Haridasa Sahitya (Part three)

This is the third part of the post on Haridasas.

After the fall of Vijayanagar in 1565 to the marauding Deccan states, Hampi is virtually destroyed and the Haridasas flee to different Hindu principalities.

The Dasa Sahitya suffers a serious setback and it is only with the advent of  Vijaya Dasa that the revival of  this bhakti movement occurs.

Raghavendra Swamy encourages the Haridasa movement and first Vijaya Dasa and then Prasanna Venkata Dasa take inspiration from him. Then follows a long and illustrious list of Haridasas who acknowledge Rayaru as their master and go on to shower him with love and affection.

Here goes the list of Haridasas who owe much of their literary output to the bard of Mantralaya.    

Galagali Avva ( 1670- 1760)

She was twelve years of age when she was married off to a 95-year-old man. Her married life lasted for eight days as she became a widow on the ninth.

However, her five grown up step-sons, all of them Madhwa scholars of repute, taught her to read and write, and in course of time, Avva became a composer. “

Today, we are fortunate in having with us 260 of her songs. Her composition, “Beegara Haadu”  she writes about the bantering that follows a wedding, while “Sringara Tara Tamya,”  is a description of various ornaments. She says here that of allthe ornaments, the only two worth possessing are bhakti and gnana.

The “Muyyada Haadu,”  speaks of the exchange of gifts during Gowri pooje.

Prasanna Venkata Dasa (1680-1752)

He was earlier known as Venkanna and he was the second son of Narasappiah and Laskhmi of Bagalkot and was born in 1680. Venkanna’s elder brother was Raghavendra.

Narasappaiah belonged to the famous Kakhandiki family in Kakhandiki near Bijapur. He was given a tamburi by Lord Srinivasa himself in Tirumala.

Some of his compositions are “Satyabhaama Vilasa” or “Srikrishna Paarijata”  which has 51 stanzas: “Narayana Panjara”, which has  40 stanzas and Samasta Naama Manigana Shatcharana Padyamala which comprises 70 stanzas.

The Narada Koravanji is a beautiful composition where we see Narada as a Koravanji. He comes to narrate Rukmini’s birth, her marriage to Krishna and other events. His other works include Bhagavatha – Krishna Charitre and the Uttaradi Matha  Guruparampara Kruti.

By the way, his Bideno Ninnanghri Srnivasa kruti is sung even today during the religious function of Mettilotsava and Dasa Sahitya events.

His other compositions are:  Sri Venkateshwara Ninna, Besarade Sadashiva, Nandenado Swamy, Nadedubaama Lakshmi, Tappu.. Pariharisuva.

Narasimha Vittala Dasa (1685-1765)

He was born as Narasimha Dasa. He wrote under the anikta Narasimha Vittala. Purandara Dasa came in his dream and initiated him as a Haridasa.

Vijaya Dasa (1682-1755)

He set in motion the second revival of the Dass Sahitya. He was a great devotee of Raghavendra swamy or Rayaru of Mantralaya and he is the first to reveal the avatars of Rayaru and the gods who sit alongside him in the Brindavana at Mantralaya.

Vijaya Dasa has composed 25,000 songs. He was initiated into the Haridasa fold by Purandara Dasa himself who came in his dream and took him to Vyasa Kashi.

Veda Vyasa or Narayana beckoned Vijaya Dasa and wrote the akshara Vijaya on his tongue. Form then on, Vijaya Dasa went on to write innumerable songs in praise of Hari.  

His “Kailaasavasa Gowrisha Easha” is highly popular.

 Vyasa Vittala Dasa (1690-1755)

 He was earlier known as Subbannacharya of Kallur, Raichur district.

He was a scholar in Grammer and Logic. Being puffed up with the pride of learning, he ridiculed Vijaya Dasa. He repented later on and became a devotee of Vittala. He came to be known as Vyasavittala. His Ankita was Vyasa Vittala.

He composed Vijaya Kavacha, a song in memory of his guru, Vijaya Dasa.

 Gopala Dasa (1722-1762)

 Gopala Dasa’s spiritual guru was Vijaya Dasa. It was Gopala Das who sent Jaganntha Dasa of Manvi to Pandrapur so that he could obtain his ankita as Jagannatha Vittala which was inscribed on a stone on the banks of the Bheema.   

Gopala Dasa gave away forty years of his life to Jagannatha Dasa and also saved the life of his adopted son and disciple, Mohana Dasa.

It is believed that he was an incarnation of Ganapathi. He became spiritually enlightened after repeating Gayatri mantra. An astrologer, he was able to foretell three previous lives of any person who came to him.

He wrote under the ankita Gopala Vittala Dasa. Some of his compositons include “Chandra Gunasandra”, “Guru Raghavendrara Charana”, “Rathavanerida Raghavendra”, “Sharanu Sharanu Raghavendra”.

 Varada Gopala Vittala Dasa


He was one of the three brothers of Gopala Dasa. His name, before he was given Deekshe, was Seenappa.  Gopala Dasa initiated him into the Haridasa Samprasaya and gave him the ankita by name he was the brother of Sri Gopala Dasa. He has composed under the name or ankita Varada Gopala Vittala. He has several pada padyas and suladis to his credit.

 Guru Gopala Dasa

 He was another brother of  Gopala Dasa. He as known as Dasappa and he studied shastra under Vyasathathvajna. He too took Haridasa deeksha from his Gopala Dasa and composed many krithis bearing the ankita Sri Guru Gopala Vittala.

 Tande Gopala Vittala Dasa

 He was the youngest brother of Gopala Dasa. His name was Rangappa and Gopala Dasa gave him the ankita Thande Gopala Vittala.

 Keshava Vittala Dasa

 Before taking Deeksha as a Haridasa, he was known as Subbanna. He hailed from Gudwal and his ankita was Keshava Vittala. He was one of the main disciples of Gopala Dasa. His padas are known for their rhyme and unique style

 Helevankatte Giriamma (Around 1750)

 Helevanakatte Giriamma is known for her exquisitely lyrical compositions Chandrahasa and Kaliya Mardhana. She was born in Ranibennur and was married to Tipparasa by her father Bistappa. She was a great devotee of Hari and always meditated on Ranganatha in the temple at Helavana Katte, a small village.

She spent a lot of her time at the Ranga Mantapa, where she not only composed songs but also drew Rangavalli or Rangoli paintings, conjuring up images of  Krishna and his sport among the Gopis.

Giriamma built temples and consecrated many idols for the worship of Hanumantha (She called Hanuman as Maruti) and Ranganatha. She is unique among women who took to the vow of celibacy and lived a dedicated life devoted to Hari. 

Her compositions include “bhaktala binnapaha” and “intavanigihyaange”.

 Vasudeva Vittala (1705-1801)

 He was earlier known as Venkataramacharya. Later, he came to be known as Paramahamsa Vyasattvagna. He was a great devotee of  Raghavendra Swamy of Mantryalaya. He is said to have performed many miracles.

He was proficient both in Sanskrit and Kannada. He wrote 13 works in Sanskrit, of which his treatises on Manasasmriti and Upasanabhaga and his comments on the seventh canto of Bhagavata are well known. In Kannada, he wrote ten ugabhogas, sixteen suladis and hundreds of padas.


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