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Durable Link to this BlogFriday, June 12, 2009

Guru Shripadaraya

Guru Shripadaraya (C1400 to 1480 CE)

If Puranaradasa is considered as father of Carnatic Music, Shripadaraya (a.k.a. Sripadacharya and Dhruvaraja) is called father of Haridasa Movement. After Saint Madhvacharya's philosophy of Dwaita or dualism, gained grounds in Karnataka, the philosophy of Bhakti or devotional way of surrendering to God got a tremendous boost and Haridasa (Servant of God) movement started by Shripadaraya lasted for nearly five centuries.

Shripadaraya was born in Karnataka (Abburu in Chennapattana Taluka, Bangalore Rural District). He was spotted by the visiting pontiff of a Vaishnava Matha of Srirangam (in Tamilnadu) and taken to Tamilnadu along with his parents. He received all the education in Sanskrit and succeeded his Guru when the latter passed away. Pontiffs are supposed to undertake frequent travels. During such a travel he came to Mulbagal (Kolar District), liked the place and established a Matha.

Shripadaraya was keen on spreading the message of Madhvacharaya in spoken language. Previous attempt of Shivasaranas of spreading Basaveswara's teachings in simple Kannada and homely way was before him. Earlier life in Tamilnadu had made him familiar with singing of devotional songs in temples while performing puja rituals. All learning, treatises and religious texts were in Sanskrit, which were above the reach of common people. He started composing songs in Kannada, which could be sung by one and all. With Ranga Vitthala (incarnation of Vishnu) as his logo, Shripadaraya composed songs, which could be rendered by housewives and others while managing household chores in homely Kannada.

He introduced five ways of visualizing God. These are sweet (madhura), friendly (sakhya), tender or affectionate (vatsalya) servant like (dasya) and quietness (shanta). Shripadaraya popularized all these bhavas or feelings in simple verses. Purandaradasa and other Haridasas adopted this intimate and varied format of addressing directly God almighty. Lullabies, cradle-songs, chore songs, poured out with plenty of anecdotes from Bhagavata Purana. In a popular song "Adapogona baro Ranga" (come Ranga, let us play), Shripadaraya invites boy Krishna for games on the banks of Yamuna river. Childrens'games are mentioned along with roles Krishna played in the life theatre of the times. In another song he exclaims, "some get delight in building houses, some in making money, some in the company of women and some with their progeny. Let me have the pleasure of recollecting you, all the time Ranga Vithala!"

As pontiff of a Matha he had hold over masses. He was popular in Vijayanagara court. But he sent his close disciple Vyasaraya, who became the royal preceptor. Himself being a recluse and confirmed Vaishnava devotee spent his life composing works in Sanskrit and Kannada. He left a tradition of poetic expression of self- introspection, detachment in worldly ways and musical tones of bhakti (devotion), in appealing format.

See Also:
• Bhakti -- The Path of Devotion
• Haridas Literature
• Saint Purandaradas
• A Rendering of Ada Pogona Baro Ranga by devotees of Kadatoka village near Honavar

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Jyotsna Kamat Ph.D. lives in Bangalore.


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