Akbar’s Secret Visit to Mirabai
Although Akbar was a Muslim, he liked the Hindu spirituality and culture immensely. At his court, he retained all kinds of talented and extraordinary people from various religions. Akbar always appreciated others’ good qualities. In the course of time, he came to hear about Mirabai, the great devotee of Lord Krishna. The bhajans that she sang became known throughout the length and breadth of India. Akbar decided to go and see her for himself.
At first, it seemed impossible for the Emperor to fulfil his wish. Mirabai was married to Prince Bhoja Raj of Chittor. This family and the Moghul Emperors had always been the worst of enemies! If Akbar went to see Mirabai, he would be risking his life and he would also be placing Mirabai herself in great danger. But Akbar was determined to go. He said, “I will not go as the Emperor with my army. I will go in disguise.”
So he and his court musician, Tansen, dressed themselves in ochre robes like wandering sannyasins. In this disguise, they approached the temple where Mirabai was worshipping. In the temple, devotees were singing and dancing. Right in the centre was Mirabai, singing most soulfully.
Akbar and Tansen were deeply moved by Mirabai’s beautiful voice and her soulful prayers to God. To show his gratitude, Akbar placed a diamond necklace at the feet of Mirabai’s little statue of Lord Krishna. Those who were present were amazed at the mendicant’s gesture. They wondered if perhaps somebody quite rich had come in the form of a mendicant. After Akbar had made his offering, he and Tansen quietly slipped away.
In a few days’ time, it became known that it was the Emperor himself who had come. Mirabai’s husband became enraged and said to his wife, “You have incurred the worst possible sin. You are a Hindu princess, but you have allowed a Muslim to look at your face. I can look at you no more. You have to go to the river and drown yourself!”
Poor Mirabai! She was so miserable at this turn of events. She was not responsible for what had happened. But even so, she was ready to enter into the river and commit suicide. She walked towards the river, accompanied by some of her followers and devotees. She was about to enter into the river when Lord Krishna appeared and grabbed her. He said to his dearest devotee, “No, I do not want you to commit suicide. You have done nothing wrong. Please leave this place and come to Brindaban. There you will see Me.”
So Mirabai left her husband and, with a few followers, went to Brindaban.
from The Moghul Emperors
by Sri Chinmoy