KANAKADASA, 1509-1608


  1. Kanakadasa (ಕನಕದಾಸರು)
  2. kanakadAsa
  3. 1508-1606 (Approximately)
  4. Kaginele Village in Dharawada district (kAginele)
  5. Kurubaru, (Shepherd community) Beda community (bEDaru)?
  6. Kanakadasa himself was a chieftain at a place called Bada (bADa) in Haveri district.
  7. Bhakta Kanakadasa
  8. Kanakadasa is an important saint poet who overcame an ordeal by fire during his life time to gain an acceptance by the upper caste hegemony. The inner turmoil and dilemmas faced by him have found an outlet in his works in many ways. It is to be noted that Kanakadasa was one of the few Haridasas who composed literary works other than Keertanas. Kankadasa had a unique back ground. He hailed from a backward community. However he was a chieftain and had hands on experiences of wars and administration. He was a devotee of the God Adikeshava whose temple is found even today in Kaginele the native place of Kanakadasa. Adikeshava is the ankita that goes with his songs. His meanderings all over Karnataka and his confrontations with dogmatic religious leaders constitute the stuff that legends are made of. His travails have found powerful expression in his songs and epics. He was lauded by his peers such as Purandaradasa and Vyasaraya. However his credentials were challenged by the fanatic upper caste. There are speculations about his leanings towards the Sri Vaishnava philosophy. He had to pay at least lip service to the Dwaita tenets and construct many of his poems in that frame work. However, he has given unbridled expression to his feelings in many of his songs. The songs of Kanakadasa are often suffused with his inner agony and they raise a strong voice against the inequality caused by the caste system. Apparently many of them do not go beyond the realm of dwaita philosophy. However there is undercurrent of deep rooted angst. Nalacharite is an extremely popular work composed in Bhamini shatpadi. It contains nine chapters and constitutes about 480 poems. This is an endearing work delineating the tribulations faced by true lovers. The story culled out of Mahabharata traces the miseries of Nala and Damayanti in a style which is simple yet powerful. The description of the forest and the wildfire faced by the ill fated couple are very natural. This work contains many motifs that are present in folklore. Nalacharite is more about human beings and their sufferings rather than philosophical musings.Mohanatarangini is a work composed in Sangatya meter centered on an entangled love story involving Usha and Aniruddha who happens to be a grand son of Lord Krishna. It is inspired by the traditional sources of any Krishna story, such as Bhagavata, Mahabharata, Harivamsha and Vishnupurana. It contains many episodes such as the birth of Manmatha, slayings of Shambarasura and Banasura and of course the love story of Aniruddha and Usha a daughter of Banasura. (bANAsura) More importantly it holds a mirror to the life styles of contemporary Karnataka. Sangatya with its leisurely pace and musical diction suits the subject matter admirably well. Ramadhanyacharitre is a unique work in the entire gamut of Kannada literature. It is a symbolic and imaginative expression of intense suffering caused by the vagaries of the caste system and racial discrimination. It is the story of a fictional confrontation between an arrogant Paddy (Rice) and a humble grain known as millet. (rAgi) there is a heated argument between the two regarding as to who is better. The burden of giving the final decision rests with Rama who conducts a test and decides in favour of the lowly millet. The importance of the story as a symbolic representation of social realities is being realized only recently perhaps as a consequence of the emergence of an emancipated backward class. The marginalisation of this work as against the importance given to less volatile works speaks volumes about the cannons of our literary judgement. Kanakana Munidigeglu comprise of short poems that conceal philosophical observations behind a facade of riddle. One needs to know technical jargon to make sense of these riddles. Haribhaktisara consists of 110 poems written in Bhamini Shatpadi. They present theworld view and ethical tenets of Kanakadasa in a lyrical and transparent style.To sum up, Kanakadasa represents an important facet in the history of Kannada literature. His life and works acquire inspirational dimensions in the contemporary context, where the emergence of the artistic talents of the backward classes and their struggles to find acceptance have come to the forefront.
  9. Works: 1. Mohanatarangini (mOhanatarangiNi)

Edited by M.A. Ramanuja Iyyengar, 1913, Karnataka Kavyakalanidhi, Mysore . Later editions by R.C.Hiremath, (1973) S.S.Kotina, (1984) (With prose rendering) G.G.Manjunathan (1999) and B.S.Sannaiah, (Abridged Version) (1963)

2. Nalacharite (naLacarite)

(This work was published for the first time, in 1888, by Vicharadarpana Mudraksharashale, Bangalore . Some later editions are by S.G.Narasimhachar and M.A.Ramanuja Iyyengar, Karnataka Kavyakalanidhi, 1903, P.R.Karibasavashastry, (1925) H.M.Shankaranarayana Rao, (1953) D. Javaregouda, (1965) Hathuru Shankaranarayana Rao, (1976) and B.V.Shirur 1981.

3. Haribhaktisara (hariBaktisAra)

(First Edition: 1868, Sarasvathi Nilaya Mudrakshara Shalaa, Madras . Some later editions are as follows: Tirumale Srinivasacharya, B.Kodandarama Shetty, (1923) Srinivasa Tantri, (1940) B.Shivamurthy Shastry and K.M.Krishna Rao (1965) and N.Ranganathasharma, (1972)

4. Ramadhanyacharitre (rAmadhAnyacaritre)

(First edition: K.C.Panchalinge Gouda, 1963, Mysore . Later editions: D.Javaregouda, 1965)

5. Keertaneglu (kIrtanegLu)

(First Edition: 1850, along with other keertanakaras. Kanakadasara Keertanegalu, Edited by B.Shivamurthy Shastry and K.M.Krishna Rao, 1965. Edited by Betageri Krishnasharma and Bengeri Huchchu Rao, 1972. Kanakadasara Keertanegalu mattu Mundigegalu, Sudhakara, 1999.

6. Mundigegalu (munDigegLu)

7. Nrusimhastava (nrusimhastava) (Not found)

10. References: 1. Kanakadasara Jeevanacharitre mattu Padagalu, Kalamadaani Gururaya, 1965.

2. Mahatma Kanakadasa Prashasti, 1965.Kanakamahimadarsha, Bheemacharya Vadavi, 1926.

3. Kavi Kanakadasaru, Katti Sheshacharya, 1938.

4. Kanakadasa: The Golden Servant of Lord Hari,
by Basavaraj Naikar. National Book Trust,
New Delhi .

5. Kanaka Dasa: Philosopher-poet-Hari Dasa: a Trans-creation of His Bhakti Poems, Hari Bhakti Sara, BS Rao - 2001 - East West Books (Madras )

Links: Compositions of Sri Kanaka Dasa


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