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and free—that too in a distant era when Hindu women were most often forced into claustrophobic prisons constructed by outdated custom and patriarchal mores.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! Continue reading