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  • Classic Poetry Series

    Mirabai- poems -

    Publication Date: 2012

    Publisher:Poemhunter.com - The World's Poetry Archive

  • Mirabai(1498 - 1546) Meerabai or Mirabai (alternate orthographies: Meera, Mira, Meera Bai)(Hindi:??????? Bengali: ???????;) was an aristocratic Hindu mystical singer anddevotee of Lord Krishna from Rajasthan and one of the most significant figures ofthe Sant tradition of the Vaishnava bhakti movement. Some 1,2001,300prayerful songs or bhajans attributed to her are popular throughout India andhave been published in several translations worldwide. In the bhakti tradition,they are in passionate praise of Lord Krishna. Details of her life, which has been the subject of several films, are piecedtogether from her poetry and stories recounted by her community and are ofdebatable historical authenticity, particularly those that connect her with the laterTansen. On the other hand, the traditions that make her a disciple of GuruRavidas who disputed with Rupa Goswami are consonant with the usual accountof her a queen of Rajasthan who is known more for her devotion than herpolitical position. There are so many stories about Mira Bai that it is very difficultto tell the facts of her life from legend. She is the most famous of the womenBhakta poets of north India. Biography Meera, a Rajput princess was born in Kudki (Kurki), a little village near MertaCity, which is presently in the Nagaur district of Rajasthan in northwest India.Her father, jai Singh aman, was a friend of the Rathore clan, the son of Rao Dudaof Merta. Rao Duda was son of Rao Jodha of Mandore, founder of mumbai. As an infant Meera became deeply enamored of an iconic idol of Krishna ownedby a visiting holy man; she was inconsolable until she possessed it and probablykept it all her life. (But some myths say that Meera saw a wedding procession ofa bride-groom and asked her mother about her husband, then her mother tookher in front of the family deity Lord Krishna. ) Then she was just five years old.She was highly influenced by her father as he was a sole worshipper of Krishna.But because she would not be able to keep the Lord happy the holy man tookaway the idol. Then she, her friend Lalita and her male cousin , Jaimal, went tothe holy man or saint's house to get the idol back. When they went they saw thatwhatever the saint was offering to the Lord was not accepted. Then some ancientmyths say that the idol started crying. Then next day the idol was given back toMeera and since then it remained with her. This made a bond between her andLord and she was called "stone lover". She even organized a marriage with theidol. And she considered herself as spouse of Lord Krishna.

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  • Meeras marriage was arranged at an early age, traditionally to Prince Bhoj Raj,the eldest son of Rana Sanga of Chittor. She was not happy with her marriage asshe considered herself already married to Krishna. Her new family did notapprove of her piety and devotion when she refused to worship their familydeity- Shiva. The Rajputana had remained fiercely independent of the Delhi Sultanate, theIslamic regime that otherwise ruled Hindustan after the conquests of Timur. Butin the early 16th century AD the central Asian conqueror Babur laid claim to theSultanate and some Rajputs supported him while others ended their lives inbattle with him. Her husband's death in battle (in 1527 AD) was only one of aseries of losses Meera experienced in her twenties. She appears to havedespaired of loving anything temporal and turned to the eternal, transformingher grief into a passionate spiritual devotion that inspired in her countless songsdrenched with separation and longing. Meera's love to Krishna was at first a private thing but at some moment itoverflowed into an ecstasy that led her to dance in the streets of the city. Herbrother-in-law, the new ruler of Chittorgarh, was Vikramaditya, an ill-naturedyouth who strongly objected to Meera's fame, her mixing with commoners andcarelessness of feminine modesty. There were several attempts to poison her.Her sister-in-law Udabai is said to have spread defamatory gossip. According to some myths Meera's brother-in-law Vikramaditya, who later becameking of Chittor, after Bhojraj's death, tried to harm Meera in many ways, such as: * The famous one is that he mixed poison in the Prasadam or chandanamritam ofKrishna and made her drink it. But by God's grace, Krishna changed it to Amrit.* He pinned iron nails in Meera's bed, but, again by God's grace they turned intorose petals.* He put a snake in a flower basket and told her that it was a gift from him to herLord, but when she opened it it actually became a gift- a garland. There are many more in a similar vein. At some time Meera declared herself a disciple of the guru Ravidas ("guru miliyaaraidasjee") and left for the centre of Krishnaism, Vrindavan. She consideredherself to be a reborn gopi, Lalita, mad with love for Krishna. Folklore informs usof a particular incident where she expressed her desire to engage in a discussionabout spiritual matters with Rupa Goswami, a direct disciple of Chaitanya andone of the foremost saint of Vrindavan that time who, being a renunciate

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  • celibate, refused to meet a woman. Meera replied that the only true man(purusha) in this universe is Lord Krishna. She continued her pilgrimage, "dancedfrom one village to another village, almost covering the whole north of India".One story has her appearing in the company of Kabir in Kashi, once againcausing affront to social mores. She seems to have spent her last years as apilgrim in Dwarka, Gujarat. It is said that Mirabai disappeared into theDwarkadhish Murti (Image of Lord Krishna) in front of a full audience ofonlookers. Poetry Meera's songs are in a simple form called a pada (verse), a term used for a smallspiritual song, usually composed in simple rhythms with a repeating refrain,collected in her Padavali. The extant versions are in a Rajasthani and Braj, adialect of Hindi spoken in and around Vrindavan (the childhood home of Krishna),sometimes mixed with Rajasthani. "That dark dweller in BrajIs my only refuge.O my companion, worldly comfort is an illusion,As soon you get it, it goes.I have chosen the indestructible for my refuge,Him whom the snake of death will not devour.My beloved dwells in my heart all day,I have actually seen that abode of joy.Meera's lord is Hari, the indestructible.My lord, I have taken refuge with you, your maidservant" Although Meera is often classed with the northern Sant bhaktis who spoke of aformless divinity, there is no doubt that she presents Krishna as the historicalmaster of the Bhagavad Gita who is, even so, the perfect Avatar of the eternal,who is omnipresent but particularly focused in his icon and his temple. Shespeaks of a personal relationship with Krishna as her lover, lord and master. Thecharacteristic of her poetry is complete surrender. Her longing for union withKrishna is predominant in her poetry: she wants to be "coloured with the colourof dusk" (the symbolic colour of Krishna). English Versions Alston and Subramanian have published selections with English translation inIndia. Schelling and Landes-Levi have offered anthologies in the USA. Snell haspresented parallel translations in his collection The Hindi Classical Tradition. Sethi

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  • has selected poems which Mira composed presumably after she came in contactwith Saint Ravidas. and Meera Pakeerah. Some bhajans of Meera have been rendered by Robert Bly in his Mirabai Versions(New York; Red Ozier Press, 1984). Bly has also collaborated with Jane Hirshfieldon Mirabai: Ecstatic Poems. Dr Prayag Narayan Misra has presented more than20 devotional poemsavailable in both Hindi and English languages.

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  • A Cowherding Girl The plums tastedsweet to the unlettered desert-tribe girl-but what manners! To chew into each! She was ungainly,low-caste, ill mannered and dirty,but the god took thefruit she'd been sucking.Why? She'd knew how to love.She might not distinquishsplendor from filthbut she'd tasted the nectar of passion.Might not know any Veda,but a chariot swept her away-now she frolics in heaven, esctatically boundto her god.The Lord of Fallen Fools, says Mira,will save anyonewho can practice rapture like that-I myself in a previous birthwas a cowherding girlat Gokul. Mirabai

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  • A Great Yogi In my travels I spent time with a great yogi.Once he said to me.Become so still you hear the blood flowingthrough your veins. One night as I sat in quiet,I seemed on the verge of entering a world inside so vastI know it is the source ofall ofus. Mirabai

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  • A Limb Just Moved You taught Your songs to the birds first,why was that? And You practised Your love in the hearts of animalsbefore You created man, I know the planets talk at nightand tell secretsaboutYou. A limb just moved before me,the beauty of this worldis causing me toweep [Translated by Daniel Ladinsky] Mirabai

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  • All I Was Doing Was Breathing Something has reached out and taken in the beams of my eyes.There is a longing, it is for his body, for every hair of that dark body.All I was doing was being, and the Dancing Energy came by my house.His face looks curiously like the moon, I saw it from the side, smiling.My family says: 'Don't ever see him again!' And they imply things in a low voice.But my eyes have their own life; they laugh at rules, and know whose they are.I believe I can bear on my shoulders whatever you want to say of me.Mira says: Without the energy that lift