In part 1 of the “Women and Spirituality” series, we looked at women on the path of Kriya Yoga. In part 2, Sadhguru spoke of how Indian spirituality has always been a rich mixture of men and women. In part 3, Sadhguru tells us about Akka Mahadevi, one of the many intense women who were absolutely devoted to Shiva, the Adiyogi.
Sadhguru: Akka Mahadevi was a devotee of Shiva. Right from childhood she had completely given herself to Shiva and she looked upon him as her husband. A king saw her one day and she was so beautiful that he wanted to marry her. Akka refused but then the king threatened her, “If you don’t marry me, I will kill your parents.” So, she married the man but she kept him at a physical distance. He tried to woo her but she kept saying, “I am not married to you. I married Shiva long ago. He visits me and I am with him. I cannot be with you.”
This was too much for the king to take and one day he decided, “What is the point of having a wife like this? How does one live with a wife who is married to some unseen man, somewhere?” There was no formal divorce in those days and he was just distraught. He did not know what to do. So he brought her to his court and asked the court to decide. When the court asked her, she kept talking about her husband elsewhere. This was not hallucinatory, it was 100% real for her. Your imagination, if it is empowered by life energies, it becomes reality, 100%.
The king got angry because in front of all these people, his wife was claiming that her husband was elsewhere. 800 years ago, socially it was not a simple thing to take for a king. So in great anger, he said, “If you are already married to somebody, what are you doing with me? Everything that you wear, the jewels, the clothes – everything is mine. Leave them here and go.” Those days in India, there was no way a woman even thought of leaving her husband’s house at all. But in the full assembly of the court, Akka Mahadevi – a young woman of 18 years – just dropped all her clothes and left. She refused to wear clothes from that day onwards.
Akka Mahadevi wrote hundreds of beautiful poems about Shiva and her devotion. Her devotion was such that every day she begged him, “Shiva let no food come my way. Let my body also express the longing and anguish that I am going through to become part of you. If I eat, my body will be satisfied. My body will not know what I am feeling. So let no food come towards me. If food does come into my hands, let it fall down in the mud before I put it into my mouth. If it falls in the mud, the fool that I am, before I pick it up, let a dog come and take it away.” This was her daily prayer.
Devotees are a completely different kind of people. They just have one foot in this world. Their ways of living and the power with which they exist is completely other-worldly.
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