Purandara Dasa (IAST: Purandara dāsa) (born Srinivasa Nayaka; c. 1484 – c. 1565) was a Haridasa philosopher and a follower of Madhwacharya ’s Dwaitha philosophy -saint from present-day Karnataka, India. He was a composer, singer and one of the chief founding-proponents of Carnatic music (Karnataka classical music).
In honor of his significant contributions to Carnatic music, he is widely referred to as the Pitamaha (lit. “father” or “grandfather”) of Carnatic music.
Purandara Dasa was a wealthy merchant of gold, silver and other miscellaneous jewellery from Karnataka, who gave away all his material riches to become a Haridasa (literally meaning a servant of Lord Hari or Lord Krishna), a devotional singer who made the difficult Sanskrit tenets of Srimad Bhagavatam available to everyone in simple and melodious songs. He was one of the most important music scholars of medieval India.
He formulated the basic lessons of teaching Carnatic music by structuring graded exercises known as Svaravalis and Alankaras, and at the same time, he introduced the raga Mayamalavagowla as the first scale to be learnt by beginners in the field – a practice that is still followed today.
He also composed Gitas (simple songs) for novice students. Purandara Dasa is noted for composing Dasa Sahithya, as a Bhakti movement vocalist, and a music scholar. His practice was emulated by his younger contemporary, Kanakadasa.
Purandara Dasa’s Carnatic music compositions are mostly in Kannada, though some are in Sanskrit. He signed his compositions with the ankitanama (pen name) “Purandara Vittala” (Vittala is another name of Lord Krishna, one of the incarnations of the Lord Vishnu) and this same form of Lord Krishna is his aaradhya daiva or ishta murthi or worshippable deity. His work was appreciated by many scholars of his time and the later scholars.