Mira's name is synonymous with devotion to Lord Krishna. The bhajans she sang and composed in praise of her Lord,
though popular today were misunderstood in her time. After facing
persecution through most of her life she attained peace only when she
became one with Krishna.
The desert regions more
than any other land on earth have produced more mystics, saints,
fakirs, yogis, holy men and woman possibly because of the harsh,
unrelenting, unsympathetic and unforgiving conditions of life
prevalent in the desert.
The Thar, in Indias
state of Rajasthan too, has produced a crop of holy men and women who
may be family deities, village deities. The family and village
deities stem from ancestor worship and usually stay alive for a
generation or two sometimes hey are replaced by a more recent
The zonal and caste
deities are kept alive by the degree of devoutness and fanaticism in
their followers. Each puja each celebration keeps the name
alive and propagates faith in the deity.
Though the Thar has
produced a host of such men and women, it remembers a few more fondly
than the others. One of them is Mira Bai.
The celebrated Mira Bai
was a Mairtea Rathore Rajputni from Marwar, which was the erstwhile
state of Jodhpur. It was the largest single independent state of
Mairtea was founded by
Doddoh, the fourth son of Rao Joda of Marwar. Mairtea was a
sovereign, independent state. The Mairtea Rathores have always been
considered the first swords of Maroo, the ancient name of
Marwar and their loyalty and bravery were legendary.
Miras father, Rao
Runsi Dudawat was a descendant of Doddoh. Like all Rajputs, he was
very conservative and the women in his family observed strict purdah.
Mira Bai is known the world over as the young woman who devoted
her life to the worship of Lord Krishna. She composed songs and
poems in praise of her lord and danced with gay abandon to glorify
his name. For a Rajput princess given to Purdah, singing and
dancing was considered immoral. Thus, malice and slander enveloped
Born in the village of
Bajoli in 1494 A.D., Mira was doomed to a life of loneliness. Her
mother died two years after her birth and Mira was moved to her
paternal grandmothers house in Kukri near Rian. Her
grandfather, who was a ruler later sent for her. When she was sever,
she moved to the fort palace in mairtea.
Once, while playing on
the ramparts of the fort, she noticed a procession in the streets
below. Liveried musicians walked in front of a beautifully dressed
horse. On the horses back was a man dressed in shimmering
brocade bedecked with jewels. His elegant turban twinkle with
diamonds and rubies. A sehra (fringe) of golden thread
covered his face.
Dadi sa! Dadi sa, shouted
the excited Mira to her grandmother. Look below. Who is that man on
He is a bridegroom going
to claim his wife replied the grandmother.
Oh does every girl have a
bridegroom? Mira asked seriously. Yes replied the grandmother.
Where is my bridegroom?
She asked wistfully. The query surprised her grandmother. Tell me,
pestered the child, where is my bridegroom?
confused, the grandmother pointed to the stone statue of Lord Krishna
in the temple nearby and said: He lord Krishna is your bridegroom. To
this answer the story goes is ascribed Miras devotion to Lord
Krishna. Her grandfathers keenness on getting her married
proved furtile. He died three years prior to Miras marriage.
Confusion clouds the
dates of Miras birth, marriage and death. According to Tod, an
authority on ancient Rajasthan, Mira married Koombho, the Maharana of
Chittor, but his time frame is completely contradictory to the new
recorded dates which have reference to Mira and her times.
Dr.Kalyan Singh Shekhawat
of the University of Jodhpur has done a study on Mira Bai and written
a thesis. He traveled to Vrindavan and Dwarka where Miras
visits had been recorded in keeping with the law of the day. He has
studied the hymns and got some valuable information from them.
Reference to her has also
been made in the works of Surdas and Tulsidas.
Dr.Shekhawats study and thesis, which incidentally is the only
written work recording her life, Mira Bai married Yuvraj(prince)
Bhojraj Sangavat of Chittor in a marriage market where girls were
married at 12 and 13.
This young prince was a
devotee of Lord Vishnu, hence no temple of Krishna was found in his
palace. Miras maid found a Krishna temple at some distance
from the palace. Young Mira would go to this temple very often, be
it day or night.
One day, some landlords
who had a grouse against the prince decided to abduct Mira. They
waited for her in a grove outside the palace. They knew, as did
everyone that she would come out to go to the Krishna temple on the
That day, she left the
palace at dead of night quite unaware of the danger lurking outside.
She seemed to be in a hurry. She reached the grove and passed by the
five men who stood in her way. Legend has it that when the five man
tried to catch her, she became invisible and they found themselves
grappling with each other. Stunned and shocked, they followed her.
They then pounced on her. She again became invisible and they fell on
each other. Furious and frustrated, they decided to get in after her
she will not escape us, they reasoned.
Mira, of course, was
ignorant of all these happenings. She was only thinking of her lord
and master When she opened the door of the temple she found it filled
with heavenly light and a sweet fragrance.
Lord, she cried, at last
you have come to meet me. Glory be to thee, oh! Lord. The stone
image of lord Krishna smiled and she fell at its feet.
The men who had followed
her into the temple saw the light and smelt the sweet scent. Their
minds and hearts were cleansed of all evil. The temple ells began to
chime. The men fell postrate before the Lord and worshiped him. When
they told her everything and begged forgiveness. Forsaking family
and friends they became followers of Mira and lived in the temple.
They accompanied her on her travels.
Six years after her
marriage, Miras husband died. She was now alone in the world
that refused to understand her. Harassed by her brother and
sister-in-law she returned to Mairtea only to find that no one there
really cared for her. Hurt by the scorn and ridicule, she turned to
Lord Krishna for solace and strength.
In 1532 A.D. she visited
Vrindavan, the janambhoomi or the birthplace of Lord Krishna
and met scores of holy men who had taken up abode there. Some met
her with cordiality, others with patronizing condescension, but one
Guru Hari Vyas was hostile to her.
Guru Hari Vyas had taken
a vow in his young age never to set eyes on women because he felt
they were not clean. With this in view he built a high wall around
his ashram. When Miras followers stood outside his
ashram shouting, Mira from the desert has come to see you.
Come out and meet her he barked go away and take her with you. Dont
you know that Ive vowed never to set eyes on a woman.
Oh! Mighty guru
said the unfazed Mira what a small man you are! Are you so bound with
tradition and so blinded by custom as to ignore the teachings of the
Lord? Dont you know Hari Vyas, in Gods scheme of life
there is no barrier of sex, caste and creed. So saying she placed
her hands he asked forgiveness. I did not know a woman from the
desert possessed such wisdom and knowledge of God. Praise Lord
Krishna. The sangat (gathering) then sang bhajans (hymns)
praising the Lord.
Mira stayed in Vrindavan
for almost two years and was saddened by the conditions prevailing
there. Each swami, each guru was looking for power and
supremacy. The consequent intrigue and infighting amongst the Maths
led to an atmosphere charged with tension, fear and insecurity.
Disgusted, Mira left Vrindavan and made her way to the Krishna shrine
at Dwarka. Getting to Dwarka in 1534 or 1536 A.D., she prayed Lord
this world is not for me. Make me one with you.
One day, the legend says,
the stone image of Krishna came to life. It smiled and beckoned her
to come to it and Mira walked into the image and became one with her
Today, a small piece of
cloth is seem coming out of the stone statue and pundits say it is
part of Miras sari pallav. But Dr.Shekhawat in his
thesis has said that the books in Dwarka recording deaths say, Mira
from Mairtea in the desert died a natural death at the age of 49 in
1534 A.D. and she was cremated at Gomti Ghat.
came from all walks of life. Breaking all barriers of sex, class and
creed she lived amongst them, thereby incurring the wrath of her
people who preferred not to know her. Some went to the extent of
disowning her. Sadly enough, even today, some people look down upon
her and if any woman is given to song and dance, she is derogatorily
called a Mira Bai. Despite this resistance to her and her way way of
life, no jagran, an all night pooja during which only
bhajans are sung, can commence without a preluding Mira ka
bhajan, a song of Mira.
Mairtea, once the home of
Miras now an untidy town. Her grandfathers fort palace
and the temple she prayed in, lie forgotten and in ruins. The
descendants of her illustrious family how live in Ghanerao where it
is rumored, lies the stone statue of Krishna which Mira worshipped.