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Purandara DAsaru- Life history- Part 3

From: Shobha Srinivasan (
Date: Mon Jun 14 1999 - 13:30:28 PDT


Sri Vishnupreranaya Sri VishnupreethyaRTham

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.

Srinivasa Nayaka becomes a Saint 

Our knowledge of Purandaradasa's life stems mainly from the compositions of
Vijaya dasa who lived a hundred and fifty years after the passing away of
Purandaradasa. This is taken as authentic since Vijaya
dAsa is believed to be the incarnation of Bhrigu muni, and an aparOksha
gyani (having mystical powers). 

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

Worn-out Coin given as Alms 

Purandaradasa lived in Purandaragadha, a small town in present-day
Maharashtra (India), but belonging to the then Vijayanagar dynasty. 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 anything, but the brahmin too did not
relent. He visited Srinivasa Nayaka's shop again and again.
Six months passed by in this fashion. 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 one and never come back. The
brahmin went away, seemingly crestfallen. 

Gift of a Nose-stud 

Saraswathi, Nayaka's wife, 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 behaviour. 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 for her husband's
permission). She agreed and gave him the diamond nose-stud
that her parents had given her. 

The vanishing ornament 

The brahmin took the ornament straight to Srinivasa Nayaka's shop. When
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

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 in the cup. 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. 

The renunciation 

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 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. navkOti 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 mAla. 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 Pundalika varada, Hari Vittala 

Sri KrishnArpanamasthu