Kelo Satcharitra – On pious lives and noble souls

Usually, I receive a lot of requests either through comments or through emails for mp3 files or lyrics of songs. While it is extremely heartening to have readers who are drawn to this blog, and coax me into writing, I must at the same time, profusely apologize for the delay that invariably happens in materializing these requests.
The ones that are easily done, will surely be done. Some requests that ask for the lyrics and the meaning usually take time, and that is the first round of problem that I run into. I do want to eventually write on all the songs that I’ve been receiving requests on, and better late than never. So please do continue to visit…and ofcourse demand. If it can be met, it surely will :).

One of the requests I had received from a person (who didn’t give me his email address while leaving the comment) was for the lyrics of a composition by Sri Purandara Dasa – Kelo Satcharitra. I had listed this song was one of my favorites that had been sung by the maestro Maharajapuram Santhanam. It is a bit tricky to be writing about this song, as I’ll have to go into some nuances of the belief system held in Hindu tradition. I hope I can do some justice and would call upon any readers of mine, who have much more knowledge, to kindly add on to this, or correct me if I erred anywhere.

Kelo satcharitra manuja pa

O! Human! Listen to the lives of noble and pious people!

drudha bhaktiyindali hariya nenedare
koduva mokshave saakshi
drudha bhaktiyillade hariya nenedare
paduva narakave saakshi 1

When one prays to Lord Hari in steadfast devotion, the testimony for the same is provided by the salvation he obtains. Whilst the hell one suffers is proof of the person not being truly devoted to Lord Hari.

kanyaadaanava maadidavarige
hennina bhogave saakshi
kanyaadaanava maadadavarige
hennina kaatave saakshi 2

For people who give away their daughters in marriage, affluence and prosperity in their families holds the proof. (It is a belief that giving daughters in marriage is an act of great virtue and sanctity that brings immense goodwill and fortune to the doers, although in the present days, I am more akin to believing in the contrary!) Whereas those who do not indulge in this shall suffer from nagging women or women who shall cause their downfall. [If I can get on a lighter tone, it seems as if the best way to bring in fortune is to give away the women!!]

pankti vanchane maadidavarige
janma rogave saakshi
pankti vanchane maadadavarige
putra bhaagyave saakshi 3

Those who jump the order shall suffer from birth disorders. (pankti – is a term that is generally used for the rows of people who sit for dinner. There was an established order as to who follows who in the earlier days. It was believed that those who skip this order, or cheat on the order, shall have progenies with defects. It may also be interpreted as someone who skips the social order established in the society, and someone who transgresses this social order shall pay for it in their future generations). For those who do not skip the order, the testimony is provided by them bearing sons. (Typically considered to be the ones who continue the family legacy, birth of male child was regarded as an event of great auspiciousness for the family).

anna daanava maadidavarige
unnuva ootave saakshi
anna daanava maadadavarige
anna kalevude saakshi 4

The food one eats is proof that the individual also feeds others. There are several quotes in kannada and ofcourse in almost every language and culture that emphasise on the need to share food. Food has been considered one of the prime offerings that can be made to fellow human beings. Be it an occassion of celebration or one of mirth, offering food to others, has been held as a pious act since age immemorial. This stanza emphasizes the same by stressing that those who perform such offerings, shall also be blessed with an abundance of food. While those who do not share their food (or fortune) shall lose it, which is the proof of their greediness.

aadida maatige hariye saakshi
todida baavige jalave saakshi
maadida paapake manave saakshi
saatige purandara vithalana saakshi 5

The Lord is the witness for the words that are uttered as the water is the proof for the well that is dug! (When a well is dug well, it does hit the water spot, in the same way, words that are spoken well, with the best of the intentions and truthfully, shall please the Lord). The consciousness is the witness for the crimes that have been committed, while the Lord Purandara Vitthala is the witness for the truth. (Even if we may believe that no one is watching us, and resort to unlawful activities or bad actions, our consciousness shall always be aware of it, and hence its the true witness. Hence, the saying goes that character is what we do, when we think that no one is looking!)

One of the interesting aspects of the compositions by the dasas or the sharanas, is that it sheds a lot of light on the social structure and belief system held during those days. Ofcourse, many of it may seem irrelevant of even blasphemous now, but the underlying philosophy has indeed been noble.


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    • anamika on October 25, 2009 at 8:27 AM
    • Reply

    Excellent translation…

    • CK on October 9, 2010 at 11:30 AM
    • Reply

    Loved this song for years. Thanks for the lyrics. This is sung in raagamaalika, are there different versions? Are there recordingds available?

    • CK on October 9, 2010 at 11:32 AM
    • Reply

    Thanks for the lyrics. are there recordings available? one of the songs that appealed to me for decades, thrilling.

    • VenkatramanaRao on March 28, 2014 at 8:24 AM
    • Reply

    Recently I had been to a home to participate in Sumadhwa Vijaya Parayana along with our Sathsaghis.At the time of feeding ,the host sung this song,which moved me very much and it was continuously revolving in my mind.I made an attempt yesterday to find the lyrics for this Purandara Dasara Krithi.I am immencely pleased to find this blog.I thank you very much for providing the lyrics with meaning.God Pless you.

    • H.N.SREEDHARA on May 8, 2015 at 4:12 PM
    • Reply

    Dear Sir, this is the most beautiful composition of Purandaradasaji after Narayanana Ninna Naamada Smaraneya Excellent lyrics I want to hear the complete song sung by expert singers any idea of any CD available of this song thnks for the lyrics excellent work.My number is 9916968109.Thank You

    • Vittal on October 5, 2018 at 11:36 PM
    • Reply

    Can anyone please give translation in Tamil ?

    1. Apologies Mrs. Vittal, I don’t know Tamil that well 🙂 If anyone else does, please feel free to add! 🙂

    • Jyothi Pradeep on June 15, 2019 at 6:04 PM
    • Reply

    In verse number 3, what does “jump the order mean?” Thanks

    Kind Regards,

    1. “Jumping the order” essentially refers to the manner in which at that time, food was served. If you see further along in the description, i do elaborate upon what this “Jumping the order” refers to. In simple terms it means someone who jumped the queue or sat down for eating before his turn came.

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