Allama Prabhu is a mystic-saint and Vachana poet (called Vachanakara) of the Kannada language in the 12th century. Prabhu is the patron saint (Prabhu, lit, "Master"),the undisputed spiritual authority, and an integral part of the Lingayata (lit, "Devotees of the god Para-Shiva or Lingadeva") movement that decisively shaped society in medieval Karnataka and forever changed the contour of popular Kannada poetry. He is normally included among the "Trinity of Lingayatism" – along with Basavanna, the founder of the movement, and Akka Mahadevi, the most prominent woman poet. The socio-religious movement they pioneered used poetry (called Vachana Sahitya, lit, "Vachana literature") to criticise mere ritual worship and the caste-based society, and gave importance to moral values and love of mankind. 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 Mantapa), Allama was the real guru who presided over it.
He has written vachanas, swaravachanas, creation vachanas and mystic chants under the signature Guheshwara. Some 1645 vachanas are extant. He focused on spirituality and mysticism. It is curious that he has expressed his experiences in a mystical language. His vachanas, pregnant with mystic experience and wisdom as they are, are riddle - like.
Allamas poems are known to cover an entire range, from devotion to final union with God. The poems give little information about Allama's early life and worldly experiences before enlightenment. In the words of the scholar Ramanujan, to a saint like Allama, "the butterfly has no memory of the caterpillar". His wisdom is reflected in his poems–only a small portion of which are on the devotee aspect. More than half of the poems dwell on the later phase (sthala) in the life of a saint, most are about union with god and of realization (aikya).
Many of his poems are addressed to Shiva as Guhesvara or "the Lord of Caves." A popular story is told about the life of Allama Prabhu to explain this name: Allama was said to have been a temple drummer when he fell in love with a beautiful young woman. They were happily married until the sickness and early death of his wife. In his grief, Allama abandoned everything and began to wander. One day, he was sitting desolate in a field and noticed something strange -- the golden cupola of a buried temple. He began to dig about it until he found the doorway and managed to enter the excavated temple-cave. There he found a yogi absorbed in deep meditation. The yogi handed Allama a linga, the symbol of Shiva. The saint blessed him with knowledge on god and then the yogi expired. Allama was enlightened and transformed into a seeker of spirituality.