One of the most remarkable saints of the period of Purandara was Kanaka Dasa of Kaginele. He was a great disciple of Vyasarja, though a shepherd by birth and great critic of caste hierarchy. Kanaka was born to Biregowda and Beechamma, at Bada and hew as a saiva in the beginning, and later on became a close follower of Vaishnavism, and a devoted Bhakta of Tirupati Venkateshwara whom he visited often, in spite of the hazardous nature of the journey up the hills. By reason of his devotion to Venkatesha and contacts with the archakas of the temple, there is a belief that Kanaka was a Vaishnavaite of the Ramanuja School, and never accepted a Vaishnavite of the Ramanuja school, and never accepted a Taratamya aspect of Madhva philosophy, as is borne out in the opening of his work "Mohana Tarangini': "Sattvikollasa Sri Ramanuja Muni Saranu!!!".
But Kanaka Dasa spent youth and his later years most in the company with Sri Vyasaraja, who spoke in admiration of him as he did of Purandara. Kanaka was of the warrior community, perhaps his defeat in the field of battle, directed him to the path of devotion. He was already an author of Narasimha stora, Ramadhyana Mantra, Mohanatarangini before he became a follower of Sri Vyasaraja and followed most of the tenets of Madhva religion.
He never became a Madhva though he accepted the Taratamya Tattva in the hierarchy of God like Brahma, Vayu, Girisha and others. Perhaps, he was already very much influenced by Sri Vyasaraja and his tenets before he gave to the world Nala Charitre and Haribhati Sara. H was essentially, a Madhva mystic seeing the manifestation of Keshava in the meanest creation as well as in the highest, coloured by all the attributes of God and partaking of divine powers. There is a popular story that Kanaka being rejected entrace at the temple at Udipi, went round the Prakaram and burst in tears of song, appealing to the Lord to give darshan when the idol turned round, made a slit in the wall where Kanaka sat and give darshan to him. He composed hymns in moments of exaltation and when he sang them, he felt himself enveloped with melody and ecstatic lyric poetry.