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Krsna Songs Of Purandara Dasa

Sangeetha Swaminathan

About this album

Carnatic music reveres Purandara Dasa was a saint to an extent where he is considered to be the Pitamaha of this art form, though there may have been many giants in the field before him. Yet very little is known about his life. He set the lessons that every beginner goes through in Carnatic Music, yet, his pieces are often relegated to the end of a concert. Legend has it that he composed over 475,000 songs, yet very few have survived and even fewer are in their original ragas.

In the beginning a rivh banker and dealer in gem stones, Srinivasa Naik by name, resident of Hampi, at around the reign of King Krishnadeva Raya. A miracle of some sort, attributed to his wife, by the composer himself, in the song Adadella Olite Ayitu, transformed him to a man who renounced all his worldly belongings. With his wife and children he set out to Vijayanagar, capital of the empire and became a disciple of Vyasaraya, the great sage and guru to the king himself.

Vyasaraya initiated Srinivasa Naik into the Madhva sect and gave him the name of Purandara Dasa. Thus the composer became the first Dasa and he established the Dasa Kuta which later came to comprise many composers.

With his wife and children he became a wandering minstrel. He visited many temples and sang about the principal deities there. The Vittala of Pandarpur had a special place in his heart.

Purandara chose to address his deity musically. A set of addresses that would gain him immortality. Through them we see that Purandara Dasa was not only a devotee but also a social reformer and a philosopher. In some he talks of the power of the Nama sankirtana, in others he says that just contemplating on the Lord's name is enough. In some he describes the child Krishna, dancing before him. In others, he is the Gopika, filled with desire for the Lord. In some he describes the social evils of his time, not very different in that aspect to ours. There are works that describe the power of music as a vehicle for salvation. Some are prayers to various deities such as Ganesa, Hanuman, Lakshmi, Siva and others to shower their blessings. In simple ever day language he showed the way.

His geetams for beginners and children are a fascinating study. Their simplicity is a work of genius. Purandara Dasa paves the way for novices to confidently move ahead in music.

Despite the loss of many kritis, in the aftermath of the battle of Talikota, which saw the destruction of the Vijayanagar Empire, the works of Purandara Dasa miraculously survived. Through various tenuous links they came down to us. Today they are integral to our music. A pointer to the fact that God's grace is still with humankind.

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