We have heard multiple stories about devotion, but this particular story of a young girl who was an ardent devotee of Lord Shiva tells us how true devotion can help one overcome the mental limitations and barriers set for an individual in a society. Akka Mahadevi is a highly respected sage and philosopher from the 12th century.Embed from Getty Images
Akka Mahadevi or Bhaktini Mahadevi had completely devoted herself to Lord Shiva, from a very young age. Akka Mahadevi spent most of her time meditating and offering prayers to Lord Shiva. Countless stories written about this great devotee tells us that Akka Mahadevi devoted herself to Lord Shiva’s devotion, from the age of nine. Akka Mahadevi had accepted Lord Shiva as her husband and just wanted to spend her life in complete devotion to Lord Shiva.
Akka Mahadevi grew up to be a very beautiful young woman. One day a King from that region saw Akka Mahadevi and wanted to marry her. The King reached Akka Mahadevi’s house and asked her parent’s permission to marry her. Akka Mahadevi refused this proposal, as she believed that Lord Shiva was her husband. The King felt humiliated and threatened to kill her parents. Akka Mahadevi had to get married to the King under pressure.
Akka Mahadevi never let the King touch her and always told the King that she was already married to Lord Shiva. The King tried to win Akka Mahadevi’s heart many times but always had to face rejection.
One day enraged by this behavior of Akka Mahadevi, the King decided to let the court decide on this matter. The King summoned all his courtiers and called for Akka Mahadevi’s presence. Upon reaching the court, Akka Mahadevi was asked several questions and was asked to justify her behavior. Akka Mahadevi had only one answer for all the questions and that was, she already accepted Lord Shiva as her husband. The King took this as an insult and asked Akka Mahadevi to leave the palace.
Akka Mahadevi started walking out of the court. Looking at Akka Mahadevi walking away without any hesitation, the King stopped her and told her that everything that she was wearing on her body belonged to him. Upon hearing this Akka Mahadevi removed all her ornaments and clothes that she was wearing and walked out of the court completely naked. In that era, an incident like this was completely unheard of, as taking such a drastic step was very questionable in a society.
Akka Mahadevi sacrificed wearing clothes and upon being requested several times by other women to cover her body, Akka Mahadevi’s only reply to them would be that her soul belonged to Lord Shiva and her body was merely a vessel for her soul.
Akka Mahadevi set out towards the forests to avoid being bothered by people. Akka Mahadevi lived in the forests completely submerging herself into the devotion of Lord Shiva. Akka Mahadevi had composed several devotional songs for Lord Shiva during her lifetime. Akka Mahadevi was eventually given the recognition of a Sage by other Sages or Rishis.
Comparisons can be drawn between the story of Akka Mahadevi and the story of Meera, who was an ardent devotee of Lord Krishna. Both of them had renounced their marriages and did not let the limitations set by society take control over them. Both Akka Mahadevi and Meera spent their lives composing devotional songs and completely immersed themselves in complete devotion.
Akka Mahadevi is believed to have even sacrificed consuming food, as she believed that consuming food kills the body’s hunger and this could limit her quest for the satisfaction of the soul. Akka Mahadevi wanted her soul to only know about Lord Shiva’s devotion. Akka Mahadevi prayed to Lord Shiva that any food that was being offered to her by the people should be eaten by animals, even before she realizes that there was food kept in front of her.Embed from Getty Images
Akka Mahadevi is worshipped by many in the state of Karnataka, Andra Pradesh, and Telangana. Akka Mahadevi is a prominent figure for Hindus and her devotional songs are mentioned in Kannada Literature. Akka Mahadevi caves in Srisailam, India, is a very important worship place for many Hindus. Akka Mahadevi is said to have lived in this cave and practiced austerities in the name of Lord Shiva. It is believed that Akka Mahadevi offered prayers to a naturally existing Shiv Linga present inside the cave.