Shafiq R Khan


Strange are the ways of the Lord

Sri Andal grew up in South India, in a priest's household, listening to her father's prayers। Her conviction that She was the Chosen One was given early support by the Lord Himself, when He appeared in her father's dream and asked that She, a mere child now in this birth, must first wear the garlands before He did.......Imagine her feelings when her father, angry the day before, now saw her in a new light.... How happy She must have been to know that Her father too was aware of Her special relationship with the Lord....It was a very different story for Meera. She was born to a Rajput ruler, Rana Ratansingh of Kurkhi in Mewad district of Rajasthan. The year was 1547 A.D. These were times of intense fighting between the Mughals and Rajput rulers. She was expected to learn the ways of Rajput princesses. In time, she would be married off to a prince, and was expected to move from behind one curtain (purdah) to another. Only a society which has been subjected to the ruthlessness of invading forces can understand the resulting fear. The Rajputs gave two reasons for their fierce pride: their men's valour and the women's strict adherence to their behavior code. These were non-negotiables. For some inexplicable reason, the Lord chose this setting for Meera.A sannyasi visited the palace, and the child Meera was completely fascinated with the idol of Lord Krishna that he carried. She begged until he gave the idol to her. Later, watching a marriage procession, the little girl asked her mother who her own bride-groom was, and the Lord made her mother speak those prophetic words: "Do you see this idol of Giridhar Gopal? He is your husband॥".With that, Meera's entire consciousness was occupied by Murali Manohar:Mere to giridhar gopal, doosro na koyi(For me it's Giridhar Gopal, and no one else)Jake sar mormukut, mero pathi soyi(The One with the peacock feather on his head, He is my husband)Ansuvan jal seench seench, prem boli boyee(By sprinkling tears again and again, I sowed the (seed of the) creeper of love)Ab to boli bhad gayee, aanand phal hoyee(Now that creeper has grown, and has turned into the fruit of happiness)Thaath Maath Bhraath Bandhu, aapna no koyi(Father, mother, brother, relatives, I have none...)meera prabhu lagan lagi, honni ho so hoyee.....(Meera is in love with the Lord, it had to happen, and so it has...) ----------------------------------------Meera grew up, getting more and more attached to her Lord. But as per custom, when the time came, she was married off to prince Bhoja, son of Maharana Pratap. (Those who remember school history lessons may recognize the name as one famous for bravery in wars against the Mughals.) One can only imagine how detached Meera felt in that milieu and how abnormal they thought she was. Her in-laws' family deity was Goddess Durga, but Meera refused to pray to anyone but her Krishna. At first the prince wanted to humour her, and he built a temple within the palace for her Lord Sri Krishna. She would spend hours there, dancing and singing:Mein Hari gunn gaavath naachoongi, mein to Prabhu gunn gaavath naachoongi(I will sing and dance in praise of Hari's great qualities....)Apne mandir mein baith baith kar Meera Bhagavath vaachoongi(I will sit in my temple and spend my time reading the Bhagavatham॥) -------------------------------------Soon the public began to take notice, and large throngs of men and women would appear at the temple to join in the dancing and singing. Prince Bhoja withstood the jealous rumours this caused, and Meera's fervour increased day by day:Eri mein to prem diwani, mero dard na jaane koyi(Oh sakhi, I'm madly in love, but no one can understand it..)Meera lagi rang Hari(Meera is completely enraptured by Hari..)It is said that when the Emperor Akbar too heard of her and visited the temple in disguise with his court musician Tansen, the prince could take it no more. He asked Meera to go drown in the river rather than bring further shame to the royal family. Meera went to do his bidding when she felt someone hold her back. It was her dear Lord Krishna, who asked her to go to Brindavan and wait for Him. A line from a song in the Tamil movie on her life describes her feelings best:"Maraindha koondilirundhu viduthalai pirandha paravai, viraindhoduthe,Nirainthadhadee neela vaanile, thanai maranthu iraivan pugazh paadudhe..."(The bird that has been shut up in a cage, is now racing across the blue sky. Completely unaware of itself, it sings in praise of God...)As Meera would say:Mein Hari charanan ki daasi(I am a Daasi at the feet of Hari)Malin vishaya ras thyaage jag ke, Ram naam ras pyaasi(Having forsaken the lowly thoughts and enjoyments, I thirst for the nectar of Rama naama..)Janam janam ki daasi, Mein Hari charanan ki daasi(In birth after birth, I am Hari's daasi..)Dukh apmaan kashta sab sahiya,(I have borne difficulties and insults..)Meera kahe Prabhu Giridhar Naagar, saaron jagat ki vaasi(Meera says Lord Giridhara is the Lord of the universe..)Many saints came to meet her. When she sought to meet Sant Govind dass he is said to have refused saying he would not meet a woman. She sent word back saying "In Brindavan who but Lord Krishna is a Purusha? If Sri Radha heard of such pretensions She will surely not like it...". The sadhu realized that Meera was a Gopi reborn and came rushing to meet her.Among those that came to Brindavan during this time was her husband, who begged her forgiveness and asked her to return to the palace with him. Meera went back , but unfortunately her husband died, and his younger brother, the new Rana, began to carry out what would today be called a hate campaign. He sent her a snake, which turned into a garland when it reached her. He mixed poison in a cup and asked her to drink it, but it didn't affect her. If anything her fervour increased:Pag gunghroo re,Pag gunghroo baandhi Meera naachee re(Meera has ankle-bells on her feet as she dances..)Mein to apne, Narayana ki, ho gayee aap hi daasi re(I "apne aap hi" have myself chosen to be Narayana's daasi)Vish ka pyaala Raanaji ne bhejaa, pibath Meera haasi re.(The Rana sent a cup of poison, but Meera laughed as she drank it..)Log kahe Meera vair, baawari, naasthik re, kul-naashee re(People say that Meera is an enemy, a mad woman come to destroy the "kulam")Meera kahe prabhu Giridhar naagar, sahaj mile Avinaashi re(Meera says that Lord Giridhara is Immortal and easily attained..)Pag gunghroo re....Meera started to call to her Lord with greater and greater urgency.Daras bina dukhan laage nain(without your darshan, my eyes have begun to hurt)Piya itni binati suno mori(My love, just listen to this tiny little request from me...)She went in search of Him, to Brindavan, to Mathura, and Dwarka. She felt that Krishna too was calling her as he came near.Aaj sunee mein Hari aawan ki aawaz(Today I heard the sound of Hari's arrival..)When the time finally did arrive, Meera was still dancing in ecstacy in a temple as she became one with Krishna....Fellow seekers of the Divine, I'm sure much of the above was known to you, and many beautiful Meera bhajans are of course well-known and popular. Shut out all other noise and listen to a Meera bhajan sometime....the agony and the ecstacy and the pain and the longing and the joy and above all the sweetness will be such that you will reach 10,000 feet high without any awareness of her language. You will look down and see that Bhakti rasaa easily overflows the 4-inch fence-posts between languages..........Mohani moorath saanwari soorath, naina bade vishal(With enchanting form, dark face and large eyes)Baso mere nainan me Nandalaal((Come) live in my eyes, Nandalal...)

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