Purandara Dasa (c. 1484 – c. 1565) was a Haridasa philosopher-saint from present-day Karnataka, India. He was a composer, singer and one of the chief founding-proponents of South Indian classical music [ Carnatic music ] In honor of his significant contributions to Carnatic music, he is widely referred to as the Pitamaha










Purandara Dasa was a wealthy merchant of gold, silver and other miscellaneous jewellery from Karnataka, who gave away all his material riches to become a Haridasa (literally meaning a servant of Lord Hari or Lord Krishna), a devotional singer who made the difficult Sanskrit tenets of Srimad Bhagavatam available to everyone in simple and melodious songs. He was one of the most important music scholars of medieval India.He formulated the basic lessons of teaching Carnatic music by structuring graded exercises known as Svaravalis and Alankaras, and at the same time, he introduced the raga Mayamalavagowla as the first scale to be learnt by beginners in the field – a practice that is still followed today. He also composed Gitas (simple songs) for novice students.

Purandara Dasa is noted for composing Dasa Sahithya, as a Bhakti movement vocalist, and a music scholar. His practice was emulated by his younger contemporary, Kanakadasa. Purandara Dasa's Carnatic music compositions are mostly in Kannada, though some are in Sanskrit. He signed his compositions with the ankitanama (pen name) "Purandara Vittala" (Vittala is another name of the supreme one, Lord Krishna, one of the incarnations of the Lord Vishnu) and this same form of Lord Krishna is his aaradhya daiva or ishta murthi or worshippable deity. His work was appreciated by many scholars of his time and the later scholars. Lord Rama (Ram) is for Treta Yuga, Lord Krishna is for Dvapara Yuga and Daasara Padagalu (Keerthanas of Purandara Dasa) is for Kali Yuga is a popular belief.


Inscriptional evidence suggests Purandara Dasa was born to a diamond merchant in a Kannada Deshastha Madhva Brahmin family, in 1484 CE in Kshemapura, near Tirthahalli in present-day Karnataka state.According to other opinions,[who?] his native town was Purandaraghatta in Karnataka .. or Purandaragad near Pune, but the latter is considered a historical mistake – connecting his "pen name" (his ankita) with a location that mainly served as a military encampment in the 15th and 16th century ..

Purandara Dasa was the only son of the wealthy merachant Varadappa Nayaka and his wife Leelavati. He was named Srinivasa Nayaka, after the patron deity of Venkateswara Temple, Tirumala. He acquired proficiency in Kannada, Sanskrit, and sacred music through education. At the age of 16, he was married to Saraswati Bai, traditionally described as a pious young girl. He lost his parents at age 20, thereby inheriting his father's business of gemstones and pawning. He prospered and became known as Navakoti Narayana (an abundantly rich man; worth ninety millions).

Popular legend narrates a miraculous incident in Srinivaasa Nayaka's life, owing to which he was led to devote himself to the practice, propagation and inculcation of bhakti (devotion) towards Lord Krishna through musical compositions. As a natural, inescapable consequence of such a transforming event, ubiquitous in the lives of several saints throughout the ages, he is believed to have relinquished his former greedy and miserly self, having realized the worthlessness of attachment to worldly possession .. The Lord, in a bid to cure Srinivaasa of his tenacious materialistic delusion and attachment, and thereby claim his devotion to Himself, approached Srinivaasa in the guise of a poor man, with a piteous plea for money; ostensibly, the money was direly needed to perform His (!) son's 'upanayana'(sacred thread initiation).

Having been summarily rejected, mocked and turned out, the 'poor man' surreptitiously repeated his plea before Srinivaasa's wife; a generous soul of rigorous spiritual nature, she gave away one of her precious nose rings, unbeknownst to her husband; the 'poor man' sold the nose ring back to none other than Srinivaasa himself! The shrewd Srinivaasa, privy to his wife's openhandedness, immediately identified the nose ring as his wife's and hurried home; enraged and anxious to ascertain the truth of the matter, he demanded his wife to produce the nose ring before him immediately.

Realizing that Srinivaasa had grown wise to her secret donation, the wife decided to end her life with poison. Having completed her prayers to the Lord before her attempt, she was shocked to see a nose ring inside the poison cup – completely identical to the one she had just given away. Incredulous and rapturous, she recounted the entire episode to her husband, who was bewildered and lost. Meanwhile, a search for the 'poor man' was of no avail; he had as mysteriously vanished as he had appeared! At that very propitious moment, Srinivaasa's old self – convinced of the inscrutable ways of the Lord, having witnessed the unfailing grace that saved his pious wife, bewildered at the power that could, in a moment, produce a gold ornament by mere will – instantly shook off that beginning-less, persistent veil in the form of 'I' and 'mine', which masks most men's vision of the divine. At 30 years of age, he gave away all his wealth in charity, and together with his family, abandoned his house to lead the life of a mendicant – living on alms and singing the glories of the Lord. In his very first song composition, he laments his wasted life of indulgence. It begins with the words "Ana lae kara" in the Shuddha Saveri raga, set to Triputa tala.

In the course of his wandering he met the holy sage Vyasatirtha, one of the chief exponents of Madhwa philosophy and the raajaguru of Krishnadevaraaya, emperor of the Vijayanagara kingdom. According to Prof. Sambamoorthy,[ Srinivasa had his formal initiation at the hands of Vyasatirtha in 1525 when he was about 40 years old, with the name Purandara Daasa bestowed on him. Purandara Daasa traveled extensively through the length and breadth of the Vijayanagara empire in Karnataka, Tirupati, Pandharapura composing and rendering soul- stirring songs in praise of God. He spent his last years in Hampi and also sang in Krishnadevaraaya's durbaar. The mantapa (mandap) in which he stayed is known as Purandara Daasa Mantapa (mandap) in Hampi. He died on 2 January 1565 at the age of 80. Within a short period after his death, Vijayanagara empire collapsed. Tradition and legend hold that he composed 475,000 keerthanas (songs). Further, according to this legend, his original desire was to compose 500,000 keerthanas. Being unable to do it in his present life, he requested his younger son to complete them. His son Madhwapathi told his father that he could do this in his next janma (birth). It is believed that he was reborn as the famous Vijayadasa—birthplace is Cheekalparvi village near Maanvi town, Raichur district in Karnataka State—and completed the remaining 25 thousand keerthanas as promised. Most of his songs are in praise of Lord Naraayana and other Devatas. Due to this, he is believed to be an avatar of Naarada, the celestial singer and son of Goddess Saraswati. One of the 'trimurtis (three icons) of Carnaatic music, Saint Thyagaraja, has paid tribute to Purandara Daasa in his geya natakam(an opera) Prahlada Bhakti Vijayam..


Purandara Dasa 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 a series of graded lessons such as swaravalis, janti swaras, alankaras, lakshana geetas, prabandhas, ugabhogas, daatu varase, geeta, sooladis and kritis. Another contribution was the fusion of bhava, raga, and laya in his compositions. He included comments on ordinary daily life and elements of colloquial language in his lyrics. He introduced folk ragas into the mainstream, setting his lyrics to ragas of his day so that even a common man could learn and sing them.He also composed a number of lakshya and lakshana geetas, many of which are sung to this day. His sooladis are regarded musical masterpieces and are the standard for raga lakshana. Scholars attribute the standardization of varna mettus entirely to Purandara Dasa..

Travelling Haridasa successors are said to have followed the systems[clarification needed] he devised, orally transmitted his compositions. According to traditional sources, his compositions number as many as four lakh and seventy five thousand.No more than 700[citation needed] compositions are accessible now.

Purandara Dasa was a vaggeyakara (composer-performer), a lakshanakara (musicologist), and the founder of musical pedagogy. Musicologists call him the Sangeeta Pitamaha (lit. "grandfather") of Carnatic music..

Purandara Dasa also influenced Hindustani music, via his disciple Swami Haridas - in turn, who tutored Hinsustani maestro Tansen..