When one talks of bhakti, the first thing that comes to our mind is the unconditional, unselfish, and the all embracing devotion of the Gopis of Brindavan for their Lord Kṛṣṇa. They abandoned their household chores, their husbands, their infant children and rushed to the banks of the Yamuna river when they heard the divine Murali (Flute) of Kṛṣṇa.
Many sceptics ask how can it be true, maybe it is just a story supposed to have happened 5 thousand years ago.
Their answer is here. The same devotion was seen in a princess who lived about 6 hundred years ago when the Moghul Emperor Akbar ruled India and is well documented by all historians!
Yes, this is the life story of Mīra Bai, a Rajput Princess of Mewar, in Rajasthan, who lived in the 16th century (1498 – 1546 A .D). She addressed Lord Kṛṣṇa as Giridhar, in all her songs. To her, Lord Kṛṣṇa was her lover, friend, saviour and the ultimate supreme.
Mīra was the daughter of Mewar king Ratan Singh and queen Chandramukhi. She lost her father in a war at an early age and was brought up by her grandfather, Dhodhaji. Once as a child Mīra saw a marriage procession passing by. The child was enamoured by the gorgeous dresses, sparkling jewels, pageantry, music and dance and the bright lights. Told by her mother that it was a marriage procession, the child also wanted to get married and went on pestering her mother.
The mother finally gave in but Mīra wanted to know who her groom was! Irritated by the child’s persistence the mother took the idol of Lord Kṛṣṇa kept in the Pūjā room and said “see Lord Kṛṣṇa as your groom”. The innocent child was overjoyed at seeing her beautiful “husband-to-be” and from that moment onwards, nobody except Lord Kṛṣṇa mattered to her. But her life was one long struggle to convince people that her love for Kṛṣṇa is not carnal, not related to the body, but for the “ĀTMĀ”, the divine light present in all.
When Mīra attained marriageable age her family got her married to a King, Rana Bhoja Raja. At first she was unwilling but agreed to her parents’ wishes in the end. In the beginning Rana Bhoja was very impressed with his wife Mīra’s bhakti and built a temple for her worship. Mīra served her husband dutifully but her heart and soul was with her beloved Giridhar. She spent all her free time in the temple singing and dancing in ecstacy pouring her heart out in divine songs to her Lord. Her songs became popular and common people started singing them everywhere.
But all this was not acceptable to Mīra’s relatives. They opposed a royal princess singing and dancing in public and felt that she was bringing shame and dishonour to the royal name and family.
So the royal family, especially Rana’s sister slowly poisoned the King’s mind and turned him against his wife, and he wanted to kill her. One day they mixed a deadly poison in milk and offered it to her saying that it was Kṛṣṇa’s ‘Prasādam’. Taking the Lord’s name Mīra piously, drank the poisoned milk. But her faith triumphed, the poison became nectar (Amṛtam) and she was unharmed!
But her family did not give up their attempts to kill her. Mīra’s sister-in-law put a deadly, poisonous serpent in a beautiful ivory box and presented it to her saying that it was a beautiful Kṛṣṇa mūrti meant for her pūjā. They all waited eagerly for Mīra to open the box, get bitten by the deadly snake and die. Mīra happily opened the box and to the utter disappointment of all, found a beautiful smiling Kṛṣṇa’s ‘Vigraha’ in the box. Her Giridhar had saved her again!
But the plotting against Mīra did not end. Then the King tried to demolish the temple where Mīra spent all her time singing and serving her Lord. Hearing about Mīra’s bhakti and her melodious singing, the Moghul Emperor, Akbar came from Delhi to listen to her singing and was greatly impressed. He presented her with a beautiful pearl necklace. This was the last straw. The King came to know of it and asked Mīra to leave the Kingdom.
But by then Mīra’s heart and soul was totally absorbed in Kṛṣṇa. She became a simple devotee abandoning all her possessions and proceeded towards Brindavan, associated with Lord Kṛṣṇa’s childhood. She wanted to have the darśan of the chief priest of the temple Ācārya Goswami. But he refused to see her saying that he does not see women. Mīra humbly sent word to him saying “In Brindavan there is only one Puruṣa(male) – and that is Lord Kṛṣṇa. All the rest are ladies”. The Ācārya realised his fault and he came to have a darśan of Mīra. She spent some time there singing the Lord’s glories. By that time her fame had spread far and wide.
Now Mīra wanted to visit Dvāraka, where her Lord spent most of his time. She travelled the length and breadth of Rajasthan desert on foot singing His glory. At last she reached Dvāraka and went inside the Sanctum Sanctorum of Dvārakadheesh temple.The temple doors which were shut after the morning pūjā miraculously opened for her. Mīra stepped in and merged with Lord Kṛṣṇa whom she loved with all her being.
But Readers! Mīra has not gone from us. She lives in her songs. Wherever a music concert is held, her songs occupy pride of place. Her songs have been translated in many languages. Her life has been portrayed on the Silver Screen. The late Sreemathy M.S. Subbulakshmi’s portrayal of Mīra’s life and her rendering of her bhajans are a treat to enjoy.
Let us all do Pranams to this glorious devotee!
Long Live Mīra and Let Her life story continue to inspire all of us.
Om Śāntiḥ Śāntiḥ Śāntiḥ!!!
Written by Dr. Amritha Murthy