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7 Epilogue - A Tribute to Shiva

The following are several "Vacanas" or free – verse lyrics originating between the 9th and 12th centuries. They were composed in Kannada, a Dravidian language of South India, and are expressions of love for Lord Siva. They are poems which bypass the Vedic tradition of rituals, priests, temples and are direct personal expressions of the passionate devotion to Lord Siva.

I have selected a few poems, which I especially liked, from each of the four major Virasaiva saints who were responsible for the medieval religious movement, Virasaivism (faith in Siva), of which the Kannada Vacanas are the most important texts. These poems were translated by A. K. Ramanujan, a linguist from South India, and were published in 1973 in India in a book titled, "Speaking of Siva".

The four major Virasaiva saints are:

Devara Dasimayya – Poems 4, 45, 87, 120
Bassavanna – Poems 161, 487, 500, 820
Allama – Poems 109, 213, 556, 802
Mahadeviyakka – Poems 2, 12, 50, 65

Devara Dasimayya:


You balanced the globe
On the waters
And kept it from melting away,

You made the sky stand
Without pillar or prop.

O Ramanatha
Which gods could have
Done this?


The five elements
Have become one.

The sun and the moon,
O Rider of the Bull,
Aren't they really
Your body?

I stand,
Look on,
You're filled
With the worlds.

What can I hurt now
After this, Ramanatha


Whatever it was

That made this earth
The base,
The world its life,
The wind its pillar,
Arranged the lotus and the moon,
And covered it all with folds
Of sky

With Itself inside,

To that Mystery
Indifference to differences,

To it I pray,
O Ramanatha


I'm the one who has the body,
You're the one who holds the breath.

You know the secret of my body,
I know the secret of your breath.

That's why your body
Is in mine.

You know
And I know, Ramanatha,

The miracle

Of your breath
In my body.



The grey reaches the cheek,
The wrinkle the rounded chin
And the body becomes a cage of bones:

with fallen teeth
and bent back
you are someone else's ward:

you drop your hand to the knee
and clutch a staff:

age corrodes
your form:

death touches you:
our lord
of the meeting rivers!


Feet will dance,
Eye will see,
Tongue will sing,
And not find content.
What else, what else
Shall I do?

I worship with my hands,
The heart is not content.
What else shall I do?

Listen my lord,
It isn't enough.
I have it in me
To cleave thy belly
And enter thee

O lord of the meeting rivers!


Make of my body the beam of a lute
of my head the sounding gourd
of my nerves the strings
of my fingers the plucking rods.

Clutch me close
And play your thirty-two songs
O lord of the meeting rivers!


The rich
will make temples for Siva.
What shall I,
A poor man,
My legs are pillars,
The body the shrine,
The head a cupola
of gold.

Listen, O lord of the meeting rivers,
Things standing shall fall,
But the moving ever shall stay.



If mountains shiver in the cold
With what
Will they wrap them?
If space goes naked
With what
Shall they clothe it?

If the lord's men become worldlings
Where will I find the metaphor?

O Lord of Caves


With a whole temple
In this body
Where's the need
for another?

No one asked
for two.

O Lord of the Caves,
If you are stone,
What am I?


If it rains fire
You have to be as the water;

if it is a deluge of water
you have to be as the wind;

if it is the Great Flood,
you have to be as the sky;

and if it is the Very Last Flood of all the worlds,
you have to give up self

and become the Lord.


Whoever knew
that It is body of body,

breath of breath
and feeling of feeling?

Think that it's far,
it's near
it's out here
and in there,

they tire themselves out.



treasure hidden in the ground
taste in the fruit
gold in the rock
oil in the seed

the Absolute hidden away
in the heart

no one can know
the ways of our lord

white as jasmine.


My body is dirt,
my spirit is space:
shall I grab, O lord? How,
and what,
shall I think of you?
Cut through
my illusions,
lord white as jasmine.


When I didn't know myself
Where were you?

Like the colour in the gold,
You were in me.

I saw in you,
lord white as jasmine,
The paradox of your being
In me
without showing a limb.


If sparks fly
I shall think my thirst and hunger quelled.

If the skies tear down
I shall think them pouring for my bath.

If a hillside slide on me
I shall think it flower for my hair.

O lord white as jasmine, if my head falls from my shoulders
I shall think it your offering.


Every one shoud have faith in shiva. Regards,
Maha Mrityunjaya mantra

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