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” Dance, Lalla, with nothing on

but air. Sing, Lalla,

wearing the sky

Look at this glowing day! What clothes
Could be so beautiful, or

More sacred?”

Mystic. Drunk with the love of God, Lalla, or Lal Ded , Lal Didi – known by any of these names, Lalla, as we will refer to her here was a mystic born in Kashmir, maybe in 1320 (14th Century). Kashmir of those times was the merging point for, Shaivism, Sufism and Vedantic non-dualism. It is believed that Lalla lived upto 1391 in this valley.It is said that she was born in Srinagar, but really she was like a gypsy roaming around singing her song of God inebriation.

There are no written chronicles on Lalla. The stories are what we know from oral sources. As a young girl, it is said, she was mistreated by her mother-in-law and her husband so much, that the torture became her take-off pad for an extraordinary journey to Self. At twenty-four she left home and became a student of a Hindu teacher called Sed Bayu. Later, she became associated with the Sufi Master as well called, Ali Hamadani.

She roamed around the valley naked – naked meaning either of the two – one, of true nakedness, a body without clothes, the other, nakedness of the soul arising from the nakedness of the mind, a mind free of all boundaries.

According to Coleman Barks, translator of the Book ” Naked Songs” about the songs of Lalla (www.pilgrimbooks.com) ” Reducing shadow cloth to shreds and patches in fine work of poetry. Sometimes abstract and at other times wonderfully imaged, her short-song scissor-bites cut free the conventional veils and solaces, the light-blockers that hide our own soul-nakedness. She leaves us out in the open with nothing on, like the new moon”.

” The soul. Like the moon,
is now, and always new again.”

” My teacher told me one thing,
live in the soul.

When that was so,
I began to go naked,

And dance.”

Clothes, have been symbolic for many who write or speak of spiritual journey or realization. Here the clothes are synonymous with dropping of identities or societal dressings.

In India, we have looked at nakedness with shame and in the same breath we have accepted nakedness among spiritual practitioners with an attitude of shraddha. Thus, on this soil, even to this day, we live with equal tolerance, of both shame and shraddha on the subject of nakedness. We bow before a Digambara Jaina muni walking naked on the streets, or an atmagyani who has shed his/her clothes, even watch with ecstatic joy, the absolute abandon of the Naga Swamis. Our children, our women and our men go with faith and devotion to a realized souls (* See hyperlink below: The presence of a Sufi Mystic in our own land – Kashmir) and seek His/Her blessings with reverence. These naked fakirs are a boon to our lives as human beings.

A wo/man, transcended above all identities of body, has no feeling or shame around the physical body because, shame and identities begin not in the body, but in the mind. A mind free of the temporal/spatial cognates has no use of this body, whether, clothed in diamonds or in rags or nothing at all.

” Don’t be so quick to condemn my nakedness.

A man is one who trembles in the Presence.
There are very few of those.

Why not go naked?

The ram of experience must be fed
And ripened for the sacrifice.

” Then all these customs will disappear
like clothes. There’s only the soul.”

The poems attributed to Lalla express something greater than religion, in fact an awareness of things as they really are, the simple truths that remain unseen by men at large. Lalla’s naked perception is the truth she knows and that is always in motion, as she herself was, wandering and singing these songs in medieval Kashmir.

Last, but not the least –

” Gently I weep for my mind,
caught in its illusion of ownership.

Mind, you’re not who you think you are.
You’re dancing over a pit.

Soon you’ll fall through,
And these things, you’ve valued

And collected will be left behind.”

Coleman Barks who has translated ” Lalla – Naked Song” has also translated and published other esoteric poets like The Sixth Dalai Lama, Rigdzin Tsangyang Gyatso and Jalaluddin Rumi

*The presence of a Sufi Mystic in our own land – Kashmir

http://tehelka.com/story_main22.asp?filename=hub111806With_silence.asp

Title: Naked Song

Publisher: Pilgrim Publishing

Pages:138

Price: Rs 100

Buy from: Pilgrims Book House

Email : mailorder@pilgrims.wlink.com.np

Website: http://www.pilgrimbooks.com

In India:

Varanasi

B 27/98, A-8, Nawabgunj Road
Durga Kund, Varanasi

Email: pilgrims@satyam.net.in

New Delhi

9, Netaji Subhash Marg, SF

Near Neeru Hotel

Daryagunj

Email: pilgrim@del2.vsnl.net.in

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