No one knows my invisible life

by Mirabai

English version by Willis Barnstone


No one knows my invisible life.
Pain
and madness for Rama.
Our wedding bed is high up
in the gallows.
Meet him?
If the dark healer comes,
we'll negotiate the hurt.
I love the man who takes care
of cows. The cowherd.
Cowherd and dancer.
My eyes are drunk,
worn out from making love
with him. We are one.
I am now his dark color.
People notice me, point fingers at me.
They see my desire,
since I'm walking about like a lunatic.
I'm wiped out, gone.
Yet no one knows I live with my prince,
the cowherd.
The palace can't contain me.
I leave it behind.
I couldn't care less about gossip
or my royal name.
I'll be with him
in all his gardens.

-- from To Touch the Sky: Poems of Mystical, Spiritual & Metaphysical Light, Translated by Willis Barnstone

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Commentary by Ivan M. Granger

If the dark healer comes,
we'll negotiate the hurt.


Isn't that a great line?

This is another wonderful love poem by Mirabai, erotic in its passion for God.

The cowherd and "dark healer" mentioned here is the Hindu God-man Krishna (often equated with the other great Vaishnava figure of Rama).

Our wedding bed is high up
in the gallows.


When she says their wedding bed is "high up in the gallows," Mirabai is referring to the mystic's marriage bed or bridal chamber -- the point of union between the individual awareness and the Divine, which takes place "high up" within the chamber of the skull.

Of course, a gallows is not the same as a marriage bed. It is where people are hanged. It is where you go to die... It is where you go to utterly lose yourself.

To be "worn out from making love" is a reference to the divine union of mystical ecstasy, when the individual identity completely disappears in the divine embrace; it is "worn out," replaced by a quiet bliss.

...We are one.
I am now his dark color.


Darkness, dark color, is associated with many Hindu gods, representing the vastness of mystery, the Eternal in its pre-manifest, invisible, undefinable form. When Mirabai says she is now Krishna's dark color, she means that her individuality has been so intimately and profoundly touched by divine union, that she has utterly become the same, taking on its vast, unfathomable quality.

She is "wiped out, gone." Mirabai, as an individual awareness, exists no more; only the Divine that has touched her remains. She lives with her "prince."

The palace can't contain me.
I leave it behind.


The "palace" -- her body, her name, her limited identity -- can't contain her newly awakened vastness, so she leaves all of those self-limiting definitions behind.

Mirabai doesn't care what people say about how she may step beyond social norms or how other people want to define her, for she is at rest with the Divine One within the eternal garden that is everywhere present.



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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No one knows my