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Hinduism & Sexuality: Soole Sankavva, a prostitute saint

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Sankavva was a 12th century Poet & Saint (shiva sharane), she was a prostitute by profession. She is said to have come under the influence of Basavanna's movement. She gained respect of people and is considered a saint for her involvement with the movement, though her profession was looked down upon at her time. 

What fascinates here is the vast acceptance that anyone can be spiritual and one's profession doesn't decide how spiritual they are.

She comes off as an open-minded, spiritually tall woman. She uses the ankita (pen name) "Nirlajjeshwara" meaning "Shiva, one without shame". She is said to have added "soole" meaning "prostitute" in front of her name to show it to the world that even a prostitute can become a saint.

Only one of her poems is said to have survived time, it was named "In my harlot’s trade"

"ಒತ್ತೆಯ ಹಿಡಿದು ಮುತ್ತೊತ್ತೆಯ ಹಿಡಿಯೆ
ಹಿಡಿದೆಡೆ ಬತ್ತಲೆ ನಿಲಿಸಿ ಕೊಲ್ಲುವರಯ್ಯಾ
ವ್ರತಹೀನನರಿದು ಬೆರೆದಡೆ
ಕಾದ ಕತ್ತಿಯಲ್ಲಿ ಕೈಕಿವಿ ಮೂಗ
ಕೊಯ್ವರಯ್ಯಾ ಒಲ್ಲೆನೊಲ್ಲೆ ಬಲ್ಲೆನಾಗಿ
ನಿಮ್ಮಾಣೆ ನಿರ್ಲಜ್ಜೇಶ್ವರಾ"

"Once bespoken to a customer, I will not be bespoken again.

And if I do, They’ll stand me naked and kill me sir.

And if I cohabit with the polluted,

My hands nose ears they’ll cut off

with a red-hot knife, sir, Ah, never, no, Knowing you I will not.

My word on it, O Shiva, one without shame"

Sankavva reassures Lord Shiva of her Love, she compares how in her profession its forbidden to go out with someone other than who has taken her first. She is hinting that she has already taken Shiva's hand and whover she is with now as part of her profession is not in her mind, only Shiva.


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