I fell under Mirabai’s spell in Manhattan, when a western friend who had just returned from India handed me a slim book about her extraordinary life. At the time I was still struggling to make sense of what appeared to be a chaotic, violent and apparently loveless world in which I could see no sign of what the citadels of monotheism called “the moving finger of God”. If such an entity existed, I decided in a fit of pique, he’d made a royal mess of things.
Absorbing Mira’s amazing story, I found the courage to go deeper within myself. Now here was a rebel I could identify with, an Indian female who had fought with infinite grace to become light, joyous and free—that too in a distant era when Hindu women were most often forced into claustrophobic prisons constructed by outdated custom and patriarchal mores.
When I read the version of her life that described how Mira had courageously refused to obey her father-in-law’s order that she leap on to her husband’s funeral pyre, I was exultant—now this was my idea of a heroic Indian woman! Not only had she stood up to her royal father-in-law—a terrible sin in those archaic times—but she had won!
Another vivid image from Mira’s incredible life polished my own view of Absolute and Relative Realities, an eastern concept that had turned my own vision inward. In essence, the Absolute is our true nature—immortal and blissful; the Relative is our finite form, the divine clothed in flesh. The task of the committed seeker is to break through the prison of personal identity and into cosmic consciousness, into the pure knowing that we are all One. Mira’s guru explained this to her in a simple way that I instantly resonated with. Here is his metaphor, which I call Cracking the Matka, in my own words:
A matka is a clay pot used by village women in India mainly for cooking and carrying water. If you take a matka to the river to fill it, and it happens to strike a sharp rock and cracks when it is brimful of water, the water within the pot and the river water will merge and become instantly indistinguishable. And so it is at the moment of enlightenment, when all the doors of consciousness open and the individual seeker merges with the Divine!
Many great souls have inspired me to follow my own razor’s edge walk to liberation; among those who have been my guiding lights, Mirabai shines like a great diamond. So let me end my own paean of praise to this distant spiritual sister with one of her own moving odes to Krishna, the perennial lover who never abandoned her, unlike the mortals around her, many of whom wished to see her burned to cinders for daring to defy their social norms.
The dagger of love has pierced my heart
I was going to the river to fetch water,
A golden pitcher on my head.
Hariji has bound me
By the thin thread of love,
And wherever He draws me,
Thither I go.
Mira’s Lord is the courtly Giridhara:
This is the nature
Of his dark and beautiful form.
Click the buttons below to SHARE if you liked this post.
Note: The REBLOG option is available only when viewing the post in full. Click on the post-title above if don’t see the REBLOG button below.
This is so lovely Mira thank you. What a perfect distinction between the absolute and relative explained so clearly and simply. The clay pot breaking and dissolving is also a beautiful image.
Susan! I value that metaphor too because it was so simple to visualize and utilize in my own need for comprehension…thanks and much love!
I enjoy all your posts Mira – everything you write leave me richer. And enchanted.
I’d like to offer an opinion about the sentence quoted below while I’m at it, which expresses an idea receiving a lot of attention – I see it often; namely, “we are all One.” This is subject to interpretation and creates different expectations, depending on one’s level of understanding.
“The task of the committed seeker is to break through the prison of personal identity and into cosmic consciousness, into the pure knowing that we are all One.”
What does it mean to Mirabai?
Thank you Joneve…your support is wonderful.
I don’t know what that concept meant to Mirabai…since she was a Bhakti and I tend towards being a Jnani. (As you might know, Bhakti is the path of devotion and Jnana that of spiritual wisdom.) I would assume Mirabai loved the Blue God Krishna so much that she wanted to melt into him — which she did. In my case, the metaphor might be interpreted as fusing my finite sense of self into the universal Self, which is everything, which is the One. (finite self + EGO; cosmic self = Divine/Brahman/whatever you wish to call it). Hope this makes some sense! (and i do know that words can lead to very different interpretations)
Hey Mira – what I love about the pot metaphor is that the water contained in the pot and the water in the river are the same thing – as we are also of the same essence in different looking pots 🙂
Yes Bruce, that is the simple essence of Advaita-Vedanta — we are the same essence as the Divine that is our source — it is only identification with our body-mind and not with our Self (the Divine within us) that leads us further and further into delusion…at least this is the eastern view as expressed by me in this moment! Much love!!!
So astonished to see a post about Mirabai!
I would recommend ‘Cuckold’ by Kiran Nagarkar. written from pov of Mirabai’s husband. It’s a very refreshing take.
I often asked ISKCON people about the total absence of Mira anywhere in their temples and they seems quite reluctant to answer. I still haven’t understood the reason behind their discomfort at her mention.
Can you think of a reason?
I did read Cuckold ages ago and enjoyed it. As for Iskcon, my quick answer would be that they are a patriarchal lot — rather, that their leader was — and perhaps that led to ignoring one of Krishna’s greatest devotees. I’m reluctant to say more because you know how excited people get by a contrary opinion. Thanks for following my blog and I plan to look at yours soon…its great to connect. Om!