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A very warm welcome to the blog of Madhwa Brahmins community.
We, Madhwa Brahmins are followers of Jagadguru Sriman Madhwacharya. We originally hail from places in Karnataka and the neighboring states of Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Our main dialects are Kannada, Tulu, Marathi, Telugu and Konkani.

A brief background of Jagadguru Sri Madhwacharya:

prathamO hanumAn nAma dviteeyO bheema Eva cha |
pUrNaprajna tRuteeyastu bhagavat kAryasAdhakaH ||

As the above shloka from khila vAyustuti explains, Sri Madhwacharya (also known by the names Poornaprajna and Anandateertha) is the third incarnation of Lord MukhyaprAna Vaayu, after Lord Hanuman and Lord Bheemasena. He is the chief proponent of TattvavAda, popularly known as Dvaita. He was born on Vijayadashami day of 1238 CE at Paajaka Kshetra, a small village near Udupi. He is the 22nd commentator on the Brahma sutras of Lord Sri Veda Vyasa.

Kindly note that this blog contains important topics discussed in our Orkut community and some articles on tattvavAda philosophy. All the topics can be found in the BLOG ARCHIVE (right side)

15 March, 2009

Sri Purandara daasa

Source: http://www.srsmutt.org

ಇಂದಿನ ದಿನವೇ ಶುಭದಿನವು
ಇಂದಿನ ವಾರ ಶುಭವಾರ
ಇಂದಿನ ತಾರೆ ಶುಭತಾರೆ
ಇಂದಿನ ಯೋಗ ಶುಭಯೋಗ
ಇಂದಿನ ಕರಣ ಶುಭ ಕರಣ
ಇಂದು ಪುರಂದರ ವಿಟ್ಠಲ ರಾಯನ
ಸಂದರ್ಶನ ಫಲವೆಮಗಾಯಿತು!

In the above ugAbhOga, Sri Purandara Dasa says "Each and every day is a good day. One does not have to worry about the tithi, vaara, nakshatra, yoga or karana at all; because when one thinks of Hari, the day turns out to be a good day after all".

Similarly any day is indeed a good day to remember great souls such as Purandara Dasa. However it is customary to pay homage to such great people on special occasions such as the day they were born or the day they passed away. Such days give us a chance to read about, talk about, and understand their good deeds. This helps us to practice the principles and values which such noble people stood for, and thereby turning us towards the right path for life.

Sri Purandara daasa
(AD 1480 to 1564)

Sri Purandara dasa is considered as one of the four pillars on which the entire edifice of haridasa literature stands, along with Sripadaraya, Vyasaraya and Vijayadasa. A very popular shloka venerates these four haridasas as follows:

नमः श्रीपादराजाय नमस्ते व्यासयोगिणे ।
नमः पुरन्दरार्याय विजयार्याय ते नमः ॥

Purandara dasa is remembered as the noblest of all hari dasas.

पुरन्दरगुरुं वन्दे दासश्रेष्ठम् दयानिधिम्

"I bow to the great teacher Purandara, who is the best among the dasas, and an abode of compassion" so goes the saying. He is considered as the best among all the haridasas, so much so that his own guru Sri Vyasaraja teertha says "If there one is a dasa, he should be like Purandara dasa"

"ದಾಸರೆಂದರೆ ಪುರಂದರ ದಾಸರಯ್ಯ".

There are not many pupils in this world who are praised thus by their own teachers.

Purandara dasa is also called the 'pitaamaha' of Karnataka sangeeta (South Indian Classical music) as it is practiced today. Purandara has had a varied role - a devotee, a haridasa (servant of God), a poet, a musician, a social reformer, a saint and a traveler who traveled all over south India.

However, as it happens to many important men and women in Indian history, the details of his life that are available are rather scant and sketchy. We do not exactly know the day he was born or the the place he was born or the day he was initiated to the haridasa fold. But, if we know one thing certainly, it is the day of his passing away.

Sri Purandara dasa left this world on the Pushya amavasye in the RaktAkshi samvatsara (This corresponds to the year 1564 AD). We get this information from a composition attributed to Purandara dasa's son Sri Madhwapati dasa. Here is what he says:

ತೆರಳಿದರು ಹರಿಪುರಕಿಂದು || ಪಲ್ಲವಿ ||
ಪುರಂದರದಾಸರಾಯರು ದೀನಬಂಧು || ಅನುಪಲ್ಲವಿ ||

ರಕ್ತಾಕ್ಷಿವತ್ಸರ ಪುಷ್ಯಾಂತ ರವಿವಾರ
ಮುಕ್ತಿಗೈದಿದರು ಕೇಳಿ ಬುಧಜನರು || ೧ ||

ವಿರೂಪಾಕ್ಷ ಕ್ಷೇತ್ರದಿ ವಿಠಲನ್ನ ಸನ್ನಿಧಿಯಲ್ಲಿ
ಶರೀರವನಿರಿಸಿ ಅನಾಥರನು ಹರಸಿ || ೨ ||

The pallavi and anupallavi lines in this song say that it was composed right on the day when Purandara Dasa passed away. The first charana states that it was on amavasye, Pushya mAsa, Sunday when Purandara dasa passed away. The second charana mentions Viroopaksha Kshetra (Hampe) and the line 'in the sannidhi of vithala', indicate that Purandara passed away somewhere in the viscinity of the Vijaya Vitthala temple in Hampe, very likely at the mantapa called Purandara Mantapa nowadays.

Why does this song become important to us? This shows us how a song can be used to get historical information. Even if we do not know lots of things about Purandara dasa's life, we can still understand the principles he stood for. Whether or not one believes in miraculous incidents that are supposed to have taken place or not, the works of Purandara dasa are a great resource to guide us. In fact, Purandara dasa's greatness lies not in the miracles that are associated with him, but in his works.

Although Purandara dasa is said to have composed hundreds of thousands of songs, only a small fraction of that has been handed over to us through tradition. Luckily, within the available compositions there is plenty of information to understand the life and times of the period when Purandara dasa lived.

Haridasa poetry is more like a mirror to the society. They show the positive attributes, as well as the shortcomings of their times. Many of these aspects are relevant even today, as they were several centuries ago.

Sri Vijayadasa, who was instrumental in collecting Purandara dasa's songs in the 18th century mentions that Purandara dasa was a merchant before he became a haridasa. Purandara dasa himself refers to trade and business in some of his songs. There might be an element of autobiographical content in such songs.

In one composition Purandara dasa says:

ವ್ಯಾಪಾರ ನಮಗಾಯಿತು
ಶ್ರೀಪತಿಯ ಪಾದಾರವಿಂದ ಸೇವೆಯೆಂಬೋ |p|

ಹರಿಕರುಣವೆ ಅಂಗಿ ಗುರುಕರುಣವೆ ಮುಂಡಾಸು
ಹರಿದಾಸರ ದಯವೆಂಬೋ ವಲ್ಲಿ
ಪರಮಪಾಪಿ ಕಲಿಯೆಂಬೋ ಪಾಪೋಸು ಮೆಟ್ಟಿ
ದುರಾತ್ಮರಾದವರ ಎದೆಮೇಲೆ ನಡೆವಂಥ || ವ್ಯಾಪಾರ ನಮಗಾಯಿತು||

ಬಿಳಿಯಕಾಗದ ಹೃದಯ ಬಾಯಿ ಕಲಮದಾನಿ
ನಾಲಿಗೆಯೆಂಬೋದೇ ಲೇಖನಿಯು
ಲೋಲನ ಕಥೆ ನಾಮಂಗಳ
ಶೀಲಮನವಿ ಬರೆದು ಹರಿಗೆ ಒಪ್ಪಿಸುವಂಥ || ವ್ಯಾಪಾರ ನಮಗಾಯಿತು||

Purandara dasa says here: "It is a fortune to be in the trade of serving the lotus feet of the Lord of Lakshmi. Wearing Hari's mercy as a coat, and the kindness of guru as my turban, the sympathy of other haridasas as a shoulder cloth, and wearing shoes that are none other than Kali himself, and then walking over the chest of evil men, is indeed a very good trade. Writing stories containing the names of Hari, in a paper that is none other than the heart, using the tongue as a pen, using the mouth as the ink pot is indeed a wonderful trade".

Here on one side, Purandara dasa describes the dress worn by a trader, and says that it is his 'business' as a haridasa is to tread the evil deeds and the evil in this world. The mention of the word 'vyaapara' - trade - rather than any other occupation might support the belief that Purandara was a merchant before he became a haridasa.

Similarly, we can cite another ugAbhOga where he says:

ಎನ್ನ ಕಡೆಹಾಯಿಸಿರುವುದು ನಿನ್ನ ಭಾರ
ನಿನ್ನ ನಂಬಿ ಬದುಕುವುದು ಎನ್ನ ವ್ಯಾಪಾರ

It is your responsibility to take me to the other side. It is my business to have faith in you!

Such was the outlook and philosophy of complete surrender to Hari that Purandara dasa, a great saint of all times had.

Life History of Sri Purandara dasa

(AD 1480 to 1564)

Srinivasa Nayaka becomes a Saint

Our knowledge of Purandara dasa's life stems mainly from the compositions of Sri Vijaya dasa who lived hundred and fifty years after the passing away of Purandara dasa. This is taken as authentic since Vijaya dAsa is believed to be the incarnation of Bhrigu muni, and an aparOksha jnAni.

Vijayadasa had great a faith in and devotion for Purandara dasa. It is believed that Purandara dasa himself appeared in Vijayadasa's dream and bestowed on him the ankitha 'Vijaya ViTThala'. This is how the story of Purandaradasa runs:

Purandara dasa lived in Purandara gadha, a small town in present-day Maharashtra, but belonging to the then Vijayanagar kingdom. His earlier name was Srinivasa Nayaka. He was engaged in the family business - dealing in precious stones. He was very rich and popularly known as navakOTi nArAyaNA. He was a miser by nature, and cared for nothing except money.

Lord Vishnu decided that it was time for Srinivasa Nayaka to give up his love of money, and take his rightful role among saints. So, He took the form of a poor brahmin and approached Srinivasa Nayaka for money in order to perform the thread ceremony of his son. Even though days rolled by, Nayaka did not give him anything, but the brahmin too did not relent. He visited Srinivasa Nayaka's shop again and again.

Six months passed by in this way. Finally, Nayaka decided that he had to do something to get rid of the brahmin. He had a collection of worn-out coins that were more or less worthless. He poured this in front of the brahmin and asked him to take them and never come back. The brahmin went away, seemingly crestfallen.

Gift of a Nose-stud

Saraswathi, the wife of Srinivasa Nayaka, was a kind hearted soul who in her own way, tried to make amends for her husband's miserliness. The brahmin, who knew this, went directly from Nayaka's shop to his residence. He told her his story and how her husband had sent him away with nothing.

Saraswathi was appalled by her husband's behavior. She wanted to help the poor brahmin, but felt helpless since she could not give anything without her husband's permission. When she explained her helplessness, the brahmin asked if she had something given by her parents (which, presumably, she could give without asking her husband's permission). She agreed and gave him the diamond nose-stud that her parents had given her.

The brahmin took the ornament straight to Srinivasa Nayaka's shop! Nayaka became angry with the brahmin for coming back, despite his instructions to the contrary. The brahmin clarified that he was there not to beg, but to pledge an ornament and take a loan. Nayaka was skeptical and asked the brahmin to show him the ornament. When he saw the ornament, he was perplexed because he immediately recognized it as the one belonging to his wife. When questioned about the ornament's antecedents, the brahmin told him that it was a gift from a benefactor.

Asking the brahmin to come back the next day, Nayaka safely locked away the ornament in a box and went home. When he saw his wife without her ornament he questioned her about it. She tried to stall him with non-committal answers, but he insisted on seeing it immediately. He was angry because he thought she had given away a valuable ornament to a beggarly brahmin.

Saraswathi felt the ground giving way under her feet. She knew that her husband would punish her if she told him the truth. Unable to think of an alternative, she decided to commit suicide. She poured poison into a cup and lifted it to her lips. Just as she was about to drink the poison, she heard a metallic sound. Lo behold, wonder of wonders! the ornament was right there!

The renunciation

She could not believe her eyes. Her heart filled with gratitude, she prostrated before the idol of Krishna and took the ornament to her husband. Nayaka was astounded as it was the very same ornament that he had safely locked away in his shop. He quickly excused himself and ran back to the shop to check. The box in which he had safely locked away the ornament was empty! He was now completely and totally dumbfounded.

He want back to his house, and pressed his wife to tell him the truth. She told him everything that had transpired. This put his mind into a turmoil. After deep thought, he came to the conclusion that the brahmin was none other than God Sri Hari Himself. He recalled all the incidents that had transpired in the previous six months. He was disgusted with himself, and his miserliness. He felt that his wife had conducted herself far more decently and generously than himself. Since it was his love of money that had made him ill-treat the Lord, he gave away all of his wealth with the Lord's name on his lips.

From that day onwards he became a devotee of Sri Hari. NavakoTi Narayana became a Narayana Bhakta; the hands which sported gold and diamond rings now played the tamboora, the neck which used to be resplendent with golden chains now housed the tulasi maala. The man who had turned away countless people away, now himself went around collecting alms and living the life of a mendicant. The Nayaka who would have lived and died an inconsequential life became Purandaradasa, loved and revered even centuries after his death.

Just as the philosopher's stone turns everything it touches to gold, the Lord took a wretched miser and made him into the doyen of all haridAsas. Such was the magic wrought by the Lord!

jai punDareeka varada ... Hari viTThal

After Nayaka became Saint

After Srinivasa Nayaka became the saint-singer celebrating Sri Hari, he sought a teacher for guidance and was received as a disciple by Sri Vyasaraja teertha. Sri Vyasaraja who had been accepted as a great saint had composed verses both in Sanskrit and Kannada. He bestowed the name of 'Purandara Dasa' on the unattached Srinivasa Nayaka and blessed him heartily.

Purandaradasa has expressed his gratitude to Sri Vyasaraja in one of his verses thus: "My only refuge is the feet of Vyasaraja. I was able to understand Purandara Vittala by his grace"..

In the course of time Purandara dasa came to Hampi and settled down with his wife and children. He had four sons-Varadappa, Gururaya, Abhinavappa and Madhvapati. Every morning Purandara dasa went into the town wearing bells on his ankels and tulasi mala around his neck. He carried a tamboori in the hand and sang his Hari-keertanas sounding the tamboori with his fingers.

The verses he sang were his own compositions. They were on a variety of themes. Some of them described Sri Krishna's adventures in this world. Some others sang about God's kindness to man. A few more verses were simple compositions expounding the philosophy contained in the Vedas, Upanishads and Bhagavadgita in simple words. In yet other verses Purandaradasa praises Lord Krishna affectionately. In some verses Purandaradasa has even made fun of the Lord.

He sang these songs to the accompaniment of tamboori and the bells tied to his ankles and went about the streets of the town. The people admired the listened to his songs. Purandaradasa accepted alms given to him during the wandering and led a life of saint.

World of Purandara dasa

Purandara dasa went on singing and finally he realized God's grace. He felt the ecstasy of God realization and at such moments he broke into song declaring "I saw Achyuta with my own eyes". He often became unconscious on account of the joy of God realization and sang: "I am saved, I have conquered life. The good fortune of serving at the feet of Padmanabha has come to me".

Each stage of Purandara dasa'a growth and development as a pious man moving towards the higher stages of God realization is significant. The greatness of his divine nature can be compositions (Suladis and Ugabhogas). The conflicts, anxieties, his hopes, fears and despair have been expressed in simple Kannada very eloguently and clearly.

Purandara dasa became great because of his success in living the life of piety and proving the superiority of the soul over the worldly success. He has created a world of his own with his preoccupation with the life of the spirit and the strength of his devotion. We can read his verses and understand how the boy Dhruva and the sinner Ajamila reached the highest places as devotees by their devotion and piety.

Good Conduct

Purandara dasa set the highest value on good conduct. The strength and greatness of Sri Hari's name have been beautifully enshrined and sung in this world. People who do not know Sanskrit find it hard to understand the Vedas and Upanishads. But Purandaradasa has explained the whole essence of these scriptures in simple Kannada and show the way that one should live.

He practised in his life what he preached. It is important to note this aspect of his life. He gifted away all his wealth and lived the life of renunciation which he preached to others. Although he took to the life of renunciation and asceticism he did not desert his wife and children. He lived with them.

He made it clear to others by his conduct how it was possible to achieve purity of thought, word and deed regardless of caste, religion or creed. He did not believe that man could understand God by mere external purity unless it was accompanies by purity of mind.

Whatever Purandara dasa says, the way he introduces it and explains it is very pleasant. His similes are very simple and telling. He compares wicked men to the knotted tree of thorns. He warns the non believers that life is being wasted at every stroke of the bell. When he saw a post man he sang "A letter has arrived from Padmanabha. A letter that has been written by Padmanabha himself!".

He preached several moral precepts making use of familiar incidents like the postman delivering letters. It was God's gift that Purandara dasa was able to preach, in simple Kannada, what is difficult even for philosophers to put across in a way which the ordinary people can understand.

Just as Purandara dasa used incidents to preach the value of devotion, he was able to put across difficult principles in the few simple words in Kannada. Here is the verse: "The eyes which cannot see Narahari (Krishna) are no better than the eyes of peacock's feathers". He has criticized the pretense of people who merely shave off their heads without cultivating detachment of mind and pose as saints.

Scholars opine that Purandara dasa lived for about 84 years (from AD 1480 to 1564). On the basis of the verse by Madvapati, his son, it is held that Purandara dasa passed away a year before the fall of Vijayanagar. Taking it as authentic, his death anniversary is celebrated on the New Moon Day, in the second fortnight of Pushya.

It's once own duty to understand Purandara dasa's personality from his compositions and not be content with the stories that have grown around his name. We cannot come across such originality and variety in any other saint of that creed. On the basis of a verse in his name, it is said that he composed 4,75,000 songs. Whatever the number of his songs we can see the greatness from the verses available now.

He made music and song an integral part of the common man's life. About a quarter of his songs deal with his spiritual life and how it grew stage by stage. The remaining songs reveal his abundant experience, devotion, wisdom and his detachment.

Vyasaraya, his teacher himself has called his verses "Purandaropanishat". There is no need for some one else's praise.

"Salutations to you, Purandaraguru, Greatest of the saints and the kindliest"

Purandara gurum vande Dasa-sreshTham dayanidhim

According to Wiki this great soul Sri Purandara dAsa composed around mind boggling 4,75,000 songs out of which only around 1000 are available..


Please check following link.

It shows Sri Purandara Dasa & Sri Annamacharya were contempraries and the former was inspired by the latter in his compositions. It also shows that two great stalwarts of devotional (& divine) music is spread to the common man through compositions in folklore. I understand compositions of Sri Purandara Dasaru are used even today for starting lessons in the world of Carnatic Music. Please correct me if I am wrong.

Likewise, Sri Annamacharya's compositions too are sung & listened equally well by many who can understand Telugu. He was an incarnation of Nandaka, the divine sword of Sriman Narayana.

Heartfelt Salutations to the great stalwarts of devotional music.


jagannath said...

For the benifit of those singers who can not read or understand Kannada,I have done musical translation of SantPurandara dasa 's songs from Kannada to Tamil.
162 songs are completed.
The tamil version can be sung in nthe same raga as sung in Kannada.
For example try
Gajavadhana beduve gowqri thanaya,....
GhaNapathyai venduven UmaiyavaL kumaranai...

Baagyaadha laxmi baaramma....
Bhagyaththin thirumagaLe nee varavendum...

54 are in book form published
108 are in manescript to be published.

Any one who is interested can contact me for the Tamil lyrics
Sarvam SriKrishNaarpaNamasthu

dr adarsh n padiyar said...





Suparna Chincholi said...

Is Sri Purandara Daasaru your sodara mavana maga to address him in Singular ? ( looking at the heading of the post). I guess , first we need to learn how to address devathas / Jnanis

H. V. Balachandra Achar said...

Dear Sri Suparna avare,

I understand your concern. Sometimes we use "dasaru" to indicate respect, but that is in Kannada. This writeup being in English we did not use that convention.
On the other hand, the use of singular shows affection. Sri Srisha vittala daasa(ru) has composed a kriti on Sri Raghavendra teertha(ru) as follows - "bAro guru rAghavendra bArayya bA bA"
Further, when we address God, many a times we use singular.
Finally, I request you to convey your opinions more politely. When the subject of your comment itself is about showing respect, it should be first practised before we preach.


Ajay G said...

Good write up....
You could have mentioned the deep respect that the daasaru had on his wife, which is evident from the below keertana:

aadaddella oLitE aayithu
namma sreedharana sEvege saadhana sampattaayitu |

danDige betta hiDiyuvudakke
manDe maaci naacutalidde
henDathi santati saaviravaagali
danDige betta hiDisidaLayya aadaddella) | 1 |

gopaLa buTTi hiDiyuvudakke
bhoopatiyante garvisutidde
aa patnee kula saaviravaagali
gopaLa buTTI hidisidaLayya (aadaddella) | 2 |

tuLasee maaleya haakuvudakke
arasanaagi naacutalidde
sarasijaakSHa shree purandara viTHalanu
tuLasee maaleya haakidanayya (aadaddella) | 3 |
*Text taken from sumadhwaseva.com