Lalla Ded from Kashmir (aka Lalleshwari)

Posted on March 13, 2019

Lalla Ded or Lalleshwari was a mystical poet from Kashmir (1320–1392). She was married at twelve, but her marriage was unhappy, and when she was twenty-four she left home to renounce her worldly life. She became a saint in the Tantric Shaiva tradition, and she was famous for her mystical insight and her poetry. It is clear from her poetry that her outlook is non-dualistic. She saw the entire universe reflected in herself:

Should you, in this body, seek
The Supreme Self that dwells within,
Greed and illusion soon removed,
A halo of glory will surround
this very body of yours.

The phenomenal world is real, but existing in Consciousness.

A thousand times my Guru I asked:
‘How shall the Nameless be defined?’
I asked and asked but all in vain.
The Nameless Unknown, it seems to me,
Is the source of the something that we see.

Lalla was keenly aware that what she had to bring was not for everybody:

I might disperse the southern clouds,
I might drain out the sea,
I might cure the incurable sick,
But I cannot convince a fool.

Her poetry speaks to us through the ages. I find the following poem, which I posted on FB about a year ago, exquisitely beautiful:

Just for a moment, flowers appear
on the empty, nearly-spring tree.

Just for a second, wind
through the wild thicket thorns.

Self inside self, You are nothing but me.
Self inside self, I am only You.

What we are together
will never die.

The why and how of this?
What does it matter?

Lalla’s poetry was brought to my attention by Rohit Parikh.