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VIDEO: EMPTINESS, A suite of Mahadeviyakka

Commissioned by Amy Pivar Dances for Songs for Solo Dance and Voice

Mahadeviyakka (India, 12th c.)

Mahadeviyakka was born in the Indian village of Udatadi, and wrote in the Kanada dialect.  A disciple of Shiva and the paths of Oneness from the age of ten, she was forcibly married to the local ruler – a Jain – but left him to take up again the life of an ecstatic devoted only to Shiva, whom she addresses in her poems as her White Jasmine Lord and only truly satisfactory lover.  She gave up conventional dress along with conventional life and traveled the countryside alone.  Stories say that when she died in her twenties she disappeared into a burst of light.  Mahadeviyakka’s abiding theme is the complete sufficiency of her experience of the oneness of self and the divine.

From: WOMEN IN PRAISE OF THE SACRED: 43 Centuries of spiritual poetry by women – ed./trans. Jane Hirshfield, HarperCollins, 1994


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