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By Swami Harshananda

Jagannāthadāsa (A. D. 1728-1809) (‘servant of the Lord of the world’)

The Haridāsas (‘servants of God’) of Karnataka have carved for themselves an important place in the Bhakti Movement that helped the rejuvenation of Hinduism in medieval India. The four, most important, of these are: Purandaradāsa, Vijaya-dāsa, Gopāladāsa and Jagannāthadāsa.

His original name was Srinivāsā-cārya. Though born in a small village called Byāgavaṭṭe near Mānavi in the Raichur district of Karnataka, he lived most of the time in the latter place. His house has now been converted into his shrine.

Srīnivāsācārya was a born genius in composing poems in Sanskrit. In course of time he acquired astounding scholarship in the scriptures, especially of the dvaita school of Madhvācārya (A. D. 1197-1276). Arrogance of scholarship made him slight Vijayadāsa (A. D. 1682-1755) as a result of

which he contacted a severe disease of the stomach. By divine intervention he was directed to go to Vijayadāsa himself for succour. Vijayadāsa sent him to his own disciple Gopāladāsa who not only cured him but also initiated him into the Order of the Haridāsas christening him as ‘Jagannātha-Vitṭhaladāsa’ or, more popularly, ‘Jagannāthadāsa’. This was in A. D. 1754.

Jagannāthadāsa has composed many works, the magnum opus being the Sriharikathāmrtasāra which he is said to have completed in his 82nd year! It is a voluminous poetical composition of a thousand verses in Kannada, in the meter called ‘bhāminīṣaṭpadī’. He has also composed more than seven hundred songs —both devotional and didactic—in the Kannada language.

His biographers have credited him with many psychic and supernatural powers.

See also DĀSAKUTA.


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