The making of Harikathamrutasara

Jagannatha Dasa (1728-1809) was an old man and his health was failing. He was almost eighty years of old and he visited the royal court of Mysore where he was honored.

The Dasa, who was earlier known as Srinivasacharya, then decided to settle down at Manvi in Raichur district and he decided against undertaking any further journey as he realised that his health would not permit him to move about.

He had written several songs on the glory of Hari and on Raghavendra Swamy. He was renown as one of the greatest Dasas of his times.    

One day, he saw in his dream Sripadaraja of Mulabagal, Vyasaraja or Vyasa Theertha, Vadiraja of Sonde and Purandara Dasa.

All of them gently asked him to take up writing a book on Hari, which would include substantially the tenets of Dwaitha or Madhwa philosophy. They wanted the book in Kannada.

Dasa was initially stunned but he decided to make the dream a reality. He then began composing the Harikathamrutasara. However, he decided to shift to the smaller village of Konanatambige after writing the first part. This village is in Haveri taluk and it is on the banks of Varada.

He wrote 988 stanzas in 32 cantos. As he was about to write the concluding part, all the four Madhwa seers who had asked him to take up the work, once again came in his dream and prohibited him from writing the final canto.

Ask your disciple to finish the final canto. Go out and find him, they ordered the Dasa.

Jagannatha Dasa first decided to go to Karajagi, which then was a major centre of Dwaitha learning and search out for the disciple. He hit upon a novel idea to get his disciple or shishya. After narrating the incomplete Harikathamrutasara, he would pose questions to the listeners. He thought the person who answered correctly would be the appropriate person to write the final canto.

No one cam near to giving the correct answers and the Dasa appeared to have failed to find his shishya. It was the last day of his discourse and Dasa once again asked the question.

Suddenly, a rustic Brahmin stood up and answered correctly. The rustic said his name was Dasappa.

Dasappa then fell at the feet of Jagannatha Dasa who then gave him the ankita Shrida Vittala. He is also known as Karajagi Dasa (1741-1820). He then went on to complete the 33rd canto.

As written earlier, Jagganatha Dasa was eighty when he began writing the magnum opus. He could not even sit properly to write and, therefore, he lent against a pillar in a temple for support and wrote. That pillar is there still today.

The concluding canto, which Dasappa or Karajagi Dasa wrote, is known as Phala Shruti Sandhi.   

Today, both Jagannatha Dasa and his shishya, Karajagi Dasa, are known for their Sahitya. Both were ardent devotees of Raghavendra Swamy and both have composed scores of songs on Rayaru and his Mahime.

Jaggannatha Dasa is believed to have been Sahalada, one of the brothers of Prahalada, and he often spoke to Rayaru. When Rayaru stopped speaking to him, a disconsolate Dasa composed “Yaake Mukanadeyo”.

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