Lalleshwari (1320–1392) was a mystic of the Kashmiri Shaivite tradition. She was a creator of the mystic poetry called vatsun or Vakhs, literally “speech”. Known as Lal Vakhs, her verses are the earliest compositions in the Kashmiri language and are an important part in history of Kashmiri literature.
She inspired some of the later Sufis of Kashmir and is known by various other names, including Lal Ded, Lalla, Lal Diddi, Laleshwari, Lalla Yogishwari and Lalishri.
She says, in one of the couplets,
Overeating will not permit you to reach the goal;
Willful abstention from food makes you conceited.
Eat moderately to be a normal person;
Moderate eating would surely lead to unbolting of the Gates!
The essential caveat is ‘moderation’. Bhukti, while acceptable, should not become overindulgence or an obsession.
The philosophy is truly inclusive as there is no restriction based on caste, creed, color and sex to follow this system. It does not prescribe sanyas but advises one to live the life of a householder and to practice, along with this life, the Shaiva yoga for the sake of self-realization.
Some renounced their homes, some the hermitages;
Stay as you are and be firm in your mind.
Thereby you will get established in the Self;
What is the good of smearing ashes?
This philosophy is truly all-embracing and is very appealing to people of all ages. By accepting worldly life as valid and not focusing on rituals but on philosophy, Kashmir Shaivism is extremely practical. It is not just an esoteric topic of discussion, but something that one can understand and apply in one’s own life.
Indeed, many times one does not recognize the treasure easily accessible and available. With all kinds of divides in the world today, we need something that shows us a new vision of the world. One need not go to the jungles or subject oneself to difficulty but we only need to remain clear in our vision.
Essentially, Lalleswari and Kashmir Shaivism offers us a wonderful vision of the universe as nothing but the blissful energy of an all-pervading consciousness. Let us all embrace it.
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