CONTEXT: Recently, the Department of Archeology,Heritage and Museum decided to commence field research work at Keshavpura in Araga Gram Panchayat (GP) of Thirthahalli taluk.

Objective of the research: 

  • To explore definitive archaeological evidence regarding the birthplace of Purandara Dasa.
  • Formation of committee: The committee formed by the university comprised R.K. Padmanabha, music expert; Leeladevi R. Prasad, former Minister of Kannada and Culture; A.V. Navada, Veeranna Rajoora, Aralumallige Parthasarathy and Shivanand Virakthamutt, experts in Kannada Bhakti Sahitya or devotional literature.
    • In its report, the committee had recommended further research over the issue.

Purandara Das:

  • Purandara Das was hailed as the father figure of Carnatic music. In honor of his significant contributions to Carnatic music, he is widely referred to as the Pitamaha.
  • He was a great devotee of the supreme Lord Krishna, a Vaishnava poet, a saint and a social reformer. 
  • He was a disciple of the Dvaita philosopher-saint Vyasatirtha, and a contemporary of yet another Haridasa, Kanakadasa. His guru, Vyasatirtha, glorified Purandara Dasa in a song thus: Dāsarendare purandara dāsarayya. 
  • He was a composer, singer and one of the chief founding-proponents of South Indian classical music (Carnatic music). 
  • Prior to his initiation to Haridasa tradition: Purandara Dasa was a rich merchant and was called as Srinivasa Nayaka.
    • Referring to this, the proponents of the theory that Puranadara Dasa was born in Malnad point out that ‘Nayaka’ title was attributed to locally influential people, including wealthy merchants in Malnad during the Vijayanagar rule.

Issue regarding his birthplace:

  • As ‘Purandara Vithala’ was the pen name of his compositions, it was widely believed that the mystic poet was born in Purandharagad, Maharashtra. However, many in Malnad claimed that he hailed from this region.
  • As per historians:  Araga in Malnad was a buzzing commercial centre during the Vijayanagar rule, the period to which the poet belonged to.
    • Referring to the names of the places in the vicinity of Keshavapura — Varthepura, Vithalanagundi, Dasanagadde, it was argued that these places were inhibited by merchant community influenced by Vaishnava tradition to which Purandara Dasa belonged. 
    • Many words that figured in Purandara Dasa’s compositions were used by people in Malnad then in their day-to-day life.
  • To solve the mystery regarding birthplace, the State government had directed Kannada University, Hampi, to form an expert committee. 


Carnatic Music

  • Carnatic music is a system of music commonly associated with southern India, including the modern Indian states of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu, as well as Sri Lanka.
  • The main emphasis in Carnatic music is on vocal music; most compositions are written to be sung, and even when played on instruments, they are meant to be performed in gāyaki (singing) style.
  • Composed of a system of Ragam (Raga) and Thalam (Tala), it has a rich history and tradition.
  • Musical forms of Carnatic Music: 
    • Gitam: It is the simplest type of composition with an easy and melodious flow of raga.
    • Suladi: The Suladi is a talamalika, the sections being in different talas.
    • Svarajati: It consists of three sections, called Pallavi, Anupallavi and Charanam. The theme is either devotional, heroic or amorous.
    • Jatiswaram: It is noted for the use of rhythmical excellence and the Jati pattern.
    • Varnam: It is the only form which does not find a counterpart in Hindustani music. This form is called a Varnam because many of the Svara group patterns called ‘Varnas’ in ancient music are interwoven in its texture.
    • Kirtanam: It is valued for the devotional content or Bhakti Bhava of the Sahitya.
    • Kriti: It developed from the Kirtanam. It is a highly evolved musical form.
    • Pallavi: This is the most important branch of creative music. It allows improvisation.

Hindustani and Carnatic music

  • The course of the evolution of Indian music saw the emergence of two different subsystems as Hindustani and Carnatic music. 
  • Both the terms emerged for the first time in Haripala’s “Sangeeta Sudhakara”, written in the 14th century A.D.
  • Carnatic music has homogenous and Hindustani music has a heterogeneous Indian tradition.Hindustani music has various gharanas like Lucknow, Jaipur, Kirana, Agra etc., wherein Carnatic music no such gharanas are found.

Source: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/purandara-dasas-birthplace-archaeology-dept-to-start-research-in-village-in-shivamogga-dist/article31673889.ece