna's dress and jewellery with which to identify the child. The description of his dress and jewellery in the verses is very beautiful.

As the days went by Krishna's greatness became well known. The incident of Krishna's lifting the Govardhana mountain to give shelter to every one against the torrential rain sent by Indra is the most uncommon episode. Similarly his dancing on the hood of the great serpent Kalinga who was causing endless trouble to all people who entered the pond is another proof of his greatness. Purandaradasa has described this incident graphically in his vers:"Ranga danced on the hood of Kalinga in a splendid way, giving gifts to all who prayed and enjoying himself the while and asking for butter". All the moods of Krishna have been vividly described by Purandara Dasa. Through his verses we can appreciate and understand the kind of love and affection with which he approached God.

Purandaradasa won over all the hurdles because he took oath on Tatva. That's why he composed a song 'krishnamU^rthy kanna mu.nde ni.nthiv^rthide' (he is seeing the standing position of Sri Krishna in his eyes).

Sri Purandara is considered to be one of the ever over flowing river in the Karnataka Haridasa Sahitya rivers. He is one of the founder of the Karnataka music. Navakoti Narayana suddenly became Haridasa by holding tamboori in his hand. There is song ' dAsaru t.amboori mItidaru, javabdi dAtidaru, gejjeya kattidaru, khalaredeya mettidaru, arisshatwargagalannu kuttidaru, vykuntada bagilanu tattidaru, gayana pAdidaru, harimurthyyanu nodidaru (he played tamboori, he crossed the fetters of the world, he weared Gajje (spherical jinging bell), chased the shyness, he defended the hearts of thiefs (khalarede), he grinded all materialistic aspirations (arishatwarga), he knocked the door of moksha, vaikunta, adobe, he sung devotional songs and saw Sri Hari).

After seeing the great saint Sri Vyaasaraja his crores of ancestors became purified and sacred. He got the eligibility power to pray Srisha. He got ankita as Purandara Vittala. His attachment to the magical samsara has been cutoff and he was blessed by the preceptor - Sri Vyaasaraja. He suceeded in getting the friendship with Haridasa's and his dream of getting the sacred people as friends became reality. He repeatedly and continuously (without any interruption) shown interest in praying Madhava.

It is natural for a Haridasa to think of his Lord as his master. His prayer to his Lord to accept him as his servant has been expressed in a variety of ways. In his vers "Take me as your dasa (slave). You are kindness itself. How then can you wound me by your delay?" We can see the sincerity of his prayer. In another verse Purandaradasa sings, "Every day I prostrate at your feet begging that you grant me firmness of mind to be your devotee".

The relationship that each Hari Bhakta (devotee of Hari) wishes to establish with his Lord is called Dasyabhava-the relationship that exists between a good master and an ideal servant. Many of Purandaradasa's verses give expression to this sentiment. As intimacy develops between God and his devotee, a feeling of mutual regard and love develops. As if to give expression to this feeling, Purandaradasa sings rather with a sense of too much familiarity. "I donot need you nor your obligation. It is enough that I have the strength of your name". At another time Purandardasa sings with feeling of friendship with his Lord. "I swear and so should you, both of us should swear on the deovtees." He comes to terms with his Lord in this way.

Sri Purandara Dasa has travelled all over the country. He popularised the concept of Devotion. He carried the people to the top of the mountain called 'Bhagavadbhakti' (God's devotion). He attacked the kama, kroda (lust, hatredness). Like the common usage of lakhs of stars in the sky, lakhs of lamps, etc. he composed four lakh seventy five thousand songs. T he genesis of his songs go like this 'vishayada vichara bidu, vihita ka^rma mAdu, vairAgya bhAgya bhedu, vinayadi sajjanara kooda volagannu teredu, volaganninolaginda volagolage iruva hariyanu mOr^jaga dhoreyanu nodu' (leave mundane things, do your duty, ask for passionlessness asset, along with sacred people open your eyes, inside the eye see the presence of the king of three worlds Sri Hari.) By these songs the whole country became enlightened.

All Purandara's compositions are sutra's (theorems), commentaries (bhashya). His vision is like Garuda's (King of Birds) vision. He touched the hearts of common man and tamed him to be satvik (good) from his writings and compositions of songs. Because of his noble characters his songs have become all time great and powerful. He doesnot have the mind of show off of his schloastic knowledge. Each song carries morals and mundane things of a common man. This has real effect on the minds of the people. He has the great vision and inquisite mind of providing knowledge to all of them who seek devotion through his songs. He called the people to live in pure and sacred mind. He advised those people who unnecessarily blaming others.

Sri Purandara Dasa is real social reformer. He had the dream of providing peace of mind to all the people. His ambition is to build a healthy society. Dasa's socialism is poorman's side. He represented the poor people. He wished to have the poverty till the end of his life. That's why he use to ask 'rAgiya ta.ndIra, bhikshake rAgi ya tandira' (ragi is bascially sort of grain grown in southeren India and are being used by the rural poor people).

All his compositions are very simple, rich contents and informative. Others might have told the meaning in ten words but Sri Purandara use to use only one word to convey the message. He always reminded about the rememering the name of Sri Narayana again and again which will lead to liberation. He stresses these are the steps to the hall of mukthi.

Purandara has filled courage to all the people. Even he filled the patience among all of us. He told that one has to live and win (Isabeku iddu jaIsabeku). He has shown the people the confidence to live and built the positive hopes in life. He travelled all sacred places, he climbed Tirupathi and carved bhagavantha's image in every devotee's chest.

For those interested in decoration (shrungara) (ie always use to stand in front of the mirror and decorating himself and feeling happy about his/her beauty and youth) he has opened the door of reality. He has given the ruling (shasana) about the fact in his songs. He enjoyed the and lived the concept of passionless (absence of worldy desires) rest of his life. His songs goes like this .. hIgguva, bagguva, tagguva, kugguva, negguva, mugguva kadege agniyolage biddu dhagdhavAguva Ei dhEhake yAkO higguvE yAkO manujA higguveyAkO .. (this body is expanding, compressing, it bends, it knocks, it crashes, it goes forward and finally lands in the fire, so why do you feel happy about mundane things oh Man...)

Sri Purandara Dasa is known for his compassion and conscience. He had hundred of faces of his socialism knowledge. Any body whether he is a thief, a butcher, one who deceived the brahma father (brahamana) if he comes as a guest in the afternoon he has told that one has to treat him as real guest by offering rice along with basil leaves which will go to Sri Purandara Vittala, these are the some of the genesis and the rulings which he has composed in the form of songs.

One cannot measure or estimate the length and breadth of his mind. In one song he has mentioned that those who give poison he has to be treated with royal treatment, those who are doing hatredness should be favoured, one who deceives him should be named after his son, those who cheat and look after their house should be made popular (vishanikkdavniga shaD^r asavanuNisabeku, dwesha mAduvavana poshisalubeku, mOsagArana hesaru maganigidabeku, husidu mani kombuvana hAdiharisalubeku...)

Sri Purandara words are very good and each words are golden words. ba.ndasttarali bAlikO, balu san.dheha ba.ndalli kElikO, ni.ndastutigala tAlikO, govi.nda ninnavanendu helikO.. (live with whatever you get, pray when there is suspicion, be patient when people blame you, tell all of them that Govinda is his person..)

For those men who have the vision that the life is full of worldly things like rainbow, Dasa has reminded them that these things are illusion so he composed the song.. yArige yarun.tu yaravina sam.sara nIra gullE nijavalla hariyE, Aane, kudure, bhandara, rajya, uttama prabhutva, mAnaniyara nen.taristtaru yella lolalotte... (who is bothered about others this life is borrowed one like water bubble which may break at any time, Elephants, Horses, treasury, country, royal honour, good and sacred friendships, good relatives are all illusion and short lived..)

Another song goes like this about the worldly things. hEnnu, hOnnu, maNu, yaru hitavaru nimage ei movarolage, narIyO, dharuniyO, bhalu dhanada siriyo.. (which is the following three things are favourable to you, women, wealth and land ..) Then he goes on answering the question by himself that ..nEchhadiri ei bhagya yArigu stiravalla, neralillade, bErellade sasi hutte huvillade kayillade pala bhadide nodi (one should not depend on this wealth which is not permanent to any body which has come without any roots, he goes on comparing that whether flower, fruit will grow without any shelter and without any roots). It means that the present samsara (wealth) which is coming there is no base (beginning or end), there is no roots and there is no source also only miseries are the fruits which one is eating out of it. Even one doesnot know what has happened previous and what will happen in future and one has to experience karma phala (duties and responsibilities).

Sri Purandara Dasa shows the way for achieving results in life by offering things which are sold in his shop. His song goes like this.. hannu bandide kolliro, muttu bandide kollirO, jEnu bandide kollirO, jEnu bandide kollirO, kallusakkare bandide kollirO..yavudi kallusakkare pullalochana srI kr^ishnAnAma eI kr^ishna kallusakkare yattha hErugallinda hottu mAruvudalla, ottotti goNiyaltumbuvudalla, yatta hOdaru badige su.nka eidakilla, uttama sarakidu ati labha taru va.ntha.. (Fruits has come to buy, pearls has come to buy, honey has come to buy, sugar (stone) has come to buy.. which is this sugar (stone) means the name of Sri Krishna (pullalochana) this sugar is not put on the top of axe to take to the market, it is not being sold in the market, this is not being taken by putting inside the gunny bags, any where you go there is no tax for this commodity, it is suppose to be genuine and good quality product which brings lot of profit one who buys this..)

Dasa invites people to have lunch like this .. rAma nAma payasake, kr^ishna nAma sakkare, vittala nAma tuppa beresi bAyi chapparisirO.. (One can relish through his tongue by having sweet (liquid, payasa) of Rama with the Krishna's sugar and by putting the ghee of Vittala it will be very tasty..)

Purandara Dasa is a well known accounts auditor. He says that one has to audit the mind for doing good and bad things. In his song.. manava shodisabeku.. The genesis of this song goes like this 'it is awakening call to all Haridasa the time is running out. one will be sleeping like zebra in an sophisticated bed, one's life is one hundred years out of that half is day time and rest is night time, half is awakening and another half is sleeping. One has to take an account that out of 100 years of life 50 years is sleeping, from the other 50 years first 15 years is youth which is considered to be lack of knowledge, last 25 years is considered to be old age, in between 20 years of youth life, when the blood is hot and mind is running like Arabian horse towards the worldly happiness. Where is the time to think of skilful way of living thinking of God. One more song also tells like this. binnahake bayallavaiah... means there is no time for praying to you, there is innumerable no. of faults like which constitues love towards his kid, husband/wife love, relatives affection, love towards the worldly happy needs, country love, animals love, land love, friends love, from love it will lead to egotism, rice egotism, knowledge egotism, youth egotism, beauty egotism, popularity egotism,. to remove all these things there is order from Dasa one has to fight out these kama (sex,lust), kroda (hatredness), egotism and calls mind as burial ground mind (masana mana) and pray Madhava.

Dasa has also given the writing about the 'madi' one of the austerity ritual followed. madi madi yannutta nO^rmadi haruva..

As if to lend support to the belief that Srinivasa Nayaka's life underwent a change on account of his wife, Purandaradasa praises his wife in a verse which says "All that happened is for good, it paved the way for service to Lord Sridhar". He makes it plain in his verses that he took to a life of renunciation only because of his wife and became a Haridasa and wandered singing the glory of Sri Hari, scunding the cymbals and the tamboori. Not long ago he was successful merchant. But he was himself surprised at the change that had come about in his life and compares it to a new kind of business he had accepted in his life. He feels happy over the change and sings thus:"..I have been businessman. But now the worship of Sripati is the only business I do." Though it cannot be established beyond doubt that his life changed because of his wife Saraswathi, his verses prove that the change did come over his life probably because of some unexpected occurrence in his life.

The man who was ashamed to hold the 'Dandige' (weighing balance) in his hands [Purandaradasa uses the word Dandige in a double sense: (1) the balance (2) Tamboori] had been convered by his wife into a man who held the Dandige (Tamboori) gladly and went about singing praises of Sri Hari. The man who was unwilling to hold the begging bowl and carry the bad to collect alms in the streets had learnt to do so without shame. The person who brought about this change was his wife. Srinivasa Nayaka felt proud of his wife. He sings about her thus: "May her tribe increase by thousands, May the wives of this type increase in thousands".

Likewise he remembers Sri Hari (Sarasijaksha) who is the inspiring force behind all deeds and says that he made him wear the 'Tulsi Mala' (basil necklace). Purandaradasa describes in his verses the mode of his past and present life which is beautiful contrast between his past preoccupation with earning money and the present dedication to the service of Sri Hari. He describes hs present business thus: " The kindness of Hari is my cloak, The kindness of my guru is my head dress, The kindness of Haridasas is the cloth with which I wrap myself, wearing the footwear called the greatest kali,-walking over the chests of the wicked in the world is the business I do".

Few Compositions of Sri Purandara Dasaru


Sri Pada Raja Tiirtha Sri Vyasa Raja Tiirtha Sri Vadi Raja Tiirtha Sri Raghavendra Tiirtha Sri Purandara Dasaru
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