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Muktabai was the sister of Jnaneshwara, Nivritti and Sopandev, the spiritual sister of Namdev, and guru of Changadeva.

Preserved in short verses (abhangas) handed down in the oral tradition through successive generations of Maratha women, Muktabai’s observations are timeless and profound.

She is best known for her Tatiche Abhanga (Song of the Door) addressed to her brother Jnaneshwara who had shut himself in a hut, upset after being abused by a Brahman. This is the first of the eleven verses:

Yogis, pure in mind 
put up with the people's offences. 
Cheerfully becoming as water 
a saint quenches the world's burning anger.
Enduring the onslaught of weaponlike words the saint treats even these as teachings. 
The universe a cloth, Brahma the thread: 
Open the door, O Jnaneshwara.
Muktabai’s abhangas contain coded references to the inner subtle system and the ascending Kundalini, as one would expect from a realised yogi of the Nath tradition. In one extraordinary song, Muktabai sings of the ant rising to the Sun to describe the ascent of the Kundalini to the Sahasrara:

An ant [Kundalini] flew to the sky and swallowed the sun
Another wonder - a barren woman had a son.
A scorpion went to the underworld
And the Shesh Nag [thousand-headed serpent] fell at its feet
A fly gave birth to a kite [bird]
Having seen it all, Mukta smiled.

An English edition of Muktabai's abhangas is long overdue. There are eleven abhangas translated in  Margaret Macnicol's Poems by Indian women (Calcutta, 1923). Ruth Vanita includes others in her 1989 article in Manushi.

The importance of these young saints to the Marathi tradition cannot be overestimated. Their near-contemporary, Janabai, expressed this in one of her abhangas:

In 1190 Shalivahan Shak, Nivritti the source of joy was revealed, In the year ninety three Jnaneshvara was revealed.
Sopan was seen in ninety six
and Muktai seen in the year ninety nine.
Jani says these four have won over the whole universe.

 The dates are according to the Shalivahan calendar, which is approximately 78 years different from the modern western calendar.

(Extract from John Noyce, The Saints of Maharashtra)

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