Allama Mahaprabhu and the Yoga of Gentleness
“Allama was a very soft and gentle being.
In many ways, I can clearly say he was one of a kind in the whole history of humanity. He was an extraordinary being.”
Sadhguru tells the story of the yogi Siddhalinga’s challenge to Allama Mahaprabhu, and the extraordinary events that followed.
There is a very beautiful story in the yogic lore of Karnataka. This was a great yogi named Siddhalinga who lived in the region of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh in the Deccan Plateau of South India. He walked this region with such great authority, going everywhere and proving to everyone that he was the greatest yogi. He was on the path of Kayakalpa. Kaya means “the body,” and kalpa means to get your body into a different dimension altogether. These were the kind of yogis with mastery over the fundamental elements. With this kind of sadhana, they made their body so hard and stable. These are the kind of people who live for 300-400 years because they have stabilized their body with their mastery over the five elements in such a way that they continue to live beyond the normal span of human life. At the time of this story, they say Siddhalinga was already over 280 years old and he had made his body as hard as a diamond. In those days, all the weapons were made from either steel, brass, copper, or similar metals. So, no one could cut through his body with any weapon that was available. That was his pride. Wherever he went, he was always challenging people to prove that he was the greatest yogi.
Siddhalinga heard about Allama, another great yogi, who did not live like a yogi. Allama, who was generally known Allama Mahaprabhu, was a very beautiful sage and a devotee of Shiva. He was one yogi who was greatly respected in South India and still is. Many devotees such as Akka Mahadevi were in touch with Allama. Allama’s message of unconditional devotion and various other types of sadhana that he was giving to people were spreading in a big way during that time.
Allama was actually a king. He had his temporal duties so he dressed like a king and lived like one but he was a yogi. Siddhalinga dressed like a yogi and lived like a yogi. He had “yogi” painted all over his face. He did not like this man who dressed well, ate well and lived in a palace, but called himself a yogi. So he went to Allama and challenged him, “You call yourself a yogi? You call yourself a devotee of Shiva? Show me something. What have you got?”
Allama Mahaprabhu said, “You are the great yogi. It is best that you show what you can do.”
Siddhalinga pulled out a diamond-tipped sword, gave it to Allama and said, “Take this sword and hit me on my head with all your strength. Nothing will happen to me.”
Allama was amused. He took the sword, and with both his hands and all his might, smashed it on Siddhalinga’s head. The sword just bounced off because his body was so hard. Siddhalinga just stood there like a rock. He laughed, “See. You cannot do anything to me.” Then Siddhalinga said, “Now that you used the sword against me, I can also use it against you.”
Allama said okay. Siddhalinga took the sword and slashed Allama with it. The sword went right through him like he was thin air. It just passed through him. Siddhalinga swished this way and that way but the sword went through Allama again and again without even touching him. Then Siddhalinga bowed down and said, “I know the yoga of strength but I don’t know the yoga of gentleness,” and he became Allama’s disciple.
Allama inspired and created a whole genre of saints called Veerashaivas. Veerashaivas are warrior devotees. They are Shiva bhaktas but they bear arms. Allama was a very soft and gentle being. He had written thousands of couplets of such enormous depth and dimension. In many ways, I can clearly say he was one of a kind in the whole history of humanity. He was an extraordinary being.