"Nothing is really mine except Krishna."
Mirabai was born in 1504 in Rajasthan. As a child she had a doll, a
small image of Krishna, she believed the doll to be a living
embodiment of Krishna. Despite her intense devotion to God, she
suffered many hardships. Her family, descendants of the founder of
Jodhpur, did not respect her devotion. They arranged a marriage to
the crown prince of Mewar - this raised the family's social status and made
her a Rajput princess. But Mirabai continued to devote her time to prayer
and worship and the composition of many bhajans, songs to God. She
neglected royal etiquette and ignored her household duties, turning
many against her, including her husband. When their intolerance
of her behavior became unbearable, she left the palace and went on a religious
pilgrimage, spending her time dancing and singing to her Beloved
Krishna. Scholars accept some two hundred poems as hers, but there are more than
thirteen hundred that are attributed. Mirabai was a natural poet and expressed her love for God
in a simple, unpretentious way. Her songs are still sung by the common people and remain
immensely popular throughout India. She left this life in 1550.
The saffron of virtue and contentment
Is dissolved in the water-gun of love and affection.
Pink and red clouds of emotion are flying about,
Limitless colours raining down.
All the covers of the earthen vessel of my body are wide open;
I have thrown away all shame before the world.
Mira's Lord is the Mountain-Holder, the suave lover.
I sacrifice myself in devotion to His lotus feet.
O my parents, I have searched the world
And found nothing worthy of love.
Hence I am a stranger amidst my kinfolk
And an exile from their company,
Since I seek the companionship of holy men;
There alone do I feel happy,
In the world I only weep.
I planted the creeper of love
And silently watered it with my tears;
Now it has grown and overspread my dwelling.
You offered me a cup of poison
Which I drank with joy.
Mira is absorbed in contemplation of Krishna,
She is with God and all is well!
Strange is the Path of love
Do not mention the name of love,
O my simple-minded companion.
Strange is the path
When you offer your love.
Your body is crushed at the first step.
If you want to offer love
Be prepared to cut off your head
And sit on it.
Be like the moth,
Which circles the lamp and offers its body.
Be like the deer, which, on hearing the horn,
Offers its head to the hunter.
Be like the partridge,
Which swallows burning coals
In love of the moon.
Be like the fish
Which yields up its life
When separated from the sea.
Be like the bee,
Entrapped in the closing petals of the lotus.
Mira's lord is the courtly Giridhara.
She says: Offer your mind
To those lotus feet.
[For love of the Dark One: songs of Mirabai / Andrew Schelling; Shambhala Publications, 1993]
[The devotional poems of Mirabai / translated with introduction and notes, A.J. Alston 1980]
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