Dasa Sahitya or Slave Literature
by Dr. Jyotnsa Kamat
First Online: September 14, 2003
Page Last Updated: April 04, 2014
Dasa Sahitya or Slave (slaves to Lord Vishnu) Literature constitutes
an important segment in the development of the Kannada language. Numerous works
were written during this period that became popular and the songs/poems composed
then are sung even today.
Saints Sripadaraya (c. 1500 A.D.), Purandaradasa ( c 1540 A.D. ) and Kanakadasa form the
great trinity of Vaishnava composers from Karnataka. It is difficult to separate literature,
music, and devotion from their works. For centuries, they have come down to us
orally. Their popularity could be rated by the existence of these songs on the
tongues of the illiterate millions of people of Karnataka. The songs
of Purandaradasa and Kanakadasa are set to dance. Kolata, various drums, talas
and other folk instruments were mainly used for the composition and
accompaniment of these songs. Music being a universal language it was used by
both saints to raise the morale of the people and to make them aware of the
divine existence and also by ordinary people. Purandaradasa is considered the
father of Karnatak music. For him God was ganalola (fond of music).
compositions are a storehouse of musicology and poetry.
See Also: Saint Purandaradas and Carnatic Music
Kanakadasa (1509-1600 A.D.) was non-brahmin and it is supposed to have belonged to
the warrior (Nayaka) community. He became one of the greatest Haridasas (slaves
of Lord Vishnu) of
Karnataka. Besides padas and keertans he has written kavya (Mohanatarangini),
Nalacharitre and Ramadhanya charite. The last one may be specially mentioned
because of its unique theme. It is the story of a quarrel between two cereals
paddy and ragi about who was superior. The verbal duel was fought before
Lord Rama who orders their temporary imprisonment. After some time paddy degenerates while
ragi emerges strong and sound, establishing his superiority.
It is called vyangya-kavya or satire.
See Also: Saint-Poet Kanakadasa -- Saint Kanakadasa who condemned the caste system and ushered a new era of devotional literature in the 16th century.
History of Kannada Literature
Early History | Jaina
Works | Medieval Kannada |
Kumaravyasa | Sarvajna
Vachana Literature | Dasa Sahitya |
Epics and Mahakavyas | Modern Kannada