Kanakadasa has special association with Udupi and as he was the follower of Vyasaraya Swamiji. On the sayings of Vyasaraya Swamiji of Uttaradi Math he had come to Udupi. But it was time when the discrimination on the basis was at its peak. The Brahmin fundamentals did not let him to enter the temple as he was from a lower cadre of the society. He stood outside and prayed to Lord Krishna by singing songs of praising Lord Krishna. Owing to the call of his devotee Krishna turned to West and gave darshan to Kanaka through a window.
Today that window stands as a tribute to Kanakadasa .Almost all devotees who visit Udupi Krishna temple try to have a peep at the idol through the small window wishing to relive the ecstasy, Kanaka had at the divine ‘darshan’. It is also a memorial to Kanakadasa and a testimony to the eclectic Hindu belief that devotion, poetry and sainthood are above caste and creed and certainty above orthodoxy.
But historians who disprove the miracle of Lord Krishna, say that the idol was turned to the west purposefully. They argue that Madhwacharya, the founder of Krishna Matha and idol had installed the idol facing east, but it was Sri Vadiraja Swamiji of Sode Math reinstalled the idol facing west to please Kanaka. As it was difficult to perform ritual with limited space available there earlier, Stri Vadiraja Swamiji who was famous for his social reforms turned the idol for the benefit of all. The Math records of 15th and 16th century reveal the fact the Krishna temple was renovated after Kanaka’s visit to Udupi.
He worshipped Adikeshava of Kaginele, presently in Haveri district of Karnataka. Kaginele, now a village, was a prosperous place and a trading center in the middle ages. He lived for 94 years and during his life time he travelled various places and temples. at Tirupathi in his last days.
Kanaka composed many poems and not all are available now. His compositions end with the mudra of Kaginele Adhikeshava. In addition to being a poet he worked as a social reformer by ridiculing dogmatic communities that suppressed the disadvantaged communities. Kanaka dasa made a supreme effort to reform the disadvantaged communities by convincing them to give-up their age-old obsolete social practices and to adapt to the changing world. The literature of Kanakadasa has a kind of novelty and variety in it.
The literature of Kanakadasa has a kind of novelty and variety in it. The narrations, dialogues and situations explained in his songs are out of his real life experiences and societal conditions. He never made attempt to serious narrations with highly sanskritised words. Instead his poems portray the life and culture during his period. His writings were simple, straight and appealing.
His works include Nalacharitre, Haribhaktisara, Nrisimhastava, Ramadhanyacharitre, Mohanatarangini
In addition to this he has written around 240 Kirthans including many ugabhogas, padas and mundiges. His writing style was unique and he used the language of the people. They were simple but rich in meaning. So his compositions became very popular.
Purandaradasa and Kanakadasa are the foremost among Haridasas. Besides conveying dvaita (dualism) tenets, they preached kindness and tranquility in a world full of sorrows. They condemned superstitions, hollow rituals and upheld virtues of a pious life.