Who are Haridasas
The term 'Haridasa' literally means 'servant of Sri Hari'. In common parlance the term refers to devotional poets, who composed songs in Kannada in praise of Sri Narayana or Sri Hari.
The Haridasas were servants of God. Sri Vijayadasa in his Haridasalakshana Suladi describes the Vows that had to taken up by the Haridasa before ordination: Absolute faith in Sruti, Smriti, Purana and Ithihasa.
The Haridasas are the followers of Sri Madhwacharya who was the founder of Dvaitha sidhanta. The dvaitha Siddhantha contained the following nine fundamental tenets. Sri Hari is all supreme, Sarvottama, sarvashaktha, sarvavaypthi. The World is reality, satya difference is truth and there are fundamental and eternal differences between souls Jivas. But all jivas are servants and dependents of Sri Hari. The differences between every element of creation are in immutable ad unchanging law. True sukhanubhava is Mukti and Anubhava of sukha is Swarupadeha is Moksha. Bhakthi is the only sadhana of Mukti (liberation). There are three pramanas only: Pratyaksha, Anumana and Sabda. Sri is cogniscible and comprehensible only through the Vedas.
This order of the Dasas was built up by a regular band of saintly souls, who dedicated themselves to the service of the Lord and singing the praises of Hari, wandered from one end of the country to the other.
God is easily approachable, God is for all, God is to be praised, God needs no ritualistic ornamentation. These were the main messages enshrined in their songs. They were universally respected and fully supported by the pontiffs (MatAdhipathi's or swamiji's) and scholars.
The Dasas were semi-sanyasis. They renounced all the pleasures of the world but were house-holders and had a normal family. They were mendicants and accepted to beg for their daily food without storing it for profit. Temples and mutts became their main abode. Since they lived getting food from house to house the dasas followed the Unchha Vrutti. They moved from place to place and toured the whole towns and villages singing and dancing with a single-stringed tamboori instrument and castanets being their only musical accomplishment. Barefooted starkly dressed in dhotee and turban the Dasas presented a picture of austerity and elegance.
What is dvaita or tattvavAda?
dvaita or tattvavAda is the one of the leading schools of hinDu philosophy. It was propounded by AchArya Madhwa (aka MadhwAchArya, Ananda tIrtha) The tattvavAda more popularly known as Dvaita Philosophy of Sriman Madhwacharya, whose cordinal precepts are the supremacy of Sri Hari and surrender to Him and service to humanity as the sole means of liberation. The Philosophy of Sriman Madhvacharya is pragmatic with relevance to everyday life. It aims at building a sound individual and an orderly society which together provide the Sadhana Marga. Its emphasis Duty and Devotion at every stage of life serving eminently the twin objectives of creating an efficient individual and an orderly society. Sri Acharya Madhwa propagated the true spirit of modesty and sublimity bo commanding that every individual shall consider always himself as a servant at the feet of the Supreme Lord, who is the embodiment of all perfection.
for further details see Dvaita FAQ.
Who was AchArya Madhwa?
He was the founder of the dvaita or tattvavAda school of philosophy. For more details, see the dvaita homepage.
What was the relationship between dvaita and haridAsas?
haridAsas were mostly followers of AchArya Madhva, the founder of the dvaita school of philosophy. They drew their inspiration from scriptures as (correctly) interpreted by AchArya Madhva. Consequently, dvaita provided the philosophical underpinning for all the compositions of haridAsas.
There is however, no reasoned exposition of the philosophy of Madhva. The drift of the songs is lyrical and didactic rather than logical and definitive. Hence, we cannot expect any reasoned exposition of philosophical doctrines here. Nevertheless, certain basic tenets of the system like the doctrines of Hari sarvOttama (Lord Hari is the Supreme amongst all gods), 'tAratamya' (gradation), 'panchaBhEda', the nature of souls, the attributes of God, and the nature of 'mOksha (liberation) are elaborately dealt with.
What are the basic tenets of Acharya Madhwa's teachings?
How did the concept of 'haridAsatva' start?
The first person to start the practice of composing devotional songs in kannaDa, the language of the people, was shri narahari tIrtha, but the one who really breathed life into the practice was shri shrIpAdarAja (aka shri lakshmInArAyana tIrtha) and his disciple shri vyAsa tIrtha. They were both mAdhwa pontiffs and devotees of nArAyaNa, with extraordinary proficience in sanskrit. However, in order to draw the common man into the fold of devotion, they composed devotional songs in kannaDa.
Even though there were a few others before him, the first, universally revered haridAsa was shri purandara dAsa. He was a direct disciple of shri vyAsa tIrtha and lived in the 16th century. See the table for information about other dAsas.
What is the Background of Dasa's
The Dasas though learned people, were humble servants of God and undertook to spread the message of Madhva in the simplest, most comprehensive style. Kannada, the spoken language of the commonality was the medium of communication. Telling phrases couched in racy vocabulary made the compositions powerful and effective. Hundreds of common day-to-day figures of speech a heap of thoughtful observations yield in their songs a mine of proverbs. Beauty lies in simplicity without being crude and inane.
Additionally, Dasas spoke not to particular sect or area but had a universal appeal. Their sole purpose was to praise the Lord for his mercy and beneficence. Their art lay in unfolding their heart with no ego, arrogance, cunning or secrecy. The Dasas broke open the hidden treasures of philosophy unexplored till then except through sanskrit; the common man had the feast of knowledge and drank the ambrosial honey to his heart's content. The Dasas reiterated the basic concept, that devotion was the saviour of mankind.
Being in touch with the common people the Dasas became shrewd observers of life around, life in the raw. Their compositions, therefore were natural, spontaneous and quick in touch the heart. The Dasas preached some basic things such as ephemeral qualities of human life, the seemings enchanting world and quest for liberation.
What kind of life did the haridAsas lead?
haridAsas were semi-sanyAsis. They renounced all the pleasures of the world but were house-holders and had a normal family. They were mendicants who accepted alms for sustenance, without storing it for profit. Temples and mutts were their main abode. Since they lived by getting food from house to house, haridAsas followed the Uncha Vrutti. They moved from place to place, singing and dancing with single-minded devotion.
A typical sight would be that of a haridAsa walking on foot from one place to another, playing the tambUri and singing kIrtanas, despising comfort and rest, suffering hardship and privation, exhorting people to lives of truth, virtue and devotion to God, conveying their teachings through soul-stirring music. The gentle message of their songs had a direct appeal which no heart susceptible to noble impulses could ever resist.
What is the Order of 'Dasatva'
There are no distinctive religious practices and rituals associated with the order of the Dasas, except perhaps the congregational prayers at Pandharpur, (or any holy place, temple, mutt, Guru's (preceptor) house etc ) the initiation ceremony and administering oath of allegiance, and the employment of music and dancing as part of the devotional discipline.
This order of the Dasas (servants of God) was build up by a regular band of saintly souls, who dedicated themselves to the service of the Lord and singing the praises of Hari, wandered from one end of the country to other. These saints of Dasa order centered their affections on Vithala of Pandharpur as the patron deity of their order.
What was the contribution of haridAsas to literature?
kannaDa, the spoken language of the people was the medium of communication. Telling phrases, couched in racy vocabulary made the compositions powerful and effective. Hundreds of common figures of speech, thoughtful observations served to make their song easily understood by the common man. Beauty lies in simplicity without being crude and inane.
dvaita sidhdhAnta thus reached many through the music and compositions of the dAsas. Their compositions are equally available to all - the young and the old, men & women, the pious as well as the sinful, untouchables as well as high-caste people, without any distinction of caste, creed, region or religion.
What were the main messages propagated by haridAsas?
Being in touch with common people, haridAsas became shrewd observers of life around, life in the raw. Their compositions, therefore were natural, spontaneous and quick in touching the heart. haridAsas preached some basic things such as the ephemeral quality of human life, the seemingly enchanting world and the quest for liberation.
God is easily approachable, God is for all, God is to be praised, God needs no ritualistic ornamentation. These were the main messages enshrined in their songs.
The songs try to rouse the spirit of man from a life of worldly attachment and turn it godward. They deal with all aspects of spiritual discipline taught by the scriptures and take us along the path of self-realization.
What was style of Compositions followed by Haridasas?
Each haridAsa had a distinct style of his own, inimitable and personal. While purandaradAsa adopted a simple, lucid KannaDa style with telling phrases and similes, kanakadAsa revelled in a strong, fighting style that delivered the message directly. vijayadAsa followed his master, purandaradAsa whereas jagannAtadAsa sprinkled his compositions with many sanksrit words. Each dAsa took a road of his own choice knowing fully well that ultimate goal was the praise of the Lord.
The compositions of the haridAsas are thought-provoking yet simple, simple yet serious in content, serious yet enchanting, enchanting yet didactic. Many serious philosophical tenets have been explained for the benefit of everybody from the uninitiated to the expert.
What type of Compositions did the haridAsas produce?
There is a wonderful fusion of music and poetry in the works of the haridAsas. There is great variety in their compositions:
We find a vast variety in the subject matter too - biographical, religious, philosophical, social, ethical, ritualistic, introspective, and so on. It was a haridAsa (purandaradAsa) who composed the famous 'pillAri gItas', the learning of which has become the firm foundation of karnAtik music even today.
What instruments were used by Haridasas
Haridasas moved from place to place and toured the whole towns and villages singing and dancing with a single-stringed tamboori instrument, foot bells (kalgejje) and castanets (chatike) being their only musical accomplishment.
What is the meaning of Devotion
The path of devotion calls for total surrender to the almighty. Based on the Upanishads, the Puranas and personal experience, the proponents of Bhakthi Marga (the path of devotion) have structured their relationship to God in different ways ie mother-child, preceptor-disciple (Guru-Shishya), master and servant, husband and wife and shanti swarupa ie intense devotion to Sri Hari. In a nutshell these relationship are called panchavida bhavagalu. They are Dasya, Madhura, Sakhya, Vatsalya and Shanta bhava.
Love and devotion lead one to release from the trammels of worldly sufferings. The royal road starts with the directions in Bhagawatha Purana and the Geetha. Liberation is devotion slave.
The Haridasas attach supreme importance to bhakthi, though they agree that karma and jnana (action and knowledge) are necessary. In fact, these three follow one another. The Haridasas are imbued with a spirit of equanimity, dispassionateness, unusual love and kindness towards mankind, and they are like the torch-bearers to those who still wander in the dim darkness of dreary samsara. Their experiences and expressions give solace to many and passer by may rest himself and quench his thirst by drinking the sacred waters of their most sublime and immortal songs.
How does one do devotion?
Devotion calls for both external and internal cleanliness (Antaranga Shuddi and Bahiranga Shuddi). Internal cleanliness refers to having a pure mind and heart. To achieve external cleanliness one should take bath, wear clean & washed cloth, eat the food which has been offered to God (nEvaidya). By doing all these things one can hope to get devotion.
What is Taratamya/panchbehda or Dvaita system of DevotionThere is however, no reasoned exposition of the philosophy of Madhva, which is the basic philosophy of the Dasas. The drift of the songs is lyrical and didactic rather than logical and definitive. Hence we cannot expect any reasoned exposition of philosophical doctrines here. Nevertheless, certain tenets of the system like the doctrines of 'taratamya' (gradation ), 'panchabehda' (reality of fivefold difference in the universe), the nature of souls, the attributes of God, and the nature of 'moksha (liberation) are elaborately dealt with. The songs try to rouse the spirit of man from a life of worldly attachment and turn it Godward. They deal with all aspects of spiritual discipline taught by the scriptures and take us along the path of self-realization. Their philosophy system is just the same as that presented by the great writers of the Dvaita Vedanta in their original works in sanskrit.
There are two types of Bhajan. They are
What is the hierarchy of gods according to dvaita?
Following is the hierarchy of Taratamya Devataas: the number stands the rank of the respective devata and bracketed description is the respective tatvas they belong to:
Here out of Pancheindriya four has been covered; Prithiva tatva conceited devataa is Shanyshwara who stands at 25th place. From Pancha Karmendriya four has been covered in the above list the other devataa is Jayantha who is the son of Indra.
The reverse order of the above ranking is Arohana method.
All Haridasas are following the same path what has been shown by Sri Madhwa and composed their songs accordingly.
Haridasas comprised of two divisions: Vyasa Kuta and Dasa Kuta. The followers of Vyasa Kuta were required to be learned in the Vedas, Upanishads and other Darshanas with a true constructive appreciation of the metaphysics and of manifestations of Vishnu. They claimed to be strict disciples of Vedavyasa Tradition and through slokas and Keertanas in Geervana Bhasha, explained to the masses, the implications and propounded the significance of this great tradition. Those who synthesised all elements of value enshrined in the Vedas and in those involved in Vyasa tradition and taught the masses through the medium of Prakrit Kannada, the language of the region, were known as followers of Dasa Kuta.
There was no philosophic or doctrinal difference between the two sects. Both accepted Dvatia philosophy and religion of Madhwa. Only the Vyasa Kuta was Janan Gamya intent on the philosophic aspect of the teachings of the Master, unreavelling confusion in interpretation of vedic text, convicting errors of interpretations, turning every prejudice into light and kindling love of truth into a passion; the other singing the praises of Vishnu through intelligelbel medium of the masses of persuading them to follow the path of Bhakthi. Both the groups spread the message of the great teacher Madhwa to the farthest corner of the country. They were like the two arms of propagators of Madhva Siddantha.
What is "Ankitha"
It is the phrase or set of words used by a Haridasa, usually at the end, to sign-off a composition. It is basically a literary signature or signet/mudrika or pen-name that identifies the composed. Each Haridasa had his or her own ankitha. The table of Haridasas provided in the Introductory part list the ankitha of all popular Haridasas.
Ankita was conferred by the Guru after being duly satisfied of the merits of the student aspiring to be a member of the Haridasa Pantha. The ankita as Vittala in the case of Purandara, Vijaya and Jagannatha Vittala was intuitively perceived by the Guru after apprehension of the Swaryoa Guna and after realisation of the immanence of Bimba Rupi Paramathma in the soul of the sisya.
However, some Dasas obtained their Ankitas directly through divine intervention, usually in the form of a dream (this method is called swapna labda). Some of the saint Haridasas kept their Ankita's of their devotees for example Sri Vadiraja - Hayavadana & Sri Vyasaraja - Siri Krishna. One exception to this rule was Jagannatha Das who got his ankita on a stone in the Bhima river in Pandharpur.
Most of the dasas worshiped Vitthal of Pandharpur and adopted the God-given 'Ankita' "vitthala". For example "Purandara Dasa", "Vijaya Dasa" "Gopala Vittala" etc.
What is a Bhajan? What are the types of Bhajans?
Faith and Bhajan (prayer) are the constituents of Bhakti or devotion of Haridasa for, by faith and prayer alone that one can acquire the Nom de Plume of Haridasa.
Prayer is one of the deep constructive energies of life and has been a steady uplifting power in the long story of human progress. Prayer raises man above self-seeking and utilitarian aspiration. It transcends rationalising tendencies in man. The attempt to find antecedent causes for everything is bound to explain higher stages in terms of lower and simpler ones. We are bound to go back and back for our causes until we lose sight of supreme values of life, and find ourselves enmeshed in a mechanistic scheme of movements, which is substituted for more vivid realities subjectively experienced.
Prayer is born of our own need for spiritual fellowship, and it is a kind of divine mutual and reciprocal correspondence, and gives a transcendental thrill of life. Prayer in its highest reaches climbs to a vicarious exercise of the soul, in the sense of feeling with those who feel and suffer, and thus establish through invisible vibrations, complete identity with Humanity.
There are three types of Bhajans (prayers). They are;
What are the rules which are generally followed before doing bhajan or devotion to the God
What are the sequence of Bhajans
The songs which are sung by Haridasas are usually in the following sequence. They are;
What is the meaning of "Padas", "Suladis" and "Ugabhogas"