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MIRABAI'S POETRY by Caitanya Dasi


Much of the mystic love poetry from India revolves around musical and theatrical expressions that portray the loving relationship between the soul and God…
One such celebrated relationship was that between princess Mirabai and her divine beloved, Krishna. Born in the sixteenth century into a noble Rajput family, Mirabai married into a family that did not take fondly to her devotion to God. Consequently, she went from royalty to mendicant, and decorated her spiritual path with poetic songs.
I first heard of the great poet, Mirabai in the early 1970’s while I was living and studying bhakti yoga at the Hare Krishna temple in Los Angeles, California.  As I had a background in the performance arts Mirabai’s life instantly spoke to me. Her fusion of spiritual sentiments with song resonated with my passion for music, drama, dance, and the devotional path to loving God.
In 1968 I serendipitously met a devotee by the name of Mirabai, who taught me that the perfection of my life would be to use my performing talents in the service of God. Four years later, after marrying and giving birth to twin daughters, I found myself in the very same town in which Mirabai sang many of her poems: Vrindavan, India.
The author Caitanya dasi playing tampura
Vrindavan is the main pilgrimage site of the bhakti-yoga, or vaishnava tradition, where Lord Krishna, Mirabai’s divine beloved, is worshiped. While singing in a temple in Vrindavan, constructed in honor of Mirabai, I was inspired to form a bhajan group, (group of devotional singers and musicians), that would carry on Mirabai’s legacy of singing love songs to God.
My heart’s aspiration was manifested in the year 1975, which I spent blissfully performing around the Los Angles area with my musical group, summoning the mood of separation between the soul and God that Mirabai was famous for. A year later, I gave birth to a daughter whom I named Mirabai.
My hope today is that you will relish these two selections from the vast abundance of poems composed by this inspiring, Vaishnavi holy woman. Amazingly, historical records account for at least 1,000 poems composed by Mirabai, which is a rare accomplishment for a woman, in a tradition where men’s voices have prevailed. My dream is to change that following in Mirabai’s footsteps. (The poems have been translated from Hindi into English by A.J Alston, 1980.)
Photography by K.Silva
Mine is Gopal
Mine is Gopal,
the Mountain-Holder;
there is no one else.
On his head he wears the peacock-crown:
He alone is my husband.
Father, mother, brother, relative:
I have none to call my own.
I’ve forsaken both God, and the family’s honor:
what should I do?
I’ve sat near the holy ones,
and I’ve lost shame before the people.
I’ve torn my scarf into shreds;
I’m all wrapped up in a blanket.
I took off my finery of pearls and coral,
and strung a garland of wildwood flowers.

With my tears,
I watered the creeper of love that I planted;
Now the creeper has grown spread all over,
and borne the fruit of bliss.
The churner of the milk churned with great love.
When I took out the butter,
no need to drink any buttermilk.
I came for the sake of love-devotion;
seeing the world, I wept.
Mira is the maidservant of the Mountain-Holder:
Now with love
He takes me across to the further shore.


Life is Short
Life in the world is short,
Why shoulder an unnecessary load
Of worldly relationships?
Thy parents gave thee birth in the world,
But the Lord ordained thy fate.
Life passes in getting and spending,
No merit is earned by virtuous deeds.
I will sing the praises of Hari
In the company of the holy ones,
Nothing else concerns me.
Mira’s Lord is the courtly Giridhara,
She says: Only by Thy power
Have I crossed to the further shore.

Caitanya Dasi studied vocals with AliAkbar Khan at his music college in 1979. She also studied north Indian vocals under Laksmi Shankar in 1980, in Los Angeles, California. Caitanya Dasi regularly performed with Shankar, while playing the tampura to the singing of Shankar's own compositions of Mirabai’s poems. In the early seventies Caitanya Dasi was formally initiated into the practice of bhakti yoga, under the guidance of her teacher A.C BhaktivedantaSwami Prabhupada. Today she has four children, five grandchildren and lives in northern Florida, where she continues to sing her heart out in the spirit of Mirabai. You may contact her on facebook, or e-mail her at caitanyadasi@gmail.com
~If you are interested in seeing your poetry appear in this blog, or submitting a poem by a woman that has inspired you, please click here for submission guidelines. I greatly look forward to hearing from you!~

Comments

  1. I just so enjoyed reading this first thing this morning! I had never known about Mirabai...what an inspiring poet and devotee she was! And your poetry was truly stirring and beautiful. Thank you so much. :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. i have heard this name before, and above all we all yearned to connectivity we miss in our life at any juncture. and some are more lucky they expressed what we feels today. it shows there is commonality among human where they live does not matter, when heart sangs it helps to create words and why an eye see a flower and smile of child face. God smiles through many things. we need an eye to see that smile for us.

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  3. it is great in reading. thank you :) Hare Krishna!

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