Purandara Dasa (1484-1564) was born in Purandaragada, near Hampi. His parents were Varadappanayaka and Kamalamba. He was originally named Seenappa, Tirumalarayappa and Thimmappa. He was a Madhwa Brahmin and scholar in music, Sanskrit and Kannada languages.
Purandara Dasa earned huge wealth through his diamond business and was called Navakoti Naryana. But he was very miserly and a naastika. His wife, Saraswatibai, was a great pativrata and a devotee known for her charity.
One day a Brahmin came to Saraswati and requested her help for getting his daughter married. She gave him her diamond nose-ring which the Brahmin took to Narayana and asked him to give him some money. Narayana at once realised it was his wife’s nose-ring and asked him to come the next day for the money. He went home and asked his wife to produce her nose-ring.
Saraswati was very much frightened and prayed to god and tried to swallow poison from a cup. To her great surprise she found the nose-ring in the cup and showed it to her husband.
Narayana was astounded at this incident. He understood God’s miracle and since then, he was a changed man. He gave away all his money to the poor and started writing Padas in praise of God. ‘Mosa hodenalla’ was his first song in Athana. He got initiated by Vyasa Tirtha and since then he was called Purandara Dasa.
Purandara Dasa wrote padas on Bala Krishna leelas, Gopika viraham and Yashoda-Gopika samvadas.
Like Annamaacharya, he also wrote samkeertanas. His compositions, according to some estimates, run to about four lakh. Thyagaraja praised him as ‘aparavatara’ of Narada and ‘Upanisihadartha’. Manjira, Bhairavi, Dvijavanti, Shyamakalyani, Madhavi, Madhimadhavi and Vasantabhairavi are some of the ragas used in his padas. Purandara Dasa had systematised Carnatak music by writing Sarali varsiais, Jati swaras, Alankaras and Pillari gitas. Only after this were the 72 melakarthas created. He also wrote Suladi prabhandas. He started music with raga Mayamalavagaula and Adi tala. A versatile in other systems of music, he paved the way for Carnatak music. His Malahari Pillari gitas are models in Dvidhatu prabandhas. He was rightly called ‘Carnataka Sangeetha Pithamaha’. Purandaradaasa’s Devaranamas are considered Vedas among Madhwa peethams.
Article by : S. K. Rajamanichari
Source: Bhavan's Journal 31 July 2006
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