carnatic music

The Essence of Purandaradasa Bhakthi Tatva – A Noble Path for Moksha

Hinduism recognizes four goals of human life. They are
Dharma: Observance of religious duties
Artha: Acquisition of worldly possessions or money
Kama : Satisfying the desire for sense pleasure
Moksha: Liberation which can be achieved only through the realization of God

According to the Scriptures of Hinduism Moksha should be the inevitable goal of human life. Compared to this intensely blissful experience every other joy derived from the other senses is tasteless and insipid and according to Vedas there are 9 ways to achieve this goal. (The revealed Divine truths are called as Vedas). Those 9 ways are called as “Nava vidha Bhakthi margas”. Any one of those 9 can be chosen by an individual to attain the Moksha and Hari Sankeerthanam (Music) is one among them.Music is one of the most pious, sacred and noble paths that lead an individual in due course of his life’s journey in search of truth. The only truth i.e. Moksha. There are so many people who walked through this noble path and attained the ultimate goal Moksha and Sri Purandaradasa is a very prominent among them. Purandaradasa has explained the essence of Upanishads, Vedas, in simple Kannada. His Keerthanas have simple lessons on leading a noble life. Each song carries morals and mundane things of a common man. This has real effect on the minds of the people. He has the great vision and inquisitive mind of providing knowledge to all of them who seek devotion through his songs. He called the people to live in pure andsacred mind. The genesis of his songs go like this ‘vishayada vichara bidu (leave mundane things), vihita karma madu (do your duty), vairagya bhagya bhedu (ask for passionlessness asset), vinayadi sajjanara kooda volagannu teredu, olaganninolaginda volagolage iruva hariyanu morajaga dhoreyanu nodu (along with sacred people open your eyes, inside the eye see the presence of the king of three worlds Sri Hari).

By these songs the whole country became enlightened. All his compositions are very simple, rich contents and informative. Others might have told the meaning in ten words but Sri Purandaradasa use to use only one word to convey the message. He always reminded about the remembering the name of Sri Narayana again and again which will lead to liberation. He stresses these are the steps to the hall of mukthi i.e Moksha. The relationship that each Hari Bhakta (devotee of Hari, the Lord) wishes to establish with his Lord is called Dasyabhava-the relationship that exists between a good master and an ideal servant. Many of Purandaradasa’s verses give expression to this sentiment. As intimacy develops between God and his devotee, a feeling of mutual regard and love develops. As if to give expression to this feeling, Purandaradasa sings rather with a sense of too much familiarity. “I do not need you or your obligation. It is enough that I have the strength of your name”. At another time Purandaradasa sings with feeling of friendship with his Lord. “I swear and so should you, both of us should swear on the devotees.” He

comes to terms with his Lord in this way. He popularized the concept of Devotion. He carried the people to the top of the mountain called ‘Bhagavadbhakti’ (God’s devotion). He attacked the Kama , kroda (lust, hatredness). Like the common usage of lakhs of stars in the sky, lakhs of lamps, etc. he composed four lakh seventy five thousand songs

Purandaradasa and Carnatic music:

Purandaradasa was a vaggeyakara (performer), a lakshanakara (musicologist), and the founder of musical pedagogy. For all these reasons and the enormous influence that he had on Carnatic music,musicologists call him the “Sangeeta Pitamaha” (grandfather) of Carnatic music.

All Purandara’s compositions are sutra’s (theorems), commentaries (bhashya). His vision is like Garuda’s (King of Birds) vision. He touched the hearts of common man and tamed him to be satvik (good) from his writings and compositions of songs. Because of his noble characters his songs have become all time great and powerful. Purandaradasa systematized the method of teaching Carnatic music which is followed to the present day. He introduced the raga Mayamalavagowla as the basic scale for music instruction and fashioned series of graded lessons such as swaravalis, janta swaras, alankaras, lakshana geetas, prabandhas, ugabhogas, thattu varase, geetha, sooladis and kritis. Another of his important contributions was the fusion of bhava, raga, and laya in his compositions. Purandara Dasa was the first composer to include comments on ordinary daily life in song compositions. He used elements of colloquial language for his lyrics. He introduced folk ragas into the mainstream, setting his lyrics to tunes/ragas of his day so that even a common man could learn and sing them. He also composed a large number of lakshya and lakshana geetas, many of which are sung to this day. His sooladis are musical masterpieces and are the standard for raga lakshana. Scholars attribute the standardization of varna mettus entirely to Purandara Dasa. Sri Purandaradasa is known for his compassion and conscience. The itinerant dasas who succeeded him are believed to have followed the systems he devised, as well as orally passing down his compositions.

Sri Purandaradasa as a social reformer:

Sri Purandaradasa is real social reformer. He had the dream of providing peace of mind to all the people. He does not have the mind of show off of his scholastic knowledge His ambition is to build a healthy society. Dasa’s socialism is poor man’s side. He represented the poor people. He wished to have the poverty till the end of his life. Purandara has filled courage to all the people. Even he filled the patience among all of us. He told that one has to live and win He has shown the people the confidence to live and built the positive hopes in life. For those interested in decoration (shrungara) (i.e. always use to stand in front of the mirror and decorating himself and feeling happy about his/her beauty and youth) he has opened the door of reality. He enjoyed and lived the concept of passionless (absence of worldly desires) rest of his life. In one of his songs he says that this body is expanding, compressing, it bends, it knocks, it crashes, it goes forward and finally lands in the fire, so why do you feel happy about mundane things oh Man…. these are the some of the genesis and the rulings which he has composed in the form of songs.

One cannot measure or estimate the length and breadth of his mind. In one song he has mentioned that any body whether he is a thief, a butcher if he comes as a guest in the afternoon he has told that one has to treat him as real guest by offering rice along with basil leaves which will go to Sri Purandara Vittala. Sri Purandaradasa has traveled all over the country. He traveled all sacred places, he climbed Tirumala and carved bhagavantha’s image in every devotee’s chest.

Purandaradasa and Hindustani Music:

Purandaradasa had great influence on Hindustani music. The foremost Hindustani musician Tansen’s teacher, Swami Haridas was Purandaradasa’s disciple. Purandaradasa’s compositions are equally popular in Hindustani music. Hindustani music legends such as Bhimsen Joshi and Basavaraj Rajguru have made them more popular in recent years. Young, well known artists such as Venkatesh Kumar, Nagaraja Rao Havaldar, Ganapathi Bhatt, and Nachiketa Sharma are continuing the tradition of singing Purandara Dasa’s compositions in north Indian music concerts.

Thus Sri Purandaradasa‘s life shows how Moksha can be achieved by choosing the noble path called Hari sankeerthanam which is one among the Nava vidha bhakthi margas. The bhakthitatva in his songs makes clear that man has to perform his duty (karma) but should not be involved too much into the mundane things around him. He also makes clear in his compositions that Bhagavatbhakthi (God’s devotion) is the only weapon that will save a man from the devils around him called the “Worldly desires” Today people are more towards into possession of worldly desires rather than into the Bhakthi marga. All such people should read and know about people like Sri Purandaradasa and should follow the same path to attain the Moksha which is an intensely blissful experience.

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