Five Sayings of Lal Ded

  • Passionate, with longing in my eyes,
  • Searching wide, and seeking nights and days,
  • Lo! I behold the Truthful One, the Wise,
  • Here in mine own House to fill my gaze.
  • That was the day of my lucky star.
  • Breathless, I beheld him my Guide to be.
  • So my Lamp of Knowledge blazed afar,
  • Fanned by slow breath from the throat of me.
  • Then, my bright Soul to my Self revealed,
  • Winnowed I abroad my inner Light;
  • And with darkness all around me sealed
  • Did I garner Truth and hold him tight.…
  • Lord, myself not always have I known;
  • Nay, nor any other self than mine.
  • Care for this vile body have I shown,
  • Mortified by me to make me Thine.
  • Lord, that I am Thou I did not know,
  • Nor that Thou art I, that One be Twain.
  • “Who am I?” is Doubt of doubts, and so
  • “Who art Thou?” shall lead to birth again.
  • Siva or Kesava, Lotus-Lord, or Jin:
  • These be Names. Yet takes Thou from me
  • All the ill that is my World within;
  • He be Thou, or he, or he, or he.

— from (trans. R.C. Temple)

Lalleshwari (1320–1392) was a mystic of the Kashmiri Shaivite school of Hinduism whose writings are the earliest known examples of compositions in the Kashmiri language. Communicating most of her teachings through lyric poetry, she created the “vatsun” form of mystic poetry. Meaning “speech,” the vatsun have no particular form or rhyme scheme, but resemble the ghazal form of the Middle East and the iambic pentameter of the West. While Lalla was Hindu, her work had an important influence on the Muslim mystics of the region known as Sufi.

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