All your life, never did you love the Lord;
On the verge of death you expect to become a saint!
When your house is ablaze, you rush to dig a well;
How can you then quench the flames?
When thieves have robbed you of all your wealth,
Of what use to light the lamp?
You spent your childhood in mirth and play;
Youth you wasted in the pursuit of pleasures;
You clung to children in your old age;
Now, at death’s approach, you ask for salvation.
When the lake was dry, you did not raise a dike;
Now that all the water has streamed away,
What use are your efforts to build a dam?
Now at the hour of your impending death
You get tulsi leaves and put tilak on your forehead,*
And ask kinsmen to recite God’s name to you.
Says Mira, O ignorant and foolish one,
You are deceiving your own self and none else.
Tr. V. K. Sethi
*Tulsi is the sacred basil plant; according to a traditional Hindu belief, a few drops of water given to a dying person from a sprig of tulsi leaves would enable the departing soul to attain liberation. A tilak is a mark made on the forehead, usually with a paste of vermillion or sandalwood; the belief was that making such a mark on the forehead of a dying person would lead to salvation.