Meera Bai

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Meera occupies indeed a sacred place in the history of Indian thought and culture for her deep and passionate religious devotion, as also for her poetry in which her genius was well revealed, and which was never bereft of beauty in the true sense of the term. Her odes and hymns are so rich, sweet and inspiring, not because of any high rhetoric or dexterity of language, but because they are characterized by a tenderness and simplicity of feeling as genuine outpourings of a heart completely dedicated to God.

Born in Kurkhi in 1499 A.D., she was the daughter of Rana Ratan Singh (a Ranthor) of Merta (between Ajmer and Jodhpur). Meera was raised and nurtured by her grandfather Rao Duda in the fortress city of Merta. As customary with royal families, her education included knowledge of scriptures, music, archery, fencing, horseback riding and driving chariots – she was also trained to wield weapons in case of a war. However, Meera also grew up amidst an atmosphere of total Krishna consciousness, which was responsible in molding her life in the path of total devotion towards Lord Krishna. It is said that at the age of five, she was given a vigraha or statue of Lord Krishna by a mendicant saint passing through the kingdom. Historians claim that this mendicant was Raidas, who initiated Meera into the practice of Shabd or Nada Yoga1. Meera developed an instant loving attachment to the idol and began spending most of her time in bathing, dressing and worshipping the image as though it were real. She danced about the image in ecstasy. She sang beautiful songs in front of the image. She talked to the idol. She slept with the image. She was always present in all divine discourses in the palace, more of which were on BhAgavatam and Krishna Leela.

When she was just four years of age, she manifested her deep devotion to Krishna. Meera watched a marriage procession in front of her residence. Meera, the child, spotted the well-dressed bridegroom and asked her mother innocently, "Dear mother, who will be my bridegroom?" Meera’s mother smiled, and half in jest and half in earnest, pointed towards the image of Sri Krishna and said, "My dear Meera, Lord Krishna - this beautiful fellow – is going to be your bridegroom". Soon after, Meera’s mother passed on. As Meera grew up, her desire to be with her Krishna grew intensely and she believed that Lord Krishna would come to marry her if he could accept a cowherdess Radha as his dear consort. In due course, she became firmly convinced that Krishna was to be her husband. The benign influence of Rao Duda's wisdom, the pain of losing her parents at a tender age and her certainty that she was Krishna's chosen beloved, gave a unique strength and resolve to Mira's personality. Meera was

.  Her fame spread far and wide.  

RAna Sangram Singh, , the powerful King of Mewar, approached Rao Duda for Meera’s hand in marriage to his son Bhojraj (also known as RAna Kumbha or KumbhaRAna). r, Meera could not bear the thought of marrying a human being when her heart was filled with thoughts of every nature, all about her Krishna. But unable to go against her beloved grandfather’s Rao Duda’s word, she finally consented to the marriage. It is also said that Lord Krishna intervened timely in her dream to advise her, “if the gopikAs could do their duty to their husbands, tend their families and above all be totally devoted to me all the time, you can do the same thing. Do your duty. I shall not leave you any time”. Meera was wed to RAna Kumbha in 1513, before she turned 14.

As ordained, Meera was dutiful. She left for Mewar with the RAna Kumbha. She obeyed her husband’s commands.

After her household duties were over, Meera would go to the temple of Lord Krishna, worship, sing and dance before the image daily. The little image would get up, embrace Meera, play on the flute and talk to her. KumbhaRAna’s mother and other ladies of the palace did not like the ways of Meera, as they were worldly-minded and jealous. Meera’s mother-in-law forced her to worship Durga and admonished her often. But Meera maintained, "I have already given up my life to my beloved Lord Krishna" . Meera’s sister-in-law Udabai formed a conspiracy and began to defame the innocent Meera. She informed RAna Kumbha that Meera was in secret love with some one, that she witnessed Meera talking to her lover(s) in the temple, and that she would show him the persons if he would accompany her one night. The ladies further raved that Meera, by her conduct, had brought a great slur on the reputation of the RAna family of Chitore. The enraged Kumbha ran with sword in hand towards Meera, but as luck would have it Meera had gone to her Krishna temple. A sober relative of the RAna counseled him, "RAna! You will forever repent for your hasty behavior and consequences. Enquire into the allegation carefully and you will find the truth. Meera is a great devotee of the Lord. Remember why you sought her hand. Out of sheer jealousy the ladies might have concocted scandals against Meera to incite you and ruin her". Kumbha calmed down and accompanied his sister who persistently took him to the temple at dead of night. RAna Kumbha broke open the door, rushed inside and found Meera alone in her ecstatic mood talking and singing to the idol.

The RAna shouted at Meera, "Meera, show me your lover with whom you are talking now". Meera replied, "There sits He—my Lord—the Nanichora who has stolen my heart". She went into a trance. The ladies floated other rumors that Meera was mixing very freely with Sadhus. Meera was unaffected by such scandals and continued to invite BhAgavathAs to join her in Krishna bhajan at the temple. She stood unruffled in the face of accusations from the royal family. When questioned about her marital responsibilities, Meera responded that it was Krishna to whom she was married. KumbhaRAna was heart-broken but remained a good husband and sympathizer of Meera until his death.

When the torture and scandals continued, Meera sent a letter to Goswami Tulsidas and asked for his advice2. She wrote, "Simply because I am constantly tortured by my relatives, I cannot abandon my Krishna. I am unable to carry on with my devotional practices in the palace. I have made Giridhar Gopala my friend from my very childhood. I feel a total bondage with him. I cannot break that bond". Tulsidasji sent a reply: "Abandon those who cannot understand you and who do not worship RAma or SyAma, even though they are your dearest relatives. Prahlada abandoned his father; VibhIshana left his brother RAvana; Bharata deserted his stepmother; Bali forsook even his Guru; the Gopasthrees, the women of Vraja, disowned their husbands to get to their Krishna. Their lives were all the happier for having done so. The relation with God and the love of God are the only elements that are true and eternal; all other relationships are unreal and temporary". Meera met up once again with her Guru and mentor Raidas, who is said to have lived to a ripe age of 118 years. She went into the slums often to be in the satsang of this great teacher. This was the impetus and inspiration behind the many queries and controversies that she raised about Kulam in her songs.

Meera walked barefoot on the hot sandy beds of Rajasthan. On her way, many ladies, children and devotees received her with great hospitality. She reached Brindavan. She reached the Chitchor GopAla. It was at Brindavan that she again met and was inspired by Sant Raidas. She went about Brindavan doing Oonchavritti and worshipped in the Govinda Mandir which has since become famous and is now a great place of pilgrimage for devotees from all over the world. Her devotees of Chitore came to Brindavan to see Meera. A repentant Kumbha came to Vrindavan to see Meera in the disguise of a mendicant, revealed himself and prayed that he may be forgiven for all his previous wrongs and cruel deeds. He begged that Meera return to the kingdom and was assume her role as the queen once more. Meera at once prostrated before her husband, and gently added, “What is Kulam or lineage, heritage or inheritance? What is the meaning of the division amongst devotees as KshatriyAs and BrahmanAs and shudrAs and the like? Who is man and who is woman? Krishna is the only Purusha and all of us are women. He is Pati and we are all Pasus. I am no more Queen than you are King. There is only one King and my life belongs to him.”

Meera’s fame spread far and wide. She was immersed in satsang day in and out. At the request of KumbhaRAna, Meera returned to Mewar and Kumbha agreed to her request that she would reside in the temple of Krishna but would not restrict her movements and wanderings. From Mewar, she once again returned to Brindavan, and then went on to Dwaraka. The King went with her. Dwaraka was to be the place where her GopAla would take her unto Him at the temple of Ranchod.

, Meera was invited back to Mewar by the RAna just as she had reached Dwaraka. Reluctant to leave her Krishna, Meera asked permission to spend the night at the temple of Ranchhorji. The next morning her lifeless body was found lying at its feet. It is believed that her spirit entered the deity during the night.

Historians and scholars put this date at 1546 A.D.