Mira Bai

"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.

Mira's Songs

   translated -

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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