Hari Dasa's
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Sri Panduranga Vittala of Pandarapur

Haridasa is a combination of two words Hari and Dasa meaning servants of Hari. Haridasa's were preachers of devotion to God and made distinctive contribution to the religious life particularly in Karnataka. They conveyed great and sacred truths in Kannada in a very simple and clear style so as to be understood by the common people. They were followers of the great Madhwacharya and preached his doctrine of a knowledgeful devotion to God, through the medium of melodious songs called 'devaranama' or hymns called "Ugabhoga". 

The date of the origin of the Haridasa sect is steeped in deep mystery since the evidences available, do not lead us to any settled date

Though initial inspiration of the Haridasa's was derived from Madhwacharya himself who has given stirring devotional lyrics in such sanskrit works as dvadasa-stotra, Sri Narahari Theertharu, the direct disciple of Madhwacharya may be regarded as the founder of the Haridasa movement, though very few songs are available of him in Kannada. Sri Sripadaraja Theertharu is well-known as the grandfather of Haridasas (Haridasa Pitamaha). He made a bold attempt to compose songs in simple kannada, expounding the difficult and highly philosophical teachings of Madhwacharya in simple and clear language. Sri Sripadaraja Theertharu's disciple Sri Vyasaraja Theertharu gave great impetus to the Haridasa movement and made it very popular through his disciples Sri Purandara Dasaru and Sri Kanaka Dasaru both of whom are considered to be the prominent among Haridasa's. The center of activity of the Haridasa's in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries was Vijaynagar (Hampi) and near by places with Sri Purandara Dasaru and Sri Kanaka Dasaru as the chief architects.

Haridasa's moved from place to place and toured the whole towns and villages singing and dancing with a single-stringed tamboori instrument, foot bells (kalgejje) and castanets (chatike) being their only musical accomplishment. There is great variety in their compositions:- prosody-pada, suladi, ugabhoga, tattva-suvali, shloka,kanda,  vachana,  vrittanama,  dvipadi,  tripadi,  choupadi,  shatpadi, ashtapadi, ragale yalapad. We find a vast variety in the subject matter too - biographical, religious, philosophical, social, ethical, ritualistic, introspective, and so on. It was only a Haridasa - Sri Purandara Dasaru who composed the famous 'Pillari Gitas', the learning of which has become the firm foundation of Carnatic music even today.

The history of the Haridasa's from the 14th century to the present day, is a history of continual growth throughout length and breadth of Karnataka and also influencing upon the neighbouring provinces/states of Andhrapradesh and Tamilnadu.

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