Evolution in Akka Mahadevi's Perception of ‘Body’
Keywords:Devotion, Body consciousness, guilt and shame, salvation
Saint literature in India concentrates on salvation through union with God. The saints, jnanis, devotees, yogis chose their different paths for the same. The greatest hindrance they all find is ‘the body’, body consciousness. Though the body is the means to this end, its senses and desires have always been proved to be a stumbling block in the spiritual progress of all these categories of pilgrims on the path. Hence the male saints avoid company of women as they find it difficult to resist the charm of the female body. Something different happens when the charmer herself carves her way out to God in the male dominated world. It becomes a matter of curious enquiry how exactly they accept the ‘reality’ of body which against their will arouses passion in men. As they are treated as means to satisfy the physical desires of their husbands (the males) they can’t say ‘no’ to their demands. Thus the sorry fact in this patriarchal world remains that they don’t have control over their own body. Akka Mahadevi, a woman saint of the twelfth century found herself in the similar dilemma. Akka Mahadevi, a devotee to God Shiva, shows unusual courage in declining a marriage proposal by a king who was enamoured by her beauty .When she has to accept it owing to his threats; she accepts it on three conditions. Though as a devotee she tries to fix her mind on the sublime level, she has to submit her body to the lustful whims of the king. This arouses a sense of ‘guilt’, ‘sin’ in her mind. Hence there are repeated references to body in her Vachanas. As she progresses on the path of devotion her initial guilty consciousness and shame associated with body subsides and a new awareness about body dawns. She understands that the body is a means of salvation
And there are possibilities of transformation of body. This paper tries to show this evolution of the relationship with body in Akka Mahadevi's Vachanas.
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