Purandara Dasa

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The place of birth: Keshavapura, Shivamogga?

Muralidhara Khajane, Was Purandara Dasa born in a Malnad village?, January 16, 2018:The Hindu

There is much speculation about where Purandara Dasa, regarded as the pitamaha of Carnatic music, was born. Now, an expert committee constituted by Kannada University, Hampi, has come to the conclusion that it was most likely a small village called Kshemapura (now called Keshavapura) at Araga hobli in Tirthahalli taluk of Shivamogga district.

The committee comprising research scholars and musicologists has said that there is enough evidence to believe this place, which was a major province of the Vijayanagara empire, was the birthplace of the saint. However, it has also recommended further research. Till now, some have been arguing that the saint-poet was born in Purandaragadh, near Pune in Maharashtra, and finally settled in Hampi.

The committee will submit its report by the end of this month. “We are convinced that Purandara Dasa hails from Araga. There is plenty of evidence to corroborate this,” said musicologist R.K. Padmanabha, chairman of the committee. The committee wants an authority set up in the village to take forward the research on the life and works of Purandara Dasa.

The committee was formed by the government after much persuasion by B.S. Vishwanath, former MLA and cooperative activist who is organising the ‘Purandara Utsava’ in Tirthahalli, socialist leader Konanduru Lingappa, and others. Under the direction of the government, Mallika S. Ghanti, Vice-Chancellor of Kannada University, set up the committee, which has on board former Minister for Kannada and Culture Leeladevi R. Prasad and scholars A.V. Navada, Veeranna Rajoora, Aralumallige Parthasarathy, and Shivanand Viraktamuth.

Spot visits

Mr. Viraktamuth, coordinator of the committee, told The Hindu that the committee members visited various places in the Sahyadri range of the Western Ghats, besides Udupi, Hampi, Kaginele and Purandaragadh. He said that the present-day Vartekeri of Keshavapura was the ‘Vartakara Keri’ (trade street) where Srinivasa Nayaka (later called Purandara) was engaged in trade. Nayakas still live in Araga hobli. “The existence of Vithalana Gundi and Dasana Gadde here further indicate the fact that Keshavapura was the native place of Purandara Dasa,” he said, adding that the language used by Purandara gives credence to this theory.

“One reference by scholar Sa .Kru. Ramachandraraya points to Krishnadevaraya, emperor of the Vijayanagar empire, awarding five villages of Araga Samsthana as ‘inam’ to Narayana Yati of Koodalipura near the present Shivamogga town. Vyasatirtha, who was the guru for Purandara Dasa, was also ‘rajaguru’ of Krishnadevaraya. Araga at that point of time was a centre of arts and music,” he said.

However, Dr. Ghanti added a word of caution. “There is a need to conduct in-depth research and study to establish the fact that Purandara Dasa was born in Keshavapura. If the committee recommends and the government advises, Kannada University is prepared to set up a Purandara Dasa Study Centre.”

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