Dasimayya : I’m the one who has the body

Devara Dasimayya was a tenth century Indian mystic who was devoted to Shiva. Tradition says that he was in the jungle, undergoing intense ascetic practices when Shiva appeared to him and urged him to stop punishing his body, and to lead a life in the world. Thereupon he renounced his asceticism, and took up the trade of a weaver. He taught a life of complete non-violence, even persuading local hunting tribes to give up meat, and instead provide for themselves by pressing and selling oil. HIs poems characteristically refer to ‘Ramanatha’, which means ‘the lord of Rama’ – in other words, Shiva.

I’m the one who has the body,
you’re the one who holds the breath.

You know the secret of my body,
I know the secret of your breath.

That’s why your body
is in mine.

You know
and I know, Ramanatha,

the miracle

of your breath
in my body.

Translation A. K. Ramanujan

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