Sunday, 19 January 2014

Purandara Dasa's Lakshana

The pioneer of Carnatic music Purandara Dasa (1484-1564) was a prolific composer and he has written in many genres. He is believed to have composed scores of Lakshana Geeta of which only a handful have survived.
For Purandara Dasa, the Lakshya or Lakshana geete was the most suitable medium for beginners to learn music. He, therefore, kept the geete simple and even today it is sung from beginning to end without any variation or repetition. 
When Purandara Dasa decided to simplify Carnatic music and make it easier for students to learn, he first went about composing the geete in a medium tempo. He also ensured that there was not much complication in the raga, taala or swara. 
Generally, the lakshana geete does not have pallavi, anupallavi and charana as its tempo is uniform. This makes the Lakshana a continuous composition.
Today, these compositions have historical and academic value, as many of the ragas contained therein have become obscure. Though many of his Lakshana geete are lost, a few do survive. Some of them have two or more sections. But all these compositions are simple and easy on the beginners.
Purandara Dasa’s introductory geetas in praise of  Ganesha, Shiva or Maheswara and Vishnu are sometimes called as Pillari geetas which are in praise of a chosen deity. Many of these were composed in Malahari and the most famous is “Lambodara Lakumikara”, which is one of the finest composition on Ganapathy.
Many of the geetas are sung from the beginning to the end without repeating the avarthas.
When the geetas have two sections, they are called as Khandikas. In a few of his geetas, Purandara Dasa has concluded these compositions by repeating a part or full portion of the opening lines.
Apart from the Pillari geeta, the Sanchari geeta too are in praise of a chosen deity. The sanchari geete is also called as samanya or  sadharana geete.   
Unfortunately, a major portion of the Lakshana geete of  Purandara Dasa appears to have been irrevocably lost. Noted Dwaitha scholar and philosopher, BNK Murthy, regrets that many of these geetas have not survived. He blames the Haridasas subsequent to Purandara Dasa for this act and says the shifting of the centre of gravity of Carnatic music from Vijayanagar in 1565 sounded the death knell of the Dasa Sahitya.

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