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Akkamma (ಅಕ್ಕಮ್ಮ)

Full Name: Akkamma
Pen Name (Vachana Signature): Aacharave Praanavaada Raameshwaralinga

Those who are in the nude are the children of donkeys;
Those who are tonsured are the children of widows;
Those who have matted hair are the children of holyes;
How does it matter which kind?
Awareness is that counts,
Aacharave Praanavaada Raameshwaralinga
. [Vachana No. 1255] [1]

Akkamma was born at Eleshwara (Eleri) and died at Basava Kalyana. Some 154 vachanas under the signature line Ramalingeshwara linga which is the life-breath of achara have been found. Her vachanas rank next to Akka Mahãdvi’s. Akkamma’s vachanas emphasize the importance of adherence to vows and righteous conduct. They also emphasize the importance of Käyaka in pursuit of Linga worship and Jangama - Dasoha. Discipline, devotion, observance and purity of life are the core principles of her vachanas.

A guru, if unethical, should not be followed.
A linga, if unethical, should not be worshipped.
A jangama, if unethical, should not be entertained.
Right conduct is the essence.
Vow is life.
Action is knowledge.
Knowledge is right conduct.
Right conduct is your very life
O, Aacharave Praanavaada Raameshwaralinga
[Vachana No. 1248] [1]

Her vachanas lack in poetic quality, but they are a store house of information about the social and religious conditions prevailing at Kalyana during the twelveth century. The reference to crops, birds and domestic animals, folk belief, custom and occupational terminologies in these vachanas help us in understanding the social conditions of the time.

Among the women Vachana writers in whom Achára took precedence over Vrata and Kayaka, Akkamma stands first. Except a name nothing is known about her. Her Vachanas were scattered and found in different bundles of manuscripts and attributed to two persons-Akkamma and Remmavve. Some Vachanas were found in the bundle-Sakala Puratanara Vacanagalu beginning with Goggavve's Vachanas, and some others in the bundle-Sakala Puratanara Vacanagalu, beginning with Kola Santayya's Vachanas. It is strange that 152 Vachanas bearing the ankita [signature] ‘Ramesvaralińga were found in the manuscript containing Elesvara Ketayya's vachanas. This led the scholars to conclude that Akkamma and Elesvara Ketayya must have been closely related. Dr.R.C.Hiremath put an end to the debate whether all the Vachanas with “Ramesvaralinga' signature belong to Akkamma or Remmavve by publishing all the Vachanas in Akkamma's name. Finally, it was accepted that Akkamma was known by the name Remmavve too. Akkamma, with 154 Vachanas being attributed to her, ranks next to Akkamahādevi in terms of bulk of the Vachanas composed by women writers.

Akkamma and Amuge Rāyamma had similar socio-religious concerns and the same degree of indignation against the high caste people and the deviators from vows and good conduct. But Akkamma is less trenchant in satirizing the oppressors and the vow-breakers. Akkamma gives more importance to conduct (Achara) where as Rayamma gives more importance to awareness. Her vachanas belong to the Maheswara Sthala which is characterized by unflinching faith in the tenets of Lingayathism and dauntless courage to vindicate them. Righteous conduct is her life-breath. She holds that righteous conduct brings discipline to every devotee, and without discipline nothing can be achieved. She emphasizes through her Vachanas the need to follow the code of conduct. Even Guru, Linga and Jangama cannot escape the code of conduct prescribed. She thinks that the virtues of body, mind, breath, action and knowledge can be exhibited through conduct. Whosoever violates the code of conduct [the five-fold conduct] which the Maheswara Sthala enjoins on a devotee, will be treated as an outcaste:

Whosoever violates the code of conduct,
Be he the Guru, none can follow him.
Be he the Linga, none can worship him;
Be he the Jangama, none can join him.
Conduct is body;
Vow is vital breath;
Action is knowledge;
Conduct is Αcharave Prāņavāda Rāmēšvaraliiga Himself [svs, vol. v. v. 401]

Akkamma does not spare the unrighteous persons. She flays the unrighteous persons for their ostentatious behavior and hypocritical nature.

All those who are naked are donkey’s offspring.
All those with shaven heads are widow’s offspring.
All those with knotted hair are Pariah’s offspring.
Whatever be the case, consciousness is important. [svs, vol. v. v 447]

In such Vachanas as the following her satire against the unrighteous is unbridled:

Look at the elders with beard like that of a goat!
Those who behave arrogantly
Insisting on payment of tributes,
And those who Giving up right conduct Acquire bad conduct,
And become angry with devotees
And mingle with the corrupt,
Are fit to go to hell,
In Acharave Prānavāda Rāmēšvaralinga [SVS, Vol. v. v. 507]

Conduct and consciousness [awareness] gain prime importance with Akkamma. Likewise, in Akkamma, vow-keeping [Vratachara] draws as much attention as conduct and consciousness. She describes vrata as consisting in not inviting blame on account of other's woman and wealth, and good conduct as consisting in showing compassion to all living creatures and desiring always their welfare.

Akkamma mounts a fierce attack on evil mongers, like tale bearers, guileful lechers, and double dealers, who generate ill-will among people and breed such diseases as would corrupt both individuals and society. For example:

It is no spring, if you have to carry water to it.
He is no devotee, if he carries tales.
- - - - - - - - - - -
Why the daily observance of vows
For the shameless one
Who calls another’s wife mother?
In her husband's presence
And when he is dead and gone, calls her wife? [svs. vol. V, V. 369]

Akkamma's Vachanas depict the social conditions of her time in which women lived, defying orthodox religion and defending herself-her rights to freedom and equality-against oppressive traditions.


[1] "VACHANA" English Version Translation by: O.L. Nagabhushana Swamy, ISBN: 978-93-81457-12-2, 2012, Pub: Basava Samithi, Basava Bhavana Benguluru 560001.
[2] Shivasharaneyaru, by: Shri Somashekhar Munavalli and Shri Siddhayya Puranik, 1994, Pub: Shree Basaveshwara Peetha, Karnataka University Dharwad-580003.
[3] Heaven of Equality, Transalted by: Dr. C. R.Yaravintelimath and Dr. M. M. Kalburgi, 2003, Pub: Shree Basaveshwara Peetha, Karnataka University Dharwad-580003.

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