Tag Archives: Vyasatirtha

Bhagavan: His All-pervading Nature!

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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The Grandsire of Carnatic Music!


Srinivasa Nayaka (1484 – 1564) was a merchant dealing with gold and precious stones residing in Tirthahalli, Karnataka. Though wealthy, he was a miserly person. Charity was something unknown to him.

One day an old brahmana came to his shop asking for some monetary help. Nayaka sent him away asking him to come the next day. He came the next day, but again he was asked to “come tomorrow”. Nayaka thought that the old man will stop coming after a few days but he persisted — every day the old man was there in front of the shop! After months of postponement, one fine day Nayaka threw an old coin at the poor man and asked him to go away. The poor man refused the unusable coin and went away.

The brahmana went to Nayaka’s house and approached his wife, Saraswati Bai. He told her how he had every day sought help from her husband but in vain – an old coin was all that he got in response. He asked her for help, but she pleaded her helplessness, saying that she had nothing with her to give him. All money transactions and accounts were exclusively with Nayaka. The old man said that she could give to him the diamond nose-ring which she was wearing. After all that was a gift to her from her maternal house, and Nayaka had no claim or hold over it. She thought for a second, removed her nose-ring and gave it to the old man. He happily accepted it, blessed her and walked away.

With the nose-ring in his hand and a smile on his face, the brahmana returned back to Nayaka’s shop. He was furious to see him coming back again. The old man told him that he had not come to beg but had come to do business with him. He showed the merchant the nose-ring, asked him to fix up its value and give him the equivalent cash. A shocked and surprised Nayaka took the nose-ring in his hand and examined it in detail. He immediately knew that it was his wife’s nose-ring. He questioned the old man as to who gave it to him. He answered that a pious generous lady gave it to him. Nayaka told him to come the next day for money, sent him away, carefully put the nose-ring inside a trunk and locked it. He then closed his shop and hurried back home.
On reaching his house, he loudly called out to Saraswati. Seeing her in the courtyard he looked at her face. Sure enough the nose-ring was missing! He asked for it. The poor lady was trembling within and not knowing what to do, said that it was inside. He asked her to bring the nose-ring immediately. She went in, and knowing her husband’s anger, she decided to end her life. She picked up a cup of poison and was about to consume it, when she heard a metallic sound inside the cup. Inside the cup she saw her nose-ring which she had given away in charity! Overwhelmed at the Lord’s grace, she ran outside and handed it to her husband. Nayaka could not believe his eyes. The nose-ring he had locked up in his shop was here in his wife’s hand. Crazily, he ran back to the shop and opened his trunk. The nose-ring was not there! He ran back again home and asked his wife to tell him all that had happened. She told him everything.
Srinivasa Nayaka’s eyes opened! That was none other than Lord Sri Hari who had come to him disguised as an old brahmana to “wake” him up from the dream of materialism. Srinivasa Nayaka was a totally changed person now. He gave away everything in charity,  and went in search of a Guru. He came to Sri Vyasa Thirtha who accepted him as his disciple, gave him the name PURANDARADASA and introduced him to the Haridasa Sampradaya.
Sri Purandaradasa travelled extensively and composed songs on all the deities with the signature “Purandara Vittala”. The most difficult and profound philosophical truths were simplified and presented in the form of simple songs, and hence his compositions are known as “Purandara Upanishad”. He formulated basic lessons for teaching Carnatic music by structuring graded exercises. Even today the music lessons start with the simple “Gitas” he has composed. He is known as Karnataka Sangeeta Pitamaha — the Grandsire of Carnatic Music.
Purandaradasa was such a great personality that even his Guru, Sri Vyasa Thirtha glorified him in one of his compositions!!

Sripadaraya – An Exemplary Guru!


Sri Sripadaraya was one among the eight prominent Haridasas of Karnataka. He was considered to be the founder of the Haridasa movement in the 14th century along with Narahari Tirtha. Being the pontiff of Madhvacharya Mutt at Mulbaagilu (town in Kolar District in the state of Karnataka), he is credited with the invention of suladi (musical rendering of devotional verses).

During his lifetime, Sripadaraya taught sarvamula granthas (Acharya Madhva’s works collectively are known as Sarvamula) forty times to forty different batches of students.  Being an exemplary guru, he would take lessons paying personal attention to the learning of each and every student.  One young worker (paricharak) who stayed and worked in the ashram used to regularly attend classes and listen to the discourses of the Guru with great attention. He stayed in the ashram, and therefore happened to  listen to the teachings of Sripadaraya being taught to forty different batches! Hence, he sat through forty batches as a student. On the day of graduation of the fortieth batch, students from the other thirty nine batches were also called.

The students who had come, saw this paricharak and made fun of him that he had indeed not completed his learning in any of the batches. They commented that he was indeed a junior to all those who passed out and a senior to all new students who joined.  Sripadaraya heard all their comments silently. When all of them assembled in front of the Master, he picked up a certain sloka from the texts taken and asked each and every student of the outgoing batch to explain it. Since all the students were from the same batch, they all gave the same interpretation as heard from their Acharya during the classes taken.  The Acharya nodded with approval and then turned to the paricharak who was also sitting in one corner and asked him to explain the same sloka. All the students were astonished. They thought that now the paricharak’s ignorance would get  exposed and they all waited to see him totally crest fallen.

The paricharak rose up from his seat, offered his salutations to his Guru, and in all humility, and to the astonishment of all the students gathered there, he rendered forty different interpretations of the same sloka! Every year the teacher had interpreted the same sloka in a different and unique way, to which only he was exposed to! The paricharak was the only “student” who had listened to all the forty different unique and rare interpretations by the Guru! Not only he had heard the different interpretations, but also had retained them in his memory!!

Hearing this, all the scholarly students hung their heads in shame. The Guru, Sripadaraya was immensely pleased with the devoted paricharak-student and blessed him immensely. He then advised all the students who had gathered there never to look down upon anyone and to respect all.

The legacy of Haridasa tradition was continued by Vyasatirtha after Sripadaraya who was the guru of Purandaradasa and Kanakadasa.

[PS: I request all to please forward and share these value based stories rich in our culture and tradition to elders, youth and children]

The shortest and most direct method is to hear from a Master of Experience, with all attention, full faith, supreme concentration, abject devotion, extreme vairagya and acute intellectual absorption. Such rare ones are called Supreme Disciples. For them, to hear the Guru is itself to float at once into the experience of IT. - Swami Chinmayananda

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