October 20th will be observed as the birthday of woman mystic Meera, better known as Meerabai, a 16th century Hindu mystic poet and devotee of Krishna. She is a celebrated Bhakti saint, particularly in the North Indian Hindu tradition. Meerabai was born in 1504 AD at Chaukari village in Merta District of Rajasthan. Meerabai grew up amidst an atmosphere of total Krishna consciousness, which was responsible in molding her life in the path of total devotion towards Lord Krishna.
When she was just four years of age, she manifested her deep devotion to Krishna. Meerabai watched a marriage procession in front of her residence. Meerabai, the child, spotted the well-dressed bridegroom and asked her mother innocently, “Dear mother, who will be my bridegroom?” Meerabai’s mother smiled, and half in jest and half in earnest, pointed towards the image of Sri Krishna and said, “My dear Mira, Lord Krishna – this beautiful fellow – is going to be your bridegroom”. Soon after, Meerabai’s mother passed on. As Meerabai grew up, her desire to be with her Krishna grew intensely and she believed that Lord Krishna would come to marry her. In due course, she became firmly convinced that Krishna was to be her husband.
Though she married Rana Kumbha of Mewar, she considered herself the wife of Krishna ( Jaake Sir Mor Mukut Mero Pati Soyee). Kumbha died after a few later. Refusing to become a Sati, as was expected of every Rajput widow, Meera continued with her visits to Krishna’s temple. Songs poured out as she remained in ecstatic trance. Tying anklets to her feet, she danced in public, in the company of sadhus ( Pag Gunguru Baand Meeraa Naacheere). The temple at Chittorgarh where Meera Bai worshipped is a huge draw even today. Her conduct shocked her family. The ruling Rana (her-brother-in law) sent a cup of poison to kill her and she drank it with a smile ( Vish Kaa Pyaalaa Raanaajee Bhejyaa; Peevat Meeraa Haansee Re). But her Krishna saved her. However, when the torture became unbearable, she left Mewar for Brindavan and later for Dwaraka where she became one with the Lord, never to be separated again. Much had to be given up, but she did so readily in the pursuit of her calling.
A number of compositions by Meera Bai continue to be sung today in India, mostly as devotional songs (bhajans) though nearly all of them have a philosophical connotation. One of her most popular compositions remains “Paayoji maine Ram Ratan dhan paayo“. These songs speak in the first person of deep love and longing for God and of Meerabai’s persecution and rejection of the royal world of her husband. They traverse the range of emotions connected with love—longing, anticipation, the ecstatic joy of union, adoration, jealousy, and anger—but also speak of a merger with the One who transcends all distinctions and forms.
Osho has extensively talked about Meerabai in his discourses. Osho says “She was really a mad devotee, a mad BHAKTA, in tremendous love and ecstasy with God. She was a queen, but she started dancing on the streets. The family disowned her. The family tried to poison her — the family itself — because it was a disgrace for the royal family. The husband was feeling embarrassed, very much embarrassed, and particularly so in those days. And the story belongs to one of the most traditional parts of this country, Rajasthan, where for centuries nobody had seen women’s faces; they were covered, always covered. Even the husband might not have been able to recognize his wife in the daylight, because they were meeting only in the night, in darkness. In those days, in such a stupid climate, in such a milieu, the queen started dancing on the streets! Crowds would gather, and she was so drunk with the divine that her sari would slip down, her face would be exposed, her hands would be exposed. And the family was obviously very much perturbed. But she sang beautiful songs, the most beautiful ever sung in the whole world, because they came from her very heart. They were not composed, they were spontaneous outpourings. She was a devotee of Krishna, she loved Krishna. Krishna represented to her the very spirit of existence, what Buddha calls dhamma, the law. That is the masculine formation, the masculine expression: the law. Meera calls Krishna “my beloved” — not law but love; that is the feminine heart.”
IN YOUR EXPERIENCE, IS THERE ANY CONNECTION BETWEEN THE QUALITIES OF THE INVENTED SELF, AND THOSE OF THE REAL SELF? IS THE EGO LIKE A SHADOW OR A DISTORTION OF THE AUTHENTIC BEING; OR IS THERE A TOTAL DISCONTINUITY? LOOKING BACK, DO YOU SEE ANY TRACES IN THE ONE YOU ARE NOW OF THE MAN YOU ONCE WERE?
The ego is not a shadow of the self, because in even being a shadow it will have a certain reality, a certain connection with the real self. It is not a distortion of the real self either, because the self cannot be distorted; there is no possibility of that. The ego is simply false, a substitute created by society to give you a feeling that you have a centre, that you have a self, that there is no need for any search — you have already got it.
To prevent you from reaching the real self, this is the most cunning device. It is completely made up — from the very beginning, the child is being fed with things which will make its ego. They will appreciate you, they will say you are beautiful, you are good, you are nice — but only when you don’t assert your real self. You are obedient.
That word is very central in creating the ego. Obedience means that whatever your parents are saying you have to listen, to follow; you are not to listen to any voice that is coming from your own being. In the beginning that voice is there; till the ego is strong enough you continue listening to your inner voice.
Obedience is the method to kill your inner voice. Hence all the societies, all educational systems, all religions praise obedience…They may call it different names — belief, surrender, trust, faith — but look into all these words: they are simply saying one thing, that you have to follow the dictates which God has given. And they have the holy book and they have the messiah and they have the prophet; now you need not listen to any voice — particularly your inner voice. That will be again committing the same sin…
But a strange thing is that all the religions are founded by men — a woman is not respectable enough to found a religion. And when a man founds a religion, it is going to be intellectual; it cannot be of the heart. There is a beautiful story I have always loved….
One of the great women of the world was Meera. She was only four or five years old when there was a great procession, a marriage procession. She asked her mother, “What is happening?”
The mother explained, and the little girl said, “When will I be married?”
The mother said, “These are not questions to be asked! You are too small.”
Meera said, “I may be too small but I have already fallen in love.”
The mother said, “What do you mean?”
She said, “In the temple, when I go with you — the statue of Krishna is so beautiful. I have fallen in love with that statue; so whenever you want me to be married, marry me to that statue.”
The mother said, “You are just mad! Just go out and play.”
She did not take it seriously. Meera belonged to a royal family. She finally married into another royal family, but she did not forget to take a small statue of Krishna with her. The man she was married to must have been a very compassionate man. The first night, when he was going to meet his wife, he heard her talking, so he looked in through the window. She was sitting before the statue of Krishna and saying to him, “My lord, so finally I got married to you!” It was a shock. Meera was an immensely beautiful woman… but the husband was certainly of great understanding. He turned back, he did not go into the room — Meera remained a virgin. And just to avoid embarrassment, he went to war as the commander in chief. He won the war, but he died in it. Meera left the house with the statue, singing and dancing in the streets. People thought she had become mad because of the death of her husband. But she would show the statue to them: “My husband cannot die, my husband is always with me. And the one who has died, he was never my husband.”
She became famous. I don’t think anybody has sung such beautiful songs, danced so beautifully, so ecstatically. She reached the birthplace of Krishna…. And that is the point I want to be emphasized: at the birthplace of Krishna there is the biggest Krishna temple in India. The priest of the temple had taken the vow of celibacy, so no woman was allowed in the temple. A guard was standing there with a naked sword to prevent women. But when Meera came dancing, ecstatic, he forgot why he was standing there, and she entered the temple. She was the first woman to enter the temple in the forty years since that man had become the priest.
The priest was worshipping Krishna. He could not believe his eyes; the things he was holding in his hands for worship fell on the ground. He was really angry. He said, “Woman, you have some nerve! Everybody knows — nobody who is not a man can enter this temple. You have destroyed my forty years’ austerity!” And Meera laughed, and she said, “I was thinking there is only one man, and that is Krishna, and we are all his lovers; we are all women. I am glad to see that there is another man also in the world!” The way she said it just penetrated the man’s very heart. He fell at her feet to be forgiven. He said, “I have never thought about this — what I said is simply absurd. Only Krishna, only God, is the man — we are all his lovers; naturally we are all women. You are right and I was wrong.”
Meera’s saying that only the woman has a heart-to-heart contact with the divine is of great importance. But all the religions are founded by men. They are great intellectuals, philosophers, theologians; they spin great, complicated theories — but nothing in them gives the sense that they have experienced. They are only thinking, they are not living. To think is a very superficial thing: To live is the deepest. And love is the way to go deeper into it.
But the man-dominated world has made everything heartless, stony. They can be of great use if they use their intellect only for the objective world, and leave the subjective world to be led by women…
To me, disobedience is the beginning of destroying the ego. Obedience is the matter ego is made of. The parents will say, “Obey,” and whoever obeys is appreciated… Disobedience is the assertion of individuality. Disobedience is the beginning of rebellion. The same is the situation in the schools; from the kindergarten to the university it is obedience that is continuously hammered into your minds. And it pays, too. If you are obedient to a certain teacher, professor, you can trust that he will help you. He will give you a higher percentage for being present. If he has the paper in his hand, he may reveal the contents of it to you. If he is going to be the examiner of the paper, he will give you higher marks than anybody else — because you have been obedient. And this is the way that your ego is indirectly being created. In the army, obedience becomes the absolute thing. In political parties obedience becomes absolutely important. Wherever you look, your whole world is moving around a single word: obedience…
The moment you think on your own, you come very close to truth. All the religions teach, “Think according to Jesus, think according to Moses, think according to Krishna, think according to Mahavira.” No religion teaches you to think according to yourself. Theirs is the way of creating the ego.
Ego is not a shadow, ego is not a distortion; it is a separate entity — artificial, but created with such great ingenuity that it takes the place of the real. It covers the real, and befools almost everyone: “I am the real.” And the real remains silent; the reality is silent. Unless you destroy this structure around the real, you will not be able to understand its silence, its sensitivity, its intelligence. And that is my work. I call it deprogramming. I want to deprogram the whole ego structure and leave you alone with yourself — wild, natural, in absolute freedom. And that is true life.
This is an excerpt from the transcript of a public discourse by Osho in Kathmandu, Nepal.
Discourse series: Light on the Path
Chapter title: The real remains silent
26 January 1986 pm in Kathmandu, Nepal
Osho has also spoken on women mystics like Daya, Lalla, Sahajo, Mallibai, Magdalen, Rabiya, Teresa in His discourses. Some of these can be referred to in the following books/discourses:
- And the flowers showered
- Showering without clouds
- Books I have loved
- The Last Morning Star
- The Perfect Master
- The Razor’s Edge
- The Sword and The Lotus
- Turn On, Tune In, and Drop the Lot
- Come, Come, Yet Again Come
- The Dhammapada: The Way of the Buddha Vol.8
- The Great Pilgrimage: From Here to Here
- I Celebrate Myself: God Is No Where, Life Is Now Here
- Come Follow To You Vol.1
- Tao: The Three Treasures Vol.2
- Beyond Enlightenment