The Lord of Udupi is trapped within the temple , his devotee is trapped in a cell outside. People throng, gone are the days where in the open corridors of temple sat genteel women stringing flowers and singing devaranama. Beside it was the place where the swamiji from one of the ashtamatta would be rendering a sermon, on Madhwa siddantha.
Now it is the Rajangana with its loud music oceans of tourists pushing, prodding to view the Lord, through the Kanakana kindi, or the tiny grid that allows you to view the idol worshipped by Rukmini or so the legends claim. This ocean of noisy unkempt tourist seem to have forgotten the social reformer, saint in whose memory the window stands, that is Thimmappa Nayaka from Kaginele in Haveri district, who goes by the popular name Kanakadasa.
The madhwasiddhanta to put it concisely talks about “Hari sarvothama, vayu jeevothama.” That is Vayu or the wind enhances living, while Hari or the Lord enhances everything. This concept of the divine and mundane the atma trying to be one with the parmatma then found its way to the Assam and Gaudasampradaya. This in the south is called the Dasa parampara.
Dasaparampara essentially means the path of the follower/slave/serf. It forms one of the navavidha bhakti, called dasohyam which is personified by Hanuman. The Haridasa’s believe in nadopasana or singing the praise of Lord, for the Lord is believed to be SamaganaPriya or a lover of melodious music. The Haridasas are essentially vaishnava bards.
There is a very simple story about Kanakadasa and his guru Vyasarayatheerta. The story goes that one day Vyasarayatheerta asked everyone in the assembly as to who was lively to attain salvation or more precisely go to heaven. All the Brahmins looked at each other trying to answer the question. When Vyasarayatheertha asked Kanaka… he replied…”naanu hodare hogabahudu.” This was the kind of twister that Kanaka wrote, when translated literally “Its possible if ‘I” go” this infuriated the Brahmins. What Kanaka had to say was if “I” that is the ego is shed behind then it is possible to attain salvation.
Kanakadasa’s works are called keethane’s Ugaboga’s. He has also written Mahakavyas based on the Mahabharata like the Nalacharitre., the Ramadhanya Kavya which is a conversation between the raagi and rice. Raagi being the food of the working class while rice being the food of the affluent.
Around the age of 35, Kanakadas became a widower. he penned the Mahakavya MohanaTarangini which is describes the romance of three pairs. That is Krishna-Rukmini, Manmatha-Rathi, Aniruddha-Ushe. The mythology goes that Pradyumna was the re-incarnation of Manmatha. Manmatha was cursed by shiva for having disturbed his penance. The poetry or Kavya is written in classical style, it is dominantly sringara rasa and delves into aspects of eroticism in its treatment of romances.
The historical names that Kankadasa enumerates in his books have helped scholars reconstruct the history of Karnataka, like the reference to Hoysana (Hoysala) cauta (probably the jaina kingdom on the west coast.). his description of Dwaraka or Dwarkavati as he calls it, is very similar to the accounts of Vijjayanagar during the rule of Krishnadevaraya as found in the accounts of Portuguese travellers. There are vivid description of drinking bouts of men and women of the working classes, almost as if they were happening before him.
Despite being a Vaishnava we do not come across Kanakadasa condemning Shiva.