About the Book
Very few books have been written on the most fascinat.ng life of Shri Jagannath Dasa who gave to the Dasa Literature, Harikathamruta Sara, a mine of literature and philosophy, Barring a thesis in Kannada on the great Dasa, books in English on Jagannath Dasa are difficult to come by.
The author a devout student of the Dasas, has taken up the writing “Jagannath Dasa” more as an emotional and spiritual fulfilment than as a dry-as-dust intellectual pursuit. The Introduction reveals the author’s involvement in listening to the keertanas of the Dasas and in obtaining rewarding and etemal solace from the utterances of the great Dasas, He therefore thinks it appropriate and compelling to share his ambrosial experiences with other devotees, He has written about the Dasa in a spirit of dedication.
This book is a bird’s-eye view of the Dasas of Karnatak, their heritage, philosophy and their objectives. A brief reference is made to the Dasa Kuta and the Vyasa Kuta.
Jagannath Dasa, deals briefly with the works of the Dasa. The literary, philosophical and human qualities of the writings have been examined. Greater emphasis is laid on the magnum opus, Harikathamruta Sara. Relevant quotations with translations and comments have been included
About the Author
Dr. Keshav M. Mutalik retired as Principal, Sydenham College of Commerce and Economics, Bombay. He is one of the few scholars who earned two Ph.D’s - the first on Francis William Bain from the University of Bombay and the second on A Sociolinguistic Study of Kannada from Leeds University. Dr. Mutalik has established himself as a distinguished teacher, researcher and a connoisseur of drama and music.
Dr. Mutalik visited the USA as a Senior Fulbright Scholar where he studied Mark Twain and produced Indian plays to select American scholars. His study on Mark Twain is published under the title Mark Twain ill India. Dr. Mutalik has also writen Guru Raghavendra Swamy - A TRIBUTE published by Somaiyas.
I was very young then, may be ten or eleven. I was in the Primary School and was eagerly expecting to join the Secondary School. My father, who retired as Tahasildar or, known then as Mamalatdar, was an intensely religious man. He did not visit a play, a movie or a dance programme- He was engaging himself in singing the praise of God. Father did not possess a sweet voice but, with the God-given vocal instrument, he used to recite Sanskrit and Kannada Shlokas and Bhajans. Sometimes Kabir, Tukaram, Namdeo appeared in his prayer repertoire. Father was a devout Dvaitin and belonged to Rayara Math or Shri Raghavendra Swamy Math. Early morning he opened his eyes into his palms and uttered Sanskrit Shlokas and then used to get up. While rising also, he repeated either the fifteenth canto of the Geeta or some of Purandara Dasa’s songs.
Mother had a melodious voice and used to sing with father as an able accompanist. It was she who created in me interest in music. After singing Purandara Dasa’s songs mother often sang “Kailasa Vasa Gaurisha Isha” an excellent prayer of Lord Shiva and Vishnu. I was much impressed by all the songs.
The one thing that has remained with me even now is father’s recital of Harikathamruta Sara. It is a quintenssence of Madhva philosophy, lucidly and elegantly written by Jagannath Dasa. I still remember the famous lines “Harikathamruta Sara Gurugala karunadinda panitu peluve, parame bhagawadbhakta ridanadaradi keluvudu.” Later, when I went to college and started working, I remembered the lines but did not bother to read. the magnum opus, Harikathamruta Sara nor did I bother to read about the author, Jagannath Dasa. His songs were rarely recited and he did not arrest my mind as much as Purandara Dasa. Yet, theopening lines of Harikotha were deeply ingrained in my mind.
My sister carried forward father’s tradition of reciting Harikatha and once or twice asked me meanings of some words in it I pleaded ignorance and excused myself. I did not carry a deep impression of the Dasa. This was perhaps because of my preoccupation with my job routine and mundane work. By nature I am of a philosophic bent of mind. When very young, I used to spend at least an hour in worshipping god. I had my personal prayer book and rosary. But later years deviated me from my simple religious living to a so-called sophisticated or urbanised life. I was drawn more towards the routine non-academic and non-scholastic activities. Later, administrative positions removed from me whatever little interest I had for the saints, Dasas and their writings. I was in the midst of files, proposals and replies to Governmental letters. The teaching of Business Communication reinforced my non-interest in the areas of knowledge and philosophy.
It was at this time my wife suddenly died and left me completely shaken, broken and uprooted. The shock left me tottering and made me morose, not willing to share anyone’s company- Wife could not come back. How could she? I could not end the journey on the earth to reach her. Gradually I had to find a solution, an acceptance of the existing situation and to make the best of it. My son got married and the arrival of a daughter-in-law brought someone to take care of the household and bring cheer in the otherwise disspirited life. We once went to listen to Pandit Bhimsen Joshi’s “Santa Wani”, a musical extravaganza of Bhajans and prayers. He sang the compositions of Tukaram, Namdeo and others. Additionally, he sang “Hari Bhajere Mado Nirantara” in Kannada. Then he enchanted me by Jagannath Dasa’s “Shri Niketana, palaya mam” which enthralled me instantaneously and plummetted me into the world of Jagannath Dasa. I repeated the song while going back home in a taxi. I found out the exact words of the song after borrowing a book from a friend. I told my daughter-in-law, “If you give birth to a son, I will name him Jagannath Dasa”. The song had such a marvellous appeal for me. I have heard several of Pandit Joshi’s songs and those of other musicians as well. But the Jagannath Dasa song had an ethereal magic which swept me off my feet. It was like Coleridge’s “A damsel with a dulcimer” in “Kubla Khan”. I read the Harikatha and also the life-story of the Dasa-I was ruminating over the song and the past recitals of father. I said: “Let me read more about Jagannath Dasa. Let me write my own impressions of the Dasa.” I decided to do it but had to postpone it due to the routine of the office. However, I wrote a short feature in Kannada on the life of Jagannath Dasa for the All India Radio, Bombay. It was broadcast sometime in 1982.
A grandson was born and was named Jagannath Dasa. Like Jagannath Dasa perhaps, he was born to suffer a great deal because of his birth problems. I prayed to the Swamy (Shri Raghavendra Swamy) and like Jagannath Dasa I surrendered my grandson to the Swamy for him to protect. The boy is now six years old, goes to school, struggles hard to overcome his physical problems. His “chaulkarma” was performed at Shri Mantralayam and one had to see it to believe; the boy who could not bear even a soft cold breeze could bathe, without any physical discomfiture, in the cold waters of the Tungabhadra in the morning of January. All the physical incidents stood witness to the supernatural and divine powers of Shri Raghavendra Swamy and Jagannath Dasa, It was therefore high time that I paid my debt to the Dasa by writing his life-story. I have done it in the following pages. I am confident that the Dasa will bless the readers and bring cheer and light in their life.
Foreword - The Swamiji Blesses
The dasa of Karnataka
Birth and Parentage
Retribution and Surrender
Journey to Tirupati - Acharya Becomes dasa
Jagannath Dasa’s pilgrimages ...
‘The writer, Jagannatii Dasa
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