Born In: 1480 AD, Rajpur, Brindavan
Died In: 1575 AD, Haridaspur, Aligarh
Career: Saint Musician and Teacher
Believed to be the incarnation of Lalita Sakhi, a close and dear friend of Radha, Swami Haridas is popularly known as a saint musician of North India. He is exclusively credited for composing a large number of devotional songs and composing the Dhrupad music, aside from creating new techniques of music. Swami Haridas is apparently the guru of the famous musician, Tansen, apart from having a galaxy of musicians in his court, namely, Bakshu, Bhanu, and Baiju. Celebrated for establishing the Haridasi School of Mysticism, Haridas was a pioneer for spreading dhrupad. It was his melodious voice and soulful language that inspired many people, declaring him a leading figure in the Bhakti movement and music.
Swami Haridas is believed to have been born in 1480 A.D. in Rajpur near Brindavan in Uttar Pradesh. He was born to Gangadhar and Chitra Devi. It is also said that his father was a Saraswat Brahmin from Multan. His guru was Ashudharji. He became a sanyasi at the age of 25 and came to Brindavan. There he built his ashram (hermitage) in Nidhuvan and sang his own compositions dedicated to the immortal love of Radha-Krishna. He was also an ardent follower of 'Nimbarka Sampradaya', the major Vaisnava tradition. He died in Haridaspur (Aligarh), 1575 AD.
Haridas was immensely supported by Raja Mansingh Tomar of Gwalior who was one of the greatest patrons of dhrupad, to pursue music and make wonderful compositions. He was very much impressed by Bakshu, Bhanu, and Baiju, the famous musicians present in the court. Most of the songs of Haridas were composed in 'Brij' language. His compositions are known as 'Vishnupadas', songs praising Lord Vishnu and his eighth incarnation Lord Krishna. Songs, which do not praise Lord Krishna, are also recognized as Vishnupadas because of their composition, which is similar to dhrupads. He was very familiar with the music of those times. Apart from being a saint, Swami Haridas was also a renowned teacher of Tansen, the famous musician and one of the 'Nine Gems' in the court of Emperor Akbar. He is considered to be a genius because of his literary beauty and simplicity of his compositions. He became one of the leading personalities in devotional music.
Contribution to Music
Swami Haridas is attributed with approximately 128 songs, out of which 110 are devotional known as 'Keli Mala' and 18 are philosophical known as 'Siddhanta Pada'. They are full of melody and rhythmic assets as they are completely poetic. 'Keli Mala' depicts the eternal love of Radha-Krishna, while 'Siddhanta Pada' illustrates complete devotion to God and separation from natural life. It is said that he also penned tirvats, ragamalas, and many other forms. He is also noted for his works of stringed instruments, such as Kinnari and Aghouti, and of drums, like Mridanga and Daff.
1480 AD: Born in Rajpur, near Brindavan, Uttar Pradesh
1575 AD: Died in Haridaspur, Aligarh.