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Vacanas are short, informal poems of devotion to Shiva. They originated in South India during the tenth century, a time of social upheaval, and they took the side of poor against the rich, of spontaneous free expression against established orthodoxy, of passion against propriety. Our times are similar to those, so they speak to us across the millennium and are now enjoying a revival by contemporary poets.


Soaring to Shiva – by William T. Hathaway


Holding my kite, I run ‘til I’ve stirred a breeze,

then swing my arm, toss the kite, give it string.

It lofts into the air, catches a gust and soars.

I laugh in glee.


Holding the tiller, I steer my boat to open water

where the wind lives.

I rev the motor, shut it off, hoist the sail.

The canvas flaps listlessly ‘til I swing the boom,

then it catches wind and swells taut.

The boat surges forward, slapping and skimming the waves.

I shout exultant.


Kite and boat no longer needed,

I fly by the grace of Guru Dev.

His forcefield flows above me,

and I stretch up to reach it –

meditation, asanas, devotion.

With a leap of faith

I vault into the flow

and don’t fall.

He holds me aloft,

fills me with divine prana,

and sends me flying exalted through the heavens.

Leaving behind gravity, the grave and the crave,

his Zepher Express sails me all the way to Shiva.

Depths – by William T. Hathaway

Ocean outside

Ocean inside

Outside motion

Inside stillness

Dive into both

Find at the bottom


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If you’d like to contact Shiva and enrich your life with his presence, this website will show you how, all for free:

William T. Hathaway’s books won him a Rinehart Foundation Award and a Fulbright professorship in creative writing. His peace novel, Summer Snow, is the story of an American warrior falling in love with a Sufi Muslim and learning from her that higher consciousness is more effective than violence.

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