History of Yogini Lalleshwari

Yogini Lalleshwari has her name engraved in golden letters in the Kashmiri Shaivite literature. She worshipped Lord Shiva as Beloved and equated the soul with the beauty of Lord Shiva. She was an ‘Avdhut’ (a person who is totally absorbed in Beloved and unmindful of the world around) and Param-Hans (highly accomplished saint). She used to sing and dance in the praise of Lord Shiva and thus glorify her Beloved. Her songs are sang in every nook and corner of Kashmir. She propagated the concept of unity and opened the doors of Shiva-bhakti for everyone, be it a Brahman or a Chandal, a rich man or a poor, a noble person or a sinner. She was a contemporary of the famous Sufi saint Sayyed Ali Hamdani, who had visited Kashmir to propagate the message of love of Islam and had spent about six years in Kashmir. During this stay he met Yogini Lalleshwari. Both of them were greatly influenced by each other. It was around the same time when Sant Namdev enjoyed the nearness of Lord Vitthal in Maharashtra and Kabir propagated the message of Nirgun Gyan-dhara in the North that Yogini Lalleshwari established Kailashpati Mahadev at the seat of the soul in Kashmir.Yogini Lalleshwari was an ardent lover of the beauty of Shiva-the Truth.

By worshipping Shiva in the form of the Self, she impacted not only the Northern parts of India but also influenced Arab and Persia. She had established an extraordinary harmony of brilliance and tender love in her words and spent all her life in exploring the depths of Divine Love.Lalleshwari was born in Pampur village in Kashmir in a pious Brahman family around the year 1347, i.e. Vikram Samvat 1400. Kashmir and North India during that time was facing political disturbances and anarchy. In her childhood, at times she used to get overwhelmed with a flux of love for the Divine. She spent a simple and pious life devoid of any ostentation. She was married at an early age of twelve in a family in Kashmir. Her married life, however, was not pleasent. She faced a lot of problems in her marital home. Her mother-in-law was especially unhappy with her and started posing various problems to her right from the day she entered her nuptial home. Lalleshwari, however, showed no resentment and lived with it all. Her mother-in-law used to ask her to attend to all the domestic chores and yet gave her very scantily to eat. She was given

only a bowl of rice and even in that bowl her mother-in-law used to keep a stone so that the quantity of rice was reduced further. Lalleshwari, however, never objected or protested against this and kept on passing her time peacefully. Gradually she developed a totally indifferent attitude and got completely detached from the worldly affairs.

Once Lalleshwari was cleaning utensils at the bank of river, her neighbor also was there. She said to Lalleshwari that today she would have good time as a guest is there in their house, for whom good food would be cooked. Lalleshwari replied, ‘whether a goat is cooked or a sheep, I would get only a bowl of rice with a stone in it’. Her father-in-law was standing nearby. He heard this conversation. He was annoyed with his wife for the treatment meted out to Lalleshwari. He, therefore, rebuked his wife, i.e. the mother-inlaw of Lalleshwari, as a result of which her situation became more pathetic. Her mother in-law provoked her son i.e. the husband of Lalleshwari, who also started misbehaving with her. They started false propaganda against her that she was a witch and that she goes out in the mid-night riding on the back of a lion to eat human flesh. Lalleshwari was deeply hurt by this false propaganda. She, therefore, decided to leave the house and to spend her time in the remembrance of Lord Shiva.

She left the house and started roaming about in the streets, in jungles and in villages singing in the praise of her Lord. Impressed by her divine songs, thousands of people started following her. She used to get so absorbed in it that she often forgot to care for her self; she started roaming about as an Avdhut, at times with no clothes to cover her body. Unaware of this, she used to dance and sing for the pleasure of her Lord. Some used to call her mad, some others used to throw stones at her, some used to abuse her and some used to torture her, but for her everyone was pervaded by Lord Shiva. She had no ill-feeling or hatred towards anyone of them as she saw her Lord in each one of them. Her feeling of duality had disappeared; she realized that it was her Beloved Lord Shiva, Who was appearing in all forms. She had attained the state of ‘Unity of all existence’. She got initiated by a famous Shaivite-saint. In her verses she has said that ‘my Guru has asked me to be introspective rather than focusing outside, as that is the way to auspiciousness.This sermon is the basis of my life and now I dance and sing to please my Lord without caring for the people’.

Lalleshwari was also in touch with the famous Sufi saint Sayyed Ali Hamdani,who had come to Kashmir to spread the message of love of Islam. In the eyes of Yogini Lalleshwari no one was ‘man’; she took everyone as the ‘Upasika’ (belovedworshippers-consorts) of Lord Shiva. One day she saw Shah Hamdani walking across.She uttered ‘Purush’ (man) and started running. A Tandur (a large earthen oven used for cooking in the Punjab and Kashmir) was alighted nearby, she jumped into that. Sant Hamdani followed her and asked the owner of Tandur about her. He informed him that Lalleshwari had jumped into the Tandur and by now she would have been burnt to ashes.

Sant Hamdani appealed her to come out of the Tandur and she came out wearing divine clothes of green color. Both of them were deeply impressed and had discourses with each other, resulting in a synthesis of Vedanta, bhakti and Islam. Yogini Lalleshwari sang many songs in praise of her Beloved, Lord Shiva. Her songs greatly reflect upon the Kashmiri Shaive-yoga. In one of her songs she has stated: ‘Yes, it is right that I have drank the water of river Sindhu many times; I have spent many lives in Kashmir; I have been born as a human being many a times but I remained a mere Lalleshwari alone. All these births have not helped me’. She propagated selfless devotion and complete surrender to Shiva. She has stated that mere recital of the name of Shiva is enough to please him and to receive His grace. In one of her songs she states that whatever one may keep on doing, by constant recital of the name of Shiva and by directing one’s mind towards Shiva, one certainly receives the grace of Shiva. She was completely devoted to the attribute-less Shiva-Tatva (the essence of Shiva). She used to pray before Lord Shiva: ‘Whatever you may be-Shiva, Keshav or Brahm, liberate me from the cycle of birth and death. I have become blissful by seeing Your glimpse in me’.She also stated that to realize Shiva, one has to seek the grace of one’s Guru. Shiva is Omnipresent; to find Him at any particular place is impossible, as He has laid the trap for the soul (Jeevatma) at every step. Shiva is within all creatures. He feeds in the form of mother; makes one feel happy in the form of spouse; allures creatures in the form of Maya and it is only the Guru, who gives the knowledge of Shiva. It was her firm belief that only Shiva-bhakti is the source of eternal peace.