‘Do you still not have compassion for me?’ asks Purandara Dasa (1484–1564) in this beautifully melodious song of his ishta daivam (God of choice) Vitthala. ‘I have been re-born in many countries, in many periods of time, in many wombs. Having fallen in the hell of ‘me’ and ‘mine’, (do you not have compassion) for this devotee who believes that you are the only refuge?’.
Purandara Dasa talks of reincarnation and Karma in this song. Did you know that reincarnation is not Vedic thinking but comes somewhat afterwards? It starts getting mentioned in the Upanishads period (around 700 BC) but is most clearly stated later, in the Bhagavat Geeta (around 200 BC or later). Below is the oft-quoted verse which serves as a definition of reincarnation.
वासांसि जीर्णानि यथा विहाय नवानि गृह्णाति नरोऽपराणि।
तथा शरीराणि विहाय जीर्णान्यन्यानि संयाति नवानि देही।।
vAsAnsi jIrNAni yathA vihAya navAni grihNati narOparANi
taTHA shaRIrANi vihAya jIRNanyanyAni samyAti navAni dEhI
Just as (yathA) people (nara=individual and aparANi=others) discard (vihAya) old (jIrNa=old) clothes (vAsa) and put on (verb graha) new (nava) ones, so do (taTHA) the souls (dEhI=the embodied soul) discard (vihAya) old (jIrNa) bodies (sharIra) and come into (samyAti) many different (anya anya) new (navA) bodies .
Reincarnation is the natural progression of a couple of ideas a few thousand years older. These ideas are like the building blocks of Hinduism. The first one is the idea of body and soul. The Atman (soul) which lives in the sharIra (body) is eternal, immutable, is neither born nor can it die. It is due to avidyA (ignorance) that the soul gets caught up in a body. ‘Ignorance of what?’ you may ask. Ignorance of the fact the the soul is indeed Brahman, the Supreme Consciousness. When the Atman gives up its false individuality and realises that it is Brahman (aham brahmAsmi=I am Brahman, from Brhadaranyaka Upanishad, app. 1000 BC), it is then ready to merge with the ultimate divinity.
The second important idea which led to the principle of reincarnation is that of Karma. It is the law of cause and effect which applies to each individual. Every action, good or bad, produces consequences which the individual will need to experience. The difficulty of fitting all the consequences in one life led to the idea of reincarnation.
Yet it is easily evident that when the individual is in the process of experiencing one set of consequences, he or she is doing other actions in the meanwhile so this cause-effect can never be terminated, even with multiple births! Here then, we need Divine intervention for Moksha (release from this cycle of reincarnation), for once we realise that the Atman is indeed the Brahman, what need to we have to continue this never ending cycle ?
Coming back to my song choice of the day, if we look at the lyrics with the above ideas, we can better understand what Purandara Dasa was talking about. After mentioning his rebirths, he says that he finds himself in the hell of ‘me’ and ‘mine’. Attachments and ego are causes of accruing more Karma debt thus forcing us into further lives; if one knows that one can merge into Brahman, then life will seem like hell and attachments seen as ropes which tie us to this hell.
Purandara Dasa then does a very clever thing, he says ‘Whatever I have done by mind, body and spirit, I offer to You’. If he offers to God all his actions, then doesn’t he also offer God all the Karma debt which arise from it? This is an acknowledgement that eventually the only way to escape this cycle of life and death is by Divine intervention.
The same thought is expressed by the sloka I recite as a sign-off at the end of my everyday prayers, as do thousands of others like me :
कायेन वाचा मनसेन्द्रियैर्वा बुध्यात्मना वा प्रकृतेः स्वभावात् |
करोमि यद्यत् सकलं परस्मै नारायणायेति समर्पयामि ।।
kAyEna vAcha manasEndriyairvA budhyAtmanA va prakRutE svabhAvAt
karOmi yadyat sakalam parasmai narAyaNAyEti samarpayAmi
Whatever I do with my body (kAya), speech (vAcha), mind (manasa) , senses (indriya), intellect (budhdhi) and soul (Atma), or with my innate natural (prakRuti) tendencies (svabhAva), I do (karOmi) them all for others (para asmai) and offer/dedicate (samarpayAmi) everything to Lord Narayana!
This song has been set to the very pleasant raga Kalyana Vasantam. To know more about this raga, click here.
To present this song, I have chosen a rendition by Bombay Jayashri whose voice quality always leaves me in awe.
For an instrumental version, I really enjoy Kadri Gopalnath’s rendition on the sax.
Footnote (Lyrics) :
As I do not speak Kannada, I have transcribed the song in Devanagari script using internet resources and listening carefully to multiple versions of the song. Translation is based mainly on various internet resources, so I am unsure of accuracy.
इन्नु दय बारदे दासन मेले
पन्नग शयन श्री परम पुरुष हरिये
नाना देशगळल्ली नाना कालगळल्ली (/बन्तुगळल्ली)
नाना योनिगळल्ली नलिदुपुट्टि
नानु नन्नदुयेम्ब नरक दोळगे बिद्दु
नीने गतियेन्दु नम्बिद दासन मेले
मनो वाक्कायदिन्द माडिद ( / माडुव ) कर्मगळेल्ल
दानवान्तक निन्नगे दानवित्ते
एनु माडिदरेनु प्राण निन्नदु स्वामि
श्री नाथ पुरन्दर विठ्ठल दासन मेले
innU dayabArade dAsana mEle
pannaga shayana srI parama purusha hariyE
nAnA dEshagaLalli nAnA kAlagaLalli
nAnA yOnigaLalli nalidupuTTi
nAnu nannaduyemba naraka doLage biddu
nInE gatiyendu nambida dAsana mEle
mAnO vAkkayadinda dADida karmagaLelle
dAnavAntaka ninnage dAnavittE
Enu mADidarEnu prANa ninnadu svAmi
srI nAtha purandara viTTala dAsana mEle
Do you still not have compassion for this devotee (literally slave, servant) O Hari, the supreme Lord who lies on the serpent-bed.
I have been re-born in many countries, in many times, in many wombs. Having fallen in the hell of ‘me’ and ‘mine’, (do you not have compassion) for the devotee who believes that you are the only refuge.
I offer to you all that I have done by mind, speech and body, O slayer of demons. Whatever I do, my soul is yours, o Lord, consort of Sri (Lakshmi), (do you not have compassion) on this devotee of Purandara Vitthala.
12 responses to “Innu Daya Barade”
Very interesting interpretation of the krithi – the background on reincarnation that you have articulated is particularly interesting. This is one of your most researched post; including your careful transliteration in Devanagiri.
As an aside I was never impressed by Bombay Jayshri’s voice when I listen to recordings. But I listened to her live once and it was very different. Her voice was rich and carried majestically . By the way I thought she spelt her name as Jayshree, but I knew an impeccable researcher as you would never make that mistake – so I checked and of course you are right !!
Thank you Ramesh, you always have such nice compliments for my posts 🙂 I always liked this song, but when I heard it and listened to it with attention, I realised how much depth there is in the thoughts behind it. It seemed important to me to try and bring it out, and hence the post.
When I heard Jayashri live for the first time, I fell in love with the rich texture of her voice. Also, I was a long time fan of Lalgudi Jayaraman and somehow her voice seemed to me the human equivalent of his violin. I admit that I would name other artists as my favourites for renditions of heavier ragas or for exquisite improvisations but for ragas such as Kalyana Vasantam, Jayashri’s dulcet tones are like a breath of fresh air.
I really enjoyed reading your take on reincarnation. I like how you present your research, it is informative without being preachy. And I love Bomaby Jayshri’s singing and enjoyed this song as well. You should write more about some of the basic concepts of Hinduism that we think we know but really when I scratch the surface I find I really dont know a lot of the whys and how the idea evolved. W
Thank you J, I am glad you said what you did because I do hate the thought of being preachy! I have in the past written on a few basic concepts of Hinduism, whenever a song triggers thoughts in that area and I shall continue to do so. Below are links to some of my old posts which are about Hindu ideas and practice, if you havent read them, you may enjoy these :
my previous thoughts on reincarnation: https://sujamusic.wordpress.com/2012/01/24/pullay-piravi/
a few concepts: https://sujamusic.wordpress.com/2011/09/29/omkarakarini/
a few concepts: https://sujamusic.wordpress.com/2011/11/04/jagadodharana/
a few concepts: https://sujamusic.wordpress.com/2011/12/08/paramatmudu/
a few concepts: https://sujamusic.wordpress.com/2011/04/07/meenakshi-me-mudam/
a few concepts: https://sujamusic.wordpress.com/2011/10/03/sumanasa-vandita/
a few concepts: https://sujamusic.wordpress.com/2011/09/20/mayamma/
a story: https://sujamusic.wordpress.com/2011/03/28/kalinga-nartanam/
a story: https://sujamusic.wordpress.com/2011/07/22/kalyana-rama/
Thanks Suja. This is amazing. I know I will reread these several times. Carnatic music is so intertwined with Hinduism that this background makes the kritis enjoyable at so many different levels.
Sujaji, I am no expert on placing dates for our scriptures, but I think the bhagwad geeta has to be a lot older than 200 bc. Goutam buddha lived around 500 bc, and the Geeta seems to be a lot older than him. The buddha and his life seem almost modern in comparison to the stories of the mahabharat. For example, how the kauravas were born, bhishma’s bed of arrows, krishna’s exploits etc etc. These early epics and scriptures somehow seem too antiquated to put dates on them. I used to read about our epics and rishis and munis as a child, mainly from the amar chitra katha comics, and then when i reached class 5, I read about the supposed aryan invasion, and thought, “that’s impossible”. It just did not match. Where was the time for our greats to reach those heights of spirituality? Where was the time for them to write that huge body of literature?
Hi Jay, It has taken me a while to reply to your comment as I have been travelling and just returned home. As to the date of Bhagavat Gita, I am no expert either. But surely you are confusing the date of the literature vs the date of the events ie. Mahabharata? Experts seem to think (based on astrological evidence) that the battle occurred in about 3000 BCE so evidently the stories are much much older than the time of Buddha. However, experts seem to also think that the literature – Bhagavat Gita – was written somewhere between 700 BCE and 200 BCE. By then the battle was ancient history – more ancient than Jesus’s life is to us. If indeed the Gita was passed on by oral history tradition exactly as Krishna recited it to Arjuna, even then it was codified into its present form somewhere between 700 BCE and 200 BCE. It might be older in than range than younger as it does not strictly follow the rules of Sanskrit grammar set by Panini in 600 BCE. I deliberately chose to quote the latter date because we Indians have a tendency to date our literature as old as we can, thinking that it makes it become more reverential perhaps? For me, even literature from 200 BCE seems old and wise 🙂
Yes ma’am, I was talking about the date of the event, or rather the dating of the philosophy. And you are very right about us indians.
Actually, not ONE of the Haridasas express Aham Brahmasmi. In fact, the lyrics here itself say “nanu nannadu endu narakadolage biddu”. Purandara Dasaru is saying if we think along the lines of Jiva-Brahma Aikya, no difference between Atma and Paramatma, etc. we will go to Naraka only. That is the underlying meaning of this whole song. Essentially he is saying no matter how many births we take and no matter where we are born, we should have steadfast Hari Bhakthi and do everything as Krishnarpanamastu.
Thank you for commenting. I apologise for the delay in my reply as I have been busy with other things. Are you saying that Purandaradasa was not praying for Moksha? I explored the ideas of reincarnation and Moksha because the lyrics specifically mention rebirth and having fallen into the hell of ‘me and mine’..the Maya of life. I believe in merging with the divine as Moksha..perhaps you believe otherwise, you have a right to your beliefs as I have a right to mine. But surely it is an extremist viewpoint to say that if we believe in the Jiva-Brahma aikya, we will go to Hell!! And you claim that is the meaning of the song? I totally, unequivocally disagree.
Thanks for the wonderful translation, ma’am!
PS: I disagree with assigning Dharmic texts to a linear timeline. Probably the timeline you quoted was when the texts were written down after being passed on for generations through oral traditions. Vedas are apaurusheya, they neither have beginning nor end. They always existed like Brahman. Also, equally disagree on reincarnation not being Vedic thought.
Thank you for your comment. I agree that the dating of Dharmic texts is irrelevant as they belong to an oral tradition-just as you say. But they always existed? Even before mankind? That implies that they were not the words of men, but of Gods. I do not agree to that at all, absolutely not! But thankfully, we Hindus have a long traditional of having quite different and somehow apposing ideas about our own religion and still exist under the same umbrella of Hindu though so disagreeing is quite all right 🙂