Bhakti Poets: Poem, Mirabai 2
Bhakti poets—who were in some cases lower-caste Hindu women—and their audiences drew emotional sustenance from these verses, which expressed a pure devotion to Hindu deities. Their poetry, written in local languages beginning in the 6th century in South India and the 12th century in North India, attracted large audiences among the marginalized in Hindu society, such as women and “untouchables.”
In Caturvedi 27, Mirabai’s (ca. 1498–ca. 1546) “unshakable” belief in her “marriage” to Krishna (the Lord of Braj) is highlighted. Perhaps the most famous female bhakta, Mirabai’s description of the “wedding,” though in dream, is highly sensual and palpable; her devotion to her “divine spouse” has replaced her actual relationship with her earthly husband. We are given a description of the number of wedding guests, the wedding ritual (Hindu wedding ceremonies are solemnized by walking around the sacred fire), and her sense of well-being as the bride of Krishna.
“Sister, I had a dream that I wed
the Lord of those who live in need:
Five hundred sixty thousand people came
and the Lord of Braj was the groom.
In dream they set up a wedding arch;
in dream he grasped my hand;
in dream he led me around the wedding fire
and I became unshakably his bride.
Mira’s been granted her mountain-lifting Lord:
From living past lives, a prize.”
(Caturvedi, no. 27)
“Sister, I had a dream that I wed.” In Songs of the Saints of India. Edited and translated by John Stratton Hawley and Mark Juergensmeyer. New York: Oxford University Press, 1988.