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Speaking of Siva (Penguin Classics) Paperback


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Speaking of Siva (Penguin Classics) + The Bhagavad-Gita : Krishna's Counsel in Time of War (Bantam Classics) + The Ramayana: A Shortened Modern Prose Version of the Indian Epic (Penguin Classics)
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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics
  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Reprint edition (August 30, 1973)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140442707
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140442700
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.1 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #491,434 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)

About the Author

Translated with an introduction by A. K. Ramanujan

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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Patrick A Daley on April 27, 2002
Format: Paperback
These are fascinating medieval Bhakti poems by four Virasaiva saints, devoted to the Hindu god, Siva, translated from the Kannada language. I am in no position to judge the accuracy of the translation, but they read very well. I should point out that they were not polytheists but monotheists who worshipped God under the form of Siva, just as others, for example, would worship the one god under the form of Vishnu.
These four poets, Dasimayya, Basavanna, Allamu, and my favorite, Mahadeviyakka, flourished in the tenth to twelfth centuries. They wrote short poems called vacanas, and according to the translator, A. K. Ramanujan, the are the greatest poets in that tradition. They are a selection of their works, and the identification by a number refers to other editions, and does not imply there are hundreds of poems in this relatively short book.
The Bhakti saints often broke away from the Hindu caste system and the elaborate temples and ritual systems in the name of personal relgion. Poem 820 by Basavanna illustrates this perfectly (p. 89):
"The rich
will make temples for Siva.
What shall I,
a poor man,
do?"
"My legs are pillars,
the body a shrine,
the head a cupola
of gold." (820)
These four religious poets were devoted to Siva and generally addressed their vacanas to him. They all give particular titles to their universal lord connected with their experience of him. Three of them use titles connected to particular places where they had their conversion experiences. Bassavana addressed his poems to the "lord of the meeting rivers," and Allamu Prabhu to the "Lord of Caves." Devada Desimayya's village had a temple devoted to Ramanatha, Rama's Lord, and he used that.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Ivan M. Granger from the Poetry Chaikhana on February 27, 2008
Format: Paperback
This book became an immediate favorite of mine ever since I picked up a copy of it a couple of years ago. Stunning poems from the Shiva bhakti tradition of India. Basavanna, Devara Dasimayya, Mahadevi, Allama Prabhu. The commentary in the book, though a little academic, is genuinely insightful. Enthusiastically recommended!
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By larissa shmailo on January 14, 2000
Format: Paperback
This poetry is of the 10th century Bhakti, or devotional yogic tradition, which eschewed academic traditions of prosody and style ("...I don't know anything about meter/ I don't know anything of rhyme/ As nothing will hurt you, My Lord Siva, I'll sing as I love..." one poet writes). The book features excellent translations from Kannada (a Dravidian language), especially of the work of Mahadevi-Akka, a Godiva-like figure who left wealth, marriage, home, and ultimately, her would-be teachers behind to wander naked and homeless in worship of her "Lord White as Jasmine." As the destroyer of illusions, Siva is a purveyor of truth, here found in this devotional poetry.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Susan E. Foley on August 1, 1998
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A collection of poems from southern India at about 1200 AD from the Siva cult, these poems range from profound intellectual theology to the loveliest of devotionalism. A find for readers from all traditions.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Anupa Chakravorty on September 16, 2008
Format: Paperback
If you are into Kannada vachanas (prose sayings) or would like to delve into the subject, this is the book for you. AK Ramanujan has beautifully brought out the intricacies of four great vachana composers in 12th century India and removes the veil from what might seem to be a formidable task for non-Kannada speakers. This book can be a great spiritual guide as well, if you are not particularly reading it for the vachanas' sake.
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