Nov 20 2020

Mirabai – Out in a downpour

Published by at 8:28 am under Poetry

Out in a downpour
by Mirabai

English version by Andrew Schelling

Out in a downpour
in a sopping wet
skirt.
And you have gone to a distant country.
Unbearable heart,
letter after letter
just asking when,
my lord, when
      are you coming?

— from For Love of the Dark One: Songs of Mirabai, Translated by Andrew Schelling


/ Image by jarr1520 /

I don’t know what it is about this imagery, but this poem has stuck with me ever since I first read it. A woman standing out in a downpour and not caring, consumed by a great and terrible love — it is like a scene from a classic film. Visceral, intimate, yet epic.

(This picture I found doesn’t do justice to the image in my mind. I see something in black-and-white. A lovely young Indian woman, the camera looking down upon her, as she lifts her face and opens her arms to the downpour. And the open-mouthed expression I see on her face, is it one of pain? Or the beginning of laughter? Or a feral combination of the two…?)

We are witnessing a moment in a great love story. But this is Mirabai, and her beloved is God.

Often we like our saints and sages to be born in stable, perfect enlightenment, a simple picture with no struggle or drama, never having sensed separation. But that pain of separation, desperately looking for the lost love, is essential for the flowering of full self-awareness and true union.

And you have gone to a distant country.

That sense of separation — separation from God, separation from Source, separation from Home — is the fundamental pain of the soul. Every life pain, when we really trace its tendrils, reaches down to that root pain. The basic belief of separation from the Eternal. Every hunger, every craving, is an attempt to spread a thin layer of pleasure, or at least comfort, over that pain. Every self-inflicted hurt is an attempt to overpower that great ache with the sharp intensity of the moment. Most actions, when carefully dissected, are an attempt to distract ourselves from that terrible emptiness.

You can see that so much of our life force is spent in avoidance, avoidance of confrontation with that gulf between the individual and the Eternal.

letter after letter…

Most people look away, spend all their life running from that canyon of separation. But the mystic sits on the cliff edge and, though frightened, stares endlessly into the great space… until suddenly an amazing thing happens — in a flash the emptiness is seen to be not a distance but a connection, a joining. The gulf is itself the bridge spanning the distance, and we discover that we can walk upon it, that there was, in fact, never any separation or distance.

It is the very intensity of our yearning that is finally recognized as the point of connection with the Eternal. And then the pain flips, turning to such sweetness.

Next time it rains, don’t run for cover. Step out in the downpour, feel what it’s like to be drenched!


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 The Winged Energy of Delight Songs of the Saints of India
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 did not approve of her constant devotion to God, which they felt led 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

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4 responses so far

4 Responses to “Mirabai – Out in a downpour”

  1. Riaz Padamseeon 20 Nov 2020 at 10:36 am

    Mirabai romanticized into a feminist icon is not reality. She was young, confused and very brave.

  2. Melanie Bhagavation 20 Nov 2020 at 10:41 am

    I love Mirabia because of her estacic style of poetry and her completel devotion to her Lord. I was asked to do an exercise in another poetry class that if I was a registered poet where I would fit in the registry of registered poets mirabai was the next name in line of all the poets in the world would be behind me and I felt like it it was a sign and I have been devoted to her readings.

    Thank you for posting This!
    Bhagavati

  3. Beryl S Bissellon 20 Nov 2020 at 10:58 am

    Oh my! This prayer poem and your insights — a bolt of lightening. Thank you.

  4. Anna M.on 22 Nov 2020 at 9:59 am

    autumn wind
    downpour
    in a rain’s drop a whole new world…

    Have a calm, beautiful autumn day, Ivan…

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