By Swami Harshananda
Sometimes transliterated as: Mirabai, MIrAbAI, Miraabaai
Mīrābāī was one of the brightest jewels of the Bhakti Movement. She started a movement that raised, roused and united the common masses through her divine love. She was born as the daughter of Ratan Singh at Kudki, a village in Rajasthan. When she was still three years old, she was tremendously attracted by the image of Giridhar that a sādhu had brought. Her piteous pleadings ultimately forced the sādhu to leave the image with her.
When she was five, a marriage procession was passing by the road in front of her palatial house. She innocently asked her mother who her bridegroom would be. Her mother smilingly replied that Giridhar was her bridegroom. This statement stuck very deeply in her heart. She lost her mother when she was just eight years old. She was married to the prince Bhojrāj, the crown-prince of Mahārāṇa Sanga, the king of Mewar with the capital at Chittore.
She refused to bow down to the family deity Durgā of her husband's family, since she would recognize and honor only her Giridhar. Thus started a series of frictions and troubles for her in the family. When Bhojrāj died four years later Mirā intensified her spiritual sādhanas after receiving initiation from Raidas, the famous saint of those days.
Soon Rāṇā Saṅga also passed away and his second son Vikramjit ascended the throne. Considering Mīrā’s ascetic ways of life and the congregational singing with devotees and mendicants as a slur on the royal family, the Rāṇā tried his best to harass her and even kill her. But Giridhar always protected her just as he had protected Prahlāda, the child- devotee, ages ago.
Mīrā finally left Chittore and traveled all the way like a mendicant through the various places of pilgrimage such as Vṛndāban. She finally settled at Dvārakā in Gujarat. At Vṛndāban, she is said to have gone to meet Jīva Gosvāmi, a famous Vaiṣṇava saint. When he refused to meet her since she was a woman, she retorted that she thought in the world and especially in Vṛndāban there was only one man and that was Lord Kṛṣṇa. All the others were women or prakṛti. She was now surprised to find another man. This opened the inner eye of the Gosvāmi who begged her pardon.
Uday Singh, the new king of Mewar, was urged by the people to bring back Mīrā whose banishment was thought to be the chief cause for the troubles of Mewar. He sent a batch of holy persons with the chief priest rājaguru as the leader for the purpose. Mīrā did not agree but merged in the image of the Lord in the temple.
Mīrā was the paragon of madhur-bhāva or bridal mysticism. Mīrā's songs are all composed in Brajabhāṣa, a dialect of Hindi which is more common in Brajbhumi, Mathurā-Vṛndāban area. About 500 songs are available now. Most of the songs are on Giridhar, though a few are on Rāma and the efficacy of Rāmanāma. The theme is mostly pining for the Lord. Some of the songs however contain hints for sādhanā or spiritual practice also.
- She used to call Lord Kṛṣṇa by this name.
- Sādhu means a holy man.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore