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Sarvajna Muni – A Shaivite Saint Poet Of Karnataka

Sarvajna Muni (16th century CE) is a shaivite saint poet and is known as Sarvajna Kavi and Sarvajna Murti in Karnataka. Nothing is known about his place of birth or parentage. He calls himself ‘son of Shiva.’ His original name is also not recorded, because Sarvajna is his insignia; it only occurs as the last word in his Kannada poems.

Sarvajna (all-knowing) might have been his title or name. His poems have tripadi (three lines), and they speak of the four purusharthas (values) of life. His poems are also called Sarvajna Vachana, because vachana is a kind of poetic prose or blank verse employed by the Shivasaranas, like Basavanna, Prabhulinga, and Akkamahadevi of the 12th century CE.

The writings of Sarvajna are unique. Besides being literary, they carry the religious experience and knowledge of the writer. Sarvajna Muni traveled widely and met different kinds of people, varying in culture and religion. As he puts it succinctly, he learned something from everyone and became Sarvajna (all knowing). He speaks of life and all its aspects; how to eat and sleep, how to lead a healthy life, what is happiness, how to be useful to others, definitions of love, devotion, God and Ultimate Knowledge, the composition of a good society, a good government, and hundreds of other things are portrayed in his poems. Didactic in nature, the work is full of wit, humor, similes, homilies, anecdotes, and scathing attacks on the perpetrators of cruelty in the name of caste, creed or religion. Apart from ridiculing some types of people without being offensive, Sarvajna Muni preaches genuine love and concern for fellow beings. The poems of Sarvajna are popular even today.