Mira: Lessons from Fishes

Here are two short poems from the sixteenth century Punjabi poet and mystic Mira. The first poem, addressed to her sister-in-law, Uda Bai, mentions the belief in Indian folklore that the deer loves the music of the drum; supposedly hunters would beat the drum and deer would be drawn without fear to listen to it. In the second poem, Mira uses the image of a thirsty fish to show the absurdity of looking for God in external observances rather than within.  The use of this image has also been attributed to Kabir.  Mathura and Kashi are pilgrimage sites in India; Krishna was said to have been born in Mathura, and Kasha is the ancient name for Varanasi, on the banks of the Ganges.


O Uda, pray do not talk of love.
The fish is in love with water;
Separated, she gives up her life.
The deer is in love with tabor;
Readily he faces the hunter’s blade.
The moth, ever in love with the flame,
With joy offers himself to it.
Mira is in love with her Master;
She has laid her heart at his feet.

* * *

Fish Thirsty in Water

To hear that a fish is thirsty in water,
I feel amused and am moved to laughter.

Man, without realising his true self,
Roams now to Mathura, now to Kashi.
Renouncing all, he wanders in quest of God;
Defeated, he drifts in the world’s ocean vast.

But Mira, through the Path of Sahaj,
Has met her dear Eternal Lord.


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