Kabir : His life was His message
Kabir (1440-1518) was a great saint and mystic poet of India. For five or six countries, his poems were translated by Rabindra Nath Tagore and many others internationally. He was influenced by the traditions of India’s Vedic culture and Persian. Kabir’s legacy is carried by Kabir-Panth (Path of Kabir). Its members are spread over north and central India. They are also dispersed with the Indian diaspora across the world. His writings include Bijak, Sakhi Granth, Kabir Granthawali and Anurag Sagal. He was greatly influenced by the Bhakti Movement. Vaishnava saint Ramananda accepted Kabir as his disciple despite opposition by some of his disciples. The Bhakti saint Ramananda found that two little hands grabbed his legs in the predawn morning when he was returning after a bath in holy Ganga. Then he accepted him as son and disciple, though the name Kabir itself gives the indication of a Muslim.
Kabir was born to a Brahmin widow at Lahartara near Kashi (Varanasi) in 1440. The widow abandoned the child at Lahartara Talab (pond) to escape dishonour associated with births outside marriage. He was saved and brought up by a family of poor Muslim weavers Niru and Nima. Kabir was 13 years, when his guru Rama-nanda died. Kabir did not become a sadhu. He lived a balanced life of a householder, and with humanity in society having Divine Bliss.
As believed, Kabir’s family lived in the locality of “Kabir Chaura” (Chaura-crossing of four lanes or roads) in Varanasi. Kabir Matha, which is located in the back alleys of Kabir Chaura celebrates his life and times. Accompanying the property is the house named Niru Tila which houses Niru and Nima’s graves. Students and scholars live here to study Kabir’s work. He had two sons and two daughters. His wife, name was Loiee (Dhaniya, later name changed to Ramjaniya). His one son was Kamal. His daughter Ladli (Kamali) was very wise and spiritual. He died at Maghar near Gorakpur, while he was travelling in Northern India in exile with his disciples. Some historians claimed that he died in Banaras.
Kabir’s message appealed to the poor and oppressed. David Lorenzen describes the primary purpose of his legends as a “protest against social discrimination and economic exploitation. He had universal view of spirituality. Vehemently opposed dogmas both in Hinduism and in Islam. He advocated the simple natural way to oneness in God. He spurned the Hindu societal caste system and idol worship. He opposed many customs of Islam. He believed in the Vedantic concept of ‘Atama’, Para the same Para Brahman (God) is in all. He believed in Bhakti, Karma (honest working without attachment) and with faith and knowledge in Parambhrama God. He was influenced by Sufi ideas. The Fifth Sikh Guru Arjun Dev incorporated Kabir’s work in the Sikh scripture Guru Granth Sahib. Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism was a contemporary of Kabir.
Kabir, expressed his poems orally in vernacular Hindi, borrowing from various dialects including Avadhi, Braj and Bhojpuri. His poems resonate with praise for the true guru who reveals the divine through direct experience/realization of God. He was influenced by Sant Mat, Garib Das and Radha Soami.Kabir’s songs imagine God as a cotton weaver who weaves each human body on his loom as a sheet of sheer muslin, working thread by thread through the period of its gestation in a mother’s womb.
“He wove the net, so fine, so fine
He wove the sheet so fine
He weaves the sheet, through ten months in a mother’s womb, beating in the self, testing and checking every strand. Adi Granth explores the effects of poverty on the human psyche-loss of self-worth, humiliation, at having to beg for survival, but he turns around to achieve humility before God. Hindus, Muslims claimed for his body. But body disappeared, only flower were there. He is revered by Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs. He stands as saint, yet
very human. Kabir says of himself, “He is the child of Allah
Madhav, sweet Lord, how will I ever be in your blessed company?
Do not starve your devotee:
Take back this rosary of yours
I only ask for the dust of the saint’s feat.
I do not wish to be an object of someone’s charity.
I have heaped ostentation on just one thing: your name.
Kabir says, I have convinced my heart to the content for when the heart’s content it comprehends “HARI”
Kabir was a social critic and Bhakta. He had tried to open the eyes and hearts of Hindu & Muslims to the true meaning and realization of Ram/Allah/God.
“Tell me, O Pandit, what place is pure-Where I can sit and eat my meal?
Kabir says only they are pure
Who have completely cleansed their thinking”.
“O Mullah, Make your mind your Mecca
Your body, the Ka’aba
Your self interest, is the Supreme Master
In the name of Allah, sacrifice your anger, error, impurity.
Chew up your senses, become a patient man
The Lord of the Hindus and Turks is one and the same.
I live by your name
Show me your mercy my lord
If Allah resides inside a mosque
Then whose is the rest of the land?
Hindu Claim His Name inhabits an idol
But God cannot be found in either place
Search your heart, your heart of hearts,
That’s His abode, that’s his camp.
These men and women, the whole lot of them,
are nothing but God forms.
Kabir did not honour the world’s conventions, such as caste, the four stages of life, the six philosophical systems- He showed that yoga, ritual sacrifice, fasting and charity were trival and base without the practice of devotional worship. Swami Vivekananda and Ramprasad great spiritualist were also advocating “Love, Love, Love Hari/Allah/God-No need of other practices. Their songs are full of this messages.
Swami Vivekananda’s song
“Him worship, visible, knowable, real, omnipresent,
Break all other idol!
Ye Fools! Who neglect the living God. And his infinite reflections with which the world is full. Him Worship!
The Universe is illusory or unreal. God alone is real. Maya dominates creation. It is constituted by attributes, forms and flaws that seem real to human. He calls Maya as a great robber and thief in his poem. He said that where there is no Maya, there is knowledge of the ultimate reality. Maya surrounds us on all four sides.
Kabir has chosen the middle path, which resembles a Buddhist “middle path’.
“I am the agent of all my actions-yet I am different from my deeds. One must develop an absolute and total love of God and attach oneself to God’s fellowship. When God receives that pure and complete devotion/love, he grants His lover His complete grace. To find access to God, establish and maintain contact with God”.
“Light came to light. Darkness disappeared,
Roaming in my mind, I found the gem called Rama”.
Kabir on Mother & Son
Hari, you are the mother, and I’m your son.
Why do not you forgive me my faults?
Whenever a son commits a wrong,
His mother doesn’t take it to heart.
If the child is in pain, the mother is in pain.
“The man with a truthful heart is best. There’s no happiness without the truth”. Judge your actions with your own mind. Make only honest transactions. Falsehood is harmful at the very source. So, acquire the diamond of truth.
Kabir says “God is with you. Why look for Him elsewhere? He is in our possession. He is not in temple, not in mosques, not in the Ka’aba, not on Kailash, not in rites, not in rituals, not in yoga or renunciation. It takes a moment’s search to find him. He is the very breath of our breaths. The man of knowledge understands the creator is different from a form or without a form. The creator’s love remains invisible. The man who comprehends both love and renunciation, only looking into His heart His very heart, where Karim and Rama reside and only he can realize God. Musk lies in the musk deer’s own nave. But it roams in the forest to seek it. Alike, God pervades heart to heart. But man of world do not conceive. He searches here and there. Kabir says “He found Ram pervade in his heart. He exists profuse in each place. Kabir says that the ways of his creation are something else. It changes a pauper into a king, it turns an emperor into a beggar. Rama is the King. Whatever He does is beautiful.
The company of the righteous, other sorrows doth mitigate
While company of the unrighteous, is grief for all the trivial hours eight
No meditation equals truth, Equal to falsehood, there is no sin.
In whoever’s heart lies the truth
Know it is that heart where God dwells in
When I was there, there was no God
Now there’s God and I am non-existent
The lane of love is so narrow that two cannot walk in that lane at the same time-when I am there He is not there, when he is there I am not
Men of the world go to temples
In front of God’s idol prostrate
God dwells in within their own hearts,
So thou must on Him concentrate
The Mullah atop shouts aloud,
The invisible is not deaf
For what, says Kabir, does thou muezzin?
God’s present within thy own self.
Let the knot of thy heart be freed
On God’s feet concentrate thy mind
Put the rosary of thy hands
Tell beads of thy heart in thy heart
Kabir tells that one should always have good company, not have bad company for a moment.
Do not befriend one who is a fool
A righteous man condemns wholesale
A liquor filled pot made of gold
Man eats the fruit of whatever kind of company he doth keep.
Do not trust a man who speaks very sweet as he may not be a righteous man. A righteous person does not cause grief and pain to others. A righteous person does not move in crowd as a Lion, does not come in hordes. Swans do not line up in long queues. He works for welfare in love. Snakes emboss the sandal tree, but sandalwood does not quit its fragrance and coolness. A Right person’s heart transcends. He is not hungry of riches. He is hungry of feeling. Great does not quit his greatness. God’s men alone bear the foul world.
Right charity does not decrease riches. Nobody is foe in the world. If your temper is calm and cool without egoistic pride, all people will be merciful. Find the blame in oneself. Do not see evil in others. Trust on the strength of your own arms. See & eliminate your own evil. Welcome the critics. Do not distance Vituperator. Give him respect and honour. Do not extol yourself. Do not praise yourself. It is better to be cheated then to cheat others. Trust on the strength of your own arms. It is rare to have human life again. Connect yourself with the creator. There is no body who is mine. I am of no one. All assimilates in the same. Pardon suits the magnanimous. Mischiefs befit the low. Where there is pardon, there God dwells in. Without having proper thinking, do not utter. It is not good to speak in excess. It is not good to be excessively mum. Excess rain or less rain is not good. Grow love for God when good days are there. What is the use of repenting when bad days come. Kabir warns the non-vegetarian that you slaughter goats, hens, cows for your food and in day time you observe fast, but you have to give accounts before creator, who has created all. Creator does not stay/exist wherever is less. Ride the elephant of wisdom. Right perception leads to right action.
“Speech is priceless, if you speak with knowledge
Weigh it in the scales of the heart
Before it comes from the mouth”
“Use the strength of your own arm
Stop putting hope in others
When the river flows through your own yard
How can you die of thirst”
Pandit look in your heart for knowledge
Tell me where untouchability come from since you believe in it
The Pandit got lost in vedic details but missed the mystery of his own self.
Kabir did not spare either Muslims or Hindus
O Saint (Holy men) I have seen the way of both Hindus and Turks heed no warning;
To all the taste of their desires is sweet
Hindus keep an Ekadashi (the eleventh day of the half month observed as a fast)
They eat only singharas (water-chestnuts)
They abstain from grain, but do not check the mind desire: next day they ate a lot of flesh/grains
Turks keep fast and hours of prayers
They cry aloud on the name of God (Allah)
How they will find Paradise? When evening comes they slaughter fowls/animal.
Hindu & Turk, each has renounced his mercy in his heart
For Hindu and For Turk there is one path
Cry Rama, Cry Khuda (Allah)
It is all one
Kabir was against slaughtering of animals particularly the cow, which he denounced. He has gazed into the mystery of life and seen the vision of the ineffable light. He dreams of a future are purified of inequalities. He demands reality in search of God. He preaches to get rid of all artificial hindrances. One should be to true to own self and be natural. Truth is natural and free from artifice. Need not to look for it in the external vows. To Kabir, it is the same God; earnestly sought after in all religions. It differs in the way they call upon him. God is one. Man can have a relationship of love and affection and even a Union with Him. Turn to God and surrender to Him. Kabir says “I have purchased Him with my soul (Heart). And now that I recognize him as mine own. I have met God who dwelleth in the Heart; my mind shall now no more wander. I have drunk the brimful cup of love. My soul is being dyed with God’s life. Kabir had some first experience of God like those of Moses in biblical story and Prophet Muhammad in Quran. Kabir was the pioneer of Hindu Muslim Unity, Social Reformer and true lover of God. Follow messages of Kabir. Be happy. Let all be happy.