The Dagger

by Mirabai

English version by Robert Bly


The Dark One threw me a glance like a dagger today.
Since that moment, I am insane; I can't find my body.
The pain has gone through my arms and legs, and I can't find my mind.
At least three of my friends are completely mad.
I know the thrower of daggers well; he enjoys roving the woods.
The partridge loves the moon; and the lamplight pulls in the moth.
You know, for the fish, water is precious; without it, the fish dies.
If he is gone, how shall I live? I can't live without him.
Go and speak to the dagger-thrower: Say, Mira belongs to you.

-- from Mirabai: Ecstatic Poems, Translated by Robert Bly

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Commentary by Ivan M. Granger

The name Krishna can loosely be translated as "The Dark One." Mirabai's beloved here is Krishna -- God. God threw her a "glance like a dagger." Since then she has gone mad, overcome with a "pain" where she can't find her body. What does all this mean?

The Dark One threw me a glance like a dagger today.

I love that thrilling, illicit image... God as hunter, God hunting us... with looks of passion. It raises the question, If God is everywhere hunting us, lying in wait, continuously casting hot, cutting glances at us, why then are we not more often pierced? Why hasn't all the world, like Mirabai, gone insane with love?

I suspect it is because too often we look around and see only the mask. We miss the smoldering eyes beneath.

The pain has gone through my arms and legs...

Many mystics experience a sense of pain or wounding as part of their union with the Divine, a sacred pain. For some, this can be physical and obvious to observers. This is perhaps most startlingly manifest in the great Catholic stigmatists, like St. Francis of Assisi.

Other mystics speak of a wounding in a more metaphorical sense. The pain experienced is the perception of one's separation from God. But that pain itself is the doorway to reunion. By allowing oneself to become completely vulnerable to that pain, to surrender to it, the mystic finds the pain transformed into the blissful touch of the Beloved.

Your most secret wound is the doorway.

It is the pain of the pierced ego. For one with inner balance, where the protective but limiting shell of the ego is no longer necessary, that pain points the way to freedom.

For this reason, mystics and saints describe the pain as being "sweet" or joyful or beautiful.

...and I can't find my mind.

Think back to your school days, the painful crushes in the hallways. Then you see that beautiful someone turn your way and glance at you. In that instant, the whole world comes to a crashing halt. The echoes of teenaged taunts and laughter and gossip fade away. Your very thoughts fall silent. If someone were to ask you your own name, you'd be unable to answer.

You've lost both body and mind.

This is the state the true mystic knows.

Go and speak to the dagger-thrower: Say, [I belong] to you.



Recommended Books: Mirabai

Women in Praise of the Sacred: 43 Centuries of Spiritual Poetry by Women The Enlightened Heart: An Anthology of Sacred Poetry To Touch the Sky: Poems of Mystical, Spiritual & Metaphysical Light Songs of the Saints of India The Winged Energy of Delight
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The Dagger