May 15 2013

Allama Prabhu – Looking for your light

Published by at 8:44 am under Poetry

Looking for your light
by Allama Prabhu

English version by A. K. Ramanujan

Looking for your light,
I went out:

      it was like the sudden dawn
      of a million million suns,

      a ganglion of lightnings
      for my wonder.

      O Lord of Caves,
      if you are light,
      there can be no metaphor.

— from Speaking of Siva, by A K Ramanujan

/ Photo by Aah-Yeah /

We’re back. (Okay, I know– You were here waiting patiently for the next poem email. I guess I should say, I’m back.) Now, on with the poetry…

I was surprised to realize that I haven’t featured this poem in several years. It is one of my favorite poems to emerge from the Virasaiva poet-saints in India. It is so short, sharp, like a lightning strike, yet the phrasing suggests recollection, giving it also a dreamy, musing quality, as if recalling that first blinding kiss from the beloved.

Light is a central image in sacred poetry, suggesting the Divine not framed within a mental concept. But for genuine mystics, this light is no mere concept; it is directly experienced…

This sense of light is more than a brightness one might experience on a sunny afternoon. This light is perceived as being a living radiance that permeates everything, everywhere, always. It is a radiance that outshines everything–

like the sudden dawn
of a million million suns.

This light is immediately understood to be the true source of all things, the foundation on which the physicality of the material world is built.

The sense of boundaries and separation, long taken for granted by the mind as the fundamental nature of existence, suddenly seems illusory, for this light shines through all people and things. It has no edges, and the light of one is the light of another.

Looking for your light,
I went out.

Seeing yourself and the entire world radiant with this light, the old notion of a separate self is lost. Only the light truly exists. Everything else is a shifting game of light.

Seeing this light, “there can be no metaphor.” Nothing can be compared to anything else, for everything is recognized as being that light. In this divine light, it is all one already.

Allama Prabhu, Allama Prabhu poetry, Yoga / Hindu poetry Allama Prabhu

India (12th Century) Timeline
Yoga / Hindu : Shaivite (Shiva)

Allama Prabhu was a contemporary of Basavanna and Mahadevi in the Shiva bhakti movement of the Kannada-speaking regions in southern India. While Basavanna was considered the primary organizer of the community, Allama was in many ways thought of as the spiritual leader, the most realized of these realized poet-saints.

Many of his poems are addressed to Shiva as Guhesvara or “the Lord of Caves.” A popular story is told about the life of Allama Prabhu to explain this name: Allama was said to have been a temple drummer when he fell in love with a beautiful young woman. But the woman caught fever and died. In his grief, Allama abandoned everything and began to wander. One day, he was sitting desolate in a field and noticed something strange — the golden cupola of a buried temple. He began to dig about it until he found the doorway and managed to enter the excavated temple-cave. There he found a yogi absorbed in deep meditation. The yogi handed Allama a linga, the symbol of Shiva, and then the yogi expired. In that very instant, Allama was enlightened.

More poetry by Allama Prabhu

5 responses so far

5 Responses to “Allama Prabhu – Looking for your light”

  1. Therese Monaghan O.P.on 15 May 2013 at 12:51 pm

    This poem made me think of St. John of the Cross’s
    opening lines from the Dark Night of the Soul:
    One dark night fired with love’s urgent longings. . .
    no other light or guide than the One that
    burned in my heart.
    This guided me more surely than the light of the moon. . .

  2. Therese Monaghan O.P.on 15 May 2013 at 12:54 pm

    just to finish… I thought of being guided by the Light in darkness as well–Toda de nada
    Thank you,Ivan. Glad you’re back.

  3. Sobhanaon 15 May 2013 at 1:46 pm

    Welcome back Ivan As always wonderful pieces!

    Now no wonder reading & understanding the poems … Supreme Being/God/Bhagwan is Absolute Truth

    Thank you for sharing

  4. simonbaghon 15 May 2013 at 10:13 pm

    love is the light, the most creative might
    life the path that terminates to its height

  5. Kathy Stewarton 17 May 2013 at 5:07 am

    I love this one, Ivan. The experience of this LIGHT is blinding, of all usual concepts, and there is just this. just this.

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