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Poet, Playwright & Professor of Theatre & Performance Studies, JNU, New Delhi

Date & Time

Tue, 22 Nov 2022 Wed, 23 Nov 2022

Location (for BIC Venue, BIC Hybrid and BIC Cafe)

Bangalore International Centre
7, 4th Main Road, Domlur II Stage
Bangalore, Karnataka 560071 India
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+91 98865 99675 bic@bangaloreinternationalcentre.org

Vachana expression has till now been identified with a sect of Shaivism called Virashaivism/Lingayatism. Its historical framework is considered to be 12th century, in Kalyana, the imperial capital of the Chalukyas and later, of Kalachuryas. The main progenitor of Lingayatism, say scholars, was Basavanna, Finance Minister of emperor Bijjala. The literature also further assumes that  Basavanna set-up in Kalyana Anubhava Mantapa, an assembly of saint-poets. The Vachana poets are supposed to have gathered in this assembly to debate matters spiritual, compose, read, and discuss each others’ compositions. The Lingayat literary harvest is said to be contemporaneous with the active period of Basavanna’s tenure with the emperor. This brief but intense poetic efflorescence was cut short by political upheavals caused by the violation of traditional caste rules. The questioning of the caste order and gender subjugation irritated the hegemony so much that it led to the unleashing of violence against the followers of the new sect.

This episode of BIC talks which outlines the new approach to literary and cultural context of Vachanas was the second of the four part masterclass titled The Paths of the Hand, Heart and Void, by Prof H S Shivaprakash on the Vachana efflorescence of Karnataka examines the neglected contribution and philosophy of artisan Vachana poets, to show that it was an independent soteriological approach different from Bhakti and mysticism.

Recommended background readings:

A.K. Ramanujan, Speaking of Shiva

Velcheru Narayana Rao, Shiva’s Warriors

Manu Devadevan, A Pre-history of Hinduism

Ayyappa Panikkar: Medieval Indian Literature, 4 vols .

Sisir Kumar Das: History of Indian Literature, 3 vols

Manu Devadevan: God Is Dead, There Is No God (Vachanas of Allama)

H. S. ShivaprakashI Keep Vigil of Rudra

H. S. ShivaprakashThe Word in the World



HS Shivaprakash

Poet, Playwright & Professor of Theatre & Performance Studies, JNU, New Delhi

HS Shivaprakash retired as Professor of Theatre and Performance Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University,  New Delhi in June 2018. He was born in 1954 in Bangalore.

He is the author of 9 books of poems, 15 plays and 3 critical works in Kannada, which are widely discussed, performed and translated into several Indian languages as well as into English, Spanish, French, Italian German, Polish, Romanian, Lithuanian, Slovak, Turkish Arabic.

He has won of several book prizes from the Karnataka Sahitya Akademi for his books of poems, translations and plays.

Shivaprakash’s areas of academic interest include theatre/literary history, Indian theatre, Medieval Studies, Comparative Literature, translation and folklore.

He has been recognised with the prestigious Rajyotsava Award from Karnataka State (2006) and Sangeet Natak Akademi Award from National Theatre Akademi (1997), Sahitya Akademi (2012), Karnataka Sahitya Academy Award (2016), Kuvempu Bhasha Bharati Tanslation Award (2016) and Kusumagraj Kavya Puraskar (2017)

In the year 2000, Shivaprakash was part of the International Writing Program in School of Letters, University of Iowa, USA.

He has formerly held various positions over the years, including Editor, Indian Literature, the journal of National Akademi of Letters; Dean, SAA, JNU; Director, The Tagore Centre, Berlin, German.

Shivaprakash has participated in many important poetry festivals all over India and several in USA, Latin America, Africa, and Asia. He has also travelled, lectured and read poetry in various countries in Europe, Asia and the Americas.

His important English publications include Like Earth to Stars (Mumbai, 2018), Guru:Ten Doors to Ancient Wisdom (New Delhi, 2018), Everyday Yogi (New Delhi, 2014), In Other Words (Mumbai, 2014), Autumn Ways (New Delhi, 2011) I Keep Vigil of Rudra (Penguin Classics, 2009), Traditional India Theatre (New Delhi, 2006), Indian Theatre in 2000 (edited) (New Delhi, 2011), Mahachaitra and other plays.