CONTEXT: Kanaka Jayanti Celebrations were held all over Karnataka to mark the birth anniversary of Kanakadasa on November 15
KANAKA DASA (1509 – 1609)
- Kanaka Dasa was a Vaishnava poet, philosopher, musician and composer from modern Karnataka.
- He is knownfor his Kirthanas and Ugabhoga, compositions in the Kannada language for Carnatic music.
- Like other Haridasas, he used simple Kannada language and native metrical forms for his compositions.
- Thimmappa Nayakawas his original name and he belonged to a chieftain family of Kaginele in Haveri
- His parents were Beerappa and Bachchamma
- He was born at Baadavillage, near Bankapura in Haveri district.
- Based on one of his compositions it is interpreted that after he severely got injured in a war and was miraculously saved, he gave up his profession as a warrior and devoted his life to composing music and literature with philosophy explained in common man’s language
- At a young age he authored poetries titled Narasimha stotra, Ramadhyana Mantra, and Mohanatarangini.
Nanu Hodare Hodenu (ನಾನು ಹೋದರೆ ಹೋದೇನು)
This is a popular quotation of Kanakadasa wherein he was asked about his chances of attaining salvation by his master Vyasatirtha and in the affirmative he replies ನಾನು ಹೋದರೆ ಹೋದೇನು (If “I”gone, i may go)
Though it seemed on the surface that Kanakadasa is claiming that he alone may attain salvation, he had in fact put forth a thoughtful message that no matter what is one’s scholarly prowess one cannot achieve anything until the ego is eliminated.
- Kanakadasa was the follower ofVyasatirtha
- On the request of Vyasaraya Swamiji of Vyasaraja Matt he had come to Udupi to have a darshan of lord Krishna.
- It is believed that the during those days, Kanaka was not allowed to have darshan of Lord Krishna
- So with devotion when he sang kirthanas for his dear Lord, the temple wall fell down and the deity of Lord Krishna turned around and there was a crack in the outer walls of the temple through which, Kanakadasa was able to see his Lord.
- Later, a small shrine was built in his memory and it came to be known as “Kanakana Kindi” or “Kanakana Mandira”.
MAJOR WORKS OF KANAKADASA
Kanakadasa wrote about two hundred forty Karnataka Music compositions (Kirtane, Ugabhogas, Padas and mundiges or philosophical songs) besides five major works.
- Nalacharite(Story of Nala)
- Haribhaktisara(crux of Krishna devotion)
- Nrisimhastava(compositions in praise of Lord Narasimha)
- Ramadhanyacharite(story of ragi millet) and an epic
His writings were unique in style
- His Nalacharite is based on the famous love-story of Nala and Damayanti, which appears in Mahabharata
- Shri Haribhaktisara was a crux of Krishna’s devotion
- Nrisimhastava is a work dealing with glory of god Narasimha (half human and half lion)
- In Ramadhanyacharite, an allegory on the conflict between the socially strong and weak castes and classes, presented as an argument between two food grains, riceand ragi, is a most creative literary piece with a powerful social message. In the work, rice represents the socially powerful and ragi (millet) represents the working people.
- Mohanatarangini, although a kavya (poem in classical style) written with all conventional eighteen descriptions, deals with eroticism. Pleasure- based eroticism of Shri Krishna with the consorts. The eroticism between Aniruddha and Usha form the main them
TEACHINGS OF KANAKADASA
- Kanaka in many of his Padas, reveals the unity and universality of spiritual experience, and flouts the iniquity of caste distinction and prejudices, born out of race, creed and class divisions.
- He is perhaps, the only great non-Brahminical saint who attempted at the solidarity of all castes by abrogating references to Jati, Kula and other distinctions.
- Bhakti is the only means by which emancipation from Samsara can be realized.
- Every one born in this world has the fundamental right to attain the Absolute by Bhakti.
- The Bhakta transcends the limitations of Varna and Asrama Dharma.
- Kanaka was totally absorbed in Hari Keshava. He was possessed of Hari’s invisible transcendental Beauty.
- Kanaka disdained servility and service at others feet or wandering for the satisfaction of the belly like a street dog without any sense of self-respect.
- He pleads for protection against sensuous temptations, sins of the spirit and aberrations of intellect and will.
- Kanaka made supreme effort in reforming the lower castes, weaning them away from ignorance, superstition and barbaric practices, in order to favour the growth of Bhakti and devotion in them.
- Kanaka is deeply conscious of the painful aspects of Samsara and worldly life.
- The body is like a bubble on the surface of water and all the actions of the body are an illusion, which has no power, no belonging or possessions.
- It is the intoxication of pride that persuades him to imagine himself to be what he is not in reality, to believe that he is the crown of creation, quite oblivious of the transmigration of his soul through several births, conceived in sin, born in sin, living in sin and ending his life in sin.
- Man is so engrossed in earning food for his belly, that he steals the property of others, tells falsehoods, seeks ostentation and display, and does a hundred things which Bely his fundamental nature.
- In the context of allurements of the Senses, he talks of caste, of several distinctions which are manmade and not God
- Kanaka was strongly denunciatory of caste and class distinctions and all his compositions, his message was one of hope and love towards fellow human beings, and sentiment creation.
- Aesthetic art, compassion, sensitiveness to the beautiful in nature and in the actions of men, marked his outlook on life, as one of the corollaries of a life of divine blessedness.
Kanakadasa Jayanti is a festival celebrated by people of Karnataka in general and Kuruba Gowda community in particular.
It is celebrated every year on the birth anniversary of Kanaka Dasa
QUESTION: Discuss the contributions of Kanakadasa to Kannada literature and how can we reform our present society with his teachings and values. (20 marks)