By Virendra Qazi
You are the Sky, You are the earth You are the day, the very air, the night You are the grain-offering, sandal paste, flowers and water too You are everything, O Lord So what can we offer You?"
So sang Lalleshwari or Lal Ded. The 14th century village girl turned mystical genius, had a vision of the past, present and future. She foretold the condition of our present times, that material advancement has led to internal despair. Although the world has become a global village or family due to communication and networking, we still fight over narrow things like caste, creed and color.
But Lalla also sang of hope for sincere aspirants to realize God within. Essentially, she was a torch bearer of the new spiritual movement that witnessed great saints like Guru Nanak, Meera, Kabir, Tukaram and many others.
Born into a Pandit family, she found herself inundated by empty rituals. Her mother-in-law starved her. She would serve a big round stone covered with a layer of rice to give it the semblance of a big helping. Lalla would patiently wash the stone and keep it back in the kitchen for her mother-in-law to use again.
She observed wise and learned men starving, withering like leaves in the winter wind. On the other hand, she saw a fool enjoying a full meal and then beating his cook for minor shortcomings.
Lalla revealed her agony but counseled patience, contentment and forbearance. Finally, she relinquished her home and became a wandering nun. People flocked to her as her supernatural powers got revealed. Failing to dislodge her from the spiritual path, Lalla's mother-in-law poisoned her son's mind with false accusations. One day as Lalla returned from filling her water pitcher, her husband accosted and abused her. He struck her pitcher in rage, but miraculously the water stayed intact though the earthern pot broke and scattered.
- Also published in the Hindustan Times as "Vision of Lalleshwari" by Virendra Qazi