Sri Purandara Dasa C. 1484 – C 1565
Purandara Dāsa (Kannada: ಪುರಂದರ ದಾಸರು; IAST: purandara dāsa) (c. 1484 – c. 1565) was a Haridasa, a great devotee of the supreme Lord Krishna, a Vaishnava poet and saint and a social reformer. He was a disciple of the Dvaita philosopher-saint Vyasatirtha, and a contemporary of yet another Haridasa, Kanakadasa. His guru, Vyasatirtha, glorified Purandara Dasa in a song thus: Dāsarendare purandara dāsarayya. He was a composer, singer and one of the chief founding-proponents of South Indian classical music (Carnatic music). In honor of his significant contributions to Carnatic music, he is widely referred to as the Pitamaha (lit. “father” or “grandfather”) of Carnatic music. He is respected as an Avatara (incarnation) of the great sage Narada (a celestial being who is also a singer).
Purandara Dasa was a wealthy merchant of gold, silver and other miscellaneous jewellery from Karnataka, who gave away all his material riches to become a Haridasa (literally meaning a servant of Lord Hari or Lord Krishna), a devotional singer who made the difficult Sanskrit tenets of Srimad Bhagavatam available to everyone in simple and melodious songs. Thus the pure and transcendental Madhwa philosophy of harisarvottamattva (means the supreme one is Lord Hari or Vishnu and all others jivas or living beings are his servants) not only remained among the scholars but also reached even common man for his spiritual upliftment. He was one of the most important music scholars of medieval India. He formulated the basic lessons of teaching Carnatic music by structuring graded exercises known as Svaravalis and Alankaras, and at the same time, he introduced the raga Mayamalavagowla as the first scale to be learnt by beginners in the field – a practice that is still followed today. He also composed Gitas (simple songs) for novice students.
Purandara Dasa is noted for composing Dasa Sahithya, as a Bhakti movement vocalist, and a music scholar. His practice was emulated by his younger contemporary, Kanakadasa. Purandara Dasa’s Carnatic music compositions are mostly in Kannada, though some are in Sanskrit. He signed his compositions with the ankita (pen name) “Purandara Vittala” (Vittala is another name of the supreme one, Lord Krishna, one of the incarnations of the Lord Vishnu) and this same form of Lord Krishna is his aaradhya daiva or ishta murthi or worshippable deity. His work was appreciated by many scholars of his time and the later scholars. Lord Rama (Ram) is for Treta Yuga, Lord Krishna is for Dwapara Yuga and Daasara Padagalu (Keerthanas of Purandara Dasa) is for Kali Yuga is a popular belief.