An ode to the poet-saintAn ode to the poet-saint

An ode to the poet-saintAn ode to the poet-saint
On a recent trip to Haveri district, intrigued by a beautiful yellow and pink double arch with a sculpture of Saint Kanakadasa, I decided to explore more. I was in Kaginele, the birthplace of Kanakadasa, a revered saint of the 16th century. As Kanakadasa lived and wrote most of his works in Kaginele, The Kaginele Development Authority (KDA) has protected monuments and documents related to Kanakadasa as a tribute to him.

Born as Thimmappa Nayaka to a chieftain family of Kaginele, Kanakadasa was well educated. When he was severely injured in a war and miraculously saved, he gave up being a warrior and dedicated his life to philosophy through music and literary compositions, which even common people could relate to. An ardent devotee of Lord Krishna, he is the reason why the main deity faces west in the Udupi Krishna Math. It is said that when Kanakadasa went to Udupi, he was not allowed to see the god due to the caste-norms prevalent in those days. Undeterred, Kanakadasa camped outside the temple composing songs on Lord Krishna, and it is believed that the deity turned around to ensure that Kanakadasa could see him through a breach in the wall.

In fact, the famous window commonly called Kanakana Kindi, that we see even today in Udupi is a tribute to his devotion. A popular quote associated with him in Kannada is ‘nanu hodarehodenu’ that philosophically translates into ‘give up your ego to get going’.

It is said that when his guru, Vyasatirtha, asked the question as to who can attain salvation all the scholars answered in the negative. On his turn, Kanakadasa made the aforementioned statement, while all other scholars interpreted this as ‘I can attain salvation’, the guru understood the philosophical tone behind his words. His writings had an undertone of social reform and connected with all because of the simple language used. Some of his major works include Nalacharitre, Haribhaktisara, Nrisimhastava, Ramadhanyacharitre and Mohanatarangini. He also wrote over 200 musical compositions including kirtanes, ugabhogas and padas. These have been translated into different languages.

The site

The Kaginele Kanaka Guru Peetha is the spiritual and cultural centre and it is designed like a traditional structure. As you approach the place, it is hard not to miss the beautiful cotton plants on either side of the road. A large statue of Kanakadasa, sitting and writing greets you at the entrance. The centre is an imposing cream and brown structure with colourful flags fluttering atop, and a statue of Kanakadasa on a horse. The surrounding landscape is beautiful. As you climb up, you can see replicas of canons, and another statue of Kanakadasa standing with a musical instrument.

Intricate filigree work in gold hues against a pale pink and blue facade and ceilings decorated with bright colourful motifs open to a courtyard. Walk inside and there are colourful paintings that show the life of Kanakadasa in pictures. Take the stairs and you can see panoramic views of the countryside with the verdant greenery and hills in the backdrop. There are carved wooden doors, and if you look carefully you can see the carvings of Kanakadasa. This serene place offers an insight to the life of the revered poet-saint.

Kaginele is connected by road to major places such as Haveri, Byadgi and Hubballi. The nearest airport is in Hubbali. The nearest railway station is in Haveri.

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