Purandaradasa Krithigalu

Shri Purandaradasa is one of the most prominent composers of Carnatic music and is widely regarded as the “Grandfather of Carnatic Music”. He was born in Kshema­pura in Shimoga District in Karnataka in 1494, to a pious couple, Varadappa Nayaka and Leelavathi. Varadappa Nayaka was a wealthy merchant, and the couple named their son Shrinivasa Nayaka. The boy grew up, receiving a good education and he was very proficient in Kannada, Sanskrit and in music.   Initially, Shrinivasa Nayaka was not drawn towards the spiritual path. He continued with the family business and increased it multifold. He was known as ‘Navakoti Na­rayana’ a man of abundant wealth, but he was a miser who would not give a coin to anyone.   According to tradition, there is a beautiful story which relates how Shrinivasa Naya­ka, the ‘Navakoti Narayana’ became Purandara Dasa. 

A poor Brahmin frequently visits Shrinivasa Nayaka’s shop and asks him for help. To put him off, Shrinivasa Nayaka one day gives him a few worthless coins and tells him not to come back. The Brahmin then meets Shrinivasa Nayaka’s wife, who’s a kindhearted lady. Moved by the Brahmin’s story, she gives him her nosestud, which was a gift from her mother.  The Brahmin goes to Shrinivasa Nayaka and tries to sell this jewel to him. Identify­ing his wife’s jewel, Shrinivasa Nayaka locks it away and rushes back to his house. He confronts his wife, tells him how he got the jewel and angrily demands that she show him her nose stud to him. Unable to answer him, she prays to Lord Krishna, and miraculously, the jewel appears in her palm. This incident changes Shrinivasa Nayaka’s life and he realizes that it was the Lord Himself who had come to correct him. He then gives up all his wealth and starts a new life with his family.

 After his renunciation, Shrinivasa Nayaka became the disciple of the great saint Vyasaraja, who gave him the title Purandara Vittala, after the Lord of Pandarpur. From that day on, Shrinivasa Nayaka came to be known as Purandara Dasa.  Purandara Dasa lived the life of a mendicant who had to beg for his food. He would start each morning, wearing tinkling anklets on his feet, a Tulasi Mala on his neck and carrying a Tamboora in his hands.  He would go round the streets singing his beautiful songs in praise of Lord Hari. The songs, composed in simple, easy to un­derstand Kannada and set to enchanting music, enthralled everyone who heard it. Whatever he received at the end of the day, he would take home to his family. This was his life after he had given away all his wealth and turned his mind towards Bhakti.

 Purandara Dasa is said to have composed around 475,000 songs, in Kannada and Sanskrit. Only about a 1000 are available now. Purandara Dasa’s songs express his love for Lord Narayana, especially Shri Krishna. He sings of various aspects of Shri Krishna’s life. In many of these songs, he also satirizes all the various pretensions and vices prevailing in the society. He makes fun of the false Bhaktas who profess all outward signs of Bhakti without a kind thought or true devotion in their hearts. His compositions are enchantingly beautiful and these have inspired many musi­cianpoets in Karnataka.  Purandara Dasa is considered to be the grand father of Carnatic Music, as he formal­ized the music system which was a blend of various traditions of South India and the musical science as explained in the Vedas. He devised a system of teaching Carnatic music in graded lessons. Purandara Dasa identified 84 ragas including the Mela­karta ragas. Each of his lyrics is a beautiful musical composition. His works touched a variety of musical types – Kritis, Keertans, Padams and many rare forms of music. His influence on Carnatic Music is profound. Shri Tyagaraja was greatly influenced by him and offered homage to him in his Prahalada Bhakti Vijayam.  

 Purandara Dasa is said to have lived till he was 80. He used the powerful magic of music and the vehicle of vernacular language to touch the hearts of people with devotion. 

Purandara Dasa’s kritis of sung in Sampradadya Bhajans include:

                    Neenyako Ninna • Neene Anaatha bandhu

                    Kaliyugadalli Harinaamava • Yaake Murkhanaadyo

                    Yaadava Nee Baro • Naanenu Maadideno Rangayya

                    Innu daya Baarade • Dasana Maadiko Yenna

                    Naa Maadida Karma • Bhaagyaada Lakshmi Baaramma


 [Adapted from Karnataka.com] 

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