Monday, September 25, 2023

Ādibhaṭla Nārāyaṇa Dās – The Versatile Genius

                                                                                                                                                                  By Dr. K Savithri Devi

This long-read research article was originally published in Nartanam, a quarterly magazine devoted to culture and fine arts published by  the Sahrdaya Arts Trust. 

Gajapati kings ruled over the Vizianagara samsthānam, in the present Vizianagaram district, during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries - a glorious period during which great scholars of different fields lived in Vizianagaram. The name of Śrīmadajjaa Ādibhala Nārāyaa Dās stands foremost among them.

It was a time when aesthetic audiences and connoisseurs relentlessly demanded excellence.  An artiste like Nārāyaa Dās, who vowed to himself that he would be second to none, had the perfect setting. His chosen field required a combination of different faculties to be brought into play and Nārāyaa Dās turned out to be an artiste par excel.

Śrīmadajjāḍādibhala Nārāyaa Dās was an incomparable and inimitable genius who embodied all arts - literature, extempore poetry, music, dance and mastery of several languages. His multi-faceted personality, quick mind, splendid gift of repartee and the ability to perform ‘Sagīta Sāhitya Aṣṭāvadhānam’ astounded scholars of all fields and forms.

Maṅgaḷampalli Bālamuraḷikrishna’s Tribute

Magaampalli Bālamuraikrishna, world renowned Carnaic vocalist musician and multi-instrumentalist paid a tribute to Nārāyaa Dās:

Śrīmadajjāḍādibhala Nārāyaa Dāsu gāru Trimūrtyātmakulu, Triśakti svarūpulu, sagīta, sāhitya,  ntya, āśukavita, śruti, svara, laya, Harikathā pitāmahulu. Vāri sāṭi gānarādu, yugapuruulu. Auvanṭivāru na bhūtō na bhaviyati[1]

Dr. M. Bālamuraikrishna as he had stated, was fortunate enough to be introduced to Nārāyaa Dās in his home in Vizianagaram, by his Guru Śrī Pārupalli Rāmakrishnayya Pantulu. Nārāyaa Dās sang and asked the young Murai to sing. On listening to the child he blessed him that he would become very famous. Dr. M. Bālamuraikrishna considered himself very fortunate for being blessed by Nārāyaṇa Dās in the presence of his Guru and conveyed his reverence and bhakti for Nārāyaa Dās in a kīrtana which he sang and sent the record of the same, on the occasion of Śrīmad Rāmāyaa Harikatha Gāna Yajñam[2], organized by Harikatha Chooamai, Sri M.V.Simhachala Śāstry.

The lyric he composed and sang through which he paid a tribute to Nārāyaa Dās:

Nārāyaa Dāsanāmasmaraṇam śubhapradam

Śrīmadajjāḍādibhala Nārāyaa Dāsa nāmasmaraṇam śubhapradam                                              

Nārāyaa kathā pitāmaha nādalaya nāṭya āśukavita pradam

Sundara vigraham natānugraham.

Nārāyaa Dāsa nāmasmaraṇam śubhapradam

Kāncanakankaṇādi dharaṇam, kathaka kalpam, bhūruham

Śaṃbhu gambhīra nisvanam.

Śaṃbhō, śaṃbhō, śaṃbhō, muraḷīgāna

Rasāsvāda nirata āśrayē tavapādakamalam

Nārāyaa Dāsa nāmasmaraṇam  

‘The Child Is Father Of The Man’

Nārāyaa Dās was born in Ajjāḍa, (agrahāra) a village near Bobbili, Āndhra Pradesh on 31.8.1864, on Śrāvaa, bahua caturdaśi, Wednesday in the year of Raktāki. His surname ‘Ādibhaṭla’ is quite appropriate to the man of genius.  (Ādi means the very first in order. Bhaṭṭu signifies a serious preceptor of Vēda-s.) His knowledge and all his talents were inborn and inherent waiting to unfold and evolve gradually. His father was Vēnkaacayani Śastri, a poet, a singer with a deep voice and well-versed in Purāa-s. He authored ‘Dhanañjaya Vijayamu’ a prabandham.  With his ardent devotion and invocation to Gaga, ‘ēhyēhi Gaṅgē tava darśnam haṭhāt’, ślōkāṣṭakastuti, he could bring water into a dry well. An upāsaka of Lord Suryanārāyaa, he cured himself of tuberculosis with his ardent devotion. Later he named his fifth son (and eighth child) Suryanārāyana who became famous as Nārāyaa DāsNārāyaa Dās’ mother was Narasamāmba.  She studied all the Purāa-s (epics).  She taught her youngest son, Nārāyaa Dās when he was a child, Bhāgavatam which captivated his interest.  She was known to the public as ‘Purāṇamula Narasamma’ and ‘Caduvulavva’.  Music was in his genes. Nārāyaa Dās wrote in his biography that his father would sing in his deep voice, like it was from a conch, in Suraa rāga frequently. He would read from Vālmīki’s Rāmāyaa and Vyāsa’s Bhāgavata in Śrī and Sāveri rāga-s and explain them to his listeners. A maternal uncle of Nārāyaa Dās would read verses from epics and another would sing beautifully with a loud voice which could be heard quite far. Nārāyaa Dās’ parents opined that his talents of reading verses and singing melodiously were inherited from his maternal uncles. He inherited poetry, fearlessness, truthfulness, scholarship, independent spirit, physical strength and frankness from his paternal genes.

In the words of William Wordsworth, ‘The Child is father of the Man.’ Even in his childhood his natural characteristics like courage, fearlessness, straightforwardness, meticulous understanding, and observation of nature, vast knowledge, rhythmic singing and dramatic prowess began to reveal themselves. In the agrahāra-s which resemble the peaceful surroundings of sages, as a child he observed with rapturous delight ponds filled with lotus flowers, constantly running rivulets, fertile lands, green pastures, trees, bushes, mountains, deer and other animals moving around in those areas, different kinds of birds and all things bright and beautiful that the Lord God made.

In his autobiography, ‘Nā Yeruka’ he asserts that childhood, before teenage, is truly the divine phase of life, a stage of total faith in temples, idols of deities,  stories of the divine and words of elders. Greeting all the animals, plants and trees as humans, believing that God exists in all substances and experiencing ecstatic delight is a pleasant memory.  Childhood is truly the essence of life and its recollections bring some contentment and some consolation to the worries of later life.

He would do whatever he felt like without a second thought. He never feared people or animals and would wander in the forests alone fearlessly. His childhood was filled with rapturous delight, easy contentment, boundless enthusiasm, immense joy and happiness.

Nārāyaa Dās referred to his childhood in his ‘Mārkanḍēya caritra’ in a kīrtana set in Nādanāmakriya rāga and Tripua tāḷa.[3]                   

Pallavi – cellebō nirupamānandā śliṣṭamau nā bālyabu

Anupallavi – gullalu, cippalu mūṭa mulle tānalpa santuṣṭi

Misram - kollamuganāḍu cippacippa gōḷḷu dāgumūtalu

Paravaḷḷu vennelamaḷḷu gujjana gūḷḷu navvunōḷḷu

Nārāyaa Dās remembered his awareness and feelings experienced right from his third year.  He was highly precocious and as a four-year-old, though he didn’t know writing, he could read Sanskrit and Telugu very fast. As per the principle, ‘pancamē varṣē Brahma varcasa kāmasya’ his Upanayanam was performed when he was five years old. Listeners would praise his melodious singing while he sang some tunes to himself. While his mother constantly told him some stories from purāa-s he would curiously listen to her and absorb their messages and became devotional at a very young age like Prahlāda. He would dance rhythmically to the beat of drums in the festivities of the local deities that took place in their counties. In this way, devotion, singing and dancing skills got cultivated in him even in his childhood. Seeing him whiling away time playing, without learning letters of the alphabet, his mother expressed her anxiety that he didn’t learn the letters yet. Considering her concern, Nārāyaa Dās learnt all the letters in half a day; wrote and showed them to her. As a boy and even later, he had a prodigious memory. He was an Ēka Santagrāhi, one who can reproduce immediately after listening to anything once. His parents were surprised at his skills. Kaidāsa’s words, ‘Prapēdirē prāktana janma vidya’ came true in his case. 

As a five-year-old boy Nārāyaa Dās was very naughty. He would go out into the street and get into fights with his fellow kids. His father would read aloud Purāṇa at home and explain its meaning. He wouldn’t go somewhere else and explain Purāṇa. However rich a person was, if he wanted to listen to Cayanulu’s Purāṇa he must go to his house and listen to it. To avoid Sūrya Nārāyaa going out and getting into quarrels he would tie both his hands and them to his vyāsapīa (bookstand) and continue reading Purāṇa. The boy Sūrya Nārāyaa, without making mischief, would look at the book being read by his father who would try to move his head aside to be able to read properly with no hindrance. But the boy persisted in looking at the book while it was being read aloud. In this manner three months passed by and the boy Nārāyaa started reading Purāṇa-s independently at the age of five years and five months. Cayanulu understood that his son was Kāraajanmuu, the one who was born for a great cause but he didn’t reveal it to anyone. He got Akarābhyāsamu performed to his son just for the sake of performing it[4].    

He was not five years old, his mother asked for Bhāgavatam in a bookshop at Pārvatīpuram. Questioned by Rāmānujula Ragayya Sātāni, the bookshop owner, what she would do with the book, she told him that her son would read the book and she would explain the meaning. When Nārāyaa Dās read the contents of the book aloud musically and clearly and his mother explained the meaning, a surprised crowd gathered to listen to them. Ragayya gifted him the book, happily.  It was the first recognition of Nārāyaa Dās’ talent and he cherished it very dearly.  In this way, Nārāyaa Dās’ acquisition of knowledge began with Mahābhāgavatam. Also he learnt Raghuvamśam at the age of five from his father who was a Sanskrit scholar. ‘Music was his wet nurse and classical literature his feed’. 

Even from an early age he could get indication of the forthcoming events and it was his nature to reveal whatever he knew without any hesitation. He would sometimes suffer by revealing what he knew. One day when his father was planting brinjal saplings his elder brother brought in their field, Nārāyaa Dās told his father quite certainly that though he was planting them very hopefully, it would be of no avail. On hearing that, his father became very angry and showed his rage on the poor child. The brinjal crop, which was about to get ready in a few days, got destroyed completely by the overflow of the rivulet. In his eleventh year, he got angry with his family members, went to the flowing rivulet and slept with his head on a rocky outcrop in the middle. The water came up to his neck and yet he didn’t wake up. As the tide was rising, he would have completely drowned in a little while. A villager happened to see this and woke up the child and took him home. Sleeping soundly with no sense of the body was his nature.       

In 1874, when Nārāyaa Dās was ten years old, Sagīta Vidvān of the Bobbili Sasthānam, Śrī Vāsā Sāmbayya happened to listen to the ten-year-old Nārāyaa Dās reading Bhāgavata verses in different rāga-s.  Captivated by Nārāyaa Dās’ powerful voice and the depiction of rāga-s, he took the child with him to Bobbili to give him a formal training in music, with the permission of his mother, and taught him the basics in an auspicious moment. Nārāyaa Dās was there in Bobbili for just a month and returned to his place due to ill health. In this way his formal training lasted for a month.  But very soon with the little formal training he had, he got himself self-trained with his hard work and inborn talent.  He imbibed Sagīta Śāstra Ratnākara and became an incomparable genius in the field.  

When he was twelve years old his elder brother Sītārāmayya admitted Nārāyaa Dās as a student of Nirāghaamu Krinayya, a Sagīta Vidvān in the court of the Maharājah of Vizianagaram. The vidvān had a habit of moving his hands, face and eyes while singing. Nārāyaa Dās started imitating and moving even more. The teacher refused to teach Nārāyaa Dās further, complaining to his father that he was mocking at him by overdoing his actions. 

Teenage And Turning Point

Nārāyaa Dās was sent to Vizianagaram to his brother Sītārāmayya to learn English when he was fourteen years old. He was already versed in Sanskrit, Telugu and Mathematics very well by the time. He could learn English very quickly.  He got double promotions and the Principal’s free scholarship.  But he thought he learnt more outside the school than in it.  He would sing beautifully and would attract many by his poetry and music.  Gurajāḍa Appā Rao and Giugu Rāmamūrty were in his friends’ group.  When he was sixteen years old, he lost his father who was fifty nine. Though he didn’t show sufficient interest in school education he passed Matriculation in 1886. 

His arrival at Vizianagaram started a new chapter in his life. All arts and all the fields of education flourished and reached their peak there and the city had the golden time during that period in its history. Vizianagaram of those days was considered the second Kaśi for all the Śāstra-s and the cultural capital of Āndhra. With the Maharājah’s support several great musicians, scholars, writers, actors and dancers settled in the city. Several others would come to the city to participate in its festivities, prove their skills and abilities, find out how they were rated and leave the city. A vidvān was one, who was honoured in Vizianagaram which was an examination centre for all the skilled and educated of different fields. 

The multi-faceted talent of Nārāyaa Dās, which was latent till then, developed rapidly into a mighty tree, with his association with great musicians like Mahabat Khān, Dūrvāśula Sūryanārāyaa Sōmayājulu, Pappu Vekanna, Viṇā Vēṅkaa Ramaa Dās and Kaligola Kāmarāju. The great vaiika, Viṇā Vēṅkaa Ramaa Dās aroused his interest in playing the instrument. Kaligola Kāmarāju excelled in the knowledge of ‘Laya’ and his association, helped Nārāyaa Dās practice and perfect the art of ‘Laya’. The company of these stalwarts and the month long basic training he received from Vāsā Sāmbayya acted as prologue to the preparation of the stage for his enthralling performance of ‘Harikatha’. He added his creativity and originality to the knowledge acquired from all possible sources. During this stage of a student itself, with music and narration, he would make all those who saw him, lovers of art.

Turning Point

In 1883, at the age of 19, Nārāyaa Dās watched ‘Dhuva caritramu’ Kathākālakṣēpa performance of Kuppuswāmy Nāidu of Chennai.  Nārāyaa Dās, all eyes and ears during the performance, at once realized the potentialities of the new form of art.  Dance, drama, music, poetry, philosophical discourse, and humour can all find a place in it to enthrall spectators and to instill devotion in them. Nārāyaa Dās, an original genius, decided for good: he would be a Haridās. Very soon he authored his ‘Dhuva Caritramu’. He rehearsed it with his brother Pēranna who accompanied him always, in his brother Sītārāmayya’s house.  Sītārāmayya expressed his joy gifting him a pair of anklets.  Wearing those anklets, Nārāyaa Dās gave his first performance in the Vēu Gōpālaswamy maṭṭ at Vizianagaram. He was nineteen when he became a Harikatha artiste.  Harikatha art form was the right choice of the versatile genius to propagate the conduct of righteousness, devotion and the path to mōka.  He performed ‘Dhuva caritramu’ in various places, displaying his powers of imagination and narration to the best advantage.  His narration was interspersed with song, dance, brilliant wit and genial humour. 

On one of his trips he made a good bond of friendship with Jayanti Kāmēsam, a great lawyer who was older than Nārāyaa Dās. He was quite educated and an admirer of literature and arts. Hence, he very easily understood Nārāyaa Dās’ scholarship and purity of heart. 

He went to Narasannapēta with his brother Pēranna and performed ‘Dhuva Caritramu’ in the presence of the dignitaries of the place. H. R. Bardswell, a sub-collector in the district was one among the audience. He was so delighted by the performance of Nārāyaa Dās that he tried to attend all his later performances without fail. He became one of Nārāyaa Dās’ close friends. 

One of the spectators in Catrapuram watched ‘Dhuva caritramu’ and expressed his doubt whether ‘Dhuva caritramu’ was authored by Nārāyaa Dās, if so he wanted him to author ‘Abarīṣōpākhyānamu’. Nārāyaa Dās wrote the Harikatha in one night, practised it and performed it early in the morning to the surprise of everyone.  It was in 1884.    He earned the praises of scholars and the laity alike. 

During this trip he performed for the first time ‘Sagīta Sāhitya ‘aṣtāvadhānamu’ in a village called Lokanādhamu. His proficiency and remarkable memory helped in performing ‘atāvadhānamu’ easily. From there he proceeded to several places, performed Harikatha, received a lot of praises of great Pundits and returned to Vizianagaram with his name reputed as Nārāyaa Dās. He was twenty years old then. 

Rare Gifts And Principles 

In December 1886, Nārāyaa Dās took his Matriculation examination at

Śrīkākuamu. He, by then, was capable of exhibiting his unusual talents[5]. Some of the rare gifts he had were –

  • Reading a book in Telugu or Sanskrit with lightning speed while the book was constantly kept rotating
  • Reproducing verses in English, Telugu and Sanskrit after hearing them only once
  • Singing a pallavi in a tāḷa chosen by his audience (In his autobiography, ‘Nā Yeruka’ he reveals he is ‘Puṭṭu layakāḍa’- expert of ‘laya’ by birth
  • Display of skill in singing various rāga-s , playing the vīna

He clearly stated that only a person endowed with gītam, vādyam and nṛtyam can be a musician of the finest calibre. He admired Vīa nāda   and would have Pēri Rāmamūrti as an accompanist on Vīa to his Harikatha performances. He would quote Yājñavalkya’s smti vacana quite frequently as an authoritative saying. It asserts that a vīṇa vādana tatvajña attains mōka easily: ‘Vīṇa vādana tatvajñaḥ śruti jāti viśāradaḥ Tāḷajñaścā prayāsēna mōkamārgam niyachati’

  • Extempore composition of verse in Telugu and Sanskrit in given metres and on a given topic (He writes in ‘Nā Yeruka’- Nā sagīta  sāhityamulu sahaja sidhamulu-’ My Music and literature are natural )
  • Performing eight things known as ‘atāvadhānamu'
  • Giving extempore lectures in Telugu and English and singing for large gatherings of thousands of people
  • Dance performance (His tānava (male) and lāsya (female) version of dance were a rare treat to the eyes.)

He married Lakmi Narasamma, daughter of Valamāni Annappa at the age of twenty one. When he was twenty-five years old, he laid out some principles for his life. A few of them were:

  • Not to dedicate his work to human beings for money
  • To treat women with respect due to a mother
  • Not to speak a lie
  • Not to tolerate violence against animals

So many people among his relatives performed some religious rituals (somādi kratuvulu) which included animal sacrifices. He couldn’t tolerate those ceremonies as there was killing of animals.

Travels And Honours

For fourteen months, during the period 1888-89, he travelled to various places in Āndhra Pradesh to perform Harikatha and to spread the power of his art showing his unique talent to all.

Rajamahēndravaramu was the first place he visited. He received a great applause of all and sundry. Among his predominant admirers was very reputed lawyer, Nyāpati Subbā Rao. Though Vīrēsaliga Patulu and Nārāyaa Dās criticized each other in the initial days, there are evidences that they respected each other later. Vīrēsaliga Patulu got Nārāyaa Dās’ work ‘Bāṭasāri’ prescribed as a text book for Matriculation in 1902 and presented ‘Navaratnakhacita bhuja kīrti’ to him in the presence of all, in a meeting in 1912[6]. 

His performance of ‘Abarīṣōpākhyānamu’ in Kapālēsvara temple, Chennai earned him great applause and fame. In its issue of June 30, 1894, The Hindu praised him as


An exquisite poet, a versatile genius conversant with English, a profound scholar in Telugu and Sanskrit and an accomplished musician of the most enchanting type. While this pride of Vizianagaram was unfolding the story with his inimitable skill, the audience was beside itself with joy. Not only was he applauded time and again, but, at the close, there was a spontaneous outburst from every one present exclaiming that it was a rare and excellent treat. Of the gifted expounder, it may be well and truly said, that he is entitled to be spoken of in glowing terms by the best of Pundits, by the most skillful songsters, by the most ardent lovers of music and by the most reputed of elocutionists. The rhythmic cadences of his harmonious voice, the melodious intonations of his musical flight, and the snatches of vivid and picturesque representations of nature, conjured up by his lively and constructive faculty of magination and his powerful command of the language appealed to the listeners’ spiritual sensibilities. 

In the year 1894, Maharājah Cāmarājēndra Wādiyār of Mysore watched Nārāyaa Dās’ performances of ‘Abarīṣōpākhyānamu’ and ‘Gajēndramōkamu’ at Bengalūru and was extremely delighted. On his invitation, Nārāyaa Dās went to Mysore during Dussehra and performed Harikatha-s in Telugu and Sanskrit, translating into English. The Maharājah asked Nārāyaa Dās whether he would serve in his Darbār for which he replied that he would not like to serve mortals. Unhesitant, he expressed his independent spirit and fondness for free living. The philosopher in him made him choose an independent life of devotion and the service of God. 

Enchanted by Nārāyaa Dās’ rendering of Dhanyāsi rāga, the Maharājah had Nārāyaa Dās’ concert recorded on a phonograph.  He got him sing for the recording, a verse he had written in Telugu, in Sīsa metre, on Bengalūru, ‘Alaru tēniyalūru’ in Junjhūṭi rāga, rāga Kannaa and a turi, ‘Sayya jāvo nahi bōlum’ in Hindustāni Bhairavi rāga. Captivated by the music of Nārāyaa Dās, Mysore Maharājah remarked that he hadn’t heard such voice and music, a combination of Hindustani and Carnāṭic. On being asked where he had learnt music, Nārāyaa Dās replied that his music and literature were his own. The Maharājah honoured Nārāyaa Dās felicitously with shawls, gold bracelets, a vīa, a tabūra and Rs.1116. That was the highest honour in Mysore that Nārāyaa Dās received. 

After completing his victorious journey he returned to Vizianagaram. No vidvān of the court informed about his success to the Maharājah of Vizianagaram. As he was free and independent and as he lacked the attitude of approaching the powerful for favours, he was living in Vizianagaram as usual without any court connection. Meanwhile, Ligamu Lakṣmājī paṅtulu who had scholarship in Greek, Latin, German and English and was respected by Maharājah as his Guru, knew about Nārāyaa Dās’ talent and scholarship. He thought if such a person wasn’t in the court it could be a shortcoming of the court itself and informed Maharājah Ānanda Gajapati about Nārāyaa Dās. The Maharājah invited Nārāyaa Dās happily and made him a vidvān of his court. However, he could attend the court as per his wish and not every day like the other employees. The entire Vizianagaram echoed his stentorian call ‘Śabhō’ and he earned fame as the exponent of Harikatha when he was thirty years old. The honours of Rāja-s of Pudukōṭa and Tiruvānkur followed. 

1902 - 1913 

On the advice of his mother, Nārāyaa Dās authored ‘Sāvitrī Caritramu’ in 1902 and was blessed with a daughter in 1903.  He named her ‘Sāvitri’. He authored ‘Bhīṣma Caritra’ also in 1902. 

Nārāyaa Dās performed ‘Rukmiṇī Kayāṇamu’ in the annual musical meet of the Dakinātya Gāyaka Mahāsabha in Bengalūru in 1904. In recognition of his name and fame, the Mahāsabha appointed a famous mdaga vidvān, Dakṣiṇāmurti Pillai as an accompanist. He felt infra dig to perform as accompanist to one he thought was a mere Harikatha artiste and tried to put him to a test. Accepting the unspoken challenge, Nārāyaa Dās wanted to demonstrate his tāḷa skill. He began singing the kti in one gati, maintained another gati with castanets and danced to another gati. Unable to decide which one he should follow the mdagist toyed with his instrument for a while and finally gave up. He received roaring applause for this matchless performance. The audience and scholars hailed him as ‘Laya Brahma’. 

Once when he was about to start ‘Rukmiṇī Kayāṇamu’ in Cēbrōlu, someone from the audience mischievously asked him to narrate ‘Giri katha’ instead of ‘Harikatha’. Nārāyaa Dās narrated ‘Gōvardhanōdhāraamu’ with a spontaneous flow of prose, poetry and kīrtana-s. ‘Gōvardhanōdhāraamu’ like ‘Dhuva caritramu’, his first composition, was unpublished. 

Nārāyaa Dās lost his mother in 1905. When his brother fell ill in 1908 and doctors gave up hope he composed and recited Mtyuñjaya Śiva Śatakamu, seated near his bed. To the surprise of everyone, including the doctors, his brother recovered the next day.

In 1913 Ānanda Gajapati’s sister Appalakāṅdayāṃba (Rīvā Rāṇi) listened to Nārāyaa Dās’ ‘Hariścandrōpākhyānam’ which so emotionally upset her that she requested him to perform a Harikatha which didn’t have such an element of sadness. He performed ‘Rukmiṇī Kayāṇamu’. She was beside herself with joy and assured him spontaneously to ask for anything that he wanted and it would be granted. She was stunned to hear him say that his wish was for constant devotion to God and there is nothing to wish for but God’s grace. Though disappointed, she rewarded him with forty big gold coins and silk clothes. 

It deserves to be mentioned here that while Nārāyaa Dās performed ‘Rukmiṇī Kayāṇamu’ Harikatha, in the context of describing the beauty of young Rukmiṇi and her gaits, he himself walked in different ways explaining the importance and beauty of each gait that expresses a particular mood of Rukmiṇi. The audience watched spellbound and no one remembered to have seen the six-footed and well built huge body of Nārāyaa Dās with his big moustache and castanets. Instead they saw beautiful Rukmiṇi herself moving with natural grace. 

Nārāyaa Dās didn’t dedicate his harikatha-s to human beings though many rich tried to lure him with various kinds of riches for the great honour. He dedicated his works to the Almighty with an ardent desire for liberation. (Only Hariścandrōpākhyānamu and Śrī Yathārtha Rāmāyaamu were dedicated to his parents and wife respectively). 

Nārāyaa Dās extensively travelled from Kolkata to Kanyakumari to deliver Harikatha-s. He developed a style of music all his own combining the technical lore of the South with the ease and grace of the North. In 1913, he got his daughter married; went to Vāranāśi and on his return trip, he met the famous singer Jānakībai in Allahabad. She was spellbound by his rāga rendition.  He felt delighted at her praise as he identified her talent.   He went to Kōlkata from Allahabad and performed Śrī Kṛṣṇa Jananamu – a Sanskrit Harikatha with a Hindi exposition for the benefit of the audience. Gurudēv Ravīndranāth Tagōre was one of the spectators and was so much delighted watching Nārāyaa Dās’ Harikatha. Years later when he met Nārāyaa Dās in Vizianagaram he told him in praise, ‘The Bēhāg rāga that you sang that day is still echoing in my ears’. 

As Nārāyaa Dās was not commercial, he treated all the places, starting from a small shop in the market to the court of Mysore Maharājah, as equally deserving his Harikatha performance. He performed with the same zeal at all the places spreading happiness and inculcating devotion to all.

He was charming in person, well-proportioned in body, dignified in bearing, graceful in gait and merry in manner. So attractive and magnetic he was, that large crowds delighted in simply following him feasting their eyes on him and hanging on every word that dropped from his mouth[7] 

‘Harikatha Pitāmaha’

In the year 1914, the poet Laureate, Cheḷḷapiḷḷa Vēṅkaa Śāstry honoured him in Bandar and among scholars and pundits gave ‘Harikatha Pitāmaha’ title to Nārāyaa Dās. Also Śastry opined that Nārāyaa Dās’ music was quite original and a proper blend of Carnātic and Hindustāni music. He firmly believed that God hasn’t bestowed any one with such a stentorian voice as that of Nārāyaa Dās who emphasized that true music doesn’t have differences. He was besides being an artiste of Maharājahs, an artiste of people and above all an artiste in the court of the very Lord Himself. The ślōka from Bhagavadgīta befits him in every way.  

                                    Vidyāvinayasampannē brāhmaē gani hastini

                                    Śunicaiva śvapākē ca pandita samadarsina 

He loved to be original always. But once in a while he would sing  Jayadēva’s Aṣṭapadi-s, Nārayaa Tīrtha Taraga-s and Rāma Dās’ kīrtana-s. He would play on vīṇa Śyāma Sāstry’s ‘Nikhilalōka Janani.’ However, he strongly felt that an artiste of scholarship would appeal to the audience only with his creative originality. 

Nārāyaa Dās very often recited Śrī Ādi Śankarācārya Stōtra-s and ślōka-s. He was very fond of Śrī Śankarācārya’s ‘apadi’. He dedicated his Vēlpumāṭa and Mokkubai – translation of Rigvēda Mantra-s to Śrī Ādi Śankarācārya. 

‘Pancamukhī Paramēsvara’

A Tami vocalist, Subrahmaya Iyer, came to Vizianagaram. He was an expert in laya and he alone had the ability to sing and keep two different beats simultaneously with his two hands. Nārāyaa Dās arranged a concert for him on a grand scale and Subrahmaya Iyer exhibited his skill to the satisfaction of all. Nārāyaa Dās praised him and asked at the end whether he could sing and keep pace in five different times to which he laughed and replied that it was quite difficult to keep time in two different layas at the same time, let alone five. He challenged; if anyone could demonstrate his skill in laya by keeping two paces at a time, one with each hand, he would remove his ‘suvara ghanṭā kankaam’ (golden bracelet, a symbol of his heroic exploits) and surrender his title to the winner. Nārāyaa Dās who mastered the technique of two beats even in his early youth and demonstrated it to the musicians at Machilīpatnam, accepted the challenge. That was a red letter day in the annals of Indian music when Nārāyaa Dās sang pallavi keeping five different layas at the same time to the amazement of all[8]. He was at his best, sang with the sixteen svara-s, gave tānam, sabda and muktāyimpu along with the superb demonstration of five layas at a time. The audience were thrilled watching the superhuman feat. True to his word, the musician removed his insignia of veerakankaam (which was returned to him soon after) and paid obeisance to Nārāyaa Dās. The pleased audience conferred the title, ‘Pancamukhī Paramēsvara’ on him. (Pancamukhi - He reckoned the tāḷa with limbs of his body and head.) He sang showing tāḷa in Triśragati with one hand, Caturaśra gati with another, Khana gati with one foot and Miśra gati with another and Sakīra gati with head, all at the same time, besides singing tānam, pallavi, giving Muktāyi at the gap mentioned. This remains a historical achievement in Carnāṭic music and the record remains unbroken even today. 

On another occasion he showed his control over tāḷa system by presenting Ṣanmukhi tāḷa – six tāḷa-s at a time. The tāḷa is performed with: two tāḷa -s with both the hands, two tāḷa-s with the two shoulders, two tāḷa-s with both the legs while balancing a lemon on the head. 

He performed another rare feat in the presence of Challapalli Jamindār, Rājā Akinīḍu Mallikārjuna Prasāda Rao in 1914. He played Vīṇa with both left and right hands in Sama and Viama Jāti-s with expertise. He was honoured with gold Ganapenḍēram – an ornament worn on the ankle as a mark of distinction. 

Vāsā Krisha Mūrthi, (the son of Vāsā Vēṅkaa Rao, Vīṇa lecturer in the Vizianagaram music college, during the period when Nārāyaṇa Dās was its Principal) informed that while playing Vīṇa Nārāyaa Dās would maintain miśra gati with the fingers of right hand, and Khanḍa gati with the little finger that beats tāḷa, simultaneously while playing with the left hand caturasra gati. The total akara-s of the three gati-s 7 + 5 + 4 = 16 i.e. it equals one āvarta of Ādi tāḷa, 2nd kāla. No vidwān can play in this technique all of a sudden without diligent practice[9].

                                    Doing easily what others find difficult is talent 

                                    Doing what is impossible for talent is genius. 

Nārāyaa Dās lost his wife in 1915.  She was an ardent devotee of Śrī Rāma and used to recite Rāmāyaa regularly. As a mark of love for his wife Nārāyaa Dās authored Śrī Yathārtha Rāmāyaamu and dedicated it to her. 

Bandā Kanakaligēswara Rao wrote in his article, ‘Kathāgānavācaspati[10]’:

‘In his voice were naturally embedded the effects of microphone and loud speakers. It would reach an audience of five thousand spectators very easily’.          

Bandā Kanakaligēswara Rao was fortunate to watch Hanumat sandēśam of Nārāyaṇa Dās and wrote about his enchanting performance that would transport the audience to another world of the story being narrated. They would get themselves so much involved in the story that they would totally forget their whereabouts.

The vast ocean is in front of our mind’s eye. We have all monkeys sadly wondering how we could accomplish the task of Śrī Rāma and how we could cross the vast expanse of ocean. Nārāyaa Dās began singing a kīrtana. We felt that his body flew into the sky leaving the earth. In a second such a tall, strong and sturdy body jumped on to Laka in one leap.        

Hanuma crossed the ocean. We, the listeners, crossed the ocean along with him. Experiencing the rasa in ecstasy, we swayed forward  in our seats and returned to our senses only after touching the  front seat.  That was a wondrous experience. I still can see that scene even today. We can still listen to the sound of ōm reverberating in the ālāpana of his ‘Śaṃbhō’. He is Harikatha Brahma. Such Puṃbhāva Saraswati is Nabhūtō nabhaviṣyati.’            

1919 To 1936: The first principal Of Śrī Vijaya Rāmā Gāna Pāṭhaśala     

Mahārājah Vijayarāma Gajapati wished to establish a music college in honour of Nārāyaṇa Dās and requested Nārāyaṇa Dās to be its Principal. He didn’t accept the proposal for two reasons: He was 55 years old, almost in retiring age and he had a principle not to serve any mortal. But the Maharājah requested Nārāyaa Dās earnestly, clarifying that he was not for college but the college was for him and it would be established in his honour[11]. The talent, name and fame of Nārāyaṇa Dās would help the development of college.  Pandit Nārāyaṇa Dās finally agreed to head the institution, with the proviso that he would consider the college temple of Lord Rāma and he, His servant. The king further added that he could work as many years as he wished to and even assured him that his Harikatha performances could go uninterrupted. Nārāyaṇa Dās stepped into the college to take up the responsibility as its Principal, with a photo of ‘Śri Rāma Paṭṭābhiṣēkamu’ in his hands. 

The music college, Śrī Vijaya Rāmā Gāna Pāṭhaśala’ established by Maharājah Vijayarāma Gajapati was opened on February 5, 1919. Nārāyaa Dās became its first Principal and headed the Music College from 1919 to 1936. It was the first Music College and there was no other from Chennai to Kōlkata. Nārāyaa Dās made excellent musicians head their particular fields and developed the college rapidly[12]. The College later on had the proud privilege of allowing its curriculum to be adopted by the ‘Visva Bhārati’of Gurudēv Tagore at Śanti Nikētan. On February 5, 2019 the college completed hundred years and the Government of Āndhra Pradēsh celebrated the occasion for three days on a grand scale. 

Vināyaka Caviti would be celebrated in the Music College for nine days and the Lord would be carried out into the streets of the town on a procession during which Nārāyaa Dās would sing and dance. His disciples Vājapēyājula Subbayya and Nēti Lakmī Nārāyaa would give him vocal support, while Dwāra Vēkaaswāmy Nāiu played the violin. Those events were of divine grandeur and memorable to the spectators[13]. 

After taking up the appointment as the Principal of the Music College, he used his free time to study many Śāstrās and authored many books. He did a lot of research in the field of Music. Nārāyaa Dās performed Ṣanmukhi tāḷa during the fourteenth anniversary of ‘Vizianagaram Maharāja College of Music’ in the month of February, in the year 1933. He stood in front of an august gathering of the Maharāja, eminent vidvān-s and crowds of people and exhibited an astounding skill of performing Ṣanmukhi tāḷa balancing a lemon on his head. He was hailed as ‘Sagīta Sāhitya Sārvabhauma’ for his literary and musical excellence. (Even after retirement, Harikathā Pitāmaha Śrīmadajjāḍa Ādibhaṭla Nārāyaa Dās, Mahāmahōpādhyāya Tātā Subbārāya Śastry and Vaiika Sārvabhauma Gurācāryula Vēkaa Ramaayya continued to be given their monthly salaries by the Maharājah since they had spread the fame of the court far and wide.)

In 1923 the All India Congress Committee (AICC) meeting was held in Kakinada.  Many great national leaders took part in it.  Sarōjini Naiu was one of them who praised Nārāyaa Dās’ Harikatha a lot. She said to him, ‘Your dance is exquisite’.  Nārāyaa Dās was the only person who was selected as the representative of Indian Music to attend ‘The Empire exhibition’ which was held in England, in 1923. His good friend H.R.Bardswell (who was sub-collector in Vizianagaram, High Court Judge and later Chief Justice of Pudukkōṭṭai) cautioned him that he wouldn’t be able to withstand the low temperatures of England at that age. So his journey to England was stopped or else his stentorian voice would have definitely announced the greatness of Indian music to the world.  

Invitation To Attend The All India Music Conference Held In Madras In December 1927 

Nārāyaa Dās’ sixtieth birthday was celebrated on 30th August 1924.  Vizianagaram was crowded with singers and disciples for the event. 

He was invited to the All India Music Conference, the first Music Festival held in December 1927, which is before the inauguration of the Madras Music Academy that was formally inaugurated in 1928. Nārāyaa Dās sang his svarākara kti compositions which were highly praised by Professor P. Sāmbamurthy and the other eminent musicians who attended the prestigious Conference[14]. He was praised by TamiVidvān-s as ‘Āndhra Dēśa Bhūṣanam’. 

Vikrama Dēvavarma of Jeypore titled him ‘Sagīta Sāhitya Sārvabhauma’. The organization of Bhāratī Tīrtha gave the title ‘Āṭapāṭala mēi’. Kāvyakana Gaapati muni (Nāyana) titled him ‘Pūra Puruuu’. 

Books Authored 

Nārāyaa Dās authored 21 Harikatha-s – 17 in Telugu, 3 in Sanskrit and 1 in pure Telugu devoid of Sanskrit words. 

He authored Navarasa Taragii, an extra-ordinary work demanding unique scholarship, poetic ability and critical insight. It was a comparative treatise on the treatment of the nine sentiments of the works of William Shakespeare and Kaidāsa into Telugu. In translating the English passages he used Telugu mixed with Sanskrit as in vogue, but in translating the Sanskrit passages he used only Acca (pure) Telugu to bring out the beauty of it. A dictionary of Acca Telugu words was appended to the book. Navarasa Taragii was indeed, his ‘tour de force’ and earned for him the highest encomium from the most discerning scholars of the day. There was nothing he did not know in Sanskrit and Telugu. 

He wrote Kāśiśatakamu after his visit to Kāśi in 1913-14. He composed ‘Tārakam’ in Sanskrit, an original poem of 300 verses with difficult grammatical ‘Prayōga-s’ which can be used to exemplify Pāṇii’s grammatical rules. The poetical masterpiece ‘won the unstinted admiration and unqualified encomiums from no less a person than Professor Gueldner of the University of Marburg, Prussia[15]’.  With Tārakam, he became a poet of international renown. No wonder if Bardswell, an ICS officer, later on said he deserved the Nobel Prize in his letter dated 2.2.1939, addressed to Nārāyaa Dās[16].

Nārāyaa Das had perfect mastery of Urdu, Persian, Arabic and English and was highly appreciative of the philosophy of Omar Khaiyam, of which, he had direct access to the meaning in the original Persian of the Rubāyats.   (During 1900-1901, with the help of a Maulvi he learnt the script and the rudiments of Urdu.  Subsequently, with self-study, he developed knowledge of Urdu, Persian and Arabic languages to the level of a literary scholar.) He translated ‘Rubaiyat of Omar Khaiyam’ into Sanskrit and pure Telugu (1932). Fitzgerald depicted Omar as a libertine because of his frequent references to ‘wine’ and ‘women’. Nārāyaa Das refuted his interpretation and proved how the much misunderstood Omar was a great Bhakta who suggested the spiritual principle of ‘devotion’ and ‘attention’ by implication. His translation of Omar Khaiyam into Sanskrit and Acca Telugu was ‘an astounding feat’ according to Dr S. Radhakrishnan.

He authored Dabhapura prahasanamu and Sāragadhara caritramu at the age of twenty six. The span of his subjects range from ‘Nūruganṭi’, a book for children to ‘Jagajjyōti’, the substance of the Aṣṭādaśa Purāṇa-s.  Maki Miku, a book on Āyurvēda, Bāṭasāri, an allegorical poem, (which he wrote at the age of twenty four) Nā Yeruka, his autobiography made him a pioneer in many forms. 

He is the only litterateur who wrote a comparative treatise on the works of Kāḷidās and Shakespeare; the only writer-composer who translated into Telugu and set to music Rigvēdic hymns and the only writer-composer who composed a Gītamālika comprising 90 Carnāṭic rāga-s. As a writer-composer who composed music in all the 72 Carnāṭic rāga-s he was next only to Tyāgarāja.  

After his sixtieth year, he developed an interest in Astrology and gained an in-depth knowledge of the subject. (He later got a temple for Navagraha-s constructed at ‘Ayya Koneru’ in Vizianagaram.)He had an ingenious and encyclopedic knowledge of all fields. He was in the sense a student all his life; reading was a passion with him. 

Kṣaasaha kaasascaiva vidyāmardaca sādhayēt

Kaatyāgē kutōvidya kaatyāgē kutōdhanam.’ -  Hitōpadēśa 

A second should not be wasted instead that should be used to gain  knowledge.  A coin shouldn’t be wasted instead it should be used to acquire money. If a second is wasted knowledge is lost and if a coin is wasted money is lost. Nārāyaa Dās was a living example of the above ślōka. He never wasted a second in his life without gaining knowledge. He read books voraciously and his reading times were from 9 or 10 in the night to 4 in the morning. He would read books with the help of oil lamp. After a certain age he would valiantly say, ‘Is there any Sanskrit book that is not read by me?’                

If his erudition left him peerless, the philosopher in him made him brush aside earthly fame. He did not approve of an attempt to move the Nobel literature committee to make him a laureate. Unfortunately he was recognized more as a Harikatha exponent than as litterateur[17]’. 

His sixtieth birth anniversary was celebrated on a grand scale by his famed disciples and admirers on 30.8.1924. In 1931 he presided over the seventh Musical Conference, ‘Saptama Gāyaka Mahāsabha’ in Guntur and gave a great discourse on music and literature. 

Sometime during 1931-1933 the Mahārājāh of Vizianagaram, Alaka Nārāyaa Gajapati got a harikatha arranged for Nārāyaa Dās in Ooty. The elite, the rājah had invited, were overjoyed watching the performance of the exponent, the artiste and his art. Nārāyaa Dās adorned a long coat to resist the chill, sang and danced,  to the delight of the spectators. 

In 1933, the rājāh of Jaipuram watched the performance of Nārāyaa Dās in Visākhapatnam, honoured him duly and titled him ‘Sagīta Sāhitya Sārvabhauma’. Nārāyaa Dās was honoured and titled ‘Āṭa Pāṭala Mēi’ during the annual celebrations of ‘Bharati Tīrtha’ institution presided over by the the rājāh of Jaipuram. 

In 1936, after 17 years of commendable service, he retired as the Principal of Music College of Vizianagaram and entrusted the responsibility to Dwāram Vēkaaswāmy Nāiu who earned titles ‘Sagīta Kaḷānidhi’ and ‘Sagīta Ratnākara’. 

Magnum Opus And After Retirement 

H.R.Bardswell, good friend of Nārāyaa Dās would immensely enjoy watching his harikatha-s and would applaud him as Shakespearean scholar. When Bardswell was the Chief Justice of Pudukōṭṭai, Nārāyaa Dās performed in the court of Pudukōṭṭai. Later, after the darsan of Ananta Padmanābha Swāmi, performed in Tiruvanantapuram and was honoured by the rājāh. He proceeded, later on, to Ramēswaram and Kanyākumāri.

He composed his magnum opus (in 1938) Daśavidharāga Navati Kusuma Mañjari, in praise of the Goddess, after his pilgrimage to Ramēswaram and Kanyākumāri. He would often speak of his dream in which Kumāri Paramēswari bestowed on him Her grace. In 1944, Nārāyaa Dās received an invitation from the Maharājah of Jaipuram in Orissa and he politely declined the invitation.

Doctor Pālakōdēṭi Gurumūrti told Nārāyaa Dās, ‘It is not good for health to sing at this old age with such a loud voice. It is very harmful and heart may stop suddenly.’ He replied, ‘If that were to happen during my Harikatha, I will be the most fortunate. What else could I desire?’ To another who advised him to stop the performances as he was aging, he replied that his was not a mundane art and Hari kīrtana has to be done continuously without pause in this life. Music was his life and that showed itself in its entirety in Harikatha. It was a bridge between him and the Almighty. In his ‘Vēlpu Vanda Śatakamu’ he expressed his wish to God that death would be better than a life without Harikatha. 

In 1944 his disciples, friends and admirers wished to celebrate his eightieth birthday on a grand scale. He replied that he was tired with honours and they could celebrate Harikatha’s sixtieth birthday instead, as on date his Harikatha was sixty year-old. Arrangements were being made according to his wish. That was the year of 1945.  When his grandson, Upādhyāyula Sūryanārāyaa Rao, was attacked by small pox and had been suffering for a month, he expressed his desire that his grandson should be freed from the disease and he would suffer instead. He prayed to Goddess offering his own life in reparation for the ordinance.  Seeing his daughter Savitri standing near his bed, sobbing, he said, “Amma, I will not die unless I wish for it. I wished for it. You don’t cry.”  As he wished, while his grandson started recovering, Nārāyaa Dās caught hold of the fever which gradually intensified and separated his mortal frame from this world on 2.1.1945, Puya Bahua Pancami. He welcomed death like Bhīṣma and that night he passed away peacefully, chanting the name of Hari. The devotee merged with the Lord. A glorious chapter in the cultural history of Āndhra came to an end with his death. 

A Few Plaudits 

Ē yakhilammunandu baramēsvaru eṭṭulu niniyunenō

yā yakhilammu vacci tanayanduna nunenā yādibhaṭhanā

rāyaadasulō harikathākti bhārati sarvaśilpavi

dyāyuti sanskitāndhramula yākitiyai peamūrtulai main’

             - Kavi Sāmrāṭ, Jñāna pīṭh awardee, Śrī Viswanātha Satyanārāyaa   

Just as the Almighty is Omniscient filled in this Universe, the very Universe  came and resided in Ādibhaṭṭa Nārāyaa Dās. Taking the  form of Harikatha and all facets of knowledge, an embodiment of  Sanskrit and Telugu, Bhārati flourished in him. It has become a habit to limit Nārāyaa Dās only to Harikatha by the researchers and admirers. He had the poetic caliber to be placed by the side of ‘Kavitrayam’, Poetic Trinity – Nannayya, Tikkana and Yeṛṛāpragaa.  He is a prodigiously talented Vāggēyakāra to be honoured along with the Musical Trinity- Tyāgarāja, Śyāma Śāstry and Muthuswāmi Dīkitar. He is an ardent devotee similar to Prahlāda and Nārada. He is free and independent like a sage[18].      

Dāsu Nārāyaunaku nītanḍu, vīni

Dāsulellaagala Haridāsulella                    

Nokka Haridāsulēkādu, nikkamitani

Yeala nādtilēnivāḍevau buami

      Ceḷḷapiḷḷa Vēnkaa Śāśtry


The nāda of his Śaṃbhō’ would reverberate for at least two or three minutes[19]. He once said that the nāda would be made to rise from the navel and would be scattered all around. 

His voice was thunderous, Mēgha garjana, albeit, melodious and expressive of the appropriate emotion to transport listeners into a realm of ecstasy. His megaphone bass voice, which needed no microphone for an audience of several thousands, still rings in the ears of those who witnessed his performance over a stretch of long years. He had a force of personality which marked him out as an institution among his people during his lifetime. 

He can be one among the great devotees- Prahlāda, Nārada, Parāśara, Punarīka. He acquired musical and poetic skills while in his mother’s womb. He was a perfect testimony to Kaidāśa’s saying, ‘Prapēdirē prāktana janmavidyāh’ as Ceḷḷapiḷḷa Vēnkaa Śastri stated in the Āndhra Patrika of 29th January, 1945. 

Sir C.R.Reddy, Vice-chancellor of Āndhra University said to Nārāyaa Dās, when he met him in Vizianagaram while travelling to Visākhapatnam, ‘What Vice-chancellors are we? You are the University itself!’

He is the Dāsa (servant) of Nārāyaa. The Haridāsa-s of all places are his dāsa-s. It is not only Haridāsa-s, truly who is there on the earth, who doesn’t revere him?            

Vālu meli mīsakaṭṭu julpāla juṭṭu

Nosaa kunkumaboṭṭu, mēl pasii gaṭṭu

Viddelaku paṭṭu! naayāḍu vēlpu ceṭṭu!

Harikathā śilpa samrāṭṭu! Ādibhaṭṭu!!![20]

           –‘Karuasrī’ Jandhyāla Papayyaśāstry   

With a curled moustache, curly hair, vermilion on the forehead, bright complexion, he is an authority of all knowledge, a form of living God and an emperor of Harikatha form. He is Ādibhaṭṭu! 

William Shakespeare’s lines are aptly applicable to the versatile genius of Ādibhala Nārāyaa Dās of Vizianagaram- an embodiment of all arts. ‘He is as intelligent as beautiful, as learned as intelligent, as engaged as learned, as famous as engaged’.  He excelled every artiste in his own field and yet remained apart - distinct and separate, like a star.                                                    

                ‘He was a man; take him for all in all, I shall not look upon his like again.’    

Works Of Ajjāādibhala Nārāyaa Dās

Rāmāyaa Harikatha-s:


Śrī Yathārtha Rāmāyaamu (1915)
Jānakī Śapathamu

Bhārata Harikatha-s: 


Sāvitrī caritramu  (1902)  

Bhīṣma caritramu (1902)


Bhāgavata Harikatha-s:

Sanskrit Harikathāmṛtam (published in 1930)

Śrī Kṛṣṇa Jananam (by 1898)

Pitṛbandha vimōcanam   



Dhṛva caritramu    (1883-unpublished) 
Gajēndra mōkṣaṇamu (1886)
Ambarīṣa caritramu  (1884)            
Rukmiṇi kalyāṇamu (by 1898)
 Prahlāda caritramu (1898)
Gōvardhanōdhāramu (an impromptu presentation)


Purāṇa Harikatha-s:       


Hariścandrōpākhyānamu (by 1898)

Mārkanḍēya caritramu ( not of Bhāgavata) (1891) 

Acca Telugu

Gaurappa peṅli (1930)    



  • Navarasa Taragii (1922): It is a comparative treatise on the treatment of the nine sentiments of the works of William Shakespeare and Kaidāsa into Telugu.
  • Omar Khayyām Rubāiyat (1932):  It is a translation of Omar Khayyām into Sanskrit and Acca Telugu.
  • Viṣṇu Sahasra NāmamuluVennuni Vēyi Pērla Vinakari (1927):  Telugu padya-s
  •  Lalitā Sahasra Nāmamulu – Tallivinki (1943-45) : Telugu padya-s
  • Nūruganṭi The hundred stories of Aesop’s Fables were written in prose. At the end of each story its summary was given in a Gīta padya.
  • Ṛksaṅgrahamu (aka) Mrokkubaḍi (1929) Three hundred Rigvēdic hymns (Ṛkkulu) were translated into Telugu and set to music. It is said that the astrological chart details of Nārāyaa Dās can be found in this writing. 

Musical Treatise

Daśavidharāga Navati Kusuma Mañjari (1938): It is a Gītamālika comprising ninety Carnāṭic rāga-s. 



Kāśīśatakamu (1914)

Rāmacandra śatakamu (1921) 


Mṛtyuñjaya Śiva śatakamu (1908)

Mukunda śatakamu (not available) (1908)

Satyavrati (not available)

Vēlpuvanda (in acca Telugu on Simhācala Narasimhaswāmi)

Sūryanārāyaa śatakamu ( published-1903) 

Philosophical Works

Jagajjyōti (1939-1943):  It is the substance of the Aṣṭādaśa Purāṇas.

Cāturvargya Sādhanamu (not available) 


Sīmapalkuvahi (1939-43): It is a dictionary of chaste Telugu words. Only a part of it was published. 


Bāṭasāri (1888): It is an allegorical poem based on Vēdānta.

Tārakam (1910):  It is written in Sanskrit in three hundred verses with difficult grammatical ‘Prayōga-s’ which can be used to exemplify Pāṇii’s grammatical rules.

Miscellaneous Works 

Sāragadhara (Play-1890)
Dabhapura Prahasanamu (Play-1890)
Mēlubanti (Cāṭu Prabandhamu)
Nā Yeruka (Autobiography Covers up to his thirtieth year)
Maki Miku (1939-43): An introduction to Āyurvēda
Vēlpumāa (1929) - Based on Bhagavad Gīta
Acca Telugu Palukubai (1929): It is written in Mañjari Dvipada.
Vyāsa Pīhamu Collection of essays of the author     

Unpublished / Unavailable Works

Tarka Saṅgrahamu
Vyākaraṇa Saṅgrahamu
 Bāla Rāmāyaṇa kīrtana
Mṛtyuñjaya Aṣtakamu  (1908)
 Sīmapalkuvahi (second part)
Bāṭasāri (anglicized text)
Cāturvargya sādhanamu (1930) 


End Notes

1 “Śrīmad Rāmāyana Harikathā Gāna Yagnam”, p. v.

2 It was organized between May 17 & 25, 2009 in Viśākhapaṭnam.

3 Maruvāḍa, Vēnkaṭa cayanulu, Śrīmadajjāḍādibhaṭla Nārāyaṇa Dāsa caritramu, p. 23.

4 Śambhara, Sūryanārāyaṇa śastri, “Śrīmadajjāḍa Ādibhaṭla Nārāyaṇa Dāsugarini gurinci” in Harikathāpitāmaha Śrīmadajjāḍādibhaṭla Nārāyaṇa Dāsa śatajayantyutsava sancika, pp. 47-51.

5 Ādibhaṭla, Nārāyaṇa Dāsu, Nā Yeruka, Śrī Ādibhaṭla Nārāyaṇa Dāsu svīya caritra, p. 26.

6 Karrā, Eswara Rao, “Jivitōdantamu” in Śrī Ādibhaṭṭa Nārāyaṇa Dāsa Sārasvata Nīrājanamu, p. 15.

7 M. Gowri Shankar, “A. Nārāyaṇa Dās - A sketch” in Harikathā Pitāmaha Śrīmadajjāḍa Ādibhaṭla Nārāyaṇa Dās Śatajayantyutsva Sancika, pp. 13-15 English section).

8 G.Śrīrāmamūrthy, “Monārch of Rhythm”, pp. 96.

9 Vāsā, Kriṣhṇa Mūrthi, “Dāsugāri Saṅgītagurutvamu” in Śrī Ādibhaṭṭa Nārāyaṇa Dāsa Sārasvata Nīrājanamu, pp. 1151-66.

10 Bandā, kanakaliṅgēswara Rao, “Kathāgānavācaspati” in Harikathāpitāmaha Śrīmadajjāḍādibhaṭla Nārāyaṇa Dāsa śatajayantyutsava sancika, pp. 18- 20.

11 Cellapalli, Vēṅkaṭa Śāstry, “kī || śē || Ādibhaṭla Nārāyaṇa Dāsugaru” 13.1.1935 Āndhra Vāṇi.


1.     Violin – Dwāraṃ Vēṅkaṭaswāmy Nāiḍu

2.     Mṛdaṅgaṃ – Liṅgam Lakṣmāji

3.     Vīṇa – Vāsa Vēṅkata Rao, Kaṭṭu Sūranna

4.     Nādaswaraṃ – Munuswāmy

5.     Vocal – Pēri Rāmamūrti, Nēmāni Varahālu Dāsu

6.     Ḍōlu – Naṭēśam Pillai

7.     Harikatha - Nārāyaṇa Dās, Principal

13 Nēti Laksmī Nārāyaṇa, “Mā Gurudēvulu” , Harikathā Pitāmaha Śrīmadajjāḍa Ādibhaṭla Nārāyaṇa Dāsa Śatajayantyutsva Sancika, pp.7-11.

14 H.S.Brahmānanda, Harikathā Pitāmahuḍu Ādibhaṭla Nārāyaṇa Dāsugāri Bahumukha Pratibha, p.59.

15 M. Gowri Shankar, “A. Nārāyaṇa Dās-A sketch” , Harikathā Pitāmaha Śrīmadajjāḍa Ādibhaṭla Nārāyaṇa Dāsa Śatajayantyutsva Sancika, pp. 13-15

16 Pappu, Vēṇugōpāla Rao, “Śrī Ādibhaṭla Nārāyaṇa Dās and his works” in Carnāṭic Music Composers, pp. 376-385.

17 Upādhyāyula, ‘Ādibhaṭla: Doyen of Harikatha’, Indian Express, Tuesday, November 2, 1982.

18 H. S.Brahmānanda, Harikathā Pitāmahuḍu Ādibhaṭla Nārāyaṇa Dāsugāri Bahumukha Pratibha, p.8.

19 Karra, Sūryanārāyaṇa, ‘‘Śrī Nārāyaṇa Dāsu gāri jīvita viśēṣālu’’, Harikathāpitāmaha Śrīmadajjāḍādibhaṭla Nārāyaṇa Dāsa śatajayantyutsava sancika, pp. 234 – 242.

20 ‘Karuṇasrī’, “Nārāyaṇa Dāsa Navaratnamālika”, Harikathāpitāmaha Śrīmadajjāḍādibhaṭla Nārāyaṇa Dāsa Śatajayantyutsava Sancika, Pp. 185-188



Ādibhaṭṭa, Nārāyaa Dāsu, Nā Yeruka, S. V. Jōga Rao (Ed.), Gunṭūr: Karrā Ēswara Rao (Publisher), 1976.                

B. Dayānanda Rao, (Ed.), Carnāṭic Music Composers, Chennai: The Trinity Music Book Publishers, 2005. 

Bālāntrapu, Rajanīkānta Rao, Āndhra Vaggēyakāra Charitramu, (parts I&II) Hyderabad: Poṭṭi ŚrīRāmulu Telugu Viśvavidyālayamu, Reprint 2001. 

Cāgani, Kapālēsvara Rao, Harikatha, Nāgpur: S.C.Z. Cultural Centre, 2010. 

Gani, Śrī Rāmamūrthy, ‘Monarch of Rhythm’, Machilīpanam: Jupiter Publications, (second edition), 1985. 

Gunavarapu, Lakshmīnārāyaa, Nārāyaa Darśanamu, Gunṭūr: Padmini Printers, 1983. 

H.S. Brahmānanda, Harikathā Pitāmahuu Ādibhala Nārāyaa Dāsugāri Bahumukha Pratibha, Hyderabad: Department of Culture, Government of Āndhra Pradēsh, 2013.  

H.S. Brahmānanda, Harikathātatvam, Anantapur: Śrī Krishnadēvarāya Viśvavidyālayam, 2015. 

Maruvāḍa, Vēnkaacayanulu, Śrīmadajjāḍādibhaṭla Nārāyaa Dāsa Caritramu, Rājahmunry: konapalli Vīravenkaiah & Sons, 1959. 

Premeela Gurumurthy, Kathākālakshēpa-A Study, Chennai: International Society for the Investigation of Ancient Civilization, 1994. 

S. V. Jōgā Rao (Ed.), Śrī Ādibhaṭṭa NārāyaaDāsa Sārasvata Nīrājanamu, Gunur: Racayitala Sahakāra Sanghamu, 1974. 

S. V. Jōgā Rao, Āndhra Yakshagāna Vāṅgmaya Caritra, Viśākhapanam: Āndhrā University, 1961. 

Śrī Nārāyaa Dāsa Jayanti, a compilation of essays on NārāyaaDās and his works, Gunṭūr, 1982. 

Tūmāṭi Dōnappa, Telugu Harikathāsarvasvam, Gunṭūr: Nāgārjuna Viśvavidyālayamu, (1st print) 1978. 

Vasantharao, Brahmāji Rao, Life of Śrī Ādibhaṭla Nārāyaa Dās, Vizianagaram: 1956 N. K. Publications, (second edition), 2014. 

Vyzarsu, Bālasubrahmayam, The Musical Genius of ‘Harikathā Pitāmaha’ Śrī Ādibhaṭla Nārāyaa Dāsu, Chennai: Kaḷātapasvi Creations, 2012. 

Yāmijāla, Padmanābhaswāmy, Purapurushuu, Gunṭūr: Johnson Publishing House, 1979.