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RANGASWAMY_at_plh.af.mil
Date: Fri Nov 08 1996 - 07:59:23 PST

Dear Members of the Prapatti Group,

Sri Sadagopan's informative posts on Purandara Dasa's Krithis and the 
Dasa's special relationship to the Daya Sindhu of Seven Hills spurred me 
to write this article. First, I shall provide a brief history of the life 
of the Dasar and then summarize a couple of his compositions. Since I 
do not have the text or a tape of the renditions of the Krithis, my summary 
is entirely from memory. Therefore, I seek the forbearance of Kannada 
speaking folks and other knowledgable members of this group for any 
errors.

Born as Srinivasa Nayak, the son of Varadappa Nayak, the  Dasa in his 
Purvashrama was a shrewd businessman who successfully pursued his father's 
business of money lending. Varadappa Nayak was very kind and humane while 
carrying on his business and was extremely sympathetic to those who 
could not repay their debts to him. However the young Srinivasa Nayak, 
who believed in extracting "a pound of flesh" at every possible opportunity, 
vehemnetly disagreed with his father's business practices. Upon his father's 
demise, Srinivasa inherited the family business and went about his task 
of collecting the debts owed to his father with great ruthlessness. He seemed 
intent only on hoarding wealth. At this juncture, Lord Krishna decided to 
intervene and turn the Dasa's thoughts away from material wealth and bless
him with supreme bliss. The Lord appeared before him as an old man stricken 
by poverty and requested Srinivasa Nayak: "I am a poor old man who does not 
have money to buy jewels for my daughter's marriage. Since you have 
so many gold bracelets I plead with you to give me but one bracelet for 
my daughter."

Srinivasa Nayak ridiculed the old man and sent him away. However, the 
"old man" was persistent. He tried to approach Srinivasa Nayak again but 
his attempt met with no success. Therefore, the "old man" chose an alternate 
path. He went to Srinivasa Nayak's home when Srinivasa was at the place of his 
business and approached Srinivasa's devout wife with the same request. 
Srinivasa's wife was moved by the "old man" 's plight and parted with 
her gold bangle without hesitation. The "old man" was extremely happy 
at this gesture of Srinivasa's wife. He thanked her profusely and went 
away. Srinivasa returned home and immediately noticed the missing bangle 
from his wife's hand. Angrily, he demanded an explanation from her about 
the missing bangle. She told him that she had forgotten to wear it and that 
she had kept it in the Puja Graham while offering morning prayers. Accordingly, 
she went to the Puja Graham to get the bangle. Fearful of Srinivasa's 
wrath (for both the missing bangle as well as her help for the old man who 
was turned away by her husband) she resolved to commit suicide in the Puja 
Graham by consuming powdered diamond from her ear-rings. Just as she prepared 
to powder her ear ring, the missing bangle dropped in front of her from 
the image of Lord Krishna in her Puja Graham. Overjoyed by this experience, 
she rushed to her husband and gave him the entire account of the episode 
with the "old man", the missing bangle and its subsequent restoration.

Srinivasa was ashamed at himself for his greed and his failure to 
recognize the Lord when the Lord appeared before him. At the same time, 
he was overjoyed by the Lord's compassion for him which made the Lord 
persist in HIS attempts to bestow Srinivasa with HIS grace. Srinivasa Nayak 
gave away all his wealth to the needy and decided to dedicate his life in 
service to Lord Krishna. Sri Sadagopan succinctly described the adoption of  
Sanayasa by Srinivasa Nayak and his subsequent Nadopasana.

We shall now examine the importance of a few Krithis of Karnataka 
Sangita Pitamaha in the context of his being a Parama Bhakta of Lord 
Krishna. In the Kriti Kallu Sakkare GollirO Neevellaru, the Dasa seeks to 
gain attention of kids who were playing while he was passing by them. 
Nothing attracts a kid more than the mention of "goodies" and Purandara 
Dasa uses the bait of sugar candy (Kallu Sakkare) to introduce Bhakti to Lord 
Krishna. When the kids gather around him he adds "can there be any sweeter 
candy than the name of Lord Krishna?" This brings to mind a couple of 
related references. Jaganatha Pandita says "Patalam VrajayahivasurapurI 
Maroha Meroshira: PArAvAra ParamparA Tava Thatapyasha na Shantyatava
Adi Vyadhi Jarapahara Hatha Yadi Kshemam Nijam Vanchasi Sri KrishNeti 
RasAyanam RasayarE Shoonyai: Kimanyai Shramai:" Adi Shankara states in 
his tribute "Adaram Madhuram Vadanam Madhuram Nayanam Madhuram 
Hasitam Madhuram. Hrudayam Madhuram Gamanam Madhuram Madhuradipaterakhilam 
Madhuram". (Sweet indeed are the lips, the eyes, the smile, the heart and 
the gait of the Lord. Everything about the Lord of Madhura is sweet). 
Therefore, nothing can be sweeter than the name of Lord Krishna.

In the Arabhi Kriti AadidanO Ranga Adbhutandindali Kalingana Phaneyalli, 
the Dasa describes the most elegant dance of Lord Krishna on the hoods 
of the snake Kaliya. Purandara Dasa declares that the dance of the Lord 
was more beautiful than all the Bharata Natyam of Rambha, Urvashi and the 
apsaras. The swarams in this song are a source of great joy to the 
listener. Set to Jampe Tala, the song is widely used as a Padam for 
dance recitals. A reference to Narada is contained in the Charanam of 
this Krithi. The hoods of Kaliya symbolize Pancha Indriyas. Therefore, only 
he who had conquered the Panchendriyas (Parama Purusha) could 
majestically dance on the hoods.

In the Krithi "Muyyake Muyya Teeritho, Jagadayya Vijaya Sahaya Pandari 
Raya", the Dasa calls out to Lord Krishna and says that "Oh Lord have 
you not had your revenge!" This Krithi must be appreciated in the context 
of its composition. One night the Dasa returned to his Ashramam very late at
night. His shishya (by the name of ApanNa), who used to wait for 
his master with hot water in a vessel for the master to wash his feet,
fell asleep that night. Ever considerate to the need of his Bhaktas, 
the Lord of Pandharpur (Lord Krishna) appeared before the Dasa in the 
form of his disciple and offered the Dasa his customary vessel of hot 
water. Evidently, th water was hotter than normal and the Dasa could not 
bear it. In a fit of rage, he flung the vessel at the Lord accompanied 
by abuses. The next day, the Dasa woke up with a heavy heart and apologized 
to his Shishya for his wrath and consequent action. The Shishya was 
totally bewildered by this action of his Guru and informed the Guru 
tha he had fallen asleep well before the arrival of the master. At that 
point, it dawned on Purdandara Dasa that it was his Lord who appeared 
in the guise of the Shishya. Pained by his Apacharam to the Lord, the Dasa 
rushed to the temple of Krishna. Lo and behold he found the Lord's cheek 
swollen on account of the vessel striking it. The Dasa was profusely 
apologetic for his action. He spent the whole night at the Temple crying 
and asking the Lord for punishment.

The next morning, a necklace of the Lord was missing from the Temple. 
When everyone was looking for it, a dancer at the temple arrived wearing 
the missing necklace. When interrogated how she got the necklace, the 
dancer replied that Purandara Dasa visited her that night and gave her 
the necklace as a present. Thus, Purandara Dasa was falsely accused of 
stealing the necklace and as a punishment, it was ordered that he 
be lashed by a whip. Unable to bear the pain of the lashing, the 
Dasa burst out in song asking Lord Krishna "Have you not had your revenge?"
As soon as Purandara Dasa concluded the song, the necklace went back 
to its rightful place (neck of the Lord) and the Temple dancer was nowhere 
to be seen. The Dasa is most repentant for his actions in this song
which is very movingly rendered in Nadanamakriya.

To be continued

Purandara Gurum Vande Dasa Shreshtam Dayanidhim,

Muralidhar Rangaswamy