History of Meerabai

Meerabai is one of the greatest saints of India, who absorbed in the love for her Beloved Lord Krishna, left aside the royal comforts and wandered in the streets for the pleasure of her Lord. She was a contemporary of Goswami Tulsidas and Sant Raidas. She sang in the praise of her Lord showing her deep devotion and complete surrender to Lord Krishna. She through her sadhana showed path to many. It is certain that if Meerabai was not there, the history of the medieval India, as far as devotional literature is concerned would have been incomplete. Her Krishna-bhakti and Vairagya bore approval of Sant- Shiromani Goswami Tulsidas, supported by Mahatma Jeev Goswami and received the grace of Sant Raidas.

Meerabai was born in 1558-59 Vikram Samvat in a village called Kurki in Merata of Rajasthan. She was born in the royal family of Rathors. She was great-grand daughter of Rao Jodhaji, the founder of Jodhpur, grand daughter of Rao Dudaji and daughter of Raja Ratan Singhji. She was brought up in the company of famous saint Jaimal, who has been greatly acclaimed by Sant Nabhadas in his ‘Bhaktmal’ (a great treatise of saints and Mahatmas of India). Jaimal was her cousin. In one of her verses Meerabai has said:

‘MERATIYE GHAR JANAM LIYO HAI, MEERA NAAM KAHAYO’.

From her early childhood Meera exhibited inclination towards the divine. When she was about ten, a saint visited the royal family. He had a beautiful idol of Lord Krishna with him. Meera got very fascinated by the idol. The saint, therefore, while leaving the palace gave that idol to Meera. Meera started taking care of the idol, giving it bath, smearing sandal paste and so on. One day Meera saw a wedding procession with a lot of musical instruments being played and amongst them the bridegroom was riding on a horse. The bridegroom was adorned and was the center of attraction. Meera looked curiously towards the procession and asked who her bridegroom was? A relative of Meera in a lighter way told her that Giridhar Gopal (Lord Krishna) was her bridegroom.

She was yet a child. From that day Meera took Nandnandan Lord Shri Krishna as her husband. She had started composing verses from an early age and now she started reciting them to Lord Krishna keeping awake at times till mid-night. In her dreams also she started having glimpse of her Lord. In one of her verses she has said:

‘MAAI MHANE SAPNA MEIN PARNYA RE DINANATH’ (O My Mother! My Lord has married me in my dream).

After a few years in 1573 Vikram Samvat Meera was married to Kumar Bhojraj,the eldest son of Maharana Sanga, ruler of Chittor. She performed the wedding-rituals keeping the idol of Lord Krishna with her. While going around the sacred fire (Phere) also she kept the Lord with her and thus in her perception she got married to the Lord. At the time of leaving her parent’s house, she was given a lot of things as dowry. Meera, however, requested her mother to permit her to take the idol of Lord Krishna with her to Chittor. Her mother gladly agreed and got the idol duly adorned kept in her palanquin.

She thus took the idol of Lord Krishna with her to Chittor. Kumar Bhojraj arrived in the capital city with his bride. People were happy and greeted each other. Meera’s mother-in law was also pleased to see a beautiful and worthy girl as her daughter-in-law. According to the customs her mother-in-law asked Meera to participate in the Pooja (worshipping) of the family deity, but Meera did not agree saying that she would not worship any one else except her Lord Giridharlal. Her mother-in-law was annoyed and also scolded Meera but Meera did not budge. In Rajasthan Gauri-Poojan (worshipping goddess Parvati) is performed every year, especially by the young girls and newly married women to seek long life for their husbands. Her mother-in-law and sister-in-law Udabai exhorted Meera to perform Gauri- Poojan in order to seek the blessing of the goddess for the long-life of her husband Kumar Bhojraj but Meera did not agree to worship any one else except her Giridhar-Gopal. She said:

‘NA MHE POOJAN GAURYAJI, NA POOJAN AN DEV; MHE

POOJAN RANCHODJI, SASU THE KAAIN JANO BHEV’.

Her mother-in-law was annoyed with her. When other ladies tried to persuade Meera, she told them that ‘I have been married to the Lord and, therefore, my husband is eternal. Only they need to worship Gauriji leaving aside Giridhar-Gopal, who entertained doubt about the eternity of their husband’. As most of them could not reach the depth of Meera’s words, they felt bad. The queen of Chittor should dance and sing in the praise of Lord, wasunacceptable to the royal family. But Meera was made of a different material, she was fully devoted to her Lord and was unperturbed by the behavior of her in-laws. This devotion of Meera towards the Lord first made Kumar Bhojraj a little upset, but later on he was impressed by the purity of her heart. Although Meera considered Lord Giridharlal to be her real husband and used to spend most of her time in His service, yet she never let Kumar Bhojraj feel annoyed with her. Through her simplicity and selfless service she kept him happy. Once his sister Udabai complained to Kumar Bhojraj that Meera locks her up in the temple and no one knows with whom she keeps on talking through the night. Kumar Bhojraj stood in front of the gate of the temple and heard Meera talking.

Meera was talking to the Lord. Kumar Bhojraj thought that there was some one inside. He pulled out his sword and entered the temple but there was none else except Meera. On asking Meera told him that she was talking to the idol of Giridhar-Gopal and that she knows no other man in her life. Kumar Bhojraj searched the entire place thoroughly and when he found none else, he felt ashamed. Later he got a separate temple of Lord Shri Ranchodrai erected for Meera a little away from the fort. Meera used to spend her time there composing her verses for the Lord. Kumar Bhojraj was a brave person with poetic inclination. He liked Meera’s compositions and took pride in the same. When Meera used to sing her verses before Kumar Bhojraj, it used to please him.

Meera now used to spend her time in Bhajan-Poojan and in the company of saints. At times she would start crying out of the pain of separation from her Lord and at times she would laugh having a glimpse of the Lord in meditation. Sometimes she would start dancing and singing without caring for food or rest for days together. If some one tried to reason her out, she used to talk with her about the divine love and grace. As a result she became weak bodily. Vaidyas (doctors) were asked to treat her, even her father came with some Vaidya from Marwar but they did not have cure for this divine-love. Meera has said in one of her compositions:

HE RI MEIN TO PREM DIWANI, MERA DARAD NA JANE KOI;

GHAYAL KI GATI GHAYAL JANE, KI JIN LAAI HOI;

JOHRI KI GATI JOHRI JANE, KI JIN JOHAR HOI;

SULI UPAR SEJ HAMARI, SAUVAN KIS VIDH HOI;

GAGAN MANDAL PE SEJ PIYA KI, KIS VIDH MILNA HOI;

DARAD KI MARI VAN-VAN DOLU, VAIDH MILA NA KOI;

MEERA KI PRABHU PIR MITEGI, JAB VAIDH SAVALIYAN HOI.

Such a longing, such frenzy, such a beautiful desire! The Lord can be reached only then; He is sold at the hands of such a devotee. Meera had bought the Lord at this price. Once Meera left the royal palace suffering with the pangs of separation from her Lord. She decided to jump in a river and as she was about to jump, she had the glimpse of the Lord. The Lord told her that ‘Vrindavan is My Kingdom; it is the place for devotees. Devotees should, therefore, live in Vrindavan for Bhajan’. Meera, therefore, decided to proceed to Vrindavan leaving aside all considerations of being a queen and so-on. She entered the Brij area with great happiness and in frenzy. Her songs filled the air of Brij with love for the divine. Saints started singing her songs to please the Lord. Meera announced:

MERE TO GIRDHAR GOPAL DOOSARO NA KOI,

JAKE SIR MOR MUKUT MERA PATI SOI,

TAT MAT BHRAT BANDHU AAPANO NA KOI,

CHODI DINI KUL KI KANI KAHA KARAIHE KOI,

SANTAN DHIG BAITH-BAITH LOK LAJ KHOI,

CHOONARI KE LIYE TUK ODH LINI LOI,

MOTI MOONGE UTAR VANMALA POI,

ASUNVAN JAL SINCHI-SINCHI PREM BEL BOI,

AB TO BEL FAIL GAI ANAND FAL HOI,

DUDH KI MATHANIYA BARE PREM SE BILOI,

MAKHAN JAB KADHI LIYO CHACH PIYE KOI,

BHAGAT DEKH RAJI HUI JAGAT DEKH ROI,

DASI MEERA LAL GIRIDHAR TARO AB MOI.

The name of Meera was on every tongue; in all temples her Bhajans were being sung. Kumar Bhojraj went to Brij to bring Meera back with him. Meera told him that she sings and dances before the Lord. She visits the Lord and drinks the Charnamrit (sacred water-offered to the Lord). Bhojraj, however, convinced her to accompany him to Chittor. About seven years thus passed and in Vikram Samvat 1580 Kumar Bhojraj died. Maharana Sanga also left this mortal world. Meera’s second brother-in-law Vikram Singh occupied the throne. Udabai, the sister-in-law of Meera provoked him to harass Meera. Vikram Singh tried many ways to distract Meera from her devotion towards Giridhar Gopal, but he could not do so. On the contrary, Meera got more and more inclined towards the divine. Sadhus and saints kept on visiting Meera, which became unbearable for Rana Vikram Singh. He appointed two maids to persuade Meera and Udabai also tried to persuade her but Meera did not give up her ways. Meera first politely told them and later she firmly told:

BARJI MEIN KAHU KI NA RAHOON;

SUNO RI SAKHI TUM CHETAN HOKE, MAN RI BAAT KAHOON;

SADHU SANGAT KAR HARI SUKH LEHOON, JAG SOON MEIN DOOR RAHOON;

TAN DHAN MERO SAB HI JAO, BHAL MERO SIS LAHOON;

MAN MERO LAGYO SUMRIN SETI, SABKA MEIN BOL SAHOON;

MEERA KE PRABHU GIRIDHAR NAGAR SATGURU SARAN RAHOON.

They told her that if you love the Lord, no one has any objection to that but you should not spend all your time in the company of Sadhus and saints, singing and dancing with them against the royal etiquettes of the family. Maharana is annoyed because of your behavior. Meera replied:

‘MEIN TO GOVIND KE GUN GAASU; RANA

ROOTHE NAGARI RAKHE, HARI ROOTHE KAHAN JAASU.’

(I would sing in the praise of my Lord. If the king is annoyed, one could be protected by the people, but if the Lord is annoyed, where can one go?-He is Omnipresent.) It is said that impressed by Meera’s devotion, Emperor Akbar with Tansen visited her and while departing Akbar offered a valuable necklace to Lord Ranchodji. The next day when Rana Vikram Singh came to know about the visit of Akbar, he was furious. He started torturing her more and more. He sent a poisonous snake and thereafter deadly poison to kill Meera but nothing happened to Meera. She has said:

MEERA MAGAN BHAI HARI KE GUN GAAY;

SAANP PITARA RANA BHEJYA MEERA HATH DIYA JAY;

NAHAY DHOY JAB DEKHAN LAGI, SALIGRAM GAI PAY;

JAHAR KA PYALA RANA BHEJYA, IMRAT DIYA BANAY;

NAHAY DHOY JAB PIVAN LAGI, HO GAI AMAR ANCHAY;

SOOLI SEJ RANA NE BHEJI, DIJYO MEERA SUVAY;

SAANJH BHAI MEERA SOVAN LAGI, MANO PHOOL BICHAY;

MEERA KE PRABHU SADA SAHAI, RAKHE BIGHAN HATAY;

BHAJAN BHAV ME MAST DOLTI, GIRDHAR PAR BALI JAY.

Premyogini (devout-lover) Meera had firm faith in her Lord. She showed it to Rana: ‘THARI MARI NA MARUN, MERO RAKHANHARA AUR’ (You can not kill me, as my protector is my Lord). The royal palace where musicians and artists from far off places used to come to show their performance, that palace was now overwhelmed with Meera’s divine Bhajans.

PUG GHUNGHRU BANDH MEERA NACHI RE;

LOG KAHEN MEERA BHAI BAVRI, SAAS KAHE KUL NASI RE;

VISH KA PYALA RANAJI BHEJYO, PIVAT MEERA HASI RE;

MEIN TO APNE NARAYAN KI AAP HI HO GAYI DASI RE;

MEERA KE PRABHU GIRDHAR NAGAR SAHAJ MILYA AVINASI RE.

The entire royal family became her enemy. The flowers on the way turned into thorns but Meera was completely absorbed in bhakti. She had understood it well that the birth in human form is not to be wasted in worldly affairs, rather it was the opportunity to reach one’s Beloved. Harassed by Rana Vikram Singh, Meera wrote a letter to the great saint Goswami Tulsidas. She took him as her counsel to get the justice and wrote him:

SWASTI SRI TULSI KUL-BHUSHAN DUSHAN HARAN GUSAI;

BARAMBAR PRANAM KARAHOON, AB HARAHU SOK SAMUDAI;

GHAR KE SVAJAN HAMARE JETE, SABAN UPADHI BADHAI;

SADHUSANG ARU BHAJAN KARAT MOHIN DET KALESH MAHAI;

SO TO AB CHUTAT NAHI KYON HI, LAGI LAGAN BARIYAI;

BALPANE SE MEERA KINHI GIRIDHAR LAL MITAI;

MERE MATA PITA KE SUM HO, HARI BHAGTAN SUKHDAI;

HAMAHU KAHA UCHIT KARIBO HAI, SO LIKHIYO SAMUJHAI.

Goswami Tulsidasji understood the pain of the devotee-heart of Meera. Without caring what would happen if his reply fell in the hands of Rana Vikram Singh, he wrote:

JANKE PRIY NA RAM VAIDEHI;

TAJIYE TAHI KOTI VAIRI SUM, JADHAPI PARAM SANEHI;

TAJYO PITA PRAHLAD, VIBHISHAN BANDHU, BHARAT MAHTARI;

BALI GURU TAJYO, KANT BRIJ BANITANI, BHAYE MUD MANGALKARI;

NATE NEH RAM KE MANIYAT, SHUHRID SUSEVYA JAHAN LON;

ANJAN KAHAN AANKHI JEHI PHUTE BAHUTAK KAHAN-KAHAN LON;

TULSI SO SAB BHANTI PARAMHIT, PUJYA PRAN TE PYARO;

JAANSO HOY SANEH RAMPAD, ETO MATO HAMARO.

Meera was pleased to receive this reply of Goswami Tulsidas, which was according to her expectation. She was overwhelmed by the very thought that now she could go to Vrindavan, the play-ground of her Lord leaving behind the obstructions imposed by the royal palace. Her poetic heart started singing:

CHALO MAN GANGA-JAMUNA TIR;

GANGA-JAMUNA NIRMAL PANI, SHEETAL HOT SHARIR;

BANSI BAJAVAT GAVAT KANHO, SANG LIYE BALBIR;

MOR MUKUT PITAMBAR SOHE, KUNDAL JHALKAT HIR;

‘MEERA’ KE PRABHU GIRIDHAR NAGAR,

CHARAN-KANVAL PAY SIR.

Udabai by now had changed; she was impressed by Meera’s devotion. Meera, however, was greatly eager to have a glimpse of her Lord. She, therefore, proceeded to visit the Brijbhoomi. Her heart was full with the love for her Lord. She was singing:

MEIN GIRIDHAR KE GHAR JAAUN;

GIRIDHAR MHARO SANCHO PRITAM, DEKHAT ROOP LUBHAUN;

RAIN PARE TABAHI UTH JAAUN, BHOR BHAIYE UTH AAUN;

RAIN-DINA WANKE SANG KHELUN, JYUN-TYUN TAHIN RIJHAUN;

JO PAHIRAVE SO HI PAHARUN, JO DE SO HI KHAUN;

MERI UNKI PRITI PURANI UN BIN PAL NA RAHAUN;

JAHAN BITHAVEN TIT HI BATHUN; BEECHEN TO BIK JAAUN;

‘MEERA’ KE PRABHU GIRIDHAR NAGAR BAR-BAR BALI JAAUN.

Meera now had reached the abode of her beloved. The eternal beauty of her Beloved dispersed in every nook and corner of Brijbhoomi had engulfed Meera. The people of Brij associated everything with Lord Krishna; so much so that those selling curds would not say ‘take curds’, but would say ‘take away Shyam Salona’. Meera now got entirely submerged in the love of her Lord. She stated:

MAI RI MEIN TO LIYO GOVINDO MOL;

KOI KAHE CHANE KOI KAHE CHUPKE, LIYO RI BAJANTA DHOL;

KOI KAHE MUNHGHO KOI KAHE SUHANGHO, LIYO RI TARAJU TOL;

KOI KAHE KARO KOI KAHE GORO, LIYO RI AMOLAK MOL;

KOI KAHE GHAR MAIN, KOI KAHE VAN MAIN, RADHA KE SANG KILOL;

‘MEERA’ KO PRABHU DARSAN DIJYO, POORAB JANAM KO KOL.

Meera lived in the company of saints in the Brijbhoomi. She was greatly impressed by the contemporary saints like Goswami Tulsidas and Sant Raidas, whom shementioned in her verses as her Guru. She was also influenced by the ‘Godiya-Vaishnavbhakti’.Once she went to visit Mahatma Jeev Goswami, who was a Vaishnav saint in the order of ‘Gaur-Vaishnav’. Mahatma Jeev Goswami, however, declined to meet her saying that ‘I do not see ladies’. Meera replied “I thought that in Brij there was only oneman-Lord Shri Krishna, but I am surprised to find another one’. When Mahatma Jeev Goswami heard this he rushed to meet Meera bare-footed. Meera in one of her verses also wrote about Chaitnya Mahaprabhu. Meera was not only a devotee but also an emotional poet; her devotion found its expression through her verses, which emanated from her heart. To her the Lord was her husband and she was devoted to the Lord like a spouse. Lord Shri Krishna was the very basis of her life and existence. She has repeatedly told herself that everything between the earth and the sky shall perish one day. The physical body would convert into dust and similarly everything else would vanish. One should, therefore, look towards the Lord rather than looking towards the world. She had surrendered herself completely to the Lord. She has said:

“MEIN TO SANVARE KE RANG RAANCHI;

SAAJI SINGAR BANDHI PUG GHUNGHRU, LOK LAAJ TAJI NAACHI;

GAI KUMATI, LAI SADHU KI SANGATI, BHAGAT ROOP BHAI SAANCHI;

GAY-GAY HARI KE GUN NISDIN, KAAL VYAL SOON BAANCHI;

UN BIN SAB JAG KHARO LAGAT, AUR BAAT SAB KAANCHI;

‘MEERA’ SHRI GIRIDHARAN LALSOON, BHAGATI RASILI JAANCHI.

Meera was continuously seeking the Lord; she was ever eager to have His glimpse. Like a lotus flower without water and night without the moon, Meera was

similarly desperate for her Lord. She lived the experiences of the playful activities of

Lord Krishna in Brij and expressed them in many of her verses. She has poured her heart

out in such verses. In one of such verses she has said:

JAGO BANSI WARE LALNA, JAGO MORE PYARE;

RAJNI BITI BHOR BHAYO HAI, GHAR-GHAR KHULE KIWARE;

GOPI DAHI MATHAT SUNIYAT HAI, KANGNA KE JHANKARE;

UTHO LALJ BHOR BHAYO HAI, SUR-NAR THADE DWARE;

GWAL-BAL SAB KARAT KULAHAL, JAY-JAY SHABAD UCHRE;

MAKHAN ROTI HATH MAIN LINI, GAUAN KE RAKHWARE;

‘MEERA’ KE PRABHU GIRIDHAR NAGAR, TARAN AAYA KO TARE.

Her verses depict her Lord so lively, as if she was seeing Him. In the guise of natural beauty, she has sung about the Eternal Beauty of her Lord. In one of her verses she says-‘MEIN BADAL DEKH DARI, JAHAN BHI DEKHOON PANI DIKHE, BHIGOON KHARI-KHARI’. In another verse she says that by seeing the dark clouds I come to know about the arrival of my Beloved.Meera left Brij for Dwarka. There she used to sing and dance before the Lord Ranchodrai. After Meera had left Chittor, it faced much turmoil, which they thought had occurred because a devotee like Meera was harassed in Chittor and she had deserted it. The Rana of Chittor, therefore, thought of taking her back to Chittor but she declined to accompany him to Chittor. Around Vikram Samvat 1630, one day she sang before

Dwarkadhishi:

SAJAN! SUDH JYAN JAANON TYAN LEEJ;

TUM BIN MERE AUR NA KOI, KRIPA RAVARI KIJE;

DIN NAHI BHOOKH, RAIN NAHI NIDRA, YO TAN PAL-PAL CHIJE;

MEERA KE PRABHU GIRIDHARNAGAR MILI BICHURAN NAHI DIJE.

And then she sang:

AB TO NIBHAYA SAREGI, BAHN GAHE KI LAAJ;

SAMARATH SARAN TUMHARI SAIYAN, SARAB SUDHARAN KAAJ;

BHAVSAGAR SANSAR APARBAL, JAME TUM HO JAHAJ;

NIRDHARAN ADHAR JAGAT GURU, TUM BIN HOY AKAJ;

JUG-JUG MEERA HARI BHAKTAN KI, DINI MOCHA SAMAJ;

MEERA SARAN GAHI CHARNAN KI, LAAJ RAKHO MAHARAJ.

When she was singing and dancing before Dwarkadhishi, a divine beam of light emerged from the Lord’s image, embraced Meera and thereafter no one saw Meera, she was absorbed in her Lord. This idol of the Lord is now in Dakor in Gujarat, near Baroda and a piece of Meera’s Audhani (scarf or shawl) is seen hanging by the side of the Lord’s statue.

NRITYAT NUPUR BANDHI KE, GAVAT KARTAR;

DEKHAT HI HARI ME MILI, TRIN SAM GAIN SANSAR;

MEERA KO NIJ LEEN KIYE, NAGAR NANDKISHORE;

JAG PRATIT HIT-NATH-MUKH, RAHYO CHOONARI-CHOR.