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Soyarabai’s abhanga

October 8th, 2010 by anuradha

A body is unclean, they say, only the soul is untainted.

But the impurity of the body is born with the body.

By which rule has a body become pure?

Not a creature in this world has been born 

            except in a gory womb.

This is the glory of God: defilement exists within.

The body is polluted from within.

Be sure of it, says the Mahari of Choka. 


Soyarabai, was the wife of the Mahar saint Chokhamela. She was a poet and belonged to the Varkari movement of Maharashtra during 13th-14th century. This movement was open to all castes and women, married or unmarried.. This abhanga is numbered 6 in the text and it is one of the 62 abhangas written by Soyrabai that has survived; in it  "she clearly protests the very basis of untouchability, pollution, in explicit and moving terms." 


Source: Untouchable Saints An Indian Phenomenon, ed. Eleanor Zelliot & Rohini Mokashi-Punekar


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