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.