Vachanas – Music of the Bhakthi Saints


Speech should be like a string of pearls
Speech should be like the  flash of a ruby
Speech should be like a bar of crystal
Speech  should make the ‘linga’ say yes yes
If you don’t act within the bounds of your words
how will you win Koodalasangamadeva’s love –  source:Vachanas of Basavanna

Anyone familiar with the work of Andal or Akka Mahadevi wouldn’t know whether to laugh or cry over the present controversy about women in temples. Akka Mahadevi was considered a pioneer of the Kannada literature movement. She broke several barriers to pursue her path of spirituality. Being a woman did not deter her from participating in debates with other scholars. Her poems though relatively fewer are deeply philosophical and highlight the beauty of nature and living beings. Here is the singer M.D.Pallavi singing a popular vachana of Akka Mahadevi.

Vachana means that which is spoken. Vachanas are devotional octets in Kannada composed by Shaivite saints expressing their devotion to Lord Shiva. The simplicity of the vachana lyrics made them accessible for the common man.

Basava or Basavanna was a Kannada poet and social reformer born to a Brahmin family in the 12th century. He refused to wear the sacred thread  and encouraged people belonging to all castes to wear the ishtalinga necklace with an image of Lord Shiva to reaffirm their devotion. Here is Pandit Venkatesh Kumar singing the vachanas of Basavanna at a special concert.


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