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(12th century)

A South Indian female poet- saint at the beginning of the Liṅgāyat(a) tradition. A younger contemporary of Allama-Prabhu, Basava, and other Vīraśaiva poets composing religious lyrics (vacanas) in the Dravidian language of Kannada, she signed herself ‘Cennamallikārjuna’ (‘Lovely Lord White as Jasmine’), an epithet of that form of Śiva to which she had become exclusively devoted. Although apparently married to a local lord, she abandoned him to wander naked, covered only by her long hair. Eventually, she was initiated into the Liṅgāyat(a) tradition by Allama-Prabhu, but continued to roam in her ecstatic quest for union with Śiva, the only bridegroom she recognized. She died in her early twenties. A selection of her poetry in English translation can be found in A. K. Ramanujan's Speaking of Śiva (Penguin Books, 1973).

Subjects: Hinduism.

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