Deep in my heart Thy Name has come to rest.
For Thy dear sake, O Beautiful One,
Must I bear with the slanders of the world.
Some praise me for the love I bear Thee,
Others say that I bring ruin to my royal name.
Oh, I am drunk with the nectar of Thy Name,
Unmindful of the insults of the foolish,
The path of devotion is like stepping
bare-footed on a razor’s edge.
Yet will I gladly walk upon it.
For, says Meera, blessed is he
Who has dived into the ocean of the nectar
of His Name.
Meera Bai, translated by Baldoon Dhingra
Meera Bai was a princess in Rajput India of the 15th Century. Married at a young age to a prince of the time, it is said she performed all of her marital duties appropriately, but that she acknowledged Lord Krishna alone as her true spouse. She was in love with God. She chanted and danced and sang to her statue of the Lord despite all opposition, in spite of how she was seen by those around her.
After her husband was killed in battle, his brother became the Raja and persecuted Meera endlessly. It is said he sent her poison to drink and once, a cobra in a basket. But in one of her songs, Meera tells how the poison was turned into sweet nectar as she drank it and the snake became a garland for her to wear around her neck, all by virtue of her love for God.
When finally Meera Bai was able to escape the palace, she travelled to Vrindaban, the birthplace of Krishna; and when the Raja sent his emissaries to bring her home, she went instead to the temple. There, inspired once again to dance before a statue of her beloved, she achieved complete ecstasy, dancing as she had never danced before, surrendering all to her Lord and lover until the statue of Krishna opened up and she was merged into it. She had found her home.
The songs Meera is known for are called bhajans, and many are still sung today in festivals and worship in India. A bhajan is very specifically a song designed to bring an experience of devotional ecstasy.
The singer, golden though his voice may be, counts for little; nor do the drums, flutes and other instruments which accompany him really matter; what is vital is the deep, whole-hearted fervour with which the song is sung, each word stirring the listeners to their depths. Every soul flies to the Lord on the wings of the bhajan and catches a glimpse of Him whose vision Meera sought with every atom of her being.
Baldoon Dhingra, Songs of Meera, Lyrics of Ecstasy
It is the love of God that carries others along with the singer and allows them to experience a connection to this thing that is greater than themselves. It is the commitment of the poet, or of the singer of the poem, that allows others the gift of being shown an experience of love that perhaps they have felt unable to have on their own, that shows them a ‘preview of coming attractions’ of what they, too, will be able to experience on their own when they find themselves able to love at such depth.
Likewise, it is our commitment to life, to God if you will, that allows us to have an affect on others in our life. We can seek out the words of a saint like Meera Bai and allow her bhajans to raise us up to a higher experience of Self; and then in turn we can more fully live out this higher experience of Self so that our co-workers and friends, our lovers and our family members, may be uplifted as well. And on and on, songs of love from the 15th Century opening our hearts to sing songs of love in our own 21st Century fashion, opening the hearts of those around us and rippling outward endlessly and around the world until indeed the ripple returns to us to lift us again to a higher state. And on and on. Love building on love building on love.
Today I will find a reason to love that is bigger, deeper, and more profound than the love I was able to give yesterday, than the love I feel capable of.
Keshi Ghat, Yamuna River, Vrindavan, Uttar Pradesh, India
All original material copyright © 2018 Jeff Kober