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History of Karnataka
The Haridasa Movement

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Sarvajna was another figure of note who with his lashing wit and biting sarcasm, tried to expose the flourishing evils of society and preach a religion of simple to devotion to Shiva.

His Vachanas sometimes crack like rifle – shots and are plainly aimed at empty ritualism, pedantry and hypocrisy.

“What is the good of circumambulating God, going round and round a temple, without love of God in the heart? It is like a bullock going round and round the oil mill insensible of its action”.

The Bhaktha’s love of God is to be preferred to the intellectual superiority of a Brahmin whose chief delight is to confound an opponent by argument.

Even the outcaste was superior to the most learned, says Sarvajna if he were pious and had a love of God.

Sarvajna’s Bhakthi is superbly placed in the social context and derives its meaning therefrom.

According to Dr. M. V. Krishna Rao, the Virashaiva Mystics “established the vital relation between the world and religion and between the temporal and the spiritual, the sensible and the super-sensible, and between the earthly and heavenly spheres of Reality”. They stood for the reconciliation of the Spiritual with the Secular, for directing the secular activities in the light of the Spiritual. True religion, then, consists in sublimating Life itself.

The Haridasa Movement:
The Haridasa Movement presented, like the Virashaiva Movement, another strong current of Bhakthi. Pervading the lives of millions in Karnataka.

The Haridasas were of vaishnavite persuasion, but according to Dr. M. V. Krishna Rao, the Vachanakaras did much to inspire the Haridasa Movement. The Haridasa was expected to be well – versed in Sruti, Smriti, and Purana, but later this emphasis on jnana was regarded as less important than total devotion to Lord Hari.

Thus the Haridasas presented two groups – Vyasakuta and Dasakuta. The former were required to be proficient in the Vedas, Upanishads and other Darshanas, while the Dasakuta merely conveyed the message of Madhwa through Kannada language to the people.

The gospel of Madhwacharya was preserved and perpetuated by his eminent disciples like Narahari Thirtha, Padmanabha Thirtha, Akshobhya Thirtha, Jaya Thirtha and others. In the fifteenth century, the Haridasa movement took shape under Sripadaraja of Mulbagal; but this disciple Vyasaraja (1447 – 1539 A. D.) provided it a strong organizational base.

He was intimately associated with the Vijayanagar Empire, where he became a great moral and spiritual force. His eminent disciples were Sri Vadirajaswami and Purandaradasa.

Purandaradasa (1484 – 1564) was the most popular figure in the Haridasa Movement, and he earned the title of “Dasa Shreshta”. He composed numerous songs of high literary and devotional merit, and is aptly described by his preceptor Vyasaraja as “Purandaropanishat”.

Purandara appealingly mourns the fate of Jiva tied to samsara, and begs his Lord Purandara Vittala to confer salvation.

The transient pleasures of the world are sought by men under a delusion. The veil of ignorance should be cast aside, and man should realise that only Lord Hari can guide him to his salvation. “The moments have become ages and I have become higher than straw, I have suffered in countless births. Thou who liberate man, Purandara Vittala, save me”, says Purandara.

His kirtanas became very popular not only for their emotional and devotional qualities, but also for their musical contents.

Purandara set his kirtanas to classical ragas, and popularised the teaching of music, starting from raga Mayamalava Gowla, a tradition that continues even today.

to be continued...


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