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Akkanagamma (ಅಕ್ಕನಾಗಮ್ಮ, ಅಕ್ಕನಾಗಲಾಂಬಿಕೆ)

Full Name: Akka Naagamma
Alias Name: Naagamma and Naagalambike
Pen Name (Vachana Signature): Basavannapriya Chennasangayya

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Akka Nagamma

As lord of the mind
Mahadeva has perceived our minds
he makes mortals say unspeakable words,
don't be anxious o mind,
don't be distraught o body,
don't forget the truth
be at peace o heart.
Basavapriya Chennasangaiah can
with the flick of a finger
make a mountain of misdeeds disappear.
[Vachana No.1315] [1]

Naagalambike is also called Naagamma and Akka Naagamma and she was the elder sister of Basavanna. Maadarasa was her father and Maadalambike her mother. She was born at Ingaleshwara in Bagewadi. Shivadeva was her husband Chennabasavanna her son. She played a great part in the shaping the life of Basavanna. Nagalambike showed an exemplary efficiency at Mahamane and Anubhavamantapa. After the revolution of Kalyaana she went to Uluvi leading the other sharanas. She died on the banks of Yennehole at Tarikere in Chikkamagalur district. 15 of her vachanas with the signature phrase Basavannapriya Chennasangayya are available.

She became the second Lingayat by recieving Deekshe from first Lingayat Basavanna.

She fought with Bijjala's solidier's and protected the Vachana Sahithya (literatures). After Kalyana revolution sharanas were travelled in different direction, Akka leaded one group and travelled towards Ulavi .

Nāgalâmbike or Nāgamma, the mother of Chennabasavanna and the sister of Basavana, was highly respected among the throng of Sharanas at Kalyāna. She was also called respectfully Akkanāgamma, the epithet Akka being a term of respect. She was a mother-figure to all the Sharanas, especially to Nilambike. If Nilâmbike had significant roles to play in the shaping of the personality of Basavanna in the later part of his life, it was Nāgalâmbike who exerted immense influence on Basavanna in the early formative part of his life. She was a strong and brave woman who could guide and lead the bewildered Sharana during the disturbances that broke out, following the execution of Haralayya and Madhuvarasa. Bravely did she lead the band of Sharanas carrying the bundles of Vachana manuscripts from Kalyāna to Ulavi.

Not much is known about Nāgalâmbike's life either at Bagewadi or at Kudalasangama. The little that we know about her is that she was initiated into mysticism at an early age by her brother Basavanna. Nägalambike was debarred from performing religious rites on the ground of her being a woman, which enraged Basavanna. Basavanna encouraged his sister to study the ancient scriptures and to become an accomplished spiritual guide, which she proved in the later part of her life. Nägalambike was married to Śhivaswamy (Shivadeva) of Ingalesvara, the birth place of her mother. Not much is known about Shivaswamy. Except a few oblique references, literary records are silent about Shivaswamy. All that we can gather is that he was an unassuming type and shy of public notice. So it seems he preferred to remain in the background.

The best part of Nāgalâmbike's life was spent in the company of Sharanas at Kalyāna. If in the first half of her life, Basavanna figures prominently, in the second half, her own son Chennabasavanna, a born “wonder-head", a Great Jnani, figures. If she is influenced by Basavanna in her early life, she herself becomes a guiding spirit and a fountain-head of inspiration for her son and several others. At the Anubhava Mantapa as well as at the Mahāmane, Nägalambike was a prominent Sharane; she shared her mystic experience with other Sharanas through conversation as well as vachanas. Ably did she play the role of the “elder sister” in the life of Basavanna and that of the divine mother in the life of Chennabasavanna.

Chaos reigned in Kalyāna after the murder of the pious persons –Haralayya and Madhuvarasa—who had consented to their children's inter-caste marriage. Stunned Basavanna soon left Kalyana for Kudalasangama under unavoidable circumstance. However, Basavanna's mission was carried forward by Chennabasavanna under the stern guidance of his own mother Nāgalâmbike. After the assassination of Bijjala, when things went out of control, the much scared Sharana throng dispersed and ran helter-skelter. But Nāgalâmbike who had known her brother's heart's desire resolved to save the treasure of vachanas at any cost. So she led one wing of the Sharana battalion carrying the bundles of vachana manuscripts towards Ulavi. In her band were Chennabasavanna and Gangāmbike. Their mission of saving the vachanas from destruction at the hands of Bijjala’s army was successful. But on the way they lost some precious souls. Gangāmbike was one of them.

When they reached Ulavi Chennabasavanna was feverishly at work, writing and preaching the tenets of Lingayathism. Once he completed the work assigned to him by Basavanna, he decided to stage an exit from this world. When he went and told his mother about the time to bid goodbye to her and the world had come, Nāgalâmbike had a great shock, for she had already lost her brother Basavanna whom she loved as much as she did her own son, and his two wives wife whom she regarded as her daughters and several others who were equally dear to her. Indeed, Nägalāmbike was a tower of strength to absorb all the shocks. After the death of Chennabasavanna, Nāgalâmbike left Ulavi accompanied by a few selected Sharanas [Nuliya Candayya was one of them.] to preach the gospel of the new religion. She went as far as Tarikere in Chikkamagalur district, with the help of Nuliya Candayya, she established a math at Ennehole [near Tarikere] where she spent her last days. Her Samadhi [tomb] is still located there.

We do not know how many vachanas Nāgalâmbike wrote. If Vachanas could be taken as authentic documents, according to one Vachana by Siddharama, Allamaprabhu wrote one hundred sixty crores, Basavanna wrote four lakhs thirty six thousand, Nīlamma wrote eleven thousand, Gangāmbike wrote one lakh eight thousand, Akkanågåvi [Nāgalâmbike] wrote three lakhs ninety-six thousand, Hadapada Appanna wrote eleven thousand and Marulasiddha, sixty-eighty thousand Vachanas. Although Siddharama's Vachana attributes three lakhs and ninety six thousand Vachanas to Năgalâmbike, only fourteen Vachanas have survived the mass destruction. Had not Nägalambike and other brave and committed Sharanas carried the bundles of precious Vachana manuscripts at their back, even the small portion that is available now would not have reached us. Nāgalâmbike's Vachanankita is “Basavanna Priya Chennasangayya'. The majority of Nagalambike's vachanas that are available now are in praise of Basavanna. However, now and then, she mentions Akkamahādevi, Allamaprabhu, Ajaganna, Rēvanasiddayya, Madivāļa Mācideva, Animişadēva, Ghattiwālayya and her son Chennabasavanna. The Vachanas devoted to Basavanna's praise seem to have been written after his passing away since they are expressions of sorrow caused by his death. She says in one of the Vachanas:

O the hoard of devotion!
O the incarnation of liberation!
O the dynamic spirit of Linga and Jangama!
How can I endure the pang of separation from you?

Also she sings of Basavanna's power of annihilating the Himalayan blunders just at the touch of his finger:

Great God, the lord of my mind
Makes each one of the mortals say one thing
O mind do not vex,
O body do not be anxious,
Do not forget the truth,
Be care free, O mind.
Basavaņņa Priya Chennasangayya
Will wipe out the Himalayan crime
With just one finger [svs, Vol. V, V. 715]

Almost all women writers of vachanas speak of the importance of discipline [achara] in practicing devotion. Nāgalâmbike too falls in line with the rest of the women writers in upholding the importance of Āchāra. Also she is remembered as a maker of many Sharanas and Sareneyas as well as a writer of Vachanas. Her contemporaries, like Köla Šantayya, Marulašankaradēva, Äydakki Lakkamma have written laudatory Vachanas on her. She is the mother of all mothers and a sister to all the Sharanas. Among the women who exerted their influence on Basavanna, Nägalambike is the most outstanding. That Akkanāgamma was the mother-figure among of a Lingayat women is borne out by Nilamma's following vachana:

O ye mother who feed me on milk!
O ye mother, who show me bliss t
O ye mother who are absorbed in the Supreme Bliss:
O ye mother who are Master and Mother to Basava!
O mother Akkanāgamma,
Did you merge in Sangayya? [SVS, Vol. V, V. 748]

References

[1] "VACHANA" English Version Translation by: O.L. Nagabhushana Swamy, ISBN: 978-93-81457-12-2, 2012, Pub: Basava Samithi, Basava Bhavana Benguluru 560001.

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