Friday 29 November 2013

How a shepherd came to write Harikathamrutasara

The Sriharikathamrutasara is one of the leading works in Madhwa siddantha and it is an unparalled piece of literature. Written by Jagannatha Dasa (1727-1809) of Manvi, it is rated among the most influential books of Vaishanavasa.
While we all know that Raghavendra Swamy (1595-1671), Vadiraja Theertha (1480-1600) and a host of others were responsible for goading Jagannatha Dasa in writing the Sriharikathamrutasara, very few know that Vyasa Raja or Vyasa Theertha also had a hand in the shaping of the work.
Though the Sriharikathamrutasara was written in the eighteenth century and Vyasa Raja lived in the sixteenth century, the Madhwa seer (Vyasa Raja) was able to foretell the writing of this text and this is how the incident happened.
It was sometime in the sixteenth century and Krishna Deva Raya was the Emperor of Vijayanagar. Vyasa Raja was the royal preceptor or Rajaguru and Purandara Dasa (1484-1564) accompanied him wherever he went.
Vyasa Raja had just completed writing Chandrika, a commentary on the Srimannyaya Sudha of Jayatheertha or Teekacharya. Vyasa Raja and Purandara Dasa were proceeding towards the Vijaya Vittala Temple in Vittalapur township which was part of the city of Vijayanagar or Hampi, the capital of  the Vijayanagars.
The road leading to the Vijaya Vittala temple was surrounded on both sides by shops and business establishments of a bazar or local market selling horses. Business from Arabia and Portugal could be seen haggling for a good price for their horses.
The road to the temple led to the Purandara Mantapa on one end and the Vijaya Vittala Temple on the other. (Both these monuments exists even today and the ruins of the bazaar where horses were traded can still be seen on either side of the road).      
As both Vyasa Raja and Purandara Dasa were talking about Sri Hari and his mahime, Vyasa Raja realised that his another illustrious disciple, Kanaka Dasa (1509-1609), was not present. He said Kanaka Dasa could easily show them Sri Hari in any form. He wanted to call Kanaka Dasa to the place where they had come.   
He saw a shepherd standing near by and asked him to bring Kanaka Dasa. “Tell him that Vyasa Raja and Purandara are near the Vijaya Vittala Temple and they are both waiting for the arrival of Kanaka”, said Vyasa Raja.  
The shepherd agreed to go and bring Kanaka Dasa. He went away and saw Kanaka Dasa and mentioned to him that Vyasa Raja and a few others were waiting for him. Kanaka Das then asked the shepherd what Vyasa Raja was doing. The shepherd said he was shouting incoherently.
He said the words coming out of Vyasa Raja looked like he was laughing and crying simultaneously. Kanaka Dasa then realised that Vyasa Raja was giving a discourse and singing about the glory of Sri Hari and this looked like crying and laughing for the shepherd.
Kanaka Dasa then turned to the shepherd and said as he had conveyed a message, he had to be rewarded. “What will you ask from Vyasa Raja”, Kanaka Dasa said.
The shepherd though for a while and said he would ask for fruits as he was hungry. He said he had seen the seer with some fruits and, therefore, he would ask for it.
Kanaka Dasa then advised the shepherd to ask for an equal share of Vyasa Raja’s crying and laughing and not fruits. The shepherd looked puzzled but agreed.  
When the shepherd came back to where Vyasa Raja and Purandara Dasa were present, he said he wanted to be rewarded for carrying out an errand. He then asked for an equal share of  Vyasa Raja’s crying and laughing.
Vyasa Raja immediately looked at Kanaka Das and guessed that it was he who had goaded the shepherd to ask for an equal share of Hari’s compositions and discourse.
He then blessed the shepherd and said such a blessing would not be possible in this birth. He promised the shepherd that he would get the wish that he wanted in his next birth.
The shepherd , in his next birth, was born as Jagannatha Dasa and he composed the Sriharikathamrutasara at Manvi and Hosaritti.    Vyasa Raja then asked Kanaka Dasa to show them Sri Hari. Kanaka Das then showed them Sri Hari in the form of a dog. Even as the startled people looked on, Vyasa Raja worshipped the dog even as Purandara Dasa burst into a song.
Let us now see what happened to all these people after this incident. The Vijayanagar Emperor, Krishna Deva Raya died in 1529. Vyasa Raja entered brindavana in Nava Brindavana, an island near Hampi, in 1539. Purandara Dasa passed away the Purandara Mantapa in 1564. Kanaka Das left Hampi after it was vandalised by the Musilm states of the Deccan in 1565 and he died in 1609.

Jagannatha Dasa was born in Manvi in Raichur district in 1727 and he is supposed to have composed the first ten chapters of Sriharikathamrutasara in Manvi and the rest 22 in Hosaritti which is a small village on the banks of Varada.  

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