Purandara Dasa (1484–1564) is one of the most prominent composers of Carnatic music. Purandara Dasa addressed social issues in addition to worship in his compositions. Purandara Dasa's Carnatic music compositions are mostly in Kannada; some are in Sanskrit. He signed his compositions with the mudra (pen name), "Purandara Vittala"
Inscriptional evidence suggests Purandara Dasa was born in 1484 CE in Kshemapura, near Tirthahalli, Shivamogga district, Karnataka state. The only son of Varadappa Nayaka, a wealthy Brahmin merchant, and Leelavati, he was named Srinivasa Nayaka, after the Lord of the Seven Hills. He received a good education in accordance with family traditions and acquired proficiency in Kannada, Sanskrit, and sacred music. At age 16 he married Saraswatibai, said by tradition to have been a pious young girl. He lost his parents at age 20, thereby inheriting his father's business of gemstones and pawning. He prospered and became known as "navakoti narayana"
According to popular belief, he was led to devote himself to musical composition by a miraculous incident which made the heretofore greedy and miserly merchant realize the worthlessness of his attachment to worldly possessions. At 30 years of age, he gave away all his wealth to charity and together with his family left his house to lead the life of a wandering minstrel to proselytise religion. In his very first song composition, he laments his wasted life of indulgence. It begins with the words 'Ana lae kara' in the Shuddha Savaeri raga, set to Triputa tala.
In the course of his wandering he met the holy sage Vyasatirtha, guru of Krishnadevaraya, the emperor of Vijayanagara kingdom. According to Prof. Sambamoorthy, Srinivasa had his formal initiation at the hands of Vyasatirtha in 1525 when he was about 40 years old, with the name Purandara Dasa bestowed on him. Purandara Dasa travelled extensively through the length and breadth of the Vijayanagara empire in Karnataka, Tirupati, and Pandharapura composing and rendering soul stirring songs in praise of god. He spent his last years in Hampi. He died in 1564 at the age of 80.
Purandara Dasa and Carnatic music
Purandara Dasa systematized the method of teaching Carnatic music which is followed to the present day. He introduced the raga Mayamalavagowla as the basic scale for music instruction and fashioned series of graded lessons such as swaravalis, janta swaras, alankaras, lakshana geetas, prabandhas, ugabhogas, daatu varase, geeta, sooladis and kritis.Another of his important contributions was the fusion of bhava, raga, and laya in his compositions. Purandara Dasa was the first composer to include comments on ordinary daily life in song compositions. He used elements of colloquial language for his lyrics. He introduced folk ragas into the mainstream, setting his lyrics to tunes/ragas of his day so that even a common man could learn and sing them. He also composed a large number of lakshya and lakshana geetas, many of which are sung to this day. His sooladis are musical masterpieces and are the standard for raga lakshana. Scholars attribute the standardization of varna mettus entirely to Purandara Dasa.
According to traditional sources his compositions number as many as four hundred and seventy five thousand, but not more than 700 compositions are accessible now.
Purandara Dasa was a vaggeyakara (performer), a lakshanakara (musicologist), and the founder of musical pedagogy. For all these reasons and the enormous influence that he had on Carnatic music, musicologists call him the "Sangeeta Pitamaha" of Carnatic music.
Source Adapted from Wikipedia