Hinduism and Tribal Religions

Living Edition
| Editors: Jeffery D. Long, Rita D. Sherma, Pankaj Jain, Madhu Khanna

Akka Mahādevī

Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-024-1036-5_296-1



Akka Mahādevi is a woman saint of medieval South India, who uttered vacanas, a spontaneous verbalization of experiences while on the path of enlightenment. Her 300 and odd vacanas are mostly short couplets and dialogic in nature. They are addressed to her favorite deity, Chennamallikārjuna, or to others around her, always ending with an invocation of the deity, a form of Śiva. Akka Mahādevi also composed the Yogānga Trividhi, which refers to a number of spiritual paths, while emphasizing on the significance of her own path and elucidating and recording her experiences. The prefix “Akka” means sister and could be a respectful form of addressing a renunciate.


Hagiographical sources record her birthplace as Udutadi and her parents as Vimala and Sumati. These texts tell us that Akka Mahādevi was a rudrakannike, a heavenly maid or a “pure portion” of Pārvati, Śiva’s spouse, who came down to earth with a mission. The available sources on...

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Women’s StudiesSan Diego State UniversitySan DiegoUSA