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Lalleshwari – Life – History – Miracles – Poems of Lal Ded Of Kashmir

Lalleshwari is a Shaivite ascetic and mystic poetess of Kashmir. Lalleshwari is variously known as Lalla Lalleshwari, Lalla Arifa, Lalla Matschi, Lalla Togini, Lalla Yogeshwari and Lala Ded. 

Lalleshwari Life

Little is known about her life except that she was born in a Saraswat Brahmin family of Kashmir sometime between 1300 and 1320 AD. Legend has it that she took six different rebirths and even bore a son before being born in the same family at Pandrenthan, six km southeast of Srinagar where she had died in the first instance. Reaching her twelfth year, Lalleshwari was married to Sona Pandita at Pampur through the family priest, Siddha Srikantha.

At the marriage ceremony Lalleshwari is said to have whispered to Siddha Srikantha that the boy who she was marrying was the child born to her as a son in her first birth and about whose real relationship she had inquire of him then. Siddha Srikantha verified the statement and was overwhelmed by Lalleshwari’s knowledge of esoteric things.

Lalleshwari step-mother-in-law was very cruel to her, yet she suffered all indignities and ill treatments without any complaint. Her spiritual awakening came about at the age of 16. Thereafter, she abandoned the life of a householder and began roaming around in the company of sannyasis. She accepted Siddha Srikantha as her guru and became a devotee of Shiva. 

 Miracles – Spiritual Life of Lalleshwari

 Lalleshwari gave several demonstrations of her scholarship, occult powers, and capacity for religious discussions, even with Sufi saints. Once Shah Hamdan, a Muslim Sufi seer, is said to have proudly displayed his occult powers by placing a pot with rice and water on his head and making the water boil. Lalleshwari took him to a river, and dipping her hand in the water, brought it to boiling temperature.

The worldly frivolities of dress and social decorum mean little to Lalleshwari and she went around naked or semi-naked.

She did not preach any hard and fast religion; she even disdained ritual. She projected a way of life quite in harmony with nature and Shaivite tradition. 

Poems Of Lalleshwari

 Lalleshwari composed Saivite hymns in the oldest Kashmiri dialect. This was followed by hundreds of verses (vakhas), which are called Lalavakha, being commonly quoted. Vakha is a compilation of rhymed or unrhymed four-line stanzas consisting of twenty or twenty four words.

Kashmiri Hindus have her apothegms ready on their tongue to suit any occasion.

Lalleshwari made poetry the vehicle for expressing her experiences, her devotion to God and the facts of life in this world. She enriched Kashmiri language by using it for conveying subtle philosophical thoughts and mystical insights. In a number of commentaries on her, Lalleshwari has been described as a devotee, as a Vedantin, and as one who influenced the thought and life of the people of her time.

Bhaskar Razdan (18th century AD) was the first to collect and compile the first anthology of vakhas of Lalleshwari, rendering them in Sanskrit. These were later published by the State Research Department in 1919. Grierson was the first to translate her vakhas into English (Lalla Vakyani, London, 1920). Richard Temple’s translation was under the title ‘The World of Lalla (1924). An American edition of her vakhas by Louise Putcamp Jr. was also brought out. Hindu, Urdu and Kannada versions of her vakhas have also been published. 

Source - Encyclopedia of Hinduism Volume VI page 239 - IHRF

Few poems of Lalleshwari

Some may heap cavil on me, even some may curse me; they may say whatever they like to say. Some may worship me with flowers of inherent cognition, yet I do not fell ruffled with this kind of impeachment or praise since I am concerned with my own self and do not grudge what others have to say about me.

I felt fatigued by incessant self search, thinking that nobody could partake of that, hidden perceptive knowledge; I, ultimately, got immersed into it and could find admission to the Divine-bar, there in goblets are full to the brim, but none possesses the nerve to drink these.

Mind is the flower-seller and faith flowers. Worship should be undertaken with the offerings of mental equipoise. Shiva is to be given a bath of tears. Incantations are to be recited in silence, without making a show of these. In this way only self-consciousness can be awakened from within.