Lalleshwari: Poet, Saint, Heart of humanity, Divine Feminine, Yogeshwari.


Poet, Saint, Heart of humanity, Divine Feminine, Yogeshwari.

Welcome in, to her reading nook.

Don’t think I did all this to get famous. 

I never cared for the good things of life. 

I always ate sensibly. 

I knew hunger well, 

and sorrow, 

and God.

Lal Ded

The Poems of Lal Ded


 Lalleshwarri, also known locally as “Lal Ded ” 1320–1392), was a Kashmiri mystic and liberated saint of the Kashmir Shaivism school of Hindu philosophy.

Lal Ded’s works were first recorded in writing in the twentieth century, and have been frequently republished since, in Kashmiri as well as in translation. In 1914, Sir George Grierson,  commissioned a copy of Lal Ded’s vakhs. A written record of the vakhs was unavailable at the time, and one was prepared by transcribing an oral narration of the vakhs performed by Dharma-dasa Darwesh, a story-teller residing in Gush, Kashmir. This manuscript was translated into English by Grierson. Following his translation, a number of English translations have been produced, by Pandit Ananda Koul (1921), Sir Richard Carnac Temple (1924).

 She was the creator of the style of mystic poetry called vatsun or Vakhs, literally “speech” (from Sanskrit vaak).

Known as Lal Vakhs, her verses are the earliest compositions in the Kashmiri language and are an important part in the history of modern Kashmiri literature.

Lal Ded (“Mother Lal” or “Mother Lalla”) is also known by various other names, including:

  • Lal Dyad (Dyad means Grandmother)
  • Lalla Aarifa
  • Lal Diddi
  • Lalla Yogishwari/Yogeshwari
  • and Lalishri

The first written record of Lal Ded’s life is contained in the Tadhkirat-ul-Arifin (1587), a collection of biographies of saints and religious figures written by Mulla Ali Raina, and followed by an account of her life in Baba Daud Mishkati’s Asrar ul-Akbar (1654). In these texts, Lal Ded is described as a mystic saint, appearing in the forest to travelers



 All through my footsore verse 

a single story has befallen me: 

I, Lalla, am on a lake

 on what bank shall I now run aground? 

Three times I’ve seen a lake flood a lake 

Once, a lake, taking the place of sky 

A waste of water, once, that was a bridge

 From Crescent Face to Footprint Lake 

that was the flowing world 

Seven times a lake being the swell and shape of empty 

 In the time it takes to take a breath, and more 

breath by slow breath

I forced my still breath 

down the bellows’ throat

 An offering-light lit up for me 

and what I was 

came unrobed into view. 

I winnowed the light inside, scattering it out 

and in the darkness, laying hold of it, I held on.

 Not for a minute did I hope, nor by a hair trust in it I, Lalla, drank from that wine, my own utterance.

 I seized the inward dark indistinct; I hauled it down: 

And hacked at it, tore through it, rend it to pieces. 

 I, Lalla, set out 

wanting to flower 

like the bloom of cotton: 

that was I, tenuous,

 whom the seed-picking cleaner

 then the carder so abused 

when the woman spinning 

had lifted me off thread 

by trembling thread that was I 

so cruelly used, 

set to hang in the weaver’s room. 

When the washerman brought me down 

again and again 

against the washing stone 

that was I, and that was me he pressed 

and how long

 working in clays of earth 

and soap deep within me. 

But when the tailor 

plied me into pieces,

turning me around 

beneath the long cloth scissors 

I reached, at last,

 the going way without measure.

I have seen a serious man hunger, and of hunger dying: 

as a leaf being taken in winter 

by the least wind, 

ever so gentle.

 I have seen a moron murderously beating 

the man who feeds him,

 and since then I, Lalla, am waiting

 will it not be torn? 

This love, ever so delightful. 

 Look at me:

 towing a boat over vast waters with such slender sewing-thread 

Where will my shining one hear me?

 If only he would ferry 

even me. 

Stilled into quiet, as still-water lost 

from unfired cups of clay. 

Sick, my life wanders out, I want 

to go home

The soul, like the moon,

is now, and always new again.

And I have seen the ocean

continuously creating.

Since I scoured my mind

and my body, I too, Lalla,

am new, each moment new.

My teacher told me one thing,

live in the soul.

When that was so,

I began to go naked,

and dance.

Countless times we come, and

Limitless times we should go

In movement we should remain,

Day after day and, night after night;

Whence we come, thence

We should return:

Something or the other

and, something or the other

And, something or what?

Day will be erased in night.

The ground’s surface will extend outward.

The new moon will be swallowed

in eclipse, and the mind in meditation

will be completely absorbed

by the Void inside it.

They who give up false hopes and don’t

put trust in the things of the world

Ascend, unafraid of Death’s terrors

by scriptures told;

For having lived contented lives,

they are not debtors of Desire

Shiva or Keshava 

or the Enlightened One 

or the Lotus-born 

whatever He calls Himself


I just wish He’d cure this poor woman 

of life


be He He or He or He or He.

I’m towing my boat 

across the ocean with a thread. 

Will He hear me and help me across? 

Or am I seeping away 

like water from a half-baked cup?

 Wander, my poor soul, 

you’re not going home anytime soon.

Grierson, Sir George Abraham and Lionel D. Barnett, trans. and eds. 1920. 

Sir Richard Carnac. 1924.  The words of Lalla the prophetess. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press.

Expired copyrights, public domain

Other assorted  later translations in the public domain

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