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Book Review

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KANNADA

Commentary on Vachanas

V. GOPALAKRISHNA

SHARANARA AAYDA VACHANAGALA VYAKHYANA — Vol.13: Commentary by Mathe Vagdevi and Mathe Kumudini; Rs.100; Vol.14: By O.L. Nagabhushana Swamy; Rs. 60. Both the books pub. by Jagadguru Sri Shivarathreeshwara Granthamale, Mysore-570004.

‘VACHANA' LITERATURE is a unique to Kannada language. Simple in diction, it combines the lucidity of prose with the rhythm of poetry. The vachanas are the spontaneous utterances of Veerasaiva saints, serving as guide-posts for man in his endeavour to move from the ephemeral to the eternal. Through the centuries, scholars have viewed these vachanas from different angles revealing several aspects of humankind and culminating in the universal principle of surrendering oneself to God by the simple means of kayaka (honest profession), which is open to everyone irrespective of one's caste or creed.

Of the two books under review, the first covers 10 composers, most of them contemporaries of Basavanna. The second carries the compositions of nine, who lived between the 15th and 19th centuries. Although biographical details of these composers are not available in full, the prefixes to the personal names such as Talavara (town-watchman), Turugahi (cowherd), and Goni (a sack made of jute) indicate their profession. The profusion of similes, metaphors, images, proverbs, and aphorisms is highlighted in the commentaries. The vachanas of the Basava period emphasise the doctrine of Veerasaivism, whereas the post-Basava compositions give importance to the theological study of the vachanas. The word-index and the alphabetical list of the vachanas will be helpful for researchers.

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