Give me the wise sayings of your Sharanas.
If you grant me even for a moment their words,
Ramanatha, Shiva, you have given Yourself.
— Jedara Dasimayya
Shiva Sharana mystics of 12th century Karnataka state in India spoke Kannada. Their utterances on the Shiva Experience are called Vachanas. They spoke from their own experience. Each Vachana is an ark that takes us to Shiva.Sharanas sign off the Vachana with a pen name, one of the many names of Shiva. In this selection, at the end of the pen name, the word ‘Shiva’ is affixed for clarity.
The expression ‘Shiva’ signifies awareness — not ‘mine’ or ‘yours,’ but universal awareness. In Vachanas, the Kannada word, ’arivu’ is used in this sense. In some places, it is seen that the Sharanas are addressing Shiva with a form. As a Sharana says, ‘Shiva can assume forms, he can remain without form too.”
Sharanas are held in high respect by people of all communities in Karnataka. Their main followers are known as either Lingayats or Veerashaivas.
There are over 20, 000 Vachanas by more than 200 Sharanas. A galaxy of Kannada scholars have put in hard work to compile the complete collection of Vachanas in 15 volumes in the series, SAMAGRA VACHANA SAMPUTA. Government of Karanataka has brought out a low cost edition of this series, which is the main source for the present compilation of 115 Vachanas by 23 Sharanas.
There is none smaller than me.
There is no one greater than a devotee of Shiva.
Working with Anant Pai to produce the AMAR CHITRA KATHA comics series on Indian heritage, I had an opportunity to study the life of Basaveshwara as part of my work when I was required to produce a Chitra Katha or a comics on this Sharana. Years later, I returned to Basavanna and the other Sharanas when I began to study their Vachanas as part of my sadhana.The English rendering of the Vachanas, for the most part, stays close to the original. Deviation from the original, wherever found necessary for greater clarity in English usage are given in brackets or indicated in the footnote. In the accompanying notes, I try to understand the Vachanas in the light of the Advaita as expounded by Masters such as Bhagavan Ramana, Shri Siddharameshwar Maharaj, Atmanand Krishna Menon, Jiddu Krishnamurthy, Shri Ganapatrao Maharaj Kannur, Shri Siddheswara Swami, Jean Klein and Eckhart Tolle. I would like this work to be seen as jottings by a lay sadhaka for his own understanding. Readers are requested to give their feedback.
I thank Shri Siddheshwara Swamiji of Jnana Yoga Ashram of Bijapur for explaining some of the Vachanas to me.
Luis Fernandes and Gayatri Dutt have gone through the translation and edited the text. Vijaya Ramesh has lent her voice for the audio. Pictures of Shiva in many splendours as flowers, trees, hills, and clouds, are provided by SeemaArun. Narasimha Murthy of Karnataka Ganaka Parishad, has provided technical guidance in using Nudi Unicode for text in Kannada. Anand Kulkarni has created the website.
I thank all elders, friends and well-wishers who joined me in this Kaayaka, which is offered with all humility to the merciful Shiva —
Shivanodaveya Shivanigoppisi …
Offering Shiva’s jewels to Shiva….
Guru PoornimaSubba Rao