I Cannot Live Without You: Selected Poems of Mirabai and Kabir (Paperback)
Wild and passionate, Mirabai is India's greatest poet of devotion and love. Married at a young age, after her husband's premature death she dedicated her life to worshipping the flute-playing Krishna. It was a decision that led her parents-in-law to evict her from their home. Mirabai spent the rest of her life travelling from village to village, singing and dancing to celebrate her love of Krishna. The rapturous lyrics she wrote enthralled worshippers then and continue to be sung in India today.
Kabir was a controversial figure. An illiterate weaver, Kabir celebrated both Indian and Muslim spirituality, while criticising each religion's blinkered believers. Yet his straight talking, his wit, and the continued relevance of his cutting insights, ensure his often knotty poems still resonate powerfully for contemporary readers.
Superbly translated into English-language poems that reflect their original imagery and forms, this collection shows why Mirabai and Kabir have enchanted devotees for five centuries. Their poems are accompanied by new versions of two of the key Upanishads that laid the foundations for Indian spirituality. These engaging versions will delight readers new to the work of two of India's greatest mystical poets, and surprise those already familiar with their playful profundity.
MIRABAI: I SHALL DANCE
I shall dance in the presence of Krishna, my lord.
Purely to please, my bare feet will caress the floor.
So solemn and enticing, I shan't be ignored,
and as I turn, closer-to examine him-will I draw.
Yes, love's tied bells to my ankles, tinkling, so small.
And who knows? Perhaps, as I dance, all my veils will fall.
What do I care for customs and the world's joyless laws?
When he arrives, I shall silently close the door.
Yes, Mira will share her lover's bed, embraced and warm.
They'll laugh and sip love's wine-she knows she won't be bored
KABIR: ON THE COMPETENT GURU
No competent gurus nor pupils I found,
just players of greedy games.
All sank in maya's sea,
for they sailed boats made of stone.
I say, cut off that guru's beard whose
teaching doesn't scythe doubt,
for not only does he sink but
he drags his pupils down.
An incompetent guru means
the pupil is incapable:
grasping pupil, profit-seeking guru,
and both are in trouble.
Without a competent guru
you'll remain an illiterate fool.
Dress like a saint, inside you're an idiot
begging from door to door.