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Bonthaadevi (ಬೊಂತಾದೇವಿ)

Full Name: Bonthaadevi
Pen Name (Vachana Signature): Bidaadi


Is there such a thing as
the space inside the town and
the space outside the town?
Is there such a thing as
the Brahmin space inside the town
the Holeya space outside the town?
Space is the same wherever you are.
It is the wall of your body
which names it inside and outside.
He who answers your call anywhere is Bidadi.
[Vachana No.1322] [1]

Bonthaadevi was the daughter of a king of Mandvyapura in Kashmir. Her earlier name was Nijaadevi. She came to Kalyaana and settled there. Many narratives and poems describe her heroic renunciation and secret devotion. 6 of her vachanas with the signature Bidaadi have been traced. They have expressed her spiritual quest, sense of equality and social concern.

Bontádévi is a princess turned a simple devotee. She is the daughter of the king of Mandavapur in Kashmir. Her original name was Nijadevi, Bontadevi being her nickname. Ever since her girlhood, she had been a devotee of Siva. Having developed aversion for worldly pleasures right from her childhood, Nijadevi renounced everything. Stripped herself naked, she started towards Kalyana. There goes a story to prove her fidelity to Siva. While she was going naked towards Kalyana, Lord Siva, in order to test her staunch Siva-devotion (Śivabhakti), assuming the form of a handsome youth, presents himself before Nijadevi and presses her to marry him. Knowing him to be none else than Lord Siva, she replies - When you are a destroyer of Kāma, the God of desire, how to marry you?" Then again, after sometime, Lord Siva assumes the form of a merchant and presses her to marry him. Knowing him to be for sure Lord Siva Himself, Nijadevi asks—'you have two wives and three sons. Then how to marry you?" Then Lord Siva immensely pleased by her unflinching devotion to Siva, grants her a blanket [Bonthe] and tells her to wear it. Since then Nijadevi has become Bontádévi, one who wears a blanket.

When in course of time, with revolution breaking out in Kalyāna, all the Sharanas leave Kalyāņa, Bontādēvi stays at Kalyāņa till the end of her life and conceals her devotion in such a way that none knows her to be a devotee, till she goes to Kailāsa along with her body and the Lord Śiva given blanket. When her end draws near, she makes her blanket a magic carpet, and sitting on it, she goes to Kailāsa.

Bontadevi has written five vachanas bearing the signature Bidadi, which means a run loose and symbolizes Lord Siva who is an ever free wanderer in one of her vachanas, Bontidevi pleads for equality among all humans, saying that the division of space and land into outer and inner is artificial, and therefore, it should be stopped. It is ridiculous to divide space into the outer and the inner spheres, and to bifurcate the only one land into the land of the rich and the land of the poor as also to divide a village into the colony of Brahmins and the colony of Pariahs.


[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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