Lalla lived in Kashmir during the early 1300s. In that period, Kashmir was home to devotees of Shiva and devotees of Vishnu, to Islamic Sufis and to followers of Tantric Buddhism. Lalla's poems reflect all she learned from these, but synthesized to become the expression of her own devotion in colloquial Kashmiri, rather than the Sanskrit of contemporary philosophical writing. The variety of her names reflect the wide appeal of her poems: In Hindi, she is Lal Ded (grandmother Lal); in Sanskrit, Lalleshwari (Lalla the yogini); while to Muslims, she is Lal Arifa.
Lalla was apparently from a family of Brahmins near Pampore; her poetry shows her knowledge of Sanskrit and of the Hindu scriptures. Tradition says that she left her husband after some years of an unhappy marriage to become a student of Hindu and Sufi teachers. Then she became an itinerant preacher throughout the Kashmir Valley, singing her vakhs (songs) of Shiva and of the search for truth, for an inner spirituality rather than dogma and ritual.
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