Allama Prabhu

Allama Prabhu (12th cent. A. D.) is perhaps the most important leader of the Vīraśaiva (Śaivism of Karnataka) Movement along with Basaveśvara. Born in Baḷḷigāvi (in the Shimoga dt. of Karna-taka) of the pious parents Nirahaṅkāra and Sujñāni, he showed extraordinary spiritual wisdom and maturity even as a child. According to one biographer Harihara, he was married in his youth to one Kāmalatā, but renounced the world when she died at a young age. Another incident mentioned is his ‘conquest of Māyā,’ Māyā being a princess who fell in love with him. He successfully resisted her advances and continued his onward spiritual journey. It is perhaps this experience that is at the root of his vacana (lyrical prose composition) ‘māyā is not in woman, but in the eye that beholds her.’ His intense desire to get enlightenment took him to a highly competent guru (spiritual teacher) Animiṣayya sitting in a guhā (cave). It was by his grace that he was filled with Śiva-consciousness and bliss. Hence he has used the pen-name ‘Guheśvara’ in his compositions.

He is said to have enlightened Gorakhnāth (another famous medieval saint) and many śivaśaraṇas (Vīraśaiva saints) like Basava, Siddharāma, Muktāyakka, Akka Mahādevī, Goggayya and others.

His vacanas are a class by themselves and have successfully expressed deep spiritual experiences through wonderful similes.