Born in the year 1484, was a Haridasa (literally means a servant of Lord Hari or Lord Sri Krishna), one of the greatest devotees of Lord Krishna, a saint and musician, Purandara Dasa. He happened to be an ardent disciple of Sri Vyasatritha. He also held the privilege of being a contemporary of Kanakadasa, who was yet another great Haridasa.
Purandara Dasa was both a composer and singer. He was one of the colossal exponents of the South Indian Classical music (the Carnatic music). His contribution in the field of Carnatic music was highly significant and legendary that he was widely referred to as the Pitamaha (the father or the grandfather), as a sign of honor. Some people held him with respects of high standards and believed him to be an incarnation of Narada, the great sage, descended upon earth.
Purandara Dasa was a generous person at heart. He was a rich diamond trader who lived in the South Indian state of Karnataka. Before he became a Haridasa, he gave away all of his material riches to the people. Being an unwavering devotee of Lord Krishna had made him a devotional singer with a divine voice. He was also a translator. He translated the complicated Sanskrit texts of Srimad Bhagavatam (the holiest and most significant scared book to the Hindus) and made it accessible to people of all classes in uncomplicated and melodious songs. This gave him the reputation of being one of the most important music scholars of Medieval India.
Purandara Dasa started to give form to the elemental lessons of Carnatic music by giving a structure to each graded exercise. These graded exercises were referred to as the Svaravalis and the Alankaras. During the same period, he invented the Raga Mayamalavagowla. He labelled it as the scale to be learnt by the new kids on block before all else in the field. This unwritten law established by Purandara Dasa has been passed on to each generation of Carnatic musicians and is being practiced until this day.
Purandara Dasa composed the Dasa Sahithya as a vocalist and music scholar of a Bhakti movement. The composition of the Dasa Sahithya had brought about a prominence for this great musician. His habituations in music were vied with Kanakadasa, his younger contemporary. His musical architectures were in Kannada in the majority. He also composed few musical discourses in Sanskrit. He had written all his musical compositions under the Ankita (the fictitious name), Purandara Vittala (Vittala is one of the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu, the Hindu God of Protection).
Purandara Dasa straightened up the ways and means of the cultivation of Carnatic music, which is being adhered to, until the present day. His Raga Mayamalavagowla, the basic scale for the enlightenment of music could be considered as the life giver of Carnatic music. He refined the Swaravalis, the Janti Swaras, the Alankaras, the Lakshana Geetas, the Prabandhas, the Ugabhogas, the Daatu Varase, the Geeta, the Sooladis and the Kritis and enhanced the vital components that form the groundwork of Carnatic music. He put together the Bhava, the Raga and the Laya in his musical compositions and this fusion of the trio is considered to be one of his most significant contributions. He holds the privilege of being the first composer to incorporate the observations of the usual day-to-day life in his musical compositions. He made use of the elements of the vernacular language for his composition of the lyrics. He introduced the Folk Ragas into an established platform by modifying his lyrics to the tunes (the Ragas) of his period in order to make them accessible for the common people to learn and sing them. He was also the architect of a number of the Lakshyas and the Lakshana Geetas, many of which are sung even today. His Sooladis, the musical masterpieces are the standard for the Raga Lakshana. This standardization of the Varna Mettus is entirely attributed to the legend Purandara Dasa.
The competent Dasas, the successors of Purandara Dasa, are believed to have walked down the footsteps of Purandara Dasa in the system of music he had invented. The successors also orally passed down his musical compositions from one generation to another. According to the ancient sources, his musical compositions number to as many as Four Lac and Seventy Five Thousand. However, to the misfortunes of the field of Carnatic music, not more than seven hundred pieces of musical compositions are accessible today.
Purandara Dasa was a mixture of a Vaggeyakara (a composer cum performer), a Lakshanakara (a musicologist) and also the founder of the musical pedagogy. He also had a colossal influence on the Hindustani music. Swami Haridas, a Saraswat Brahmin and also the teacher of the foremost Hindustani musician Tansen, was a disciple of Purandara Dasa.
In order to honor him for his contributions to the field of Carnatic music, a statue of Purandara Dasa was dedicated at the foot of Tirumala in Alipiri.