Feb 10 2017

Mirabai – No one knows my invisible life

Published by at 9:24 am under Poetry

No one knows my invisible life
by Mirabai

English version by Willis Barnstone

No one knows my invisible life.
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

/ Image by Cia de Foto /

Tonight is the full moon. And an eclipse. And a comet will be seen in the sky, as well. It should be power packed, a time for transformation.

I couldn’t pick just any old pleasant poem. We need something intense, passionate, with a hint of danger, and the determination that leads us into new awareness…

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

Isn’t that a great line?

This is a stunning love poem by Mirabai, erotic and dangerous in its passion for God.

I love the man who takes care
of cows. The cowherd.
Cowherd and dancer.

The cowherd and “dark healer” mentioned here is, of course, Krishna (often equated with the other great Vaishnava figure of Rama).

Our wedding bed is high up
in the gallows.

When Mirabai 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 crown.

Of course, a gallows is not the same as a marriage bed. It is where people are hanged. It is where one goes to die… It is where you go to utterly lose yourself. In other words, this is both the place where the old ego-self is lost, but where supreme delight and fulfillment is found.

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. That old identity is “worn out,” replaced by the mystic’s 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 mysterious, invisible, undefinable form beyond manifestation. When Mirabai says she is now Krishna’s dark color, she suggests that her individuality has been so intimately and profoundly touched by divine union, that she has utterly become the same, taking on that vast, unfathomable quality.

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

The “palace” most obviously suggests her early life among royalty, but it can also be understood as representing her body, her name, her limited identity, which can no longer contain her newly awakened awareness, 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.

Flow with the changes, embrace the unexpected, and have a magical weekend.

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
More Books >>

Mirabai, Mirabai poetry, Yoga / Hindu poetry Mirabai

India (1498 – 1565?) Timeline
Yoga / Hindu : Vaishnava (Krishna/Rama)

Mirabai is one of India’s most beloved poet-saints. Her devotional poetry — directed toward Giridhara, a form of the great God-man Krishna — is so intensely personal that it borders on the erotic while, at the same time, it remains transcendentally spiritual.

Mirabai was born into a noble Rajput family in Northern India. She was married to the crown prince of Mewar, but she made it clear that her love was for Giridhara alone.

Many of the tales of Mirabai’s life focus on her struggles with her husband’s royal family. They apparently did not approve of her constant devotion to God to the neglect of her husband and family. And her preference for the company of wandering holy men was not considered proper for a princess. These conflicts grew to such a point that it is said they attempted to kill her, once with a deadly snake, another time by poison, but she was miraculously saved both times.

When her husband died, Mirabai refused to throw herself on his funeral pyre and eventually took up the life of a wandering mendicant and poet, immersing herself in her love for God alone.

More poetry by Mirabai

2 responses so far

2 Responses to “Mirabai – No one knows my invisible life”

  1. Christineon 10 Feb 2017 at 2:49 pm

    Thank you for the interpretation of the poem, Ivan! So much deep meaning there. I would never have guessed what the true meaning was… And I was very interested to hear that the Darkness is also known to be the Vastness of the Mystery, the Eternal… I remember you did a post I think a few years back called “The Good Dark”? Maybe that wasn’t the title, but you spoke of the Darkness then in a similar way – being the Eternal, the Mystery. How interesting that we have come to associate the “darkness” with evil, when it’s really that the light and the dark are the same (as you have said in post on The Good Dark…) We are so conditioned in our dualities – to see things as either/or… _/\_

  2. Mikeon 12 Feb 2017 at 3:55 am

    Loved this one, Ivan. Thanks for sharing.

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