Mirabai (1500 – 1550) She was born a Rajput princess, is undoubtedly India’s best known saint-poetess of bhakti in the purest Vaishnava tradition. Her bhakti poetry is immortal. Mirabai was born 500 years ago in a little-known village called Kurki in Mewar. The much loved daughter of Rana Ratan Singh, Mira was nurtured by her grandfather Rao Duda in the fortress city of Merta in Mewar. According to the royal custom she was married in 1516 to Prince Bhojraj, son of Rana Sanga, ruler of the Sisodiya clan of Mewar.
In 1521 Bhojraj died, soon followed by Rana Sanga. Mira refused to lead the secluded life of a royal widow and defied all conventions. She sang and danced with greater mystic frenzy. Her cymbals and her anklets were heard even in the temple on the outskirts of the city, a public place open to all devotees. Such insubordination had never been witnessed before. The young Rana Vikram and his mother could not treat Mira with either indifference or clemency. Her rising popularity and strong political connections made the Rana so jealous that he tried to kill her several times..
It is said that once a poisonous snake was sent to her in a flower basket, but when she opened it she found an image of Krishna; on another occasion she was given a cup of poison but drank it with Krishna’s name on her lips and was miraculously saved.
This Rajput princess’s lovely songs have inspired many generations of Hindus. She sang:
“My only Lord is Giridhar Gopal
None else, none else, in this false world;
I have forsaken my family and friends,
I sit among saintly souls,
I have lost regard for worldly fame and honor,
My heart swells at the sight of the godly,
It shrinks at the sight of the worldly.
I have watered the creeper of God’s love with my own tears.
Churning the curds of life, I have taken out the butter and thrown away the rest.
The King, my husband, sent me a cup of poison:
I drank it with pleasure.
The news is now public, everyone knows now
That Mirabai has fallen in love with God!
It does not matter now: what was fated to happen, has happened.”
Many stories are told of how the devotion of Mirabai for Lord Krishna led her to abandon her husband, who was the ruler of the ancient Rajput state of Mewar, and to pass life in complete dedication to the praise of her God. Once for example, her husband, hearing her talking in a closed room to a man, rushed in with drawn sword to kill her for her unfaithfulness. But it was Krishna with her, and he transformed her into a multitude of forms so that the king could not tell which one was really his wife.
In response to her continual pleading for a demonstration of his love for her, Lord Krishna finally revealed himself in his glory and absorbed her soul into his. Her hauntingly lovely songs are still popular in western India and Rajasthan. In this poem, Giridhar Gopal is a name of Krishna.