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The Sufi Message: Excerpts from Hazrat Inayat Khan’s Discourses on the Unity of Religious Ideals: On Mira Bai – 48



By Hazrat Inayat Khan

Mira Bai was married to the Rana of Udaipur, but soon her tastes in life developed very differently from his. He, always given up to the pleasures of hunting and shooting, to giving of great entertainments, to shows of dancing an acting, began shortly after his marriage to be irritated and vexed by the attitude of Mira Bai towards his amusements. For she was not really interested in any of these things and gradually ceased to show any delight in them. And her mind began to be attracted to quite other aspects of life, to considering the lot of her servants and of the poor in the kingdom, and to philosophy and poetry.

At last the Rana, in unreasonable anger at her growing absorption in thoughts and questions that were foreign to his nature, refused to see her or to treat her with the dignity due to her in his court. Mira Bai took these insults calmly and patiently, with her accustomed sweetness and gentleness, and withdrew to a temple where she began to devote herself entirely to the study of philosophy and religion, and to the care of the poor and unfortunate.

The beauty of her hymns of praise, the music of the poetry that she composed and sang in her worship of the Divine became gradually famed throughout the kingdom of Udaipur. And on account of her great piety and learning many were drawn to the temple where she dwelt. At length her fame reached the court of the Emperor Akbar. And he, entirely won by the thoughts and the sweet verses of her songs that were repeated to him, decided that he himself would make a pilgrimage to see her. And so, in the guise of beggars, he set out with Tansen, the divinely inspired musician, learned in the mystery of sound, as was Orpheus among the Greeks.

After they had entered the temple unknown to anyone and had heard Mira Bai, so moved were they by her music and poetry that Akbar with gratitude and veneration presented to her a most precious necklace; and this necklace Mira Bai took and hung around the neck of the idol of Krishna in the temple, regarded by her as the symbol of the Most Divine.

After that the precious necklace was seen by everyone in the temple. And gradually it became clear that it was Akbar himself who had given it. When the Rana of Udaipur heard of this visit and this gift he felt deeply insulted, and in great anger ordered Mira Bai to leave his kingdom. So she left the temple and his kingdom and went to Dwarka, where she spent the remainder of her life in seclusion. And from there her fame spread to the boundaries of the empire, and her hymns became loved and were sung not only by her own people but also by all the peoples of India.

It is difficult to translate the lyric sweetness of her verse. And the following version of one of her songs does not attempt to do more than give its substance:

My Beloved is One alone;

Everywhere my eyes see Him only.

In search of love, I came to this world,

But after seeing the world I wept,

For I felt coldness on all sides,

And I cried out in despair, 'Must I too become cold?’

And with tears, tears, tears,

I nurtured that plant of tenderness

Which I had almost lost within my heart.

Putting reason in the churn of love,

I churned and churned.

Then I took the butter for myself;

Now, let him who likes take that milk.

For I have attained what I so desired,

I have found my hope.

No longer do I need your philosophies and faiths;

Nothing to me your theories and creeds;

For I have my Beloved.

He, upon whose head the crown of the universe is set,

Is my Beloved.

Krishna is my Lord;

To him I am faithful,

Let happen what happens!

My Beloved is One alone;

Save Him I know none.

(Excerpted from Hazrat Inayat Khan, The Art of Personality [The Sufi Message vol.3])

URL of Part 47:’s-discourses-on-the-unity-of-religious-ideals--on-inter-personal-relations-–-47/d/14261