Purandara Dasa (born Srinivasa Nayaka; c. 1484 – c. 1565) was a Haridasa philosopher and a follower of Madhwacharya 's Dwaitha philosophy -saint from present-day Karnataka, India. He was a composer, singer and one of the chief founding-proponents of Carnatic music (Karnataka classical music). In honor of his significant contributions to Carnatic music, he is widely referred to as the Pitamaha (lit. "father" or "grandfather") of Carnatic music.
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 Bhagavata Purana 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 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.
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, 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 4,75,000. But only 2000 compositions are accessible now 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.
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