My Guru gave me but one percept:
“From without withdraw your gaze within
And fix it on the Inmost Self.”
Taking to heart this one precept,
Naked I began to dance.
Lalla Yogeshwari, also known as Lalleshwari or Lal Ded (Mother Lalla), was a great fourteenth-century yogini of Kashmir. She created a form of mystic poetry called Vatsun or Vakhs (from the Sanskrit Vak, which means Speech) that were the earliest compositions in the Kashmiri language. They were first written down in the twentieth century, until then having been memorized and spoken or sung only. The text of Lalla’s Vakhs which I have used for this commentary is that by Jayalal Kaul which you can find posted at http://ikashmir.net/lalded/vakhs.html.
There is almost nothing known about her, though legends have abounded, most of them very like a hallucinogenic Alice In Wonderland. What is commonly believed is that she was born in 1326, a daughter of a Kashmiri Brahmin named Cheta Bhat, near Pampore, Kashmir, and was married at the age of twelve in accordance with the local customs. Following her marriage, she was renamed, as was the custom, Padmavati, but continued to be known as Lalla or Lal Ded. She seems to have left home sometime between the ages of twenty-four and twenty-six, to become a disciple of a spiritual leader, Siddha Srikanth (Sed Boyu), who was a Shaivite yogi. From then on she wandered, living on alms and became a teacher and spiritual leader herself. She was universally considered as a supreme siddha (perfected yogini) during her lifetime and afterward.
Lalla was in the tradition of the Nath Yogi Sampradaya whose meditation practice is that of Soham Sadhana: the joining of the mental repetition of Soham Mantra with the natural breath. (The mental intonation of the syllable So when inhaling and the mental intonation of the syllable Ham [“Hum”] when exhaling.) She will be referring to this practice in some of the Vakhs. (Soham Sadhana is the subject of my two books Soham Yoga: The Yoga of the Self and Light of Soham.)
I am mentioning this right at the beginning because an accurate understanding of Lallaji’s words is not possible unless they are studied in the context of her personal sadhana–Soham Sadhana, the Original Yoga first taught publicly by the Nath Yogi Masters, Sri Matsyendranath and Yogi Guru Sri Gorakhnath.
Now Lalla herself can speak to us over the centuries.
Swami Nirmalananda Giri