Sometimes, some words fall short to describe a person in their truest sense. Such is the case with Mirabai and devotion. Meera Bai was a devotee, but the word devotee is not enough to define Meera Bai.
The past is full of poets who have written wonderful poems about devotion or on devotion.
Is Meera the greatest poet to write on devotion? No.
Is she the greatest devotee, that has ever picked up a pen to write poems? Yes.
The difference is subtle but this difference is what makes her stand out.
Meera was born to the royal family of Rajasthan around the 16th century. Once, at a young age, she was attending a marriage. Innocently she asked her mother who her bride was? Her mother, a deeply religious lady, pointed her towards a statue of Krishna and told her that Krishna was her bride. This minuscule event changed the life of Meera Bai forever.
Meera’s mother passed away when she was just 4 years old. A year later, her father too was killed in a battle. Losing her parents, made her close to Krishna. She remembered what her mother had told her. She would share her sorrows and pain with the idol of Krishna. This was her way of dealing with the loss. But eventually, as she grew older, spirituality became a significant part of her life.
She had learned to play Iktara, a single string instrument, with which she would sing poems about Krishna.
When she turned 18, her marriage was fixed with the prince of Mewad, Bhoj Raj. Back then, marriages were more about alliances between provinces. Unfortunately, Meera had little to no say in it.
Bhoj Raj understood Meera’s feelings towards Krishna and they often talked and shared their emotions. He was her only friend in her in-law’s palace.
Her sisters-in-law and some other relatives were known to be jealous of her beauty and devotion. According to popular folklore, they tried to kill her multiple times. Once they gave her a basket full of Cobra snakes hidden under the flowers. But when Meera uncovered the flowers there was an idol of Krishna in them.
The next time they tried to give her poison in disguise as nectar. But the moment it touched Meera’s lips, poison turned into actual nectar.
Some years later, Bhojraj lost his life battling against Akbar. Meera lost her only friend in the palace. So she decided to let go of these worldly desires and become a saint. She gave up her royal dress and pieces of jewellery and walked out of the palace with just the idol of Krishna and her Iktara.
She started walking towards the city of Mathura, where Krishna had lived. Throughout this journey, she would stop at villages and sing songs about God Krishna. This is how she got her popular name Meera Bai. Upon reaching Mathura she sat outside a Krishna temple and did the same. Most of her poems and songs were written during these days.
Then one day she was found not sitting outside the temple. Common folklore tells us that she got absorbed into the statue of Krishna and became one with God.
Not just her poems, but her personality, name, and stories became an important part of Indian culture. Poets keep writing about Meera even today. Her name has become synonymous with devotion. People from all religions respect her equally as she gets mentioned in Sikh and Sufi literature.
As per her poems, they had only one job, to please Krishna. Every poem of hers had only one theme, Krishna. Every word had only one source, devotion.