Kanakadasa (1509-1609) was one the 8 prominent Haridasa’s of Karnataka. Sri Vyasatirtha was the Guru of Kanakadasa and Purandaradasa. He was a renowned scholar, philosopher and composer. He worshipped and adored the Lord in the form of Sri Adi Keshava (Vishnu). His beautiful compositions in simple Kannada language carry his signature: ‘Adi Keshava’.
Kanakadasa was greatly devoted to the Lord and was ever at the service of his Guru. He belonged to the shepherd community which was looked down by other members of the society and the students of the Gurukula in particular. They always felt that Sri Vyasatirtha gave undue importance to Kanakadasa instead of them and were jealous of him. The Guru got to know about this and wanted them all to realize the greatness and true devotion of Kanakadasa.
One day, Sri Vyasatirtha decided to test all his disciples. A simple task was given. It was the day of Ekadashi, a day for fasting. Sri Vyasatirtha called all his students including Kanakadasa. At the end of the day, to break the fast, a fruit was given to all of them. Vyasatirtha told them that they could break their fast and eat the fruit, but he laid down a condition. They had to eat the fruit in a place where no one would see them.
In the evening, Sri Vyasatirtha again asked all the disciples to assemble, and asked each one of them, how and where they had eaten the fruit. One by one, each student came and told the Guru where they had eaten. One had eaten hiding in a corner of his house, one under a cot, another covered himself with a blanket, still another under a tree and some in far off woods where no one was around! All had eaten the fruit given to them by their Guru and they were very happy that no one had watched them eating it. Finally it was the turn of Kanakadasa. He had heard what all the others had said. Kanakadasa stepped forward, offered his salutations to his Guru and showed the fruit in his hand. He had not eaten the fruit. All the disciples started laughing and they were sure that Vyasathirtha would pull him up for not obeying his words. Eagerly they looked forward to what would unfold next.
On enquiring, Kanakadasa told Vyasatirtha that he did search for a place where no one was there, and no one would see him eating, but wherever he went he felt the ‘presence of the Lord’. Kanakadasa did not find even a single place where the Lord’s presence was not there. How could he eat when the Lord was present everywhere? It would amount to disobedience. On hearing this, the other disciples felt ashamed and realized the greatness of Kanakadasa’s devotion. Sri Vyasatirtha praised and blessed Kanakadasa as he indeed had the ‘vision’ to see the All-pervading Lord: Sri Adi Keshava.
Devotion does not mean Love to the Lord alone. This Devotion...... subtler than the subtlest and all-pervading, will, naturally, without effort, embrace all Creation for, all are His Forms only. Therefore a true devotee expands in his Love to identify with all and feel his essential oneness with the totality. - Swami Chinmayananda
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