You are here: Sri Vaishnava Home Page : Bhakti List : Archives : June 1999

Purandara DAsaru- Life history- Part 1

From: Shobha Srinivasan (srinivasan_at_clarityconnect.com)
Date: Fri Jun 11 1999 - 05:39:27 PDT

Dear Krishnabhakthas:

As requested by few very active bhakthi list members, I will be bringing
out few postings on the life of Sri Purandara DAsaru as a devotee of the
Lord Vittala.    

Hari SarvOththamma, VAyu JIvOththamma

bhuDhirbalam yashODhaiRyam niRbhayathvamarOgathah |
ajAdyam VAkpatuthvam cha hanumath smaraNAbhavEth |

abhramam bhamba rahithamajadam vimalam sadhA |
AnamdhathIrThamathulam bhajE thApathrayApaham ||

chithrai padhaishcha gambhIraih vAkyaiRmAnairakhamdithaih |
gurubhAvam vyamjayamthibhAthi shrI jayathiRthavAk ||

pUjyAya rAghavEmdhrAya sathyaDhaRma rathAya cha |
bhajathAm kalpavRukshAya namathAm kAmaDhEnave ||

namah srIpAdharAjyAya namasthe vyasayogine |
namah puramdhara dAsAya vittalayA thE namaha ||

manmanObhiShta varadham saRvAbhIShta phalapradham |
puramdhara gurum vamdhE dhAsa shrEshtam dhayAniDhim ||

nAham kartA hariH kartA tatpUjA karmachaakhilam.h|
taThaapi matkR^itaa pUja tatprasaadhEna naanyaThaa|
tadbhakti tadphalam.h mahyam.h tatprasaadaat.h punaH punaH |
karmanyaasO harAvevam.h vishNOsthR^iptikaraH sadhA  ||

"I am not the doer, shri Hari is the doer, all the actions that I do are
His worship. Even then, the worship I do is through His grace and not
otherwise. That devotion and the fruits of the actions that come to me are
due to His recurring grace" 
If one always practices to do actions with a dedicated spirit to Hari, in
this way, it pleases Vishnu.

Introduction 

Purandara Dasa is famous among the Haridasas of Karnataka; foremost among
the talented Karnatic composers. He earned much money and lived only to
earn it, but eventually gave away all his wealth
because of a strange incident and became a devotee of Sri Hari. He
practised the principle contained in the popular saying "we must swim
across suffering win victory over it". He earned the well-deserved
praise-'Among the devotees of Hari, Purandara Dasa is the greatest'(from
his preceptor Sri Vyaasa Tiirtha). His works have earned the name
'Purandaropanishat'. 

After Nayaka Became Saint 

After Srinivasa Nayaka became the saint-singer celebrating Sri Hari, he
sourght a teacher for guidance and was received as a disciple by Sri
Vyaasaraja. Sri Vyaasaraja who had been accepted as a great
saint had composed verses both in sanskrit and Kannada. He bestwoed the
name of 'Purandara Vittala' on the unattached Srinivasa Nayaka and blessed
him heartily. Purandaradasa has expressed his
gratitude to Sri Vyaasaraja in one of his verses thus: "My only refuge is
the feet of Vyaasaraja. I was able to understand Purandara Vittala by his
grace".. 

Srinivasa Nayaka who had earned the name of Navakoti Narayana, became a
devotee of Narayana, the protector of the mankind and started a new life
along with his wife and children. Purandara Dasa's
wife and children appear to have composed verses like him. 

In course of time Purandaradasa came to Hampi and settled down with his
wife and children. He had four sons-Varadappa, Gururaya, Abhinavappa and
Gurmadhvapathi. Every morning Purandaradasa
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 renunication. He who had been called Navakoti Narayana
now had willingly accepted the life of a saint and
begged for his food. 

In Praise of the Devotees 

It is intersting to note how Srinivasa Nayaka, having changed his life
influenced by his wife's role and having been accepted by Sri Vyaasaraja as
disciple naming 'Purandara Vittala', earned the belssings of Sri
Hari. In his verses (keertanas) he praises all the devotees of Sri Hari who
had earned the blessings of the Lord and supplicates before Sri Hari. He
praises the good fortune of Lakshmi, the consort of Sri
Hari, who had the rare fortune of serving the Lord with love at all times.
He sings "How fortunate is Lakshmi, how pious is Lakshmi who serves Sri
Hari with love at all times!"... Yashoda treated the
protector of the world as her child and played with him and enjoyed every
moment she spent with the child Krishna. Purandardasa envies her and sings
"It is the good fortune of the Gopi that Sripati is in the
form of a child". Thinking of Vidura who satisfied his friend and Lord of
the World with just one cup of milk, he praises him for his good luck and
sings: "it is the good fortune of Vidura that the universe in the
for Padmajaanda (Lord Krishna) is fully satisfied with what Vidura has
offered". 

Anxiety 

Even though Purandardasa had taken the vow of Haridasa, his mind had not
yet acquired equipoise (peace/restfulness). He feels unhappy over the state
of his mind which was still unable to reach a stage of
complete restfulness. He bemoans in a verse: "I did not think of you during
the day, I failed to do so during the night also because of thirst and
hunger. I am the victim of these two desires. O Purandara
Vittala." 

Again he gives expression to the conflict in his mind about his inability
to give up his house, wife and children in a verse: "the love of my house
and my wife on the one hand and the longing and anziety for the
children on the other hand..". The all-too-human weakness and conflict are
beautifully depicted in this verse. The sole object of Purandaradasa was to
be victorious over these desires and to win God's
blessings. This problem was constantly before him. Sometimes he dreamt that
Sri Hari appeared before him because of his constant preoccupation with the
Lord. At times he appeared to him (at a mental
level) the screen of his mind. The Lord seemed to test the depth of his
longing and his sincerity. Purandardasa seems to have been disturbed and
upset because of the severe test to which he was subjected.
Hence he complains in a bannering verse "who was ever rescued by you, Sri
Hari having placed complete trust on you!" The next moment there is
complete surrender to the Lord as the verse indicates "No
one who trusted you was ever ruined." This is the comfort he derived at the
end of the conflict in his mind. 

Sri KRuShNARpanamasthu