Mira: Strange is the Path

For more about the sixteenth century Punjabi mystic and poet Mira Bai, see this earlier post

Strange is the Path

Do not mention the name of love,
O my simple-minded companion.
Strange is the path
When you offer your love.
Your body is crushed at the first step.

If you want to offer love
Be prepared to cut off your head
And sit on it.
Be like the moth,
Which circles the lamp and offers its body.
Be like the deer, which, on hearing the horn,
Offers its head to the hunter.
Be like the partridge*,
Which swallows burning coals
In love of the moon.
Be like the fish
Which yields up its life
When separated from the sea.
Be like the bee,
Entrapped in the closing petals of the lotus.

Mira’s lord is the courtly Giridhara.**
She says: Offer your mind
To those lotus feet.

*In northern India and Pakistan, the chukar or partridge is said to be in love with the moon, but his love is not returned.
**Giridhara is an epithet of Lord Krishna, and means ‘lifting or holding the mountain.’  It refers to a legend in which Krishna sheltered his followers from a torrential deluge by holding a mountain over their heads on his finger.

Tr. A.J. Alston


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