Bridal Mysticism Across Religions

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Mysticism is a word derived from the Greek word ‘Mysticos’ which refers to the belief that a person has the potential to achieve oneness with the god. Spirituality and mystics have been around for a long time. It’s a part of humanity that defines a diviner affinity to the belief that God is watching over us and our ultimate goal in this life is to achieve oneness with God. Over the years, there have been several religions that have emerged all over the world, but one of the key differences that separates a spiritual mystic from the others is the fact that they have the tendency to break away from tradition and hence, other forms of religious practices which were considered the norm.

I watch the clouds rupture.
Mira says, nothing can harm him.
This passion has yet
to be slaked.
-Mirabai (Clouds)

A mystic might take on any sort of relationship with the God and it is not restricted to the traditional hierarchical relationship where God is the supreme force who rules over the devotees. The devotees might choose friendship, teacher-student bond, familial bonding or even romantic companionship with their God. Thus, the concept of Bridal mysticism isn’t a new one. It has been around for several ages and is a true form of devotion where a devotee loves their god as they would love their beloved.

Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth! For your love is more delightful than wine.
-Song of Solomon (1:2)

The mode of bridal mysticism is so unique, for it negates all the humane all the societal constraints that denies sexuality to women. Bridal Mysticism has no such earthly constraints, it celebrates and even glorifies the bodily union between a devotee and their god, for sexual union is considered to be one of the divinest methods of indicating oneness with God. In this relationship, it is not just the devotee who expresses love, they also understand that their God loves them similarly, just as passionately.  The love that persists between the devotee and the heavenly one is pure and true.

If I adore You out of fear of Hell, burn me in Hell!
If I adore you out of desire for Paradise,
Lock me out of Paradise.
But if I adore you for Yourself alone,
Do not deny to me Your eternal beauty.”
-Rabia Al Basri

Bridal mysticism is a practice that can be seen all over the world across all religions. In Christianity, the most explicit, yet the purest form of Bridal mysticism can be found in ‘Songs of Solomon’; a collection of love poems that has been included in the first testament. In it, two lovers go through a series of events that includes periods of blissful union as well as separation. It has been interpreted in several ways over the years, but the love that is cherished between the lover and her beloved is pure. In Hinduism, we see clear indications of Bridal mysticism in the poems of Mirabai from northern India and Antal from southern India. Both of the women adored and loved the Hindu God Lord Krishna. Like any couples, they express their love, grief, jealousy and fiery passion to their beloved God and relish in the devotion that flows through them. In Islam, the Sufi mystics are known for their poetic works which are brimmed with their love for God. Sufi saints like Rabia spoke of a divine selfless love for God which criticised those who loved God out of fear.

Bridal mysticism is also not gender specific. There are numerous instances of devotees from all genders expressing a romantic love, despite the conventional norms. Bridal Mysticism is thus one of the purest forms of devotion that solidifies the bond between a God and their devotee.