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Gundayyagala Punyastree Kethaladevi (ಗುಂಡಯ್ಯಗಳ ಪುಣ್ಯಸ್ತ್ರೀ ಕೇತಲದೇವಿ)

Full Name: Gundayyagala Punyastree Kethaladevi
Pen Name (Vachana Signature): Kumbheshwara
Kayaka (Occupation): Pottery


If the clay isn’t right, it cannot become a pot.
One cannot bond with a violator of vows.
If one did, there is no escape from hell.
As I know this, I shan’t, Kumbheshwara.
[Vachana No.1310] [1]

Gundayyagala Punyastree Kethaladevi (c. 1600 Post Basava Age) was the wife of Kumbaara Gundayya. She belonged to Bhalki (Bhallunke) of Bidar district. Pottery was their occupation. Two vachanas with her signature Kumbheshwara have been traced.

Kétale's full name is Kétaladevi. Kétale is the wife of Gundayya, a potter whose unflinching devotion to Siva is well known. Ketaladevi's Kāyaka was the same as that of her husband. Both husband and wife together pursued the Kāyaka of making pots. She was fairly educated. Under the influence of other Sharana as, Ketaladevi learnt not only to write Vachanas, but also to read Sanskrit which was a forbidden fruit to the Südras, of the two Vachanas ascribed to Kétaladévi, one contains a Sanskrit stanza, which is used by way of illustration and proof.

Kétaladévi's Vachanas too, like the Vachanas of the majority of women writers, deal with the theme of devotion and vow-keeping. That a vow is as good as one's life-breath is evident in her Vachanas. Also there is a story of a miracle associated with the vow-bound life of Kétaladevi. The story goes like this:

Kétaladévi's a vowed Kāyaka, besides making pots, was putting a hood of cloth over the head of Kumbhesvaralinga, which she observed without fail. But once, when she could not get any towel, she peeled off her chest and offered the towel of her own skin to Kumbhesvara, with which stunning act of staunch vow keeping God was pleased immensely. The signature of Kétaladevi's Vachanas is “Kumbhēśvara”.


[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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