Kanaka Dasa

(1509 – 1609 / Kaginele, Haveri, Karnataka / India)

Biography of Kanaka Dasa

Kanaka Dasa poet

Kanaka Dasa (Kannada: ಕನಕ ದಾಸ) was a great poet, philosopher, musician and composer from Karnataka. He is known for his Kirtanes and Ugabhoga compositions in the Kannada language for Carnatic music. Like some other dasas, he often used colloquial language for his compositions. He was a deciple of Vyasathirtha and a follower of Dwaita philosophy propounded by Madhvacharya.


Thimmappa Nayaka was his original name and he belonged to chieftain (Kuruba Gowda) / (Dhangar) family of Kaginele in Haveri district. He was born to the Kuruba Gowda couple Biregowda and Bachchamma at Bada village. Kanaka Nayaka being of the warrior community (Kuruba Gowda) his defeat in the field of battle, directed him to the path of devotion. He came to be called Kanaka Nayaka as he found a treasure-trove of gold (kanaka means gold in Kannada).

Kanaka Dasa was well educated and capable of analyzing the society microscopically. Based on one of his compositions it is interpreted that after he severely got injured in a war and was miraculously saved, he gave up his profession as a warrior and devoted his life to composing music and literature with philosophy explained in common man's language. It appears that he started traveling to places a lot to gain more knowledge. However he had maintained a balanced view about all faiths[citation needed]. At a young age he authored poetries Narasimha stotra, Ramadhyana Mantra, and Mohanatarangini. (See Ref 2)

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Nee Mayayolago

Are you a creature of illusion? or illusion your creation?
Are you a part of the body? Or is the body a part of you?

Is space within the house? Or the house within space?
Or are both space and the house within the seeing eye?
Is the eye within the mind? Or the mind within the eye?
Or are both the eye and the mind within you?

Does sweetness lie in sugar, or sugar in sweetness?

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