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Durable Link to this BlogTuesday, June 15, 2010

Saint Lalleshwari or Lal Ded. (C-1320 1391 CE)

Bhakti or devotion was a binding force in India, during the foreign invasions and political upheavals of Middle ages. Irrespective of caste, creed and gender, many saints provided spiritual guidance and solace to distracted masses. Guru Nanak, Ramanand and Kabir, Akkamahadevi, Andal, Muktabai and Meera influenced the people of their respective regions by their simple moral teachings and complete surrender to God. Lalleshwari or Lalla Yogeshwari, of Kashmir had received the highest state of god-realisation. Her simple and direct Vakyas (pithy sayings) in spoken language are equally popular among Hindus and Muslims of Kashmir.

Lalleswari, affectionately known as Lal Ded (Mother Lal) in her home state was born in a Shaiva Brahmin family and lived in Pampore or Padma pura near Shrinagar, in the latter half of 14th century. She was married at a very young age of 15, into a traditional Kashmiri family. Her husband and mother-in-law could hardly appreciate her spiritual yearnings. Lalla used to spend time in meditation, without neglecting house-hold chores. But her long absence at river spot (where only she could obtain calm and peace) and love for loneliness were misinterpreted. Once she stayed unusually longer at the river ghat and bringing the water-pot on her head as usual. The angry husband hit the earthen pot with a stick at which it fell into pieces. But the water solidified as ice remained in tact! Lalla took it and filled all the vessels. Still the water flowed, to form a stream, the legend goes. The stream formed a tank known as Lalla"s tank and was noticed even in early part of the 20th century.

The incident of hitting the pot, compelled Lalla to renounce family life. She became a roving mendicant and practicing yoga discipline which helped god-realisation. Sufi thought had entered Kashmir valley by then, which had lot of similarity with Kashmiri Shaivism. Lalla worshipped and sang about Shiva, her beloved god. Indifferent to worldly comforts, she moved about uttering Vakyas, born out of her deep involvement in bhakti.

Some of her selected Vakyas speak about condemnation of mechanical rituals and superstitions. She also spoke about omnipresent God. Whom will you worship Oh! Foolish Pundit? Let prana and the mind unite to worship your lord.

Oh! Fool, right action does not lie In fasting and other ceremonial rites. . . . . .

Siva abides in all He is everywhere Do not discriminate between a Hindu or a Musalman If thou art wise, know thyself That is true knowledge of the lord. Siva or Keshava or Jina Or Brahma the lotus born Lord" Whatever name he bear May he remove from me The sickness of the world It may be He, He, and He only (who is called by different names)

Lalla is considered the harbinger of modern Kashmiri language. Till then Sanskrit was the language of expression among the learned and devotees alike. Lalla"s Vakyas set a new trend of spoken of Kashimiri among the rural folks, establishing a tradition of harmony and tolerance, which is the invaluable contribution of Bhakthi movement.

Amma's Column by Jyotsna Kamat

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Jyotsna Kamat

Jyotsna Kamat Ph.D. lives in Bangalore.


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