Tuesday, September 11, 2007


                                    MIRABAI - A DEVOTEE of LORD KRISHNA ( 1499 - 1547 )

Devotion and realization is not limited to any particular time, place or culture. For the heart that is full of divine love, nothing is too great an obstacle to the union with the beloved. Such a noble soul was Meera Bai, the poetess that is universally regarded as one of the greatest saints of India. Details of her life are shrouded in mystery and it is often hard to sift fact from legend with regard to her birth, marriage and death, but historians agree that she was a princess of the Rathore dynasty of Merta, and lived during the reign of Akbar.

The daughter of Rao Rattan Singh, she was born in 1498 AD in Merta in Rajputana, land of the proud and valiant Rajputs. Legend tells us that at the age of five, she was standing one day on the balcony of her father’s place watching a bridal procession. When she saw the bridegroom, richly robed and adorned, she excitedly asked her mother, 'Where is my bridegroom?' She asked over and over again and finally, to silence her, her mother pointed to a statue of Krishna and said 'There he is!' From then on she passed her time talking and singing to the statue, dressing it and feeding it. As far as she was concerned, Krishna was indeed her husband, and she served him with this attitude. Her carefree days were not to last, however she betrothed to Prince Bhoj Raj of Chittor.

Rather than lessening her love for Krishna, however, her marriage merely served to increase her desire to know him. Although she carried out her wifely duties conscientiously, she spent as much time as she could in meditation and devotion. She had already told her mother, 'Mother, Girdhar Gopal married me in a dream. I wore a red and yellow veil. And my hands were beautifully decorated with henna'. I have loved the Divine Cowherd, the Flute-player, since my childhood. This love is eternal and I will never abandon it.'

She eagerly sought the company of holy men, singing and dancing in satsang. This greatly angered her relatives, who considered her a disgrace. Her sister-in law spread a rumour that she was unfaithful and met strangers at midnight. This enraged Bhoj Raj, as well it might, and one night burst into her room, only to find her chanting ardently before her statue of Krishna. He felt ashamed of himself and had a temple built where she could worship unhindered.

Mira suffered intensely at this time. Her love for Krishna was pure and unconditional, but, because she hadn't experienced practical knowledge of God, she felt separated from Him. The taunts and suspicions of her relatives were bad enough, but even more agonizing was her longing to see the Lord face-to-face: 'Show my thy face, Beloved. Without thee, my existence is like a lotus without water or a night without the moon. I, Thy handmaiden, am lost without Thee. All night I wander alone, for this separation. Gnaws at my very heart and soul'. Her yearning for spiritual insight attracted the saint who became her Guru and who imparted to her the Knowledge which enabled her to see Krishna as He really is, the all-pervading Universal Reality. Raidas, a cobbler, initiated Meera, a princess, and from that moment the tone of her songs changes from helpless yearning to joy and ecstasy. By means of the Holy Name, she could now see Krishna whenever she wanted to within herself and her joy and devotion knew no bounds – 'I will plant Thee a garden and gaze upon Thy face each day'. She danced and sang, urging her listeners, 'Swiftly the moments pass you by. Why do you fail to remember His Name?'



"Mere To Giridhar Gopala Doosro Na Koyi"

"It is only Giridhar Gopala who matters to me, no one else"

Mirabai - The Mystical Poetess
Thus sang Mirabai, yet another mystical poetess, whose tremendous love and devotion to Krishna surpassed all human boundaries and limitations. Mira, who is regarded by many as an incarnation of Radha (Krishna's divine partner) herself, was born in the year 1499 in the small hamlet of Kurkhi, situated near Merta, a tiny state in Marwar, Rajasthan. Meera's father, Ratan Singh Ranthor, was a proud Rajput and a great devotee of Vishnu. Hence Mira was brought up in a very Vaishnavite environment, which largely influenced her bhakti towards Krishna. 
Little Meera
Right from her childhood, Meera showed an inclination towards being religious. She was particularly fond of Lord Krishna. Once, when she saw a marriage procession passing by in front of her home, little Meera was utterly fascinated. She gaped in amazement at the sight of a very well-dressed groom, seated on the horse, the baraat (joyous wedding procession) following him, singing and dancing away. She ran inside and asked her mother, "Dear Mother, who shall be my bridegroom?"
Her mother smiled at her indulgently and in jest, pointed out the idol of Sri Krishna which she had given to her earlier. This created a deep impression in the young mind of Meera, who began loving the idol more and more with each passing day. She would spend all her time with the idol, talk to it, sing and dance with it, keep it by her bedside at night and so on.
Gradually, she started composing and singing beautiful bhajans (prayer songs) in the name of Krishna. 
Meera's wedding
When Meera came of age, her father arranged her marriage to the mighty Rana Kumbha of Chitore district in Mewar. Though never interested in worldly affairs, Meera would dutifully obey her husband, act as per his wishes and, after finishing her household duties, would go back to the little Krishna idol she had placed in her own temple and sing and dance in front of it. Krishna would actually step out of the idol, embrace her and play the flute for her - such was her supreme devotion to Him!
Meanwhile, Meera's mother-in-law and sister-in-law did not like the way Meera behaved in her marital home. The primary bone of contention was that Meera had refused to worship the family deity, Durga (an aspect of Shakti) and went about singing and dancing the praises of Lord Krishna instead, that too, in full public view. She would dance with the members of any caste or creed and that incensed them further. Meera's sister-in-law, Udabai, tried to slander her reputation in front of the Rana, but Meera was always saved from disrepute. She was accused of behaving loosely with the Sadhus visiting the temple but she never once cared about public opinion and continued with her worship as always. 
Once, the Rana happened to break into the temple when Meera was animatedly talking to her Krishna idol. When he demanded to know who this mysterious lover of hers was, she simply pointed to the idol and said, "Here is my lover, my Chitchor, the one who has stolen my heart and soul!"
Meerabai Lost in Devotion of Krishna
Meera suffers persecution 
The Rana and his relatives tried to persecute Meera in various ways. But in all cases, Meera was always protected by her Lord, Krishna's, grace. In one instance, the Rana sent her a closed basket, with an accompanying message that it contained a flower garland for her Krishna. In actuality, it contained a vicious cobra, all coiled and poised for attack. When Meera roused from her deep meditation and opened the basket, however, she was amazed to find a lovely idol of Krishna and a beautiful, fragrant garland of flowers inside it. 
The Rana, ashamed at having failed once, determined never to give up and sent her a bowl of poison, saying that it contained sweet nectar. Gratefully, Meera first offered the bowl to Krishna's idol and then drank it as Prasad. Miraculously, the poison had actually turned into real nectar, leaving Meera totally unaffected and actually energizing her further!
The Rana then got a bed of nails made for her. But when Meera went to recline on it, the sharp nails had suddenly transformed into soft, fragrant rose petals! 
Distressed at her husband's demeanor towards her, Meera wrote to saint Tulsidas and asked for his advice on what her further course of action should be. She talked of her deep love for Krishna and that she could never even think of deserting her Giridhar Gopal. Tulsidasji immediately replied to her, assuring her that she was traveling the right path and asked her to refrain from being attached to her family. He further asked her to traverse the very path of spirituality she had chosen as her goal to salvation. 
Akbar and Tansen visit Meera 
Stories of Meera's devotion spread far and wide and reached the ears of the great Moghul King, Akbar. Akbar, along with his court musician, Tansen, decided to visit Meera in disguise. Her mellifluous voice and undoubted devotion moved Akbar so much that he touched her holy feet and placed an invaluable emerald necklace at her feet. When the Rana came to know of it, he was absolutely livid at what he interpreted as being Meera's loose conduct. He ordered her to drown herself in the river, as she was a disgrace to his family and unfit to even show her face to the world. 
Meera meekly obeyed her husband yet again and proceeded towards the river. She was least affected even by the fear of death and sang and danced joyfully on the way to the river, chanting, "Govind, Gopal, Giridhar". When she was about to enter the river, however, a hand grasped her from behind. She turned and lo and behold! Standing there before her on the banks of the river was her very Lord, Giridhar Gopal, resplendent, a beautiful smile playing on His lips!
She fainted in her Lord's arms and when she came to, He lovingly told her, "Your worldly life is over, dear Meera. Now you are free of the fetters of Samsara. Now you are Mine. So stop being distressed and come to visit me at the beautiful Vrindavan. Waste no time, My child. Come to Me, I await you." So saying, Krishna disappeared from the scene. 
Meera undertakes a pilgrimage
The Ascetic Meerabai in Vrindavan

Leaving behind the luxuries of the palace, Meera traveled barefoot over most of Rajasthan. She was always received with great enthusiasm and respect to whichever village she went. Many became her faithful followers. 
When Meera reached Vrindavan, she found her favorite Govinda Mandir there, which is to date considered a holy place of pilgrimage. She would beg for alms and spend the rest of her time worshipping her Lord at the temple. Her fame spread all over Rajasthan and people revered her for her purity and immense love for Krishna. Rana Kumbha himself visited her in the disguise of a sanyasi. When he saw how pure and pious she really was, he was put to shame and repented his past cruel deeds. Meera recognized her husband and, in all humility, immediately fell at his feet.

Jiva Gosain

Jiva Gosain, the head of Vaishnavites at Vrindavan, initially refused audience to Meerabai, arrogantly stating that he would never allow a woman to come before him. Meera retorted to this, saying, "I had thought that the only Purusha in Vrindavan is Krishna and all the others were women. Today I know there is another Purusha besides Krishna." Gosain was immediately humbled and, realizing what a holy person Meera was, immediately visited her and paid his respects to her. 
Meerabai Unites With Krishna

Meerabai takes Samadhi
It is popular belief that when Meerabai entered the Krishna temple at Dwarka, she went into a state of pure ananda (bliss) and started joyously singing and dancing His name. Continuing thus, she entered the sanctum sanctorum. Legend has it, that the sanctum doors closed by themselves and when they re-opened, Meera's sari was seen enwrapped around the Lord's idol, symbolizing the Divine Communion of Meera's soul with the Divine.
Why is Meera so celebrated?
What was it that made Meerabai stand out from the thousands of other Sanyasis and Sanyasins? Of course, she was good looking, had a great voice, sang beautifully and composed moving poems on her Ishtadevata (favorite God), Krishna. But so did so many other saints and sages. What, then, made Meera so famous? 
Meera had totally surrendered to her Lord. He was everything to her. She saw Krishna in all things - animate and inanimate, ate with Krishna, conversed with Him, slept beside Him, sang and danced His praises, why, even breathed the name, Krishna! She drank deeply from the nectar that was Krishna prema rasa. Her all-encompassing love for her Gopal is what gave her this exalted status as one of the most spiritual saints ever, in Indian history.
Meera's story is the story of human grit and will - it depicts the very struggle of the Jivatma (mortal Self) to attain the Paramatma (the Immortal Supreme). Even today, her wonderful songs instill faith and courage in the meek and the submissive. Her tremendous spiritual strength and absolute faith in Krishna had granted her complete poise and balance through all her life's circumstances. She had taken the good with the bad, being a Sthita Pragnya (not internally affected by any circumstance, be it happy or sad). 
Meerabai and Chaitanya Mahaprabhu
Meera followed the Raganuga or Ragatmika bhakti marga (path). She cared not for public opinion and never indulged in Sadhana bhakti (ritualistic worship). She knew nothing about the Vedas or the Shastras - all that she ever yearned for was Krishna and His divine presence. 
Like Gauranga, Meera too followed the path of madhura bhakti. Krishna was her all - her father, mother, friend, husband and Lord. Anyone that came near Meera, would be deeply affected by her pure, innocent love. Her voice was sweet, her words, compassionate and kind. Her discourses were powerful and kindled the dormant spiritual self awake in one and all listening to them. Meerabai was indeed the best example of pure, unselfish love and self-surrender. 
Meerabai's previous life
There is an interesting story that endeavors to explain just how Meera came to love Krishna to such an extent. The Hindu Pantheon believes in the concept of rebirth and stipulates that everyone that is born on Earth, comes with a Karma of his past life, attached to him. This Karma is what creates several Vaasanas, subconscious inclinations which are the conglomerate results of impressions created through samskaras or experiences in one's Purva Janma (past life). These Vaasanas, in turn affect one's present life and are responsible for their peculiar traits and behavior patterns in this Janma. 
Meerabai, this legend relates, was born in Mathura in her previous birth. At a very tender age, she was married off to a boy from Nandavrajam. Everyone kept telling her, "At Nandavrajam, there is yet another boy called Bala Krishna, who holds powerful sway over all the residents. All of them are completely under his control and will do whatever he asks them to do, even leave their families for him." Everyone kept warning her and asked her to be careful at Nandavrajam. After her traditional bidai (ceremony before leaving her parents' home), she was seated in a beautiful palanquin which was to take her to her marital home. 
On their way to Vrajam, the entourage encountered heavy rains with thunder and menacing bolts of lightning coming down directly at them. The palanquin bearers deserted Meera and fled for their lives. Not quite knowing what to do next, Meera took a peek from the palanquin window. The sight before her amazed her beyond words ...
Krishna Lifts Giri Govardhan
This was the day when Indra (king of the Devas or Gods) had decided to vent his anger on the Vraja-vaasis (residents), as they ignored Him and propitiated Krishna instead. Meera saw Little Krishna effortlessly lift the gigantic Govardhana Giri (mountain) with the little finger of His left hand and protect all the residents, even the tiniest creatures of Vraja, by asking them to get under the mountain for cover. 
This image of Govardhana Giridhara got totally imprinted in her young mind. Meera was awe-struck and could not take her eyes off the Lord. Suddenly, a huge boulder fell on her and killed her on the spot. Though Meera died then, the avyakta madhura bhakti (the love that surpassed all boundaries of description or expression) that she was suffused with at the time of her death was so intense, that she carried that on to her next life as Meerabai. 
Interestingly, all Meera bhajans end with the Makuta (signature), "Giridhar Gopal".

Source : http://www.dollsofindia.com/library/sages_of_india

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

nice picture. i found a lot about her at this site about Mirabai" at www.gitananda.org