A Poem by Lalleshwari
Shambhavi riffs on teachings about spiritual practice by the 14th century naked, wandering, Kashmiri yogini: Lalleshwari. Yeah, even really great practitioners need to strip themselves of useless ideas about spiritual life and have bad days getting woke! A podcast from Satsang with Shambhavi
Podcast First Words
Since I moved to Maine I get asked, “You talk a lot about practice, what do you mean?” Usually when I get that question, I say, “Well, I mean things like mantra and meditation. That’s practice.” But we also have other ideas about practice. One idea that can be a big obstacle is that it should always feel good. And even more obstacle laden is the idea that we should feel, understand, and know that we are progressing every single time we do any practice.
So I wanted to read a poem by Lalla. She’s a 14th century Kashmiri yogini. She’s from the same part of the world as this tradition, Kashmir in Northern India. She was said to be a naked, wandering yogini. She’s pictured having very long hair, so the only covering that she had was her hair. She said that the reason why she was naked was because there were no real men in the world, so why bother putting on clothes?
Then one day she was walking down the street, and she saw the man that was going to become one of her teachers. She had a Kashmiri Tantrik teacher and also a Sufi teacher. She may have had other teachers, but this happened to be the Sufi teacher that she saw for the first time. So I guess she felt that he was a man worthy of wearing clothes for, but she didn’t have any clothes handy. She was outside of a bakery, and so she jumped into an oven where the bread was baked. And the story is that she didn’t get burnt. She came out covered with ash, which of course is a symbol for renunciation. These are stories that are popular in Kashmir.