Kanakadasa Jayanti is celebrated by the people of Karnataka on the birth anniversary of the great poet-saint Shri Kanaka Dasa. Kanaka Dasa lived in the 16th Century during the Vijayanagara Empire. He was a social reformer who through his keertan gave the message that all the people in the society should live together without any discrimination. He is regarded as one of Carnatic music’s pillars and contributors.
The Kuruba Gowda community traditionally celebrates his birthday as Kanakadasa Jayanti. His birth anniversary has also been designated a holiday by the Karnataka state government. Kanakadasa’s keertanas and upabhoga with social messages are very popular in the state.
Kanakadasa Jayanti is celebrated on the 18th day of the Hindu month of Kartik, which is usually in November. In 2022 Kanakadasa Jayanti falls on 11th November, Friday.
Kanaka Dasa (1509–1609) original name was Thimmappa Nayaka was born on November 6, 1509, in a place called Baada in the Vijayanagara Empire. Initially a soldier, Kanakadasa became a poet after miraculously surviving death despite being seriously injured. It is believed that the divine intervened in the form of Lord Krishna and suggested him to surrender in battle, but he refused and continue with the battle only to suffer serious wounds. He was miraculously saved and became a poet with his passion directed towards Lord Krishna.
He belonged to Haridasa literary movement and was a composer, a musician, a poet, a social reformer, philosopher, and saint. He used to compose in the Kannada language so that his message reaches the common man easily. At a young age, he authored poetries titled Narasimha stotra, Ramadhyana Mantra, and Mohanatarangini.
Kanakadasa wrote about two hundred and forty Karnataka Music compositions (Kirtane, Ugabhogas, padas, and mundiges or philosophical songs), besides five major works. His compositions are published in many languages. For example, about 100 songs in Kannada and 60 songs in English are published in popular books. Kanaka Dasa was a radical poet, and his Kirtanas and Ugabhogas form part of the traditional recitations in Carnatic music even today. His composition was filled with devotion and also carried messages on social reformation.
Some of his writings are as follows:-
1.Nalacharithre (Story of Nala)
2.Haribhakthisara (the core of Krishna devotion)
3.Nrisimhastava (compositions in praise of Lord Narasimha)
4.Ramadhanyacharithre, a rare work on class struggle (story of ragi millet)
How is Kanakadasa Jayanti celebrated
In tribute to the great saint, Kanakadasa Jayanti is declared a state holiday in Karnataka since 2008. On this day all the state government offices, schools, colleges pay tribute to the saint for his contribution to Kannada music and literature. He was an extraordinary personality who preached the message of peace and equality in society.
Kanaka Dasa possessed several good qualities in his life, such as uplifting the downtrodden low caste people, developing hari bhakti, and promoting his music and poems among people. He is the one who acts as a messenger to god for doing good to the people. Let us pray to him with pure devotion and chant his name ‘OM SREE KANAKA DASARE NAMAHA’.