Saint Purandaradasa

by Jyotsna Kamat

First Online: August 22, 2003
Page Last Updated: April 04, 2014

Purandaradasa (c. 1540 A.D) was a great literary figure of Bhakti movement, and revered as the father of Karnataka classical music (a.k.a. Carnatic music or South Indian classical music). Purandaradasa was a great poet, social reformer, and a great composer. He preached the virtues of leading a pious life through his songs, knows as padas. His innumerable compositions render themselves beautifully to music, whether they are lullabies, folk-songs (kolšta songs), bhajans, or devotional songs. All of Purandaradasa's works are in simple metrical songs, which can be sung on all occasions, and convey devotion in the Bhagavata philosophy.

Purandaradasa is one of the foremost saints of India to understand the power of music and its appeal to illiterate common folk. His songs are sung in every village of Karnataka irrespective of the community. He achieved a rare synthesis of music and poetry. 

© Vikas Kamat
Saint Purandaradasa
Saint Purandaradasa

Purandaradasa was the originator of the musical scale by which all the rules of Carnatic school are formed. His classification of swaravali, jantivarase, alamkara, and lakshana factors are accepted and practiced throughout south India. Purandaradasa's Pillarigeete (or four compositions) in praise of Lord Ganesh are practiced by students of classical music even today. His musical scheme was followed by all subsequent great composers of south India like Venkatamakhi Kshetrajna, Tyagaraja, Muthuswami Dikshitar etc., Purandaradasa is credited with creation of 75,000 compositions, although only a few hundreds survive till today. 

K.L. Kamat/Kamat's Potpourri
Composer Purandaradasa (15/16th Century)
Composer Purandaradasa (15/16th Century)
Purandaradasa was a great literary and musical genius

See Also:

  • Path of Devotion -- Explore the Bhakti movement in India including the important proponents. A supplemental photo exhibition shows devout Indians at worship. 
  • History of Kannada Literature -- Jyotsna Kamat traces the History of the Kannada Language for a special feature at Kamat's Potpourri.
  • A Konkani Book of 1904 -- Digital scan of a rare Konkani book containing Konkani renditions of Purandaradasa's devotional songs.

Introduction | Important Proponents | Pictures
Alvars | Shankara |Bridal Devotion | The Alvars | Ramanuja | Madhva | Ravidas
Meerabai | Guru Nanak | Chaitanya | Purandaradas
Ramananda | Kabir | Tukaram | Kanakadas

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