In earlier posts, we had dealt with some Haridasas and their works. There was also a post on suladis.
However, the suladi is not the only vehicle of language that the Haridasas deployed. They wrote a range of poetry encompassing several forms, each with its own uniqueness and distinctness.
All the Haridasa writings are a harmonious bend of music and language. Purandara dasa was the first to systematize these and others followed suit.
Today, we are fortunate that Haridasa literature has emerged as a distinct genre and it is much different from mainstream literature.
Haridasa literature is purely devotional and it is religious, moralistic spiritual and even ethical.
Haridasa sahitya is popular even today unlike other forms of literature and this is because of its nearness to the common man and a deep and abiding understanding of the trials and tribulations of the common man.
The Haridasas preach the glory of Hari and some like Purandara pick on common ay events and themes to drive in their message. Kanaka Dasa talks of a casteless, classless society.
Today, the Haridasa sahitya has become so popular that it has gone beyond the Vaishnava houses and mathas and the Haridasas have seen new readers and singers from all over the world, heralding their composition.
The Haridasas used a variety of forms to compose and they include pada or prose: suladi: Ugabhoga: Tattva-suvali: Shloka: Kanda: Vachana: Vrittanama: Dvipadi: Tripadi: Choupadi: Shatpadi: Ashtapadi: Ragale and Yalapada.
The first ever Suladi in Haridasa sahitya can be ascribed to Narahari Theertha, one of the four direct disciple of Madhwacharya. He is the first Madhwa Yati or seer (I am not including Madhwacharya here as he is a class apart and he is the fountainhead of all Haridasa and Vaishnava literature) to compose songs on Sri Hari and his inspiration was his guru, Madhwacharya. Today, only three of his compositions survive and they are Entu Marulade Nanentu: Hariye Idu Sariye and Tilako Ninnolage Nine.
He is the first to use the Pada for music and this was later developed by others who followed him . The next to use the Suladi to great effect and also make an everlasting to Haridasa Sahitya was Sripadaraya of Mulabagal (1406-1504).
He was the first Madhwa seer to introduce rhythm oriented compositions set to seven talas called Suladis and excluded other talas such as Misra, Marga, Sankara and Desi.
He also composed Ugabhogas, Devaranamas and exclusive compositions for dance called Narthana Sevakritis, Bhramara Geethe and Viraha Geethe. He has also composed the only Dandaka or Uddanda in Kannada literature. Many of his compositions are in Kannada.
He also composed Gopi Geethe, Venu Geetha and lullabies and set his own compositions to music. Many of them are based on Bhagavath Geeta. The Vrittanama was perhaps the creation of Sripadaraja himself. Its main features are that it comprises sections which are tala bound and unbound by tala and they occur alternately.
He is also the first to compose kirtanas or Keertanas in Kannada, which was subsequenbtly followed by other Madhwa seers and all the Haridasas.
Sripadaraja thus laid the foundation for Sangeeta by composing a variety of songs in different genres. The Haridasas like Puradara Dasa, Kanaka Dasa and Vijaya Dasa and Madhwa seers after him like Vyasa raja, Vadiraja and Vijendra Theertha composed in these forms and they range from biographical to religious, philosophical, social, ethical, ritualistic and introspective.
Purandara Dasa also composed the famous pillari geetas, which is the basic foundation for students to learn Carnatic music even today.
Sripadaraja also commenced the genre of Vrittinama where verses are sung with tala first and without next. Apart from Sripadaraja, it was Purandara who mastered this difficult form.
The Haridasas also used ugabhogas, where the verses were set to ragas. However, ughabhogas do not have any prescribed ragas.
The Ughabhoga is generally divided into tow parts called Udgraha and Abhoga and in between are the Melapaka, Dhruva andAntara. These compositions are four to twelve lines in length. Haridasas such as Purandara Dasa and Kanaka Dasa have excelled in using this form.
It is very similar to the Vachanas.
Keertanas or devaranamas are perhaps the most attractive compositon of Haridasas. The emphasis here is on its aesthetic excellence and the raga and tala aspects are adhered to.
The Vrittinama is a combination of word and hymn. After Sripadaraja, we find Vadiraja Theertha (1480-1600) using it extensively. Gopala Dasa has used this to excellent effect in “Rakshiso Venktatagiri Raja, ravishta teja Ashritakalpa bhUja”. All of them-Sripadaraja, Vadiraja and Gopala Dasa- used Sanskrit words in these compositions.
One of the rarest forms of composition is the Dandaka. This alternates between the text form and poetical form. In this form, one pada constitutes 20 matras and it is again subdivided into five matras each. Sripadaraja has composed the seventh chapter of Bhagavath Geeta in this style.
Jagannatha Dasa of Manvi used Tripadi extensively, particularly in his Tatwa Suvali, while the Shatpadi have been used by Vadiraja Theertha in Vaikunta Varnane (description of Vishnu’s Vaikunta) and Kanaka Dasa in his Nala Charitre and Hari Bhakta Sara.
Jagannatha Dasa has also used the shatpadi in Sriharikathamruthasara, his magnum opus.
In Kavya genre, the Sriharikathamrutasara is an unparalleled composition. These are highly philosophical in nature.Jagannatha Dasa was a master of Tatwa Suvali. He has written a composition by that name and dedicated it to his daughter-in-law.