Wednesday 27 February 2013

The lake where Kanaka was initiated

There has been lengthy and scholastic debates on whether or not Kanaka Dasa did accept Deekshe from Vyara Raja and if he did or did not accept Hari or Vishnu as the sole God.
There is also a question on whether Kanaka accepted Vyasa Raja as his dharmic guru in the sense that Purandara and other Haridasas were.     
Though a majority of  Kanaka Dasa’s compositions centre around faith and devotion to the Vaishnava parampare of God and he was a leading Hari Dasa of the times, some scholars have argued that Kanaka did not embrace Vaishnavism and that he never converted from his faith as a Beda or shepherd community to which he belonged.
They also claim that Kanaka never accepted Vyasa Raja as his guru and that though he moved closely with the saint, he was never a part of their ideology and faith. This mystery still continues and unfortunately even  Kanaka’s compositions do not tell us much about his faith.
Contemporary accounts too are not very clear on the issue and the Vyâsayogicharita, by Somanatha, a Smartha court poet in the reign of Krishna Deva Raya and Achuta Deva Raya does not shed much light on Kanaka. An authentic biography of Vyasa Raja by his immediate disciple Srinivasa Theertha and a work by Krishna Deva Raya himself  does not solve the issue.
However, there is some clinching proof about the close bond that Kanaka shared with Vyasa Raja and his initiation into the Dasa Koota or school of thought. Interestingly, this initiation is linked to the construction of a large tank by Vyasa Raja. The tank is now in  Andhra Pradesh.
Thus, we have proof of almost the exact location where Vyasa Raja initiated Kanaka into the Dasa fold.  
It was the reign of Krishna Deva Raya (1509-1530) and Vijayanagar Empire had reached its zenith. The Raya had just been saved from certain death by Vyasa Raja who had sat on the throne for a day to rid the Emperor of Kuhu Dosha.
The astonished Emperor had bathed Vyasa Raja in gold and jewels in a ceremony called Ratnabhisheka in 1526. The seer, instead of  making personal use of the wealth, had donated all of it. Some went to scholars and pandits and the rest to construction of tanks and Agraharas in the Vijayanagar Kingdom.
One such tank was being constructed in Kandakur near Madanpalli village which is now in Chitoor district of Andhra Pradesh. Today the place is known as Bettikonda and the lake as Vyasa Samudra.
The tank was so built that water from the surrounding hills collected on the tank. Bettikonda is surrounded by hills and water from these hills would collect in the tank.
Work on the tank was completed quickly but there was a problem. 
The path that would allow water to flow out of the tank once I filled was blocked by a massive boulder and no amount of engineering skill could displace it.
Vyasa Raja then came here and even as he was being apprised about the problem, he received news of Kanaka’s arrival at Kandakur.  
Kanaka who was then called Kanaka Nayaka, sought out  Vyasa Raja and wanted his guidance in the manner of serving Keshava as a Dasa. Kanaka also wanted vyasa to be his guru in this endeavour and requested for mantropadesha.
Vyasa Raja then suggested to Kanaka to recite the Kona (buffalo – vahana of Yamadharmaraya) manthra. Kanaka accepted the advice and he sat under a tree near the tank and began reciting the
Very soon, Yama Kona appeared before Kanaka,  who then took it to Vyasa Raja. The seer appreciated the devotion of Kanaka and directed him to take the massive bull to the place where the huge boulder was blocking the path of water.
The bull splintered the rock with ease and the overflow path for the tank was ready. By then, the new Agrahara around the tank was ready too.
Vyasaraja then consecrated an idol of  Anjaneya near the Agrahara. The temple exists even today and it is managed by one of the farmers living here. Daily pujas are conducted by a priest who lives in Kandakur.
Vyasa Raja also consecrated a temple to Venugopalaswamy in the Agrahara.  Though the presiding deity was Venugopala, he installed two other deities-Narasimha and Anjaneya. When the roof and the main gopura of this temple collapsed, villagers of  Agrahara shifted the idols to the nearby temple of Rama.
There is another shrine dedicated to Hanuman on the bund of the tank. This too is believed to have been consecrated by Vyasa Raja.
Is it not ironical that while Bada, the birthplace of Kanaka is revered and it has become a place of pilgrimage, the place where he was initiated into the Dasa Parampare is still in the realms of obscurity.  

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