Mirabai is one of the most commemorated women in Indian history. Sometimes known as Meera, she was a sixteenth century songwriter and poet. Many of Mirabai's songs are still sung today in India and her spirit and rebellious nature have been an inspiration for women in India.
Much of the history of Mirabai has been handed down through the generations. At a time when it was not thought right, she was a woman who carved her own path in her world. Mirabai was a devotee of Bhakti, which is a form of Hinduism. Bhakti followers praised their god Krishna through pure love. Many worshipers would give up all their possessions and become wandering teachers or join together and form communities.
For Bhakti there is no caste system and there is also no distinction between color and gender. Female worshipers such as Mirabai would give up their husbands and families in order to worship fully. They would live among people from different levels of society who would normally be forbidden in their own society.
Mirabai was a member of an aristocratic family known as Rajput. She was married to Prince Bhoj Raj, and from the beginning her devotion of Bhakti would cause her many problems. She refused to devote herself to her husband’s god saying that she was already devoted to the Lord Krishna. After only three years of marriage Mirabai's husband died. Unlike other women of her superior caste, Mirabai refused to join her husband on the funeral pyre.
After her husband’s death, Mirabai now had more time to devote herself to her worship. Her worship took the form of singing and dancing, often in public places. Mirabai's name became known throughout India and she attracted many followers from all castes. According to legend her husband’s family were so shocked by this behavior they tried to have her killed.
Her own family was also shocked by her behavior and they too disapproved her. Mirabai then became a traveling worshipper and made many pilgrimages to sites associated with Krishna. Her fame became more widespread and her songs were now known and sang by many people.
Mirabai was essentially a woman who battled many obstacles to praise her god. She is seen as a woman who stood up against the strict rules of her husband and family in order to follow her devotion to Krishna. Her rejection of a life of riches and wealth to instead express herself through song and devotion inspires many Indian women.