Meera, a Rajput princess was born in Kudki (Kukari), a little village near Merta City which is presently in the Nagaur district of Rajasthan in northwest India. Her father, Ratan Singh, was the youngest son of Rao Duda ruler of Merta and belonged to the Rathore clan. Rao Duda was son of Rao Jodha ruler and founder of Mandore.
As a child Meera became deeply enamored by a statue of Giridhar Gopal (Cow-herd holding up a mountain), Lord Krishna, owned by a holy man; she was inconsolable until she possessed it and kept it all her life. (Some myths say that Meera saw a wedding procession of a bride-groom and asked her mother about her husband, then her mother took her in front of the deity Lord Krishna and told her that He was her husband.) Then she was around seven years old. She was highly influenced by her father as he was a worshiper of Krishna.
Meera’s mother, Veer Kumari, died during child birth when Meera was around seven. Meera was then sent to her grandfather, Rao Duda and father’s older brother, Rao Viram Dev at Merta. It is here that she received her education. Her uncle, Rao Viram Dev arranged Meera’s marriage, in 1516 when she was thirteen, with prince Bhoj Raj, the son of Rana Sanga of Chittor. She was not happy with her marriage as she considered herself already married to Krishna. She went to live in Chittor accompanied by her childhood mate, Mithula, who stayed with Meera till the end. Her new family did not approve of her piety and devotion when she refused to worship their family deity- Tulaja Bhawani (Goddess Durga).
The Rajputana kingdom had remained fiercely independent of the Delhi Sultanate, the Islamic regime that otherwise ruled Hindustan after the conquests of Timur. But in the early 16th century AD the central Asian conqueror Babur laid claim to the Sultanate and some Rajputs supported him while others ended their lives in battle with him. Her husband’s death in battle (in 1521 AD) was only one of a series of losses Meera experienced. Her father-in-law, Rana Sanga respected and protected Meera Bai. However; he also died after a few years and Meera was then persecuted by the rest of her in-laws. She found Krishna to be her only support and rebuked the instructions of her in-laws to give up her worship of Giridhar Gopal. Her grief turned into a passionate spiritual devotion that inspired in her countless poems drenched with separation and longing.
Meera’s love to Krishna was at first a private thing but at some moment it overflowed into an ecstasy that led her to sing and dance in public and other religious folk. She would quietly leave the Chittor fort at night and join Satsangs (religious get togethers) in the town below. Her brother-in-law, the new ruler of Chittorgarh, Vikramaditya, was a cruel youth who strongly objected to Meera’s devotion, her mixing with commoners and carelessness of feminine modesty. Vikramaditya made several attempts to kill Meera. Her sister-in-law Uda bai is said to have spread defamatory gossip.
According to some myths Meera’s brother-in-law Vikramaditya, who later became king of Chittor, after Bhojraj’s death, tried to harm Meera in many ways. He is said to have mixed poison in the consecrated pudding offered to Krishna and made her drink it. Legend says that Lord Krishna turned it into Amrit (nectar) and saved Meera. Meera sings in one of her many songs that Vikramaditya pinned iron nails in Meera’s bed, but, again by Krishna’s grace they turned into rose petals. He put a snake in a flower basket and told her that it was a gift from him to her Lord. Meera opened the box to find a garland inside. There are many more in a similar vein.
At some time Meera declared herself a disciple of the guru Ravidas – a tanner saint (“guru miliyaa raidasjee”). After unbearable torture she left Chittor. First she went to Merta where she was still not satisfied and after sometime left for the centre of Krishnaism, Vrindavan.
She considered herself to be a reborn gopi, Lalita, mad with love for Krishna. Folklore informs us of a particular incident where she expressed her desire to engage in a discussion about spiritual matters with Rupa Goswami, a direct disciple of Chaitanya and one of the foremost saints of Vrindavan at that time who, being a renunciate celibate, refused to meet a woman. Meera expressed her surprise by saying: “Are you in competition? I thought that the Lord was the only true man (purusha) in this universe. Aren’t we all, but females in front of him?”
She continued her pilgrimage, “danced from one village to another village, almost covering the whole north of India”.One story has her appearing in the company of Kabir in Kashi, once again causing affront to social mores. She seems to have spent her last years as a pilgrim in Dwarka, Gujarat. It is said that Mirabai disappeared into the Dwarkadhish Murti (Image of Lord Krishna) in front of a full audience of onlookers.
content courtesy: wikipedia. Slightly edited by Elan