Allama Prabhu (Kannada: ಅಲ್ಲಮ ಪ್ರಭು) was a 12th-century mystic-saint and Vachana poet (called Vachanakara) of the Kannada language, propagating the unitary consciousness of Self and Shiva.[web 1] Allama Prabhu is one of the celebrated poets and the patron saint[note 1] of the Lingayata[note 2] movement that reshaped medieval Karnataka society and popular Kannada literature. He is included among the “Trinity of Lingayatism (Veera Shaivism)”, along with Basavanna, the founder of the movement, and Akka Mahadevi, the most prominent woman poet.
Allama Prabhu used poetry, now part of Vachana Sahitya literature, to criticise rituals and social conventions, to breakdown social barriers and to emphasize moral values and devotional worship of Shiva. It is well accepted that though Basavanna was the inspiration behind the Veerashaiva movement and earned the honorific “elder brother” (anna) at the “mansion of experience” (Anubhava Mandapa), Allama was the real guru who presided over it.
According to the scholars K. A. Nilakanta Sastri and Joseph T. Shipley, Vachana literature comprises pithy pieces of poetic prose in easy to understand, yet compelling Kannada language. The scholar E. P. Rice characterises Vachana poems as brief parallelistic allusive poems, each ending with one of the popular local names of the god Shiva and preaching the common folk detachment from wordly pleasures and adherence to devotion to the god Shiva (Shiva Bhakti).