When we talk of bhakti, or the path of devotion, nobody compares to Mira (Mirabai of Mewar). She surpasses even Radha—the famous consort of yogi Krishna—in perfecting bhakti. Radha met Krishna in physical body. She didn't have to cultivate devotion for him; she just got the charismatic teenager's best attention among the many gopinis, the cow-herder women of Brindaban in northern India. Many thousand years after Krishna's passing, Mira, in her sanctuary, could materialize him in physical form and love him. Could bhakti be perfected any better?
When Mira was about five, she saw a wedding procession and asked her mother if she too had a bridegroom. The mother simply told her that she could take Krishna as her groom. That was it—Mira became Krishna's. She started loving his idol as her husband. Later her father gave her in marriage to Bhoj Raj, the crown prince of Mewar in Rajasthan. Bhoj Raj respected Mira's Krishna love and became her protector. But he died and the regime went to his brother Rana Vikram Singh.
In the conservative patriarchal society of 16th-century India, Rana couldn't tolerate the ecstatic singing and dancing of Mira—a bride of the royal family—in front of ordinary people in her temple. So he tried to kill her. He sent her a poisonous snake hidden inside a flower basket, but when Mira opened the basket, the snake turned into a garland. He then put poisoned nails beneath her bed and covered it with rose petals. When Mira lied down, all nails became rose petals. He then sent her a pot of the deadliest poison, stating that it was nectar. Mira drank the poison but remained unaffected. Hearing the power of Mira's devotional singing, Mughal emperor Akbar and his legendary musician Tansen visited her in disguise. Akbar became so enchanted that he touched her feet—an act unthinkable of the great Akbar who was not only a proud king but also an enemy of the Mewar royals.
These are not episodes of a fairy tale, but life events of a real human who walked on earth 500 years ago. But how can it be possible? How can a snake turn into a flower garland? How can one just gulp down the deadliest poison and not get harmed?
We may find it hard to conceive. But there is no confusion for a true devotee. In true devotion, you don't remain you. The duality vanishes and you become your God. And the miracles we imagine for God become a reality for the devotee. Is there any poison that can kill the God? Doesn't king cobra salute Shankar, the great yogi who is ever one with the ultimate, and adorn his neck as an ornament?
Mira's oneness with her God—Krishna—is as perfect as it can be. He comes in flesh and bones for her. He dances for her, talks to her, sings to her, and embraces her. We don't know much about Mira's end. But the legend goes: in her 50's, she went to Dwaraka, the seat of Krishna's kingdom in India's west coast. There, the heart of Krishna's idol opens, Mira jumps in and disappears.