Hotels in India » Religion-culture in India » Mira Bai – Devotion Deep & Divine

Mira Bai – Devotion Deep & Divine

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 India’s 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 ancestor.

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 Hindustan.

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.

Mira’s 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 her.

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 grandmother’s 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 horse’s 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 the horse?

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?

Flabbergasted and 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 Mira’s devotion to Lord Krishna. Her grandfather’s keenness on getting her married proved furtile. He died three years prior to Mira’s marriage.

Confusion clouds the dates of Mira’s 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 Mira’s 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.

According to Dr.Shekhawat’s 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. Mira’s 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 hill.

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, Mira’s 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 Mira’s 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. Don’t you know that I’ve 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? Don’t you know Hari Vyas, in God’s 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 Lord.

Today, a small piece of cloth is seem coming out of the stone statue and pundits say it is part of Mira’s 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.”

Mira’s follower’s 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 Mira’s now an untidy town. Her grandfather’s 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.