The Haridasa (Kannada: ಹರಿದಾಸ) devotional movement is considered as one of the turning points in the cultural history of India. Over a span of nearly six centuries, several saints and mystics helped shape the culture, philosophy and art of South India and Karnataka in particular by exerting considerable spiritual influence over the masses and kingdoms that ruled South India.
This movement was ushered in by the Haridasas (Kannada: ಹರಿದಾಸರು, literally meaning 'servants of Lord Hari') and took shape in the 13th century - 14th century CE, period, prior to and during the early rule of the Vijayanagara empire. The main objective of this movement was to propagate the Dvaita philosophy of Madhvacharya (Madhva Siddhanta) to the masses through a literary medium known as Dasa Sahitya (literature of the servants of the Lord).
Prominent Hindu philosophers, poets and scholars like Sripadaraya, Vyasathirtha, Vadirajatirtha, Purandara Dasa and Kanaka Dasa played an important role during this time. Though the movement found its roots in the Kannada country and later spread to other parts of South India, it was a net result of earlier devotional movements like the Veerashaiva movement (of Vachana literature in Kannada) of northern Karnataka led by Basavanna in the 12th century and the Alvar saints of Tamil Nadu during the 10th century. Later, Vallabhacharya in Gujarat and Guru Chaitanya were influenced by the teachings of Madhvacharya. Their devotees started the worldwide ISKCON movement.
The Haridasas were saints, some of who were wandering bards, and considered themselves as slaves of the supreme Lord - Hari. While the movement was mainly heralded by the Brahmins, it was a devotional one whose ideals and thoughts pervaded and received noteworthy contributions from all sections of society. The Haridasa movement can be considered as a part of a larger Bhakti movement whose devotional inspiration to the masses lasted over a millennium making significant contribution to Kannada devotional literature.
The origin of the Haridasa movement is not clearly known, with some legends indicating that there were holy men and kings who espoused this form of devotion as early as the 9th century. However it is well known that the great Vaishnava religious devotionalism called Dasa Kuta found its organizational base and started to produce large congregation of devotees in the Karnataka region, largely due to the Vedanta propounded in the 13th century by Madhvacharya of Udupi (1238 - 1317 CE).
The Haridasas' who propagated the philosophy (Vedanta) of Madhvacharya belonged to two groups; the Dasakuta, who conveyed the philosophy of Madhvacharya in simple and lucid Kannada to the masses and the Vyasakuta, who were required to be proficient in the Vedas, Upanishads and other Darshanas[clarification needed]. During this period, this movement became a strong spiritual force which helped a resurgence of a strong Hindu sentiment in Southern India, when Northern India was already under Muslim rule. The Haridasas' found state patronage in the Vijayanagara Empire which ruled over entire Southern India at its peak. Vyasatirtha was intimately associated with the empire and was considered the family guru by King Krishnadevaraya.
Haridasas' belonged to the Vaishnava school of Hinduism and worshipped Vitthala, a manifestation of Vishnu and all forms of Krishna. The Vittalanatha temple at Pandharapura on the bank of the river Bhima in present day Maharashtra, the Vittala Swami temples at Hampi in Karnataka and the Srinivasa temple on Tirumala hills in Andhra Pradesh are considered the holiest of places in the Haridasa context.
The Haridasas' generally hailed from places in present day Karnataka, but there were some exceptions like Jayatirtha who came from Mangalvedhe near Pandharapura in modern Maharashtra and Sri Naraharitirtha (a disciple of Madhvacharya) who was a native of either Andhra Pradesh or Orissa. Naraharitirtha (1281), a minister in the court of Kalinga was inducted into the Madhvacharya order. He composed many early devotional hymns in praise of Vishnu in Kannada language, some of which are available today. While the Srikurmam inscription indicates that Naraharitirtha may have been the originator of this devotional movement, the songs of the Haridasas' give credit to Sripadaraya as the real founder of the movement in the 15th century.
- Madhavatirtha - around A.D. 1215–1350
- Sripadaraya (1404 - 1502 CE.)
- Vyasatirtha (1447 - 1539 CE.)
- Purandara Dasa (1480 - 1564 CE.)
- Kanaka Dasa (1508 - 1606 CE.; non-Brahmin saint)
- Vadirajatirtha (1480 - 1600 CE.; lived for 120 years).
Growth and Patronage
Sripadaraya, Vyasatirtha and Vadirajatirtha are called "three great/royal saints" (yathi raja trayaru, as they were accorded royal respect and patronage during respective times, despite being saints themselves) in Haridasa movement whereas the epithet "great trinity of Vaishnava composers" from Karnataka goes to Sripadaraya, Purandaradasa and Kanakadasa, though it is difficult to separate literature, music, devotion from their composite writings. The center of their activity in the 15th century and 16th century was Hampi, the sacred centre of Vijayanagara, the regal capital of Vijayanagara empire.
The Haridasa movement gained further impetus in the 17th century and 18th century in and around Raichur District and some of the great saints from this era were Guru Raghavendra, Vijaya Dasa, Gopala Dasa, Jagannatha Dasa, Prasanna Venkata Dasa, Pranesha Dasa, Venugopala Dasa, Mahipathi Dasa, Mohana Dasa, Helevanakatte Giriamma and Harapanhalli Bhimavva.
The history of the Haridasa movement from the 13th century to the present day is the history of spreading Hari bhakti (devotion to Hari-God) to the common man and in that purpose has contributed immensely to Kannada literature and to the development of Kannada language. Both the Haridasa and Veerashaiva movements pervade the length and breadth of Karnataka and exert ennobling influences upon the neighboring provinces of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra.
Contribution to Kannada Literature
Haridasa movement has made a significant contribution towards Kannada literature by spawning a whole corpus of devotional literature in the form of verses, hymns and musical compositions, rendering the spread of the Dvaita philosophy (Vedanta) postulated by Madhvacharya. The literature that originated from this devotional movement is called Dasa Sahitya (or dasara padagalu - literature of the dasas). These various compositions are generally called as Devaranamas (literally meaning names of the Lord) and are sung in the praise of the Lord Hari. All these compositions have the concept of Hari Bhakti (devotion to God) at their core and they usually revolve around references to Hindu mythology and the Dvaita philosophy. Some Haridasas like Purandara Dasa and Kanaka Dasa also composed several Devaranamas using the day-to-day happenings, morals and virtues as the central theme. These compositions were in the Kannada language since the main objective of this movement was to take the devotional philosophy to the common man. In doing so, the common people were also educated in the importance of consciousness (jnana), devotion (bhakti), ethics and Hindu religion. Their hymns (padas) set to various musical tones (ragas) aroused the frevor among the masses. As advocates of religious reform, the Haridasas' propounded the virtues of detachment (vairagya). Similes and metaphors were used to great effect in achieving this and they are found in abundance in songs and hymns. In addition to devotional songs, Kanaka Dasa authored five literary classical writings in the kavya style. Jagannathadasa, Vijaya Dasa and Gopaladasa etc., are more well known among a galaxy of composers who made rich contributions to Kannada literature.
The compositions can be broadly classified under one of the following three types:
- Kavya or poetic compositions
- Tatva or philosophic compositions
- General compositions.
nom-de-plume (Ankita Nama)
|Haridasa||Period||Ankita nama (Insignia)||Notes|
|Purandara Dasa||1484-1564||Purandara Vittala|
|Kanaka Dasa||1508-1606||Kaginele Adikeshava|
|Vijaya Dasa||1682-1755||Vijaya Vittala|
|Gopala Dasa||1722-1762||Gopala Vittala|
|Helevanakatte Giriyamma||18th Century||Helevanakatte Ranga|
|Jagannatha Dasa||1727-1809||Jagannatha Vittala|
|Prasanna Venkatadasa||1680-1752||Prasanna Venkata|
|Venugopaladasa||18th Century||Venugopala Vittala|
|Nekkara Krishnadasa||18th Century||Varaha Thimmappa|
|Jayesha Vittala Dasaru||1850-1932||Jayesha Vittala|
|Tande Venkatesha Vittala Dasaru||1907-1982||Tande Venkatesha Vittala|
Contribution to Carnatic music
The Haridasa movement developed the Carnatic music tradition as a distinct art form from the Hindustani style thereby heralding a renaissance in the world of Indian classical music. Purandara Dasa, one of the foremost of Haridasas' is known as the "Father of carnatic music" (Karnataka Sangeeta Pitamaha) for his invaluable contributions to this art form. He was a prolific composer, historians propose the number of his compositions were as many as 75,000 - 475,000 songs in Kannada language, though only few hundreds are available today. He composed several Keertane which later served as the foundation for the Kriti form, elaborated and perfected by the Trinity of Carnatic music. He codified and consolidated the teaching of Carnatic music by evolving several steps like sarali, jantai, thattu varisai, alankara and geetham and laid down a framework for imparting formal training in this art form. The structure and lessons he formulated four centuries ago remain the foundation for all students of carnatic music. Apart from Purandara Dasa, several later Haridasas' composed songs adhering to the same musical and philosophical traditions. Their compositions usually fell in one of the following categories: Padagalu (or Devaranama- devotional hymns), Kriti, Ugabhoga, Suladi, Vruttanama, Dandaka, Tripadi (three line poetry), Pattadi, Sangathya and Ragale (lyrical verses in blank verse). These forms of composition are still prevalent in South India and especially in Karnataka.
- Sharma (1961), p514
- Kamath (2001), p155
- Madhusudana Rao CR. "History of Haridasas". Dvaita Home Page. Retrieved 2007-05-30.
- Krishna Rao M.V. Dr. in Arthikaje. "Haridasa Movement-Part1". History of Karnataka. outKarnataka.com. Retrieved 2007-06-02.
- Kamath (2001), p156
- According to some accounts, Kanakadasa came from a family of hunters (beda) and from other accounts, from a family of Shepherds (kuruba) (Sastri 1955, p365)
- Sastri (1955), p381
- Arthikaje. "The Haridasa Movement". History of Karnataka. ourKarnataka.com. Retrieved 2007-05-31.
- Kamath (2001), p178
- Pujar, Narahari S.; Shrisha Rao and H.P. Raghunandan. "Sri Vyasa Tirtha". Dvaita Home Page. Retrieved 2006-12-31.
- Krishnadevaraya was highly devoted to Vyasatirtha (Kamath 2001), p178)
- Vyasatirtha was highly honoured by King Krishnadevaraya (Nilakanta Sastri 1955, p324)
- Kamat, Jyotsna. "Dasa Sahitya or Slave Literature". History of Kannada literature. Kamat's Potpourri. Retrieved 2007-05-31.
- Pujar, Rao and Budihal. "Sri Jaya Tirtha". Online Webpage of Haridasa (dvaita.org). Retrieved 2007-05-31.
- Mahushudhana Rao C R. "Sri Narahari Tirtha". Online Webpage of Haridasa (dvaita.org). Retrieved 2007-05-31.
- Sastri (1955), p364
- "Yathi (Dasas) Lineage". Haridasa Webpage Online (dvaita.org). Retrieved 2013-03-18.
- Kamat, Jyotsna Dr. "Dasa Sahitya or Slave Literature". History of Kannada Literature. Kamat's Potpourri. Retrieved 2007-06-02.
- Arthikaje. "The Haridasa Movement". History of Karnataka. ourKarnataka.com. Retrieved 2007-05-31.
- Rao, Madhusudana C.R. "History of the Haridasas". www.dvaita.org. Retrieved 2007-06-02.
- Their poems were in ragale metre (Sastri 1955, p365)
- Sharma (1961), p515
- Kamat, Jytosna Dr. "Kanakadasa - Poet among Saints". Kamats Potpourri-Path of devotion. Retrieved 2007-06-02.
- Madhusudana Rao CR. "Haridasa Lineage". Dvaita Home Page (www.dviata.org). Retrieved 2007-06-01.
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- Mahushudhana Rao C R. "Ankitha". Online Webpage of Haridasa (dvaita.org). Retrieved 2007-05-31.
- Owing to his contributions to carnatic music, Purandaradasa is known as Karnataka Sangita Pitamaha Dr. Jytosna Kamat. "Purandara Dasa". Kamats Potpourri. Retrieved 2006-12-31.
- Madhusudana Rao CR. "Sri Purandara Dasaru". Dvaita Home Page. Retrieved 2006-12-31.
- S. Sowmya, K. N. Shashikiran. "History of Music". Srishti's Carnatica Private Limited. Retrieved 2006-12-31.
- Madhusudana Rao CR. "Sri Purandara Dasaru". Dvaita Home Page (www.dviata.org). Retrieved 2006-12-31.
- Iyer (2006), p93
- Sangatya composition is meant to be sung to the accompaniment of a musical instrument (Sastri 1955, p359)
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