Meera Bhajan : Sason ki Mala Pe — A Spiritual Journey

Sason ki mala pe simroon mein pi ka naam

Apni man ki mein janu aur pi ke man ki Ram

Sason ki mala pe simroon mein pi ka naam

Yehi meri bandagi hain, yehi meri pooja

Sason ki mala pe simroon mein pi ka naam.

Ek ka sajaan mandir mein ek ka preetam masjid mein aur mein

Sason ki mala pe simroon mein pi ka naam.

Her her mein her basay, her her ki hain her ki aas
Her ko her her dhoond phire, aur her hain more paas

Sason ki mala pe simroon mein pi ka naam.

Prem ke rang mein aise dubi ban gaya ek hi roop.
Prem ki mala japte japte aap bani mein Shyaam

Sason ki mala pe simroon mein pi ka naam

Apni man ki mein janu aur pi ke man ki Ram

Sason ki mala pe simroon mein pi ka naam.

Pritam ka kuch dosh nahin hain, woh to hain nirdosh.
Apne aap se baten karke ho gayi mein badnaam.

Sason ki mala pe simroon mein pi ka naam.

Prem piyala jaab se piya hain dil ka hain yeh haal.
Angaaro pein nindh aajaye kanton pein araam.

Sason ki mala pe simroon mein pi ka naam.

Jeevan ka sringar hain preetam, maang ka hai sindoor
Preetam ki nazroon se gir kar jeena hai kiss kaam

Sason ki mala pe simroon mein pi ka naam.

This song was composed by Meerabai, a mystic poetess born to a Hindu rich Rajput family in Rajasthan, India in 1498. She is a famous saint of the spiritual movement in the early 16th century. A popular story about Meera relates that she was a little girl when one day a marriage procession was passing by her house. She asked her mother where is my bridegroom. Her mother playfully pointed to the beautiful idol of lord Krishna that was on her altar. Innocent Meera fell in love with her newly identified bridegroom and thus embarked on her amazing spiritual journey.

As a teenager, Meera was married to the crown prince Bhoj Raj of Mewar in 1516, against her wish. Bhoj Raj was initially confused by Meera’s detachment but maintained a friendly relation with his wife. In 1526, Bhoj Raj died fighting in a battle. This was also the year when the Delhi Sultante, was overthrown by Babur, the founder of the Moghul Dynasty, in the battle of Panipat. After Babur captured Delhi and Agra, he was confronted by the Rajputs led by Rana Sangha, the King of Mewar. In 1527, following politics and deception, both Meera’s father and her father-in-law Rana Sangha died in the battle, defeated by Babur. However, the Moghul army did not invade Mewar.

After the death of Rana Sangha, his younger son Vikram Singh became the ruler of Mewar. There are legends about many attempts to kill Meera, which she miraculously escaped. Meera composed numerous songs of devotion to Lord Krishna, the divine spirit. She was one of the most important saint-poets of the Bhakti movement in India. Here is a translation of the above poem:

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On the rosary of my breath, I chant the name of my beloved.
I only know of my thoughts and the divinity of the one I love.
On the rosary of my breath, I chant the name of my beloved.
This is my servitude and this my worship.
On the rosary of my breath, I chant the name of my beloved.
One has his beloved in the temple and the other has his beloved in the mosque and I chant the name of my beloved on the rosary of my breath.

He is present in each one. Each one is longing for Him.
Everyone is seeking high and low to find Him and He is here right beside me.

On the rosary of my breath, I chant the name of my beloved.
I have immersed myself in the color of love, in such a way that I have taken the image of my beloved.
By repeating the rosary of my love I have myself become the embodiment of the one I love.

I am oblivious to everything other than my own thoughts and the divinity of the one I love.
On the rosary of my breath, I chant the name of my beloved.
My beloved has no fault at all. He is perfect and flawless.
I have become disreputable just by having conversations with myself.

After having drunk from the chalice of love, my heart is in such a state of intoxication that I can sleep blissfully on burning embers and experience comfort on a bed of thorns.

On the rosary of my breath, I chant the name of my beloved.
My beloved is the decoration of my life just like the sindoor of a Hindu bride
What is the use of such a life if your beloved finds you unworthy?

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In modern times this song was popularized by the legendary Pakistani vocalist musician and music director, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. He mainly sang Qawwali, which is a form of Sufi Islamic Devotional music. He first performed this song in 1979, in India when Raj Kapoor invited him to Rishi Kapoor’s wedding.

I will take this opportunity to also share a short story involving the following two videos.

I was listening various renditions of this devotional song by many artists in the form of bhajan, film song to Qawwali performances. When I came across the above video, I listened spell-bound for the next half hour, overwhelmed and curious. I had tears flowing down my cheeks when the subtle meanings of each line was revealed in the form of musical vibrations from the master vocalist’s voice. I was very curious about the little kid sitting to his right. Towards the end of the presentation, the boy started to sing with a powerful voice. The exchange and interplay of musical notes (taan) between the student and his master was precious. I made a wild guess and searched on the web. The result is the video below that said it all.

I spontaneously offered my obeisance to music, the deep bond between teacher and student, to true and unwavering love and the divine spirit.

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