We all know that Raghavendra Swamy was solely instrumental in helping Haridasa Sahitya and Haridasa Parampare find its moorings a second time after it declined following the defeat of the Vijayanagar Empire in 1565 and the sacking of Hampi.
Purandara Dasa had died in 1564 and Vyasaraja, the previous avatar of Raghavendra Swamy, had entered Brindavana in 1539. The sacking of Hampi led to all the Haridasas and poets fleeing Hampi. Many Dasas, including sons of Purandhara, went to Poona (this was how Pune was then called) and settled down there. The other dasas went in search of patronage from smaller kingdoms like Wodeyars of Mysore and the many palegars of Karnataka.
It was only after Raghavendra Swamy settled at Mantralaya and entered Brindavana there that the second wave of Haridasa revival began. If Hampi was the pivot of the first Haridasa Sahitya, Raichur and Raichur district soon became the center of Haridasa revival.
All the Haridasas of this period made a beeline to Mantralaya and sang their compositions before the Brindavana of Rayaru. Many performed seves and even Madhwa pontiffs placed their works before the Brindavana for approval from Rayaru.
The first eminent Haridasa to come from Raichur was Vijaya Dasa (1682-1755). He composed “Raghavendra Guru Pavanakaya” in honor of the Mantralaya saint.
Born in a poor Brahmin family to Srinivasappa and Kusamma in Cheekalparvi in Manvi taluk of Raichur district, Vijaya Dasa left home at a young age and studied Sanskrit in Varanasi for four years. He was initiated him into the Haridasa tradition by Purandara Dasa who gave him the ankita nama Vijaya Vittala. He saw Rayaru in the Brindavana at Mantralaya. During one of his visits, he sang, “Nodidhe Guragala Nodidhe, Nodidhe Gurugala Nodidhe, Guru Raghavendrara Madhidheni Bhaktialli Vandane.” The inspiration for this son was when he saw Rayaru sitting in Padmasana, in the Brindavana.
Vijaya Dasa visited Mantralaya several times and each time he devoted a Devera nama in Rayaru’s name.
Jagannatha Dasa was also from Raichur and he was a favourite devotee of Rayaru. He visited Mantralaya often and conversed with Rayaru. He was born to Narasappa and Lakshmakka in 1727 in Biagwat village in Manvi taluk with the blessings of Purandara Dasa.
When Raghavendra Swamy stopped conversing with him from the Brindavana in Mantralaya, Jagannatha Dasa sang, “Yekke Mukanadeyo.”
Dewan Purnaiah was his great admirer. He was called Jagannatha Vittala by Gopala Dasa. He has written the maximum number of songs on Rayaru.
Gopala Dasa was born in 1717 in Mosarkal as Bhaganna to a pious couple Murariraya and Venkamma.
Mosarkal is in Deodurg taluk. Gopala Dasa was a disciple of Vijaya Dasa. He lived upto 1762. He has written several compositions on Rayaru. In many of the songs, Gopala Dasa has thrown light on earlier incarnations of Rayaru. Some of his compositions on Rayaru are Kotta Bidaradalli Yestu Dina Jeevisalli, Vairagya Marga Kelu, Hyange Maadalavyya Hogutidhe Ayushya, Mooru Namava Darisida.
Gopala Dasa has given us the meaning of the name Raghavendra.
Another Dasa was Manohar Vitthala of Buddinni in Manvi taluk. He was earlier known as Buddinni Desai Narayanappa. He became a disciple of Gopala Dasa. He lived about 175 years back. He wrote Raghavendraguru Stotra, which is a beautiful composition. His other works include Manmathavilasa, Sri Krishna Jayantikatha, Gadayuddha, Sankocha Bharata and Anantakathe.
Vasudeva Vitthala (1705-1801), whose earlier name was Venkataramacharya, was a devotee of Raghavndra Swamy. He later came to be known as Paramahamsa Vyasattvagna, and he perfoemed several miracles.
A scholar, he was proficient both in Sanskrit and Kannada. He has to his credit thirteen works in Sanskrit, of which his treatises on Manasasmriti and Upasanabhaga and his comments on the seventh canto of Bhagavata are famous. In Kannada, he wrote ten ugabhogas, sixteen suladis and hundreds of padas.
Praneshadasa (Pranesh Vitthala 1744-1822), whose former name was Yogappa, was born in Lingsugur taluk. He was a disciple of Jagannatha Dasa, whom he served for sixteen years.
He composed Parth-Vilasa, Veerabhadra-Vilasa, Aniruddha-vialasa and twelve other Harikathas. He also rendered Vayustuti into Kannada and composed several ugabhogas and suladis and hundreds of padas.
Panganama Thimmanna Dasa, also known as Venugopala Dasa, was given the nomenclature “Panganama” by Gopala Dasa since he was the incarnation of Vaikunta Dasa, a Srivaishnavite by birth. He belonged to Adoni and he was given the ankita Venugopala Vittala at Adoni by Gopala Dasa.
The other famous Dasas were Kallur Subbannacharya, Guru Pranesha, Sreesha Pranesha Vitthala, Guru Sreesha Vitthala, Ananda Dasa, Modalakal Seshadasa, Sri Varadesha Vitthala, Srinivasa Vitthala, Asigyala Govinda Dasa, Manvi Gundacharya, Lingsugur Padmanabha Dasa, Panduranga Rao Kasbe and several other dasas. All of them were devotees of Raghavendra Swamy and they left no one in doubt that they were inspired by him.
Apart from the above mentioned Haridasas, there are many others whose names I could not include. There will be another post dealing with them.