By Alexandra Song, BA
Yogi Vemena was one of the greatest Telugu poets. He was known for his mastery of yogic practices and for writing about his spiritual experiences in short, simple poems.
There is no official record of when Yogi Vemena actually lived. C.P Brown, a British born scholar credited with bringing back awareness of the Telugu language was also a renowned authority on Yogi Vemena’s poetry. He estimated Yogi Vemena’s birth year to be around 1652, based on a line in one of Yogi Vemena’s poems and reference to the Vedic lunar calendar. He was born into a royal family. Yogi Vemena's father, Gaddam Vema was the king of Kondaveedu in present-day Andhra Pradesh.
Little is known about Yogi Vemena’s life. At a young age he came into contact with a great sage, Lambika Shiva Yogi, and spent the rest of his life researching the Divine. His poetry was a means of expressing his realization of God and the mysterious process of awakening to consciousness.
His poetry was loved by those who heard it. Yogi Vemena did not write in complicated verse. He was able to convey a depth of meaning and to channel consciousness with very few words. He was a skilled poet and realized yogi. These qualities coupled with the Telugu language’s unique characteristic to communicate spiritual and emotional states made extraordinary poems which continue to live on today.
Yogi Vemena also shared characteristics with Annamayya and Jnaneshwar, other great poets known for channeling God’s messages through verse. All of these poets were committed to breaking tradition in the name of inclusivity. They believed God’s knowledge belonged to everyone, not just a select few. There is a stone marking Yogi Vemana’s Samadhi in Kadiri Taluk, Anantapur district, Andhra Pradesh.
Yogi Vemena Poem
Chippalonabadda chinuku mutyambayye
nitabadda chinuku nita galise.
Brapti galugu chota phalamela tappura
Viswadhaabhiraama, Vinura Vema
In times of distress, observe the attitude of relatives
In times of fear, observe the behaviour of the army
In times of poverty, observe the nature of the wife
Beloved of the Bounteous, Vema, listen!
is a full-time student and volunteer staff member at the Divine Lineage Healing Center in Laytonville, CA.