Devotion and realization is not limited to any particular time, place or culture. For the heart that is full of divine love, nothing is too great an obstacle to the union with the beloved. Such a noble soul was Meera Bai, the poetess that is universally regarded as one of the greatest saints of India. Details of her life are shrouded in mystery and it is often hard to sift fact from legend with regard to her birth, marriage and death, but historians agree that she was a princess of the Rathore dynasty of Merta, and lived during the reign of Akbar.
The daughter of Rao Rattan Singh, she was born in 1498 AD in Merta in Rajputana, land of the proud and valiant Rajputs. Legend tells us that at the age of five, she was standing one day on the balcony of her father’s place watching a bridal procession. When she saw the bridegroom, richly robed and adorned, she excitedly asked her mother, 'Where is my bridegroom?' She asked over and over again and finally, to silence her, her mother pointed to a statue of Krishna and said 'There he is!' From then on she passed her time talking and singing to the statue, dressing it and feeding it. As far as she was concerned, Krishna was indeed her husband, and she served him with this attitude. Her carefree days were not to last, however she betrothed to Prince Bhoj Raj of Chittor.
Rather than lessening her love for Krishna, however, her marriage merely served to increase her desire to know him. Although she carried out her wifely duties conscientiously, she spent as much time as she could in meditation and devotion. She had already told her mother, 'Mother, Girdhar Gopal married me in a dream. I wore a red and yellow veil. And my hands were beautifully decorated with henna'. I have loved the Divine Cowherd, the Flute-player, since my childhood. This love is eternal and I will never abandon it.'
She eagerly sought the company of holy men, singing and dancing in satsang. This greatly angered her relatives, who considered her a disgrace. Her sister-in law spread a rumour that she was unfaithful and met strangers at midnight. This enraged Bhoj Raj, as well it might, and one night burst into her room, only to find her chanting ardently before her statue of Krishna. He felt ashamed of himself and had a temple built where she could worship unhindered.
Mira suffered intensely at this time. Her love for Krishna was pure and unconditional, but, because she hadn't experienced practical knowledge of God, she felt separated from Him. The taunts and suspicions of her relatives were bad enough, but even more agonizing was her longing to see the Lord face-to-face: 'Show my thy face, Beloved. Without thee, my existence is like a lotus without water or a night without the moon. I, Thy handmaiden, am lost without Thee. All night I wander alone, for this separation. Gnaws at my very heart and soul'. Her yearning for spiritual insight attracted the saint who became her Guru and who imparted to her the Knowledge which enabled her to see Krishna as He really is, the all-pervading Universal Reality. Raidas, a cobbler, initiated Meera, a princess, and from that moment the tone of her songs changes from helpless yearning to joy and ecstasy. By means of the Holy Name, she could now see Krishna whenever she wanted to within herself and her joy and devotion knew no bounds – 'I will plant Thee a garden and gaze upon Thy face each day'. She danced and sang, urging her listeners, 'Swiftly the moments pass you by. Why do you fail to remember His Name?'