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Wednesday, 1 January 2020

Margazhi Blogotsavam:Day 16: Kashmir's Famous Woman Saint: Lal Ded

Lalleshwari was born in 1355 in Pandrethan, near Srinagar in Kashmir. She was religious-minded, and devoted to Lord Shiva from childhood itself, but the difficulties she endured after marriage turned her even more strongly towards God.

Lalla’s mother-in-law was very cruel and always troubling her. She would put a stone on Lalla’s plate, then cover it with rice. People looking at the plate would think it was full of rice, but only Lalla knew the reality. Yet, she never complained about it to anyone. After eating, she would faithfully wash the plate, and the pebble, and put both back in the designated place!

The mother-in-law kept instigating her son against his wife. One day, Lalla was away for longer than usual while fetching water from the river. Her angry husband went in search of her and in his rage, he struck the earthen pot on Lalla’s head. It shattered into pieces. But wonder of wonders! The water of the pot froze into one solid piece, and stayed on Lalla’s head. She calmly reached home, and then, the water flowed like a stream till all the vessels in the house had been filled! So much water flowed from the stream that it formed a pond outside the house, which came to be known as Lalla-Trag. This marshy pond was present till the early 20th century, but has dried up since.

As news of this episode spread, people came from far and near to have Lalla’s darshan, and she came to be known as a saint. 

Image courtesy: Kashmiri Overseas Association
At the age of 26, getting more and more drawn towards her inner yearnings for God, and tired of the ill-treatment at home, Lalla renounced the world. She roamed about the jungles and forests, living on just berries and wild fruits, spending more and more time in meditation. She was guided by her Guru Siddha Mol who was a Shaiva scholar in Kashmir.

As Lalla began getting spiritually elevated, she lost the sense of body consciousness and she renounced clothing, to become an ascetic, who was digambara (‘skyclad’). This scandalized quite a few of her contemporary saints and one of them questioned her choice. “Why not?” asked Lalla, “I don’t see any men around!” To her, those who had not achieved God-realization, were not worthy of being called men; or, perhaps she was referring to the concept of God being the only Purusha (male) and everything else, made of Prakriti, being female. 
Lalla’s teachings in the form of small poems are called Lal Vakhs. These simple verses pack quite a punch and reveal far deeper meanings to the sadhak (spiritual aspirant). 

When her husband came to Lalla, asking her to return home, she refused, saying her path was a different one and her only relative was the Lord Himself. 

In the course of time, she came to be known as Lal Ded (Ded means grandmother in Kashmiri language) and grew very popular with the Muslims too, who knew her as Lalla Arifa.

Can we learn to be patient like Lalla, facing difficulties with calm, with our mind always focused on God?

Like her, can we learn to recognize the transient nature of everything in this world, and begin to reduce our attachment to worldly objects?


  1. Humbled. What a great lady & greater devotion. πŸ™πŸ™

  2. Very few know about the greats of Kashmir Shaivism. Thanks for spreading the knowledge. Profound Bhakti! Reminds of Akka Mahadevi and Meerabai.��

    1. Yes, very similar to Akka Mahadevi of Karnataka!

  3. Beautiful story of Divine LallaπŸ™πŸ™πŸ™

  4. Thank you Anu for sharing such beautiful stories. Myself and my family enjoy reading them and we also end the reading session discussing the questions you've put and with some more questions we ask each other.

  5. Murthy Dakshina Somayajula12 January 2020 at 21:32

    We should learn to be patient and face difficulties with focus on God!


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