Mirabai (c. 1500–1550)

  • Between the palace and renunciation of the world

    Mira or Mirabai, one of the best-known female holy poets of northwest India, dedicated her life to the love of Krishna. Her bhajans (songs of devotion) tell of her expulsion from the royal court and her search for union with her beloved god.

    Mirabai is both an object of projection and identification. Her songs, passed down in several
    languages, testify to the conflicting social milieus in which she lived as a widow. For some, she is a subversive mystic who deliberately flouts the norms of society, for others she is a perfect Yogini (ascetic).

    Mirabai is consumed by her desire for Krishna. But the one who has aroused the passion in his admirer is as ephemeral as he is multiple. Sometimes he appears as Yogi, another time he manifests himself as real lover, but one who always keeps her waiting.

    In her songs, which are accessible and direct, Mirabai reflects the whole spectrum of human emotions. In her role as Krishna's lover she shows similarities with the Christian bride of God Mechthild of Magdeburg and other female Christian mystics of the Middle