Bhakti Raga



renderings by
Karl Kempton




Mari Bai


As the water drop joins the ocean
the ocean pours into the water drop

All else is weaving prayer rugs
sewing religious garments
forming ritual objects
building and writing containers

Just polish any face of the infinitely faceted jewel
by singing or chanting any of the Divine’s million names
found within your all expansive heart
the tide of the ocean of love will rise to you



The Sanaantana Dharma, the Eternal Religion, of Bhaarata
(India) refers to its spiritual tradition rather than Hinduism. Of
uncertain origin, the terms Hindu and India most likely came from
the Indus River and were coined by people west of Bhaarata to refer
to those living east of the Indus River. Sanaantana Dharma is an
inclusive tradition that accepts all spiritual beliefs. The spectrum of
embrace includes absolute denial of the Divine by the atheist and
hedonist; believers in any and all forms of the Divine and the
various approaches to It, from the religious to the mystic; and the
monotheist Advahut: one who sees and experiences not only
everything as Divine but moves beyond the form of the Divine to
being undefinable: all forms are manifestations of the
Unmanifested. One can then draw a circle beginning with absolute
denial of the Divine to denial of God because the Divine is
undefinable, unspeakable. Included within the circle are all the
world’s spiritual traditions. The spiritual guides of this living
tradition, who constantly provide and embrace new and ongoing
revelations, have said and say that while The Sanaantana Dharma
was born in Bhaarata, it was meant not just for those of its birth
place but all humanity.

Within the spectrum of approaches to the Divine is Bhakti
Yoga. In Chapter 12 of the BHAGAVATA GITA, Arjuna asks Krishna
which of the various paths of yoga He considers the best. The reply
is Bhakti Yoga, because the devotee becomes absorbed in Him. He
goes on to say that the devotion to the Divine in a personal form
rather than as Unmanifested is easier. Countless examples of
bhakti are illuminated in the major and minor epics by poets who
created works for all the people of Bhaarata incorporating materials
from the Vedas. The Vedas in their entirety were prohibited to
anyone outside the Brahman caste. Bhakti as the subject is found
in innumerable other spiritual texts as the easiest form of yoga or
worship in this time cycle begun with the death of Krishna 4500
years ago. While Bhakti Yoga was constantly cited as the easiest
approach for merging with the Divine, it did not root deep and wide
in the culture until 3000 years later in the 6th century of the
current era. Until that time, the primary urge from the top castes
focused on the Divine as Unmanifested to inform and resonate the
religious and spiritual spheres whether it was Vedic, Jain, Buddhist
or Vedanta.

Bhakti’s closet English equivalent is devotion but this word
lacks the levels known to the people of the culture. Bhakti in its
initial stage is a reaching, an aspiration for union with the Divine.
After deep aspiration is reached comes flashes, moments and then
extended periods of experienced union. The final stage occurs when
one lives in a wakened state of union with the Divine. These levels
or planes of growth or consciousness awakening are reflected in the
vast wealth of thousands of saint poets in Bhaarata. The poems
were orally transmitted as ecstatic outpourings or teachings written
down by devotees or the saint poets themselves.

The Bhakti poets, beginning either as a formal or informal
movement in Southern India about 1500 hundred years ago, were a
primary force in the counter reformation to the Buddhist
reformation 900 years earlier. Buddhism had become calcified, a
religion mainly of the ruling classes and was also for the most part
intellectually rather than heart focused and dwelled upon the
Unmanifested in the form of the ultimate union being Nirvana. As
Buddhism was pushed back to the north over the ensuing 300
years, the bhakti movement acted as a uniting factor within the
culture by crossing castes and embracing all individuals as equal in
the eyes of the Divine since all individuals were part of the Divine.

Bhakti Yoga is separate and distinct from tantra which in
some of its aspects uses and manipulates sexual energy. None of
this appears in traditional Bhakti Yoga. Translations even hinting in
a tantric direction fail to honor the devotee.

The literature of the Bhakti tradition, the polarity of the Lover
(seeker) and the Beloved (a reference term for any of the many
Divine forms sought after), the long periods of anguished
separation, the moments of ecstatic union leading up to the final
merging, were first translated into the Islamic languages but coded
into a more physical relationship to cover the spiritual union.
Within Islam, it was and remains blasphemous to say, “God and I
are One”. As the literature was passed around and became further
removed from its spiritual source, the hidden meaning disappeared.
Even in India itself, tantric misinterpretations reduced the literature
to physical union and affairs. Khrisna’s night meetings and dancing
with the gopis, for example, were reduced to an amorous level
despite His being only six years of age when the so-called colorful
incidents occurred. Eventually this literature moved westward to
Europe through the Islamic filter to influence Troubadour and
Medieval literature and feed romantic love sub-plots in the
literature of that period and onward.


BHAKTI RAGA is a rendering of four bhakti saint
poets: Namdev, Lalleshwari, Mari Bai and Nazir. For source
material, see the attached bibliography.

Namdev (1170 — 1250) by trade was a tailor. In his youth he
worshipped Vitthala, one of the many forms of Krishna. He met
Janadev, his two brothers and sister at the temple in Pandharpur.
They quickly became close friends. Along with others, they went on
a year long pilgrimage to Benares during an expansive period of the
Islamic crusades. Within 2 years after returning to the city of
Pandharpur in Maharashtra, his birth place and site of the temple
of Vitthala, all four siblings had gone into samadhi, consciously left
this plane merging with the Divine. Shortly thereafter Namdev left
Pandharpur and did not return for 50 years.

Lalleshwari (1320 — 1390’s) was born in Kashmir, an area
known more for its scholarly knowledge and debating than Bhakti
Yoga. Not much is known about her other than she renounced early
in life becoming a seeker of Shiva after troubles with her mother-inlaw
and an indifferent husband. Her poems are sung to this day.
Her phrases are as much a part of her language as are
Shakespeare’s in ours.

Mari Bai (1498 — 1540’s or 70’s), born in Kudki of Rajasthan,
is perhaps the best known bhakti poet of the group not only in
India but in this country as well due to the number of available
translations. She was born into minor nobility, was married to the
crown prince. He died within 10 years leaving her in the hands of
in-laws who became exceedingly displeased with her absorption into
Bhakti Yoga.

Nazir (1735/40 — 1820/46) wrote poetry as a youth, became a
priest and a teacher to Muslim families in his neighborhood, stayed
away from the royal court and became a sufi devoted to Krishna.

By rendering, I mean a rewriting of either direct translations
from the original language of the poet or a rewriting of a rewriting.
With the exception of the Sufi saint poet Nazir, whose section is
based for the most part on one long poem with many stanzas and
perhaps a long song cycle, all the poems were short. These were set
in the song form known as bhajan, a devotional poem-song led by a
group leader. Some of these poems became mantras devotees
continuously sung to themselvles silently within.

After each line is sung by the leader, the gathering of devotees
repeats it. While the poems are short, from 4 to 16 lines or so, a
bhajan can go on for a couple of minutes or longer. The leader can

take the theme of a line and subtly move around it to other viewing
positions. Further, each line or the ending line can be repeated
numerous times so that the poem-song becomes remarkably
charged by raised voices, accompanied by hand clapping and
increased volume of the musical instruments lifting participants
and listeners into higher states of consciousness. Bhajan sessions
can last from a half hour to hours in which many or only a few
poem-songs are sung. That these poems remain alive in the culture
today is proof of the resonating power of the saint poet’s experience
translated into a poem that still aids others to reach the same or
higher levels of consciousness these saints poets attained.

The technique of variation on a line theme is widely found in
the epics, Puranas and other important sacred works of India’s
poetry. The saint poets themselves often repeated the same theme
in numerous and slightly varied poems. The epics, Puranas and
other long transformative poetry works were also teaching aids for
those unfamiliar with the Vedas. They contained the Vedic message
and examples of individual God-realization, of ascension to the
Divine and the Divine’s decent to this material plane. The Bhakti
Saint Poetry follows the same pathways. It injected a deep
experiential devotion into the culture by providing the populace
with living examples of constant integrated awareness with the
Divine. As a result, the bhakti poets first were a strong catalyst in
pushing Jainism and Buddhism out of southern and central India
and eventually further north. After the Islamic invasion and
conquest, which destroyed Buddhism in India, this poetry served as
a uniting force within the new cultural mix because it did not
distinguish between caste or religion contrary to the priesthoods of
both Islam and India’s various religious groups.

With the original languages being polysyllabic, the actual
vibration of the poems are inaccessible in translation. Only the
imagery can be carried across the language barriers, but this too is
limited by the cultural resonance of the symbology. The poems were
composed with specific rhythms in mind with subject matter
ranging from didactic teachings to ecstatic transport. Nor for us is
the bhajan experience available on the printed page except maybe
through the strong hinting of a visual poetry linked to a visual
resonating based on auditory vibration that is keyed to
transforming consciousness. Endless repetition or slight variation of
a line shift in our culture’s current demand of language condensing
generates a short circuit in the quickly bored mind.

Another element found in the saint poetry is interaction with
one of the Divine forms or reincarnations. While many in our

culture for a host of individual and collective reasons will look upon
these events from immediate rejection to healthy distrust or a
consideration that these are images of an active imagination, the
spiritual interaction is an actual event occurring within deep
mediative states of consciousness. These incidents are repeated
constantly by thousands of saint poets throughout Bhaarata over a
fifteen hundred year period to this moment. Such incidents have
been documented by the rishis, poets, yogis, sufis and mystics of
Bhaarata for thousands of years.

The foundation of the Sanaantana Dharma is the Rig Veda,
the oldest of the 4 Vedas. The Rig Veda is the surviving body of
sacred poetic vision of 73 rishis. They, men and women, reached
levels of awareness such that the vision they saw was accompanied
by its word-sound, the vibration making the vision. Out of this body
of work comes a host of mantras still passed on from guru to
devotee. A mantra’s power to evoke its visual counter part remains
intact. The key to the imagery had been lost for thousands of years.
Sri Aurobindo, being a poet himself and having reached into the
high realms of the Divine, has unveiled the meaning of the
symbology found in the Rig Veda, a meaning that holds consistently
throughout, unlike other interpretations that contain a host of

There are two terms, guru and mantra, to briefly look at since
both, the individual and the power of sound, play a crucial turning
point in a devotee’s spiritual quest. Guru — gu (darkness) and ru
(remover) — means remover of darkness. The darkness referred to
is unconsciousness. In the symbology of the Sanaantana Dharma,
darkness and black refer to the unconsciousness; white and light
refer to consciousness of which all reality is made. Also, darkness
stands for ignorance of the Divine, light for knowledge of the Divine.
This is looked upon by the collective body of seekers as the only
true knowledge worth seeking, which is the knowing of one’s own
true Self, which is Divine. Mantra means boat or vehicle; it is what
takes one across the ocean of the mind, to the true Self, Divine or
the Undefinable.

In order to attempt to create a bhajan experience within the
framework of our culture’s usual approach to poetry, I decided on a
long poem based on a raga form. However, my raga is one of
concept, not a true raga. Within a raga form, considerable room
exists to be filled with improvised solos and impromptu duels
between instruments. With this in mind, I linked the shorter poems
together arranged in a biographical outline beginning with stepping
onto the path as a seeker of union with the Divine, through the

difficult moments of separation accompanied by ecstatic but
temporary moments of union, to the final and complete merging. I
took the liberty in a few instances to take only one or two lines of a
poem to use as a bridge in the sequence. In other instances, I used
my own experiences or some of the saint’s biography for filling in
the outline. I point to the bhajan leader’s role of being able to
change the view point while remaining true to the theme. Poems,
until the final merging, express duality, while those afterward
generally express Unity. This as the raga theme, the improvised
moments can be viewed as each poet’s life experience with the
impromptu duels as each poet’s struggle with the various points of
merging and the Divine union.

Not all bhakti saint poet’s works reached the final stage. Some
chose to remain lovers of the Beloved, preferring the emotion of love
and state of bliss and ecstasy to that of moving beyond them to that
which can not be expressed, only hinted.


I can not forget my father telling me
when I was only five year old
Vitthala indeed drinks the milk offering
That night at His feet I placed the bowl
I refused to leave until He took it in His hand
and lifted it to the sweet lips that kissed His flute
So He lifted the bowl and drank it dry

I sing His name daily

Jai Jai Vitthala Panduranga
Jai Hari Vitthala Panduranga

I want to see Vitthala again
Who, like an iron flake pulled to a magnet,
visited Pundalik, so devoted to his parents
it was as if they were Vitthala Himself
Busy scrubbing the floor one day
Pundalik just tossed the Visitor
a brick to stand on and washed all around it
never looking up to see who was there
Hands on hips and feet balanced on the brick
Krishna turned Himself as a gift into the statue
this is the one we worship in the temple

Whenever possible I join the devotees
singing bhajans in the temple
transporting me beyond this place

The storm waves of desire toss me
I am too weak to row my boat
O Lord, ferry me across the world’s water
or give me a guru to take me over
My body is drowning and I can’t swim
O Lord give me Your arm

With a guru
I would be ferried across this ocean of the world
pass through the heavens and die while living

With a guru
I could fix on the Name and not run in ten directions
avoid lust anger greed attachment and pride
and not die in grief

With a guru
I can drink the Word’s ambrosia
see good and bad alike
repeating the Name see the unseeable
and become undefinable knowing the unknowable

With a guru
all poison is nectar and all doubts are gone
I am freed from birth and death

Without a guru there is no place to rest

One day I walked to a temple in another town
An old leper laid on the floor
feet propped on Shiva’s image
Scolding him for the sacrilege
I demanded he put his feet elsewhere
He asked me to place his feet
where God was not present
I fell to his feet for initiation
then carried him outside in the sun light
After setting him down I see a young man

He said pilgrimages to holy places
yoga, penance, external ritual nor austerity
can remove the darkness of ignorance
Mediate on the Lord
Serve your master
Then He will appear within
The beatific Light shines within day and night
sounding Soham: I am That

I am unruly as a cow missing her calf
I am fidgety as a fish out of water
I am useless as the Name without the Lord

The love for my Beloved
is like lusting after another’s wife
Like the hot sun toasting my skin
I am blistered without the Lord

The love for my Beloved is like the calf
after escaping its pen runs to its mother for milk
When I met my guru I reached my Lord
and saw the unseen

I capture my enemies
jealousy, anger, greed and pride
and place them at His feet

I surrender all desire but love for Him
all attachment but my bond to Him
Placing my heart at His feet
He enters it often now as the welcome Guest
My Beloved is now my Friend

Why do you groom yourself, dance and sing?
You aren’t looking for your real Self
Your minds wander everywhere
People dance around all kinds of idols
blind to the True One
If they surrendered to Him
their single eye would see the Truth
The only worship I know is finding the Lord
living within His house, my heart

I know the true saint sees the one God everywhere
The true saint dissolves all ego and pride
while everyone else is tied by Illusion to Illusion
The saint looks at body and property as dust
rubies and diamonds as gravel
Peace and forgiveness replace anger and lust
Without forgetting for even a second
the true saint repeats the Lord’s Name

But what can be done?
The world’s eyes are numerous and open
but each refuses to see
Nearly everyone runs from Bliss to deals and affairs
worships idols of all kinds
kills saints and loves the lifeless
Constant false worship reduces man to animal
While the Beloved lives in the house
nearly everyone worships up the street
Worship God within no where else

Because the unseen is only seen through the Name
Listen to Its music and reach freedom
A merit beyond description value your human birth
Devotion is the nectar in this Dark Age
even Brahma and yogis achieve freedom this way
I have no fear or anxiety
O Lord my only desire is the sanctuary of Your feet

My tongue may be cut into a hundred pieces
if it doesn’t repeat Your Name
As I repeat Your Name I dye myself with its bright tones
This freed me from suffering and that is why
all other work of this tongue is worthless
Once I bowed down to countless Gods
but not the One Who is everywhere, my Beloved
I now order my tongue to say
“O God, Your forms are uncountable”

My mind is now like the tailor’s measuring rod
and my tongue his scissors
By repeating constantly the Name of the Lord
I measure the cloth of life and cut it with my tongue
Neither caste nor my career are of any concern
With His Name I dye and sow the cloth
Besides, I know nothing
Only His Name supports me and is always with me
The needle is gold silver the thread
I sew with the Name of the Lord day and night

Find the all pervading Light
then you will hear the ring of the unbounded Word
Through the grace of my guru
I fused with the Divine Light
There is a lotus chamber of gems
sparkling like a lightening storm
God is near and my soul soaks in Him
The Word’s music is brighter than the sun
all bodies of the sky are merely dim lamps
I am one with the Truth
because of the grace of my guru

I am madly in love with my husband, the Lord
I fastidiously dress for Him
Say whatever you want about me
my body and soul are His
I talk to no one else and how can I?
My tongue laps savoring the Beloved’s nectar
I have traveled here to the drum beat meeting my Lord
Let others blame or praise me
Nama has become one with God


I got tired of all the trouble
around me at home
No need for details
about leaving my house and husband
other than to say that after each rebirth
the game slowly renews itself —
hide and seek with Shiva —
the true pilgrimage

I had a swing on the forest edge
I swung high and low occasionally looking
for a hint of movement or a trail to His house
Then the dark got darker
This I had to tear into little pieces
or dissolve in the sun of consciousness
So I jumped and ran away
looking everywhere for a guru
I would know by his light

After a while I got tired
eyes tired of empty books
mouth tired of repeating uncharged words
fingers tired of meditation bead callouses
body tired of yoga postures
mind tired of empty silence
All this form making to dissolve form
no longer made sense
At that moment Guru Siddhanath
allowed me in his presence
I knew everything was ok now
and at last I passed his tests

Once I asked him four questions

In deep sleep who drowns
and who remains awake?

When swimming outside
the mind drowns in the world
and by finding the real Self inside
the mind is awake

What lake knows no calm?

The mind constantly stirred
by the busy hands of the senses

What does Shiva desire of me?

Complete unwavering desire of surrender
then He will run to you in that instant

What is the greatest desire?

To melt into Shiva —
the Truth that you are
because all the universes are in you

Then began my work
I had to retune this tuning fork-self
I washed body and mind with Soham
(I am That)

No God but Shiva
no practice but mantra
no method but meditation

Somewhere between inhale and exhale
is the Divine’s chair to sit in peace

Ripe cotton appears
as a very pure flower

The bolls are picked
beat by stick
combed by card
spun by wheel
colored by dye
woven by loom
washed by scraping
and pounding on rock
cut by scissors
and sown into cloth

After all that the raw cotton
is a robe to wear

After all that
all hands became Shiva’s
dressing me with the
robe of enlightenment

When practice dissolves mantra remains
When the mantra vanishes mind remains
When the mind ceases vibrating nothing is there
That nothing, the little void falls into the real Void
I merged into That about which no Word
but the first Word can say anything

As there are three forms of water
solid liquid steam
individual universe God
are three forms of consciousness
Everything from universes
to the smallest melts
into the unspeakable
when the sun of consciousness appears

Heated, I evaporated and ascended to the Source

After focusing only on Om
at last it carried me to Shiva


I entered the garden
of thousand petaled lotuses
There I saw Shiva and Shakti as One
I kneeled and sipped
from the lake of golden nectar
Then and there I died to the world
reborn to everywhere
O Lalli, all this the grace of
Siddhanath my guru Siddhanath my guru


My mother died when I was 2
so my grandfather raised me
At 18 I married the crown prince
At 28 both my husband and father
were killed in the same battle
Then the king was killed by conspirators
This set me in the hands of my in-laws.

Now with every available moment
I stand in my doorway looking
down the path for The Dark One
He at long last came by
His face glowing like the full moon
His eyebrows became the bow
His mischievous and flirting glance
its pulled-back-string
His image the arrow
shot into my heart lodging there forever

I lost count of the life times
I waited for this moment
Looking for Him was the love-work
of my toiling eyes
But my modesty betrayed me
I just stood there wringing my hands
He left shooting the arrow of His smile

As the second arrow flew
I searched the universe without luck
My heart became hard
though quickly burned again with love
lighting the darkness of separation
My heart was His burning candle
but He ran away leaving it unattended
All night long I would twist and turn
All day I would scan the roads
Bird songs pierced my heart
My body burned waiting news of Him
Then I had a vision-dream
I was the Beloved’s Bride
Then I heard He was playing with others

lifting their veils
He left me hanging in the love-noose
I even enticed Him —
Moth of my heart candle —
with building a funeral pyre
made of incense and sandalwood
for Him to set aflame with me on it
and after I was thoroughly consumed
He could smear His Body with my ashes
so my spark would merge in His Fire

I found my cobbler guru Ravidas
He gave me my Beloved’s secret Name
and my small flame jumped into the real fire
My master showed me souls heavy as stones
floating with ease to the other shore
After he gave me this mighty Name
I dyed myself in its tones
I drank its nectar and saw my true Self
Intoxicated nothing else matters
I am pinned forever by the arrow
to the shimmering target of the Name

Every hair on my body sings
His praises aloud
Every atom in my body dances
in ecstasy before Hari’s feet
I don’t care what people say
I’ve given body mind and soul to Him

My in-laws are now my enemies
Even a friend tells me to straighten up
She wants to draw a yantra
and glue it on me
Crush herbs for a magic drink
But none of this will work
I don’t even blink fearing
I’ll miss seeing Him again

I am forbidden to leave the palace
They placed a guard at my door
My mother-in-law argues with me
My sister-in-law teases me
The new king, my brother-in-law
rages wanting me dead
He sent me a snake in a basket
When bathing I opened it
and found the sacred stone of Vishnu
Then he sent me a cup of poison
My Beloved turned it into nectar
After bathing I drank it
finding death was destroyed
He next made me sleep on a bed of nails
But I fell asleep at night on flowers

I got out leaving the palace
the mansions and city life —
scrapping all of it
Having no use for great lakes
why should I sip from a pond?
Having no use for holy rivers
I went to the ocean
Having no use for the worldly
I sit and sing with Your devotees
Having no use for golden trinkets
I trade in diamonds
Why drink foul water
when a cup of nectar is on hand?
I have dyed myself deep
in the love of Hari
I only wear bangles markings and beads
My only other dress is virtue
Where ever Krishna leads I follow
I will not get off this elephant
to ride on a donkey

My vision-wedding-dream comes true
My Bridegroom heads the procession
56 million gods parade
under strings of mango leaves
Hand in hand hand we walk
around the holy witnessing fire

Looking into it I see as once before
my Beloved in Vrindavan as a child
the slayer of demons
the lifter of mountains
the holder of all creation in His mouth
charming the milk maidens
I can hear the fiery song
of their jingling bracelets
as they churn milk into cream
Looking into his eyes reflecting the fire
I can see and hear the milkmaid
chanting her sale’s pitch
that she forgets upon seeing my Beloved
Forgetting even the word “curd’
and she sings out
“Shyram, the Dark One
Buy Shyram, the beautiful”

I am His kite
His eyes the sweet breeze
My devotion the string
He takes me to Vrindavan
In devotion for my Beloved
many gather around a swami
who teaches all devotees are women
When I ask if I could join in
he refuses because I am a woman
Is there another man here I ask
Seeing his error of ego I join them
It is as if time ceases breathing the dust
my Beloved kicked up in His play
But I have to leave
Like so many holy places this is stuffed
to the brim with empty ritual
Completing my pilgrimage
I walk to His capitol Dwaraka
where once the palace stood
Though full of splendor without His presence
it was only a hollow wealthy estate
But when He moves within
it is like the body’s open treasure room —
the light in its secret chamber glowing
rare gardens full of souls pretending

to be peacocks dance to the True Music
resonating day and night off the golden gong
So fire up that beacon and end
the night of the unconsciousness
that black hand within
pretending to be your puppet master
and ride the ocean waves of light
heaved by chanting the Beloved’s Name

Brahmans from my old palace life
arrived last week wanting me to return
They believe I’m some kind of human charm
able to ward off the ills heaped upon the town
after I ran away into my Beloved’s arms
Having refused they now fast
I do not want their lives on my hands
Tonight I enter my Beloved’s house
Tomorrow all they find of me
is my scarf in Krishna’s hand —
the one I held walking around the fire —
Mira, the drop of water joins the Ocean


What, dear one, can I tell you
about the Path to my Beloved
other than all footprints vanish
as if one walks on an ocean’s water
Even this ocean can not be described
by a tongue wagged by the mind

Dear one, with no warning one day tears flowed
I had to drop everything then and there
and run to Him Who is everywhere praised
to swim and bathe in His Beauty

I meditated on Him a long while
I grew restless beyond hope
Then with no thought but of Him
thought reason and patience fell away
Confused, I cried aloud for help
Then, my Love whispered in my secret ear
lifting me into a realm never before known to me

I clothed myself in ochre dyed cloth
put on an ochre head dress
placed beads around my neck
and ashes on my face
Carrying a trident on my shoulder
I became a wandering yogi
an Advahut stuffed with large knowings
about the single nature of things

But my sack was full of desire
and my begging cup sloshed over with tears
as I hunted here and there my Beloved

Soon everyone I met I named “dear one”
and asked if they had seen my Beloved
Those who understood I talked with
about His secret comings and goings
Those who didn’t I left so quickly
they stood there stunned talking to the air
Sometimes I asked my beads where to go next

I wept laughed sighed
Tears poured off my cheeks

What food was offered to me I took
only asking for nothing but Him
Soon I so lost myself
I couldn’t even tell friend from enemy
Everywhere I looked He wasn’t
I was reduced to total confusion
Then I entered a mosque
finding only that echo
the talk of rituals and diets —
those shapes and forms thrown
on the pottery wheel of debate

Disgusted I left
and walked over to the Theology College
thinking He must be here
Only the wheels were much bigger
and spun louder and faster
While the vessels were larger
they were just as empty

So I walked to His house, a temple
Here the shapes were adored
but only solid and mute stone

So I traveled the pilgrim circuit to the Holy places
finding only my Beloved was exchanged
once again for all kinds of hollow things

With no where else to go
I went to the wilderness
where I shed rivers of tears
I couldn’t find shelter
I grew hungry thirsty and depressed
I hit my head on rocks and against boulders
I meditated and meditated
as death stood nearby mocking
In the scorching sun
tears of blood spilled from me —
bright rubies cooked and cracked on the sand

Then, then my Beloved appeared
gently placing my head on His lap saying
“Look upon me as you have longed for
and you will see the unseen
First I try My lover —
torture oppress and force tears
Then he is embraced forever
Such a seeker is a true yogi”

Hearing Him speak was the water for my thirst
and the food for my hunger
Refreshed I looked upon His Beauty
a radiance that dimmed the sun
revealing the fourteen planes of creation
Sorrow and doubt departed
Subject and object disappeared
Duality and non duality vanished
I saw beyond existence and non existence
as the music of His words played my ear
Love erased all name and form
The breeze of His Beauty cleared all before my site
This Wind blew away all distinctions
uprooting all the plants and trees in my garden —
but the one plant, my heart

Before my wisdom eye opened
I was ignorant and poor
Now I am rich with the Knowledge
You and I are one
I’ve put all books on the shelf forever
They are useless when one knows
the moon and stars are beggars
Muslim Hindu and Jew are the same
And everywhere I look You are there

The true lover fears nor creates fear
O Nazir this state can not be defined



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Math 1985.
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Jnaneshwar’s GITA, Swami Kripananda, Trans. State University New York
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LALLA: NAKED SONG, Coleman Barks, Trans. Maypop, 1992.
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Banarsidass, 1980.
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Workshop Saffronbird Book, 1973.
MIRA BAI, Usha S. Nilsson, Trans. Sahitya Akademi, 2nd Edition, 1977.
MIRABAI VERSIONS, Robert Bly, Renderer. Red Ozier Press, 1984.
MIRA: THE DIVINE LOVER, V.K. Sethi, Trans. Radha Soami Satsang Beas, 2nd
Edition, 1988.


Radha Soami Satsang Beas, 1978.
HYMNS FOR THE DROWING: Poems for Vishnu by Nammalvar, A.K.
Ramanujan, Trans. Princeton Library of Asian Translations, 1981.



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