Introduction

In this poem, the poet addresses the topic of God and worship. He states that the rich make temples for Shiva, and asks what the poor must do to prove their faith. The poet then provides his solution to this question by suggesting that the poor make their bodies into temples for the worship of God.

Lines 1-5

The rich
will make temples for Siva.
What shall I,
a poor man,
do?

The poet says that the rich will make temples for Siva. He asks what he, as a poor man, shall do. Rich devotees have the money and the means to finance temples for the gods that they worship, but the poor do not. So, the poet asks what alternative the poor have to show their devotion and piety.

Lines 6-12

My legs are pillars,
the body the shrine,
the head a cupola
of gold.
Listen, O lord of the meeting rivers, 10
things standing shall fall,
but the moving ever shall stay.

The poet says that his legs are pillars, his body the shrine, and his head a cupola of gold. Because the poor man does not have the means to build a temple, he must make his own body into a temple for worshipping his gods. The poet compares different parts of the body with different parts of the temple structure. The legs are the pillars, the body is the site of prayer, and the head is the dome.

By making his body a temple, the poet suggests dedicating his entire being to his god. The poor must therefore dedicate their lives to God. The poet then calls to the lord of the meeting rivers, his chosen deity- Lord Shiva at Koodalasangama. He declares that things standing shall fall, but the moving ever shall stay.

This means that standing structures such as temples will be destroyed over the course of time, but the temple of the body shall remain because life goes on. Generations of humans will keep carrying devotion in their bodies, even if temples fall. The spirit of worship will keep flowing through human bodies through the ages if people make their bodies into temples for the gods.

Conclusion

Every person can worship God. While the rich make temples, the poor must make their bodies into temples. The poet also suggests that the inner temple of the body is far superior to the material temple because the cycle of life will continue even if buildings decay.