Purandara Dasa and Trinity of Indian Bhakti Opera

Its disappointing that although we have lot of literature and records for 11/12 century we don’t have enough records for the era of 14/15th century due to Muslim invasions and destructions. Nevertheless this period is considered to be one of the most important era as far as Indian Music is considered , in which there was confluence of Persian , Native north Indian –Dhrupad, Native Carnatic-folk, and creation of new styles like Khayal, semi classical styles and Hari sankeertanas.

Regardless of political rivalry in North and South, among Muslims, and Hindus and various dynasties/sub states –Bhakti and devotional Music was thriving .Sankeertan trend was set up in 12/13th century in Maharashtra and laid as foundation by Gyaneshwar and Namdev and others, but during Purandara Dasa’s time with overlapping periods of Annamachari, Kanak Dasa, Vyasa Raya, Tuka Ram, Meera Bai, Sur Dasa and Haridasa , this was spreading the wings in all directions and force.

Purandara Dasa is famous for writing 4,75,000 compositions and being considered as father of Carnatic Music, he was born in Karnataka in ~1480.Purandara Dasa is also considered as father of Carnatic school  of teaching music , and is believed to be the pioneer and initiator  of methodology of why Mayamalav gowla raga  is the first raga to be taught to a student who is initiated into learning Carnatic Music.

As per the records Purandara dasa died in the end of  16th century in Hampi, when battle of Talikotta was about to get over .This was the time that Vijayanagar dynasty was being overtaken by Bahamani kingdom , and influence of Muslim’s was increasing in North as well as in South.

Interestingly Puranadara was considered as teacher of Swami Haridas of Vrindavan , who was the Guru of Tansen . The foundation and influence of persian music has been there since 5th century AD itself but during 14th century, with acts of Amir Khusro and Persian music –it was more prominent.

From a famous composition of Puranadarada – tamburi –“Tamburi Meetidava Bhava Datidava”-

“The one who beholds and plays tambura by vibrating strings –will cross the cycles of birth and death, the one who holds the rhythm by clapping –will reach the association of celestial gods, the one who ties jingles on his ankles –will conquer the enemies, the one who sings sankeertanans will have the vision of embodiment of God’s form.”

As mentioned Purandaradasa had great influence on Hindustani music as well. The foremost Hindustani musician Tansen’s teacher, Swami Haridas was Purandaradasa’s disciple. Purandaradasa’s compositions are equally popular in Hindustani music. Hindustani music legends such as Bhimsen Joshi and Basavaraj Rajguru have made them more popular in recent years. Young, well known artists such as Venkatesh Kumar, Nagaraja Rao Havaldar, Ganapathi Bhatt, and Nachiketa Sharma are continuing the tradition of singing Purandara Dasa’s compositions in north Indian music concerts.(As mentioned by Subbalakshmi)

Today we consider Shayma Shastri, Muthuswami Dikhsitar and Thygaraj(born during 17th/18 century in Tamilnadu/Thiruvayur) –as holy trinity –due to contribution to Carnatic Indian Music, during English rules and confluence .The role of Kanaka das, Vyasa Raj and Purandara dasa in Karantaka during 15/16th century is of similar weightage  during Muslim influence.

On divine Veenas of trilokas

India has been spiritual country and around the world known for the place that is associated with Yoga prominently, among other things. Yoga is a way to connect with supreme brahma and there are various different methods to attain this.Bhakti, Raj, Hatha, Gyan ,Prem and Naad(sound) –as some of the methods publicly practiced .There are many other ways to achieve this.

Naad yoga is a way to find oneness by means of music and sound .There have been various exponents who practiced and even created different processes and popularized those methods.

Music,as we all know came into existence –per mythology to demonstrate the feelings of love, anger and per scriptures and believes Shiva is credited for this.

Veena , Mridanga and Venu are three divine instruments per Hindu belief systems and even certified to be the oldest complete instruments. The veena is the most ancient stringed instrument of India. It is one of the three principal musical instruments mentioned in the vedic literature, the other two being the venu (flute) and Mrindanga.

Veena is normaly symbolicaly associated with Saraswathi , while Mridanga with Gannesha, Nandi and Venu with Vishnu and Krishna .

While the mention of Veena (let us call it Saraswathi Veena is described in scriptures which are as old as 5000 Yrs old) . It is interesting to note that veenas with various numbers of strings, starting with the ekatantri (single string) veena to one with one hundred strings are mentioned in vedic texts.
In 20th and 21st centuries and starting 16th century , with confluence of Hindustani, Carnatic musicans and music by many means –only Vichitra Veena , Rudra Veena, Dattatreya Veena , Brahma Veena -Hindustani, Saraswati Veena , Chitra Veena-Carnatic are practiced and known , while Narada in Sangita Makaranda mentions a variety of veenas like kachchapi, kubjika, chitra, parivadini, jaya, ghosavati, jyeshta, nakuli, mahati, vaishnavi, brahmi, raudri, ravani, sarasvati, kinnari, saurandri, ghosaka etc.
Such is the divine nature of Veena(and so for Mridangam and Venu) is that salvation or liberation can be attained effortlessly by playing veena, as mentioned in some of the shlokas per vedic letarteure.

Some of the Shlokas go further and describes that by seeing and touching the veena, one attains the sacred religion and liberation. It purifies the sinner, who is been guilty of killing a Brahmin. The danda, made of wood or Bamboo, is Siva, the string is Devi Uma, the shoulder is Vishnu, the bridge is Lakshmi, the gourd is Brahma, the navel is Sarasvati, the connecting wires are vasuki, the jiva is the moon and the pegs are the sun. The veena thus represents nearly all the Gods and Goddesses, and is, therefore, capable of bestowing all kinds of divine blessings, benediction and auspiciousness

Having understood all this , we have lack of artists and sincere students, practitioners available for Veena today .Add to this a serious query needs to be started reading where and how other kinds of Veenas have vanished .