Ranjit & Unmesh Swanson Sing A Mirabai Bhajan

Last modified November 18, 2006

In this performance, Ranjit and Unmesh Swanson delight us with two traditional Bengali devotional songs. The second song is by the great Indian saint, Mirabai. The main line of this song is “Oh Lord, keep me as your servant…”

Ranjit and Unmesh’s performance is full of devotional feeling, inspired as they are by Mirabai’s devotion.

You can read more about Mirabai on Poetseers.org.

Another site which has great resources, with biographies and quotes from many spiritual figures, is Writespirit.net

From that site, we bring you biographical notes about Mirabai, and three poems by her:

Mirabai (also known as Meera) was born in 1504 A.D. at Chaukari village in Merta District of Rajasthan. As a young child Mirabai would spend her time playing with a small image of Krishna. Nobody understood her infatuation. But to Mirabai this doll was a living embodiment of Krishna. From an early age Mirabai dedicated her life to the worship and praise of her beloved Krishna. However, depsite her life of intense devotion, she faced great difficulties from her family who didn’t respect the amount of time she would spend in devotion to Krishna.

Her father, Ratan Singh, was the second son of Rao Dudaji, a descendent of Rao Jodhaji Rather, the founder of Jodhpur. Meera’s mother died when she was ten year old. She then came to live with her grandfather who died in 1515. Her father’s elder brother Vikram Deo who succeeded to the throne arranged her marriage with Prince Bhoj Raj, the eldest son of Rana Sanga of Chitter. This marriage raised Meera to a very high social status as the ruler of Chitter was considered to be the leader of the Hindu princes. But luck didn’t favor Princess Meera. By 1527 A.D. she had lost her father, her husband and her fatherin-law as well. Meera, who dedicated her life to Lord Krishna, accepted these bereavements as a matter of course

At the time Meera was born there was widespread political and social turmoil in India. Bloody conflicts for petty selfish gains, disrespect for human life and hatred for others was a norm. Meera was bewildered and at a loss to understand all that was going on all around. She was in search of peace which she found in Chaitanya’s Vaishnav Panth and dedicated her life to the love of Lord Krishna.

Mirabai began to devote most of her time in prayer and worship and did not pay any attention to the etiquettes of a royal household. This led her to be subjected to great hardships and punishments. These physical hardships became intolerable and after praying to Krishna, she left the palace for good and went to the pilgrimage of Mathura, Vrindavana and finally to Dwarika.

Mirabai was a born poetess. She expressed in a beautiful style her intense and deep love of God. She composed hundreds of poems in a simple, unpretentious style. They are full of vivacity and feelings. No poetess in the history of India enjoys a greater respect than Meera. Her poems have gained a unique popularity and are sung by the rich and the poor alike, even to this day. She spent her life dancing in trance and singing the attributes of her Beloved Krishna. Mirabai left this mortal world in 1550 to be united with her beloved Krishna. She was a great Hindu woman saint and will always be remembered.

“Mirabai was a devotee of the high, higher, highest order. Among the saints of India, she is absolutely unparalleled. She composed many, many bhajans, which are prayerful songs to God. Each song Mirabai wrote expressed her inspiration, aspiration and sleepless self-giving.”
– Sri Chinmoy

Poems by Mirabai:

“Life without Hari is no life, friend,
And though my mother-in-law fights,
my sister-in-law teases,
the rana is angered,
A guard stationed on a stool outside,
and a lock is mounted on the door,
How can I abandon the love I have loved
In life after life?
Mira’s Lord is the clever Mountain Lifter:
Why would I want anyone else?”

* * * * * *

“Sister, I had a dream that I wed
the Lord of those who live in need:
Five hundred sixty thousand people came
and the Lord of Braj was the groom.
In dream they set up a wedding arch;
in dream he grasped my hand;
in dream he led me around the wedding fire
and I became unshakably his bride.
Mira’s been granted her mountain-lifting Lord:
From living past lives, a prize.”

Our gratitude to Ranjit and Unmesh for sharing these devotional songs with us.

“Life without Hari is no life, friend,
And though my mother-in-law fights,
my sister-in-law teases,
the rana is angered,
A guard stationed on a stool outside,
and a lock is mounted on the door,
How can I abandon the love I have loved
In life after life?
Mira’s Lord is the clever Mountain Lifter:
Why would I want anyone else?”

* * * * * *

“Sister, I had a dream that I wed
the Lord of those who live in need:
Five hundred sixty thousand people came
and the Lord of Braj was the groom.
In dream they set up a wedding arch;
in dream he grasped my hand;
in dream he led me around the wedding fire
and I became unshakably his bride.
Mira’s been granted her mountain-lifting Lord:
From living past lives, a prize.”

Our gratitude to Ranjit and Unmesh for sharing these devotional songs with us.

Artist: Ranjit and Unmesh Swanson
Release year: 2006
Duration: 9:33
Acknowledgements: Sri Chinmoy
Format: Advanced Audio Coding

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