Sep 16 2013

Allama Prabhu – If it rains fire

Published by at 10:22 am under Ivan's Story,Poetry

If it rains fire
by Allama Prabhu

English version by A. K. Ramanujan

If it rains fire
      you have to be as the water;

if it is a deluge of water
      you have to be as the wind;

if it is the Great Flood,
      you have to be as the sky;

and if it is the Very Last Flood of all the worlds,
      you have to give up self

and become the Lord.

— from Speaking of Siva, by A K Ramanujan

/ Photo by Longmont Times Call /

I missed Friday’s poem because I was caught in the massive flooding near Boulder, Colorado. I actually live just outside of Boulder in Longmont, Colorado. After several days of heavy rain, on Thursday an immense flood cut through the center of town, dividing it in two. Thousands had to evacuate their homes, including several of my friends. The northern bank of the flooding on our side of town came to within a few blocks of where we live — but my family and I are safe.

This photograph is from the flooded neighborhood within walking distance of where I live–

/ Photo by Reuters/John Wark /

– More photos of the flooding in my area here –

As the weather clears, people gather at the cordoned off edges of the floodwaters. Evacuated residents trying to catch glimpses of their inundated homes. People sharing the latest news and their personal stories. Where the waters have already started to recede, people show up with shovels and pumps and help each other dig out. Others show up with food to feed everyone. Some individuals just stand there struck dumb by immensity of what they just witnessed and survived.

Like all of us, I’ve seen plenty of disasters on television news, videos on the internet. (Far too many in recent years.) And, having been an adolescent in Southern California, I experienced a few earthquakes, and lived with the possibility of larger ones. But there is something truly stunning about experiencing the reality up close, being in the midst of such immense and unrelenting forces moving around you. I think what’s most startling is the absolute recognition that no human being is in control of that power. We live amidst immense feats of engineering and technology and collective human will, and there is something comforting about that sense of human domination. Witnessing a disaster like this first hand reminds you that human control is not absolute.

I have to admit that I feel a sense of relief with that recognition — at the same time as my heart breaks for the families struggling so terribly in the immediate turmoil. It’s a strange polarity of thought and feeling. Compassion, of course, wants me to keep everyone safe and free from trauma. But there is a certain aloof part of my awareness that is exhilarated by the flood, as if it brings life and not destruction. I don’t know that I can honestly justify both feelings at the same time, but somehow they exist together inside me. Perhaps it is a sign of the perversity of the human mind amidst overwhelming events.

Relinquishing that notion of human control offers a strange sort of peace. Instead of control and certainty, we encounter… awe. What’s more, we regain community with the planet. The immense forces of nature can serve to remind us that we never live exclusively in the man-made world. No matter how high we build, how powerful the tools we wield, no matter how we live, we always exist within nature’s world. In a terrible way, natural disasters remind us of our home.

It also reminds us of what is really important. We come together as families, as communities. We help each other without the chill of commerce. We put our hearts into our hands.

I am certainly not saying we need more disasters, but let us remember the lessons they teach. Better not to need the disaster to teach us that at all.

Yet, when the disaster occurs, let us us it — to expand the awareness, to open the heart, to release our grasp…

if it is the Great Flood,
      you have to be as the sky;

and if it is the Very Last Flood of all the worlds,
      you have to give up self

and become the Lord.

Sending many blessings out to all the flood survivors in my area.

Be safe everyone. And walk with a sense of awe.

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

9 responses so far

9 Responses to “Allama Prabhu – If it rains fire”

  1. Rachelon 16 Sep 2013 at 12:32 pm

    Dear Ivan,
    I just finally moved back to my home after Hurricane Sandy, nearly a year ago. My heart goes out to you and all who are in the midst of this powerful flood. All I can share is that in such moments to live fully in the mystery of the open heart seems to be the key. As situations arise, day by day ~~ one finds that Love is there…Sending compassion and much Love you You All….and thanks for keeping my spirit up during the aftermath of Sandy, as always, the poems were always healing…

  2. Claudiaon 16 Sep 2013 at 12:45 pm

    Raging Storms in the Spiritual Realm: A Holding Up People Poem
    A very rough poem…as I continue to hear and feel and perceive…
    and reach out… one crises after another….
    Claudia Hill Duffee, MA, 9/11/2013 – update 9/15/2013

    Oh my… the sky is falling…
    all over the town,
    all over the world
    stuff keeps pouring down.

    Yes… the sky is filling
    up with sadness,
    sickness, and yucky
    stuff… we can feel it
    hitting us – it’s all too much!

    And yes my people
    who are called by Jesus’ name
    are the only way
    to push back, in many ways…
    on all of these pressing pushing days
    … to push dismay – back and away
    through voices united and raised,
    singing prayers filled with praise…

    Oh My people who are called by My name,
    please hold up those, keep your arms
    raise… hold those who need Me…
    until your prayers bring release.

    Call forth… in unity
    Call forth… in humility
    Calls forth… love into humanity
    Call forth… peace into Syria

    Calm the raging storms in the spiritual realm
    to keep those storms
    from dropping more stuff down.

    Oh Lord be pleased to deliver (us), make haste to help (us)….

  3. Gingeron 16 Sep 2013 at 2:39 pm

    I am thankful to read and contemplate the poems you share, always. Some speak to me more than others, but I can harvest a message in each.

    Your insightful commentary adds to and enhances my interpretation.

    But I must say, that knowing you are safe in such hazardous conditions is the best message I can conceive!


  4. meganon 16 Sep 2013 at 2:52 pm

    I am glad that your family is safe Ivan – and agree that when you are in places and events that are much bigger and more powerful than human kind can or will ever be we are remined of a reality that we so often forget – that is that all we have in the end is other human beings and the relationships that we have with each other, love and compassion.

  5. bharation 16 Sep 2013 at 11:58 pm

    dear Ivan, by sharing your soul and beautiful insights into others’, you do much to ‘calm the raging storms in the spiritual realm’. The universe must be blessing you, some buried energies eagerly waiting to hand you your golden linga…
    i am grateful you offer the fare at this chaikhana without commercial exchange, so those like me are not cut out. My gratitude extends to those who contribute financially to your generosity. We are not separate, may we remember that always…

  6. Nasseron 17 Sep 2013 at 12:38 am

    Dear Ivan,

    Thanks God that youa and your family are intact. Even if you had lost your home that I am happy it did not happen, you had many other assets to keep going.

    Your brilliant mind and open heart will alway keep you safe and secured.
    God bless you.

  7. Jennyon 17 Sep 2013 at 6:38 am

    Yes! Have a sense of awe with every natural “disaster” in the news. The shattering of all of life’s material accumulations must be similar to death and the shattering of all mental/physical accumulations………what is left when all you know and surround yourself with is gone?

  8. Pegon 17 Sep 2013 at 9:38 am

    Thank you Ivan for sharing your experience. I, too, feel that the waters are cleansing and refreshing the earth and us, calling us to remember to check our egos at the door and release our attachment to materialism. For me, it was an extremely hard and difficult lesson to go through. Look at how many people are choosing to live in these new energies instead of hanging on to the old ways. These moments of what our media call disasters are actually grand heart openings. As the poet says also, breath, swim, float with the flow and allow all the past covered up heart ache to be brought to the service so you can finally love, nurture, and care for yourself while you fully, finally, and completely heal this pain.

    I am not just blowing smoke with what I say. I have been through full kundalini awakening that takes years to get through the transformation. It was brutal from the earth bound physical perspective. Many earth angels stepped in to help me when my physical body could not take any more. So to all those going through it, I am here holding beautiful, strong, powerful, balanced, love-filled thoughts. I love you my fellow earth humans. I celebrate our initiations into our graduate class.

    Jenny, what is left after the loss of “mental/physical accumulations” then is you or whomever, the pure you. The you that is not saddled with any attachments so the love that illumines you is pure and of the highest light. And, I am not saying someone is impure, it is just that trying to say this with words is difficult because language means less and less when light infuses all. It is about literal illumination out of duality.

  9. Therese Monaghan O.P.on 20 Sep 2013 at 7:43 am

    Ivan–your words of awareness in the midst of this crisis open depths of what to learn: vulnerability,
    compassion, community, love, trust in God’s Presence
    You and all those who have experienced this trauma–in varying degrees-continue to be in my thoughts and prayers. Therese

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