Dāsakṅṭa

From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

Sometimes transliterated as: Dasaknta, DAsakGTa, Daasaknta


Dāsakūṭa literally means ‘an assembly of the servants of God’. In the religio-philosophical literature of the religion both bhakti (devotion) and jñāna (knowledge) have been given equal prominence. Over the centuries, the various teachers of bhakti gave the common masses a simple philosophy to live life. They did this through their teachings which were mostly in the form of devotional songs. The Haridāsa movement was the pioneer of Bhakti movement in Karnataka ,which comprised two parallel but closely knit units generally called the ‘Vyāsakuṭa’ and the ‘Dāsakūṭa’. The Vijayanagara city and the Raichur district of Karnataka were the main centers of origin and activities of these Haridāsas.

Pioneers Of Bhakti movement

North India: The tradition of devotion with its popular religion and ethics originated in the North India by the musician-saints which include:

  1. Tulasīdās (A. D. 1532-1623)
  2. Kabīr (A. D. 1440-1518)
  3. Nānak (A. D. 1469-1539)
  4. Mīrābāī (A.D. 1450-1547)

Maharashtra: In Maharashtra the saints who spread this philosophy by their teachings include:

  1. Sant Jñāneśvar (13th cent. A. D.)
  2. Ekanāth (A. D. 1533-1599)
  3. Tukārām (A. D. 1607-1694)
  4. Rāmadās (A. D. 1608-1681)

Bengal: In Bengal, the saint musicians who spread this awakening were:

  1. Śrīkṛṣṇa Caitanya (A. D. 1485-1533)
  2. Rāmaprasād (A. D. 1720-1781)
  3. Kamalākānta (A. D. 1800)

Tamil Nadu: In South India the spread of the bhakti cult was proposed by the saints like:

  1. The Alvārs (7th to 9th centuries A. D.)
  2. Nāyanmārs (7th and 8th centuries A. D.)

Karnataka: In Karnataka the pioneers of the bhakti movement were:

  1. Śiva- śaraṇas (12th cent. A. D.) - Śiva- śaraṇas movement was nourished by the sanyāsins of the Mādhva school like Srīpādarāya (15th cent. A. D.) and Vyāsa- rāya (A. D. 1447-1539)
  2. Haridāsas (15th cent. A. D.) - The Haridāsa movement comprised two parallel but closely knit units generally called the ‘Vyāsakuṭa’ and the ‘Dāsakūṭa’. This movement was sustained by Purandaradāsa (A. D. 1484-1564), Kanakadāsa (15th cent. A. D.), Vijayadāsa (A. D. 1687-1755) and other householder-devotees of the same school. Though the Vyāsakuṭa derived its name from Vyāsarāya (also known as Vyāsatīrtha) who was responsible for the phenomenal growth of both the units, it was Srīpādarāya who was the pioneer of both.

Significant Characteristics of Haridāsas Movement

The compositions of these Haridāsas are legion. Their chief characteristic is simplicity. They express the profound truths of Vedānta in a simple language and urge the people to lead a God-centered life even while performing one’s normal duties in the world. The topics generally dealt with include:

  • Description of God’s form and beauty (almost always as Viṣṇu or Kṛṣṇa)
  • Childhood pranks of Kṛṣṇa
  • Various devotional practices like repetition of the divine name or singing the glories of God
  • Moral principles like satya (truth) and dharma (righteous living)
  • Evil nature of the evil ones (in order to avoid such conduct)
  • Some paurāṇic stories and some autobiographical references also
  • activism as well as dependence on God
  • A host of other miscellaneous subjects

Significant Preachers of Haridāsas Movement

Some of the other Haridāsas who contributed significantly to the Dāsakṅṭa and the bhakti movements are:

  1. Vaikuṇṭhadāsa
  2. Prasanna-Veṅkaṭadāsa
  3. Timmaṇṇa- dāsa
  4. Mohanadāsa
  5. Helavanakaṭṭe Giri- yamma (a lady-saint)
  6. Kalluru Subbaṇṇa- dāsa
  7. Aijīdāsa
  8. Others

Contribution of Dāsakūṭa in Spreading Religion

The sanyāsin teachers were great scholars both in Sanskrit and Kannaḍa (the vernaculars of Karnataka). They authored scholarly works in the Śiva- śaraṇas movement. They composed popular devotional songs in the Haridāsas movement.

The Haridāsas, though quite a few in number, were great scholars concentrated on spreading the cult of devotion. The Dvaita Vedānta of Madhvācārya (A. D. 1197-1276) preaches simple ethical principles through the songs which became very popular over the centuries. Apart from Purandaradāsa and Vijayadāsa, Gopāladāsa (A. D. 1721-1762) and Jagannāthadāsa (A. D. 1728-1809) too have contributed profusely to the Haridāsa literature.

The contribution of the Dāsakūṭa to the religion and culture through the life and literature of the various Haridāsas is considerable.


References

  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore