I made pilgrimages, looking for God.
Then I gave up, turned around,
there God was inside me!
Oh Lalla, why do you keep on
wandering, and begging?
Make just a little effort. Act!
And God will appear in the form
of a love that fills your heart.
English version by Coleman Barks
Lalla, also affectionately called Lalli, Lal Ded, Lal Diddi ("Granny Lal"), or Lalleshwari, was born near Srinagar in Kashmir in northern India.
Little is known with certainty about her life, other than hints that come to us through her poetry and songs.
She was a young bride, married, tradition says, at the age of twelve. After moving into her husband's family home, she was abused by her mother-in-law and ignored by her husband.
Finally, Lalla could endure no more mistreatment and, in her early 20s, she left. She became a disciple of a respected saint in the Kashmir Shaivism tradition of yoga and she took up the life of a holy woman dedicated God in the form of Shiva. Lalla began wandering about, village to village, going naked or nearly naked, and singing songs of enlightenment.
Lalla's songs are short, using the simple, direct language of the common people, yet she touches on complex yogic techniques and the most elevated states of awareness.
The name Lalla can be translated as either "seeker" or "darling."
Lalla is deeply loved by both Hindus and Muslims in Kashmir today, even amidst the terrible fighting ravaging the land. There is a saying that in Kashmir only two words have any meaning: Allah and Lalla.