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This series of lectures attempts to critique the more popular and currently accepted accounts of Vachana expression. First of all, Shivaprakash’s approach problematizes the relationship between Vachanas and Lingayatism. It also seeks to demonstrate that Bhakti traditions cannot be seen independently of Natha/Siddha traditions. Though Basavanna’s role in the formation of Vachana focus cannot be denied, it is in fitness of things, in the light of the range and number of castes actively involved, to see the Vachana efflorescence as a collective expression of all the castes and communities of Karnataka.
Whereas the available literature has emphasized the devotional and mystical elements, this approach will emphasize the contribution of Vachana poets from the artisan class who evolved their own spiritual philosophy of Kayakayoga (the Yoga of labour), which is unique in our spiritual traditions. The framework of pan-Indian Bhakti is also interrogated in these lectures. The argument is placed that Bhakti traditions cannot be seen independently of Natha-Siddha and Saman traditions which have different spiritual orientations.
Those among Vachana poets whose philosophy and poetry is coeval with Siddha and Nirguna poets from elsewhere in India will be discussed. This episode is the last of series of four lectures that were originally part of a masterclass that took place in the BIC premises in late july and early august titled The Paths of the Hand, Heart and Void by Prof. HS Shivaprakash – poet, playwright and educator.
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. Shivaprakash, I Keep Vigil of Rudra
H. S. Shivaprakash, The Word in the World
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.