Naraharitirtha (1324-1333 CE). was a disciple of 13th Century Indian saint Madhvacharya and is considered the founder of the Haridasa (a Hindu Vaishnava) movement n India. He was not only a noted saint but also a pontiff to the ruling Vijayanagara royal as evidenced by some inscriptions. The pre-pontification name of Naraharitirtha was Shyama Sastry.
No clear picture appears regarding his early years except that he was the minister of the King of Kalinga (modern Odisha, a state of Eastern India) described in a work called Narahariyatistotra which says he was a minister for twelve years. Hence it is assumed that he was a native of either Andhra Pradesh or Odisha. Inscriptions from the Srikurmam and Simhacalam temples also attest to his ministry in Kalinga.
Though presumably not of Kannada origin, many of his works were in that language, although only three compositions in Kannada have been recovered. They are:
- yanthu marulade nanenthu
- hariye idu sariye
- tiliko ninnologe neene
Naraharitirtha was responsible for the conversion of many princely and aristocratic families of Kalinga and Andhra regions to the Madhva fold. The descedants of these families still flourish in the coastal Andhra and adjoining states. Though some allude to the belief that Naraharitirtha was indeed the founder of the Haridasa movement, based on the strength internal evidence of songs confirm that it was Sripadaraya who pioneered the haridasa movement, almost a century later.
Naraharitirtha is also attributed to be the founder of The Yakshagana and Bayalata dance and cultural art forms which still flourishes in parts of Karnataka and Kasargod in Kerela and is gaining widespread attention outside this region. He is also the founder of the Kuchipudi dance form when he was the "mathadhipathi"(high-priest) of his monastery in Srikakulam, Andhra Pradesh.
- Sri Narahari Tirtha in haridasas of Karnataka
NARAHARI TIRTHARU - HAMPI - by Sumadhwaseva.com