Meera, also known as Meera Bai or Mirabai, is a celebrated saint, well known for her extensive devotional poetry and songs dedicated to Krishna. Although she was born a princess, she was willing to live as a beggar, face regular persecution, and threats to her life, rather than renounce her devotion to Krishna.
Meera was born in 15th century Rajasthan. As a young child, while watching a wedding procession go by, she innocently asked her mother who she would marry. Her mother, half in jest, responded that she already had a husband, Lord Krishna. Meera took this response to heart and decided in that moment, as a four year old, to dedicate her life to Krishna.
Meera was promised to marry Rana Kumbha of Chitore, and although she followed through with the wedding, she made it clear that she considered herself already married to Lord Krishna. She fulfilled her obligations to her new husband, undertaking the duties expected of a princess, but she continued her devotion to Krishna, praying frequently with zeal and fervor. Rana Khumba was encouraging of her faith, even building her a temple dedicated to Krishna. Her unwavering faith and ecstatic worship disturbed the rest of her new family though, and they repeatedly tried to break her faith. Her her increasing fame and recognition in the communities across India only served to increase their dislike and jealousy. Her sister-in-law tried to sow suspicion and mistrust, going as far as to tell her brother Rana Kumbha that Meera was entertaining men in her room. Rana Khumba was so incensed upon hearing this that he broke into Meera’s room with a sword, ready to catch her, only to find her in the midst of worshipping Krishna.
Meera’s reputation spread far and wide — so far that legend has it that even Akbar, the sworn enemy of her husband’s family, came in disguise to hear her devotionals. This was the final straw for Rana Kumbha, who, until then, had defended his wife’s deep devotion to Krishna. Upon hearing that his sworn enemy had seen his wife sing, Rana Khumbha was furious and ordered Meera to drown herself in the river. Meera tried to carry out her husband’s command, but when she went to the river, Krishna himself is said to have appeared before her and told her to leave for Vrindavan, so that she could continue her worship of him. Meera left her home with only a few belongings and went to Vrindavan to wander the streets, sing about the glories of Krishna and her love for him, and recite her devotional poetry.
Finally believing her to be a true saint, Rana Khumba quickly regretted his rash decision and went to Vrindavan to beg his wife’s forgiveness and convince her to return. He continued to protect her from his family and their attempts to cast doubt on her character and spread salacious gossip. Meera continued to worship unfazed in the face of the many plots to get rid of her and the restrictions placed on her.
Unfortunately, Rana Khumba died in battle, and Meera lost her best friend and staunchest defender. Meera’s in-laws took this opportunity to remove Meera from their lives once and forever. But no matter how hard they tried, Meera’s undying faith in Krishna protected her from the attempts to hurt her. The poison in her drink did not affect her, the venomous snake that was sent after her did not bite her, and she continued unbothered and indifferent from all the restrictions and discomfort imposed on her.
Finally, when the torments started interfering with her worship, Meera decided to move to Vrindavan permanently. There she attracted followers who were enamored with her poignant poetry and her touching devotionals, inspiring them to worship Krishna and seek spiritual awakening in a time of steep spiritual decline.
Meera was a devotee of the highest order. She was immune to the criticism and suffering of the world. She was born a princess, but left the pleasures of a palace for a life of begging on the streets of Vrindavan. She lived during a time of war and spiritual decline, but her life offered a shining example of the purest devotion. Many were inspired by her infectious dedication and spontaneous love for Krishna. Meera showed how a seeker could attain union with God through love. Her one message was that Krishna was her all.
It is said in her death that she melted into the heart of Krishna. Tradition relates how one day she was singing in a temple when Krishna appeared. He was so pleased with his dearest devotee that he opened up his heart to her, and Meera entered, leaving her body while in the highest state of Krishna consciousness.
That dark Dweller in Braj
That dark Dweller in Braj
Is my only refuge.
O my companion,
Worldly comfort is an illusion,
As soon you get it, it goes.
I have chosen the Indestructible for my refuge,
Him whom the snake of death
Will not devour.
My Beloved dwells in my heart,
I have actually seen that Abode of Joy.
Mira’s Lord is Hari, the Indestructible.
My Lord, I have taken refuge with Thee,