MEET KABIR DAS – THE MYSTIC POET

Kabir Das (1440-1518) ranks among the world's greatest poets and visionaries. In India, he is one of the most quoted authors of all times- a pure literary gem.'Kabir' in Arabic means. 'The Great' and 'Das' in Sanskrit stands for 'Servant' or 'Slave'-an intriguing combination! A weaver by profession, Kabir ranks among the world's most celebrated philosophers. His works have fascinated great authors, philosophers and the common man alike. Kabir openly criticized all sects and gave a new direction to Indian philosophy. It is due to his straight forward approach that he has a universal appeal and is held in high esteem all over the world. Kabir is a very important figure in Indian history. He is unusual in that he is spiritually significant to Hindus, Sikhs, and Muslims alike. His ideologies have played a significant role in paving way for a moderate, secular, accommodating Indian ideology- where wisdom and knowledge are considered supreme above all other superficialities.

BIOGRAPHY

The birth and death of Kabir Das are surrounded by legends. Some say he was really the son of a Brahmin widow and was adopted by a childless couple and yet another legend has it that he was found afloat a giant lotus leaf in the Lahara Tara lake near Varanasi by a childless Muslim weaver couple who took him as their own.

Kabir could not read or write as he was denied formal education due to his background. He viewed life intently and his style was powerful, simple and spontaneous. Due to his unconventional approach to established religions and dogmas he was despised by the major religious authorities of his time, but his teachings were loved by the common folk. When he died, his Hindu and Muslim followers started fighting about the last rites. Legend is that when they lifted the cloth covering his body, they found a tiny book and heap of his favourite flowers instead!-the followers wrote all the sayings they could remember in the book. The Muslim followers buried their half of the flowers and the Hindus cremated their half. In Maghar, his tomb and samadhi still stand side by side! His biography is very vague and it is believed that this is because it was altered by many sects to claim his patency-but he was an Enlightened spirit-a glowing lamp for any seeker of Truth.

KABIR PHILOSOPHY

Kabir's timeless ideologies are mainly recorded in the form of couplets (Dohas) and poetry which are a reflection of his philosophy of life. Kabir’s philosophy about life is simple and clearcut. He had a strong faith in the concept of oneness of God. He advocated the notion of 'Koi bole Ram Ram Koi Khudai....(‘some chant Ram, Some Khuda...') Kabir speaks to us in a direct and uninhibited tone. His candid and frank style is refreshingly crisp. His language is straight forward and unsophisticated. Subtle lines with an ocean of wisdom brimming in between! It is this simplicity and beauty which makes translation very difficult, as the true essence has to be captured-like the mesmerizing scent of the delicate rose petal! His greatest work is the" Bijak "(the "Seedling"), an idea of the fundamental one. He belongs to a random group of Gurus who are known as the Sant Mat who were responsible for the enlightenment period which was a major cross road in Indian philosophical evolution in around the XIIIth century He is a humble teacher-who addresses the listener/seeker as Sadhu (Enlightened) and himself - Kabira (Commoner). According to Kabir, all life is an interplay of two spiritual principles. One is the Jeevatma (personal soul) and the other is the Paramatma (Universal soul/Supreme divinity) and the merging of the two - Moksha or Salvation.-the path to which is open to all.

What I am attempting here is to introduce you to that tremendous wisdom. I have tried my best to do justice to his teachings. Hope you enjoy....

|| Jab tu aya jagat mein, Jag hanse tum roye,

aisi karni kar chalo, ke tum hanso aur jag roye ||

“ When you came to this world, the world smiled and you cried, Accomplish such deeds so that when you leave, you smile and the world mourns.”

Here are a few of his verses from his "Bijak", from the section called "Bijak" Bijak", "sakhi".

|| hIrA soi srAhiye sahai ghanan kI choT kapaT kurangI mAnavA parakhat nikrA khot ||
--Admire the diamond that can bear the hits of a chisel. Many deceptive preachers when critically scrutinized, turn out to be false. {Here diamond is siddhanta (the basic principles or doctrine). An experienced diamond cutter can hit the diamond with a chisel so that the chips break off, but the gem comes out with more brilliant shine! Same is true of a true doctrine}

||hIrA parA bajAr maiN rahA chhAr lapaTAy ketihe murakh pachi mUye koi pArakhi liyA uThAy||
--A diamond lay in the street covered in dirt. Many fools passed by. Someone who realized picked it up. {Those who understand gyan-siddhanta (true knowledge/principles), pause to acquire it}

||hIrA tahaN na kholiye jahaN kunjroN kI hAT sahajai gaNthI bANdhike lagiye apni bAT||
--Please don't open your pouch of diamonds in a vegetable market. Please Tie them in a bundle and be on your way. {Don't discuss gyan (knowledge) with those who are not interested} knowledge)

Quoted below are a few of his Dohas (couplets), their translations, elow , followed by my understanding for some. But you may have a different interpretation that is the beauty of his simple nterpretation-that observations! Feel free to read between the lines.

|| Chidiya Choch Bhar Le Gayi Nadi Ko Ghatyo Naa Neer Daan Diye Dhan Naa Ghaate Kaha Gaye Daas Kabir ||
--A bird flies away with a beakful of water. The river does not get depleted due to this. Similarly one's riches are not depleted by charity- says Das Kabir.

|| Sukha Ke Sangi Swarthi Dukh Me Rahate Door Kahe Kabir Parmarathi Dukh Sukh Sada Hujoor ||
--Friends of good times stay away whens times are bad.Kabir says that a pure friend is for all times-good or bad.

|| Jaise Til Mein Tel Hai, Jyon Chakmak Mein Aag Tera Sayeen Tujh Mein Hai, Tu Jaag Sake To Jaag ||
--Like oil in the seed,fire in the flint stoneyour temple(Self) seats the Divine, wake up if you can. {A seed that contains oil is like any other seed unless it is ground and processed.Similarly a stone only when rubbed hard creates fire-in the same way you have divinity within you-but you should wake and realise}

|| Kaal Kare So Aaj Kar, Aaj Kare So Ub Pal Mein Pralaya Hoyegi, Bahuri Karoge Kab ||
--Do tomorrows work today, today's now. If the moment is lost, the work be done how. {Avoid procrastination. We usually delay things for a little later, but all we have control over is this moment. So grasp this moment}

|| Dheere Dheere Re Mana, Dheere Sub Kutch Hoye Mali Seenche So Ghara, Ritu Aaye Phal Hoye ||

--Slowly slowly mind, everything has its own pace. Gardener may water a hundred buckets, but fruit arrives only with the season.

|| Bada Hua To Kya Hua, Jaise Ped Khajoor Panthi Ko Chaya Nahin, Phal Laage Atidoor ||

--In vain is the eminence, just like the date tree In No shade for travellers, fruit is hard to reach. {This observation tells us that no matter how much you grow materialistically, if you do not acquire the love to share or compassion to help-all your growth is in vain.Looking back you wi all will realise the vanity of your accomplishments.So share your blessing ealise and feel the joy of giving}

|| Mangan Maran Saman Hai, Mat Koi Mange Beekh Mangan Se Marna Bhala, Yeh Satguru Ki Seek ||
--Begging is like perishing, none should go imploring. It is better to die than beg, this is pure Guru's teaching. {This Doha is a reflection of the helplessness and vulnerability the soul has to face when it has to be under the mercy of others to survive. It tries to make us realise that no matter how many hardships we have to bear or sacrifices we make,we will be happier if we realise our dreams with our own effort}

|| Dukh Mein Simran Sab Kare, Sukh Mein Kare Na Koye Jo Sukh Mein Simran Kare, Tau Dukh Kahe Ko Hoye ||
--In anguish everyone bows to Him, in joy does none. To One who bows in happiness, how can anguish come.

|| Pothi Padh Padh Kar Jag Mua, Pandit Bhayo Na Koye Dhai Aakhar Prem Ke, Jo Padhe so Pandit Hoye ||

--Reading and reading verses everyone perished, none became any Reading wiser- only the ones who read the letters of Love, became wise. {This Doha seems very relevant in the present scenario, were all the information we need is at our fingertips.This can make us feel that we have mastered the universe- but how many of us can claim universe a clear and articulate mind.Hence realise this- information alone d this cannot make you wise-your heart has to be cleansed with love to wise your yeild wisdom}

|| Vishaya Vasana Uljhikar Jaanam Gavaya Baat Ab Pachatava Kya Kare Nij Karani Kar Yaad ||
--You were entangled in the sensual pleasuresYour life has been spent.What can repentance acheive nowso be reminded of your deeds.

|| Ati Hat Mat Kar Bavare Hat Se Baat Ne Hoye Jyon Jyon Bheeje Kamari Tyon Tyon Bhaari Hoye ||
--Don’t insist for something without sense. Just by your insisting things cannot happen. The gunny bags of salt will gain weight every moment if immersed in water.

|| Kade Abhimaan Na Kijiye Kaha Kabir Samajhaye Ja Seer Aha Jo Sanchare Pade Chouryasi Jaaye ||
--Don't foster ego-Kabir says so that you realise.He who has ego is always restless.

|| Kabira Man Panchi Bhaya Bhave Taha Aa Jaaye Jo Jaisi Sangat Kare So Taisa Phal Paye ||

The bird--The mind is like a bird It flies where it desires. The results one acquires is by the company it keeps. {The mind is the harbor of all and any thoughts and we have little control over its wandering-but what we have control over is which wandering but thoughts to hold on to-that makes the difference} to

|| Sheel Shama Jab Upaje Alakh Drishti Tab Hoye Bin Sheel Pahuche Nahi Laakh Kathe Jo Koye ||
--When one experiences pure qualities like good character and compassion- his vision begins to change-unless that path is reached there is no approach to the Truth.

|| Kabira Gyan Bichar Bin Hari Dhundhan Ko Jaye Tan Me Tirloki Base Ab Tak Parkha Naye ||
--Kabir says that if you are searching for God with knowledge without thought, you will be lost. The Master of the three worlds resides within you-You just haven't seen him yet.

|| Sabase Laghuta Hi Bhali Laghuta Se Sab Hoye e Jasa Dwitiya Ka Chandrama Shashi Lahai Sab Koye ||

--It is always desirable to be humble. Humility makes anything It possible. The Moon of the second day (after no moon) mesmerizes all.

|| Kabira Dheeraj Ke Dhare Haathi Man Bhar Khaaye Tuk Tuk Bekar Me Svan Ghare Ghar Jaaye ||
--The patient elephant eats till its mind is satisfied. But the impatient dog runs here and there searching in vain. {This makes us pause to think about the idiocy of leaving something you have in search of a better place, all the time. Will we ever be satisfied-You are always searching for something else failing to realize what you already possess and its worth}

|| Ghee Ke To Darshan Bhale Khana Bhala Na Tel Dana To Dushman Bhala Murakh Ka Kya Mel ||
--It is better to have a glance of pure butter than to consume oil. It is better to have a sensible person as your enemy than to befriend a fool.

|| Vruksha Bola Paat Se Sun Patte Meri Baat Is Ghar Ki Yah Reet Hai Ik Aawat Ik Jaat ||

--The tree told the leaf-"Listen O leaf, leaf this has been the tradition of this householdhousehold when one arrives, one has to leave." {This Doha is a beautiful example of the depths of a simple teaching-Here the leaf symbolizes a life and the tree the Universal Here Spirit that has witnessed the truth of being So it tries to tell the being-So young leaf that life as we know it is not forever this is a part of the forever-this bigger journey and we will have to give way for the next} fo

|| Chandan Jaisa Sadhu Hai Sarp Hi Sab Sansar Taake Ang Lapta Rahe Mana Me Nahi Vikar ||
--The Enlightened is like a sandal tree,the world- a snake. Even if its whole body is wrapped around the tree, the tree is not poisoned.

|| Maan Badai Naa Kare Bada Na Bole Bol Hira Mukha Se Na Kahe Laakh Hamara Mol ||
--Do not harbour ego,and do not talk big dear, A diamond does not say that my worth is in millions.

|| Gyani Se Kahiye Kaha Kahat Kabir Lajaye Andhe Aage Nachate Kala Akarat Jaaye ||

--When Kabir is asked to teach an intellectual, he is shy. What is the use of dancing in front of the blind-the art is wasted. {This Doha is an eye-opener. People who consider themselves intelligent and disregard all guidance cannot be woken. You can wake the sleeping, not the ones acting asleep}

|| Sheetal Shabad Uchchariye Aham Maniye Nahi Tera Pritam Tujh Me Hai Dushman Bhi Tujh Mahi ||
--Speak sweet honeyed words. Don’t consider the 'I'. Your beloved is within you, so is your enemy. {In Indian philosophy 'Aham' means 'I' or 'The Self' and 'Ahambaavam' or the 'preponderance of the feeling of 'I'' implicates ego or Self-centrism which is the biggest obstacle in the path to Enlightenment. So Kabir requests us not to let ego take over our words in order to embrace the beloved within you}

|| Khod Khad Dharati Sahe Kaat Koot Vanaraay Kutil Vachan Sadhu Sahe Aur Se Saha Na Jaaye ||
--The earth bears the digging. The forest bears the axe. A man of wisdom can bear harsh words-Others cannot bear them. {Only a preson of higher spiriritual evvolution will be able to bear criticism or meaningless accusations as they can understand the purpose of those words-ignore them if they were meant only to hurt or consider them if can help betterment}

|| Tinka Kabahu Naa Nindiye Paav Tale Jo Hoye Kaba Huni Aankho Pare Peed Ghaneri Hoye ||

Dont --Dont abuse the blade of grass even if it is under your feet. If it happens to strike in the eye,the pain would be terrific. {This is a crispy quote which makes us ponder. It is an interesting warning of abusing our power over the less fortunate. Considering less their helplessness and vulnerability we may be inclined towards inconsiderate attitude. But Kabir asks us to imagine if they gather the courage to strike back back-imagine!}

|| Mitha Sab Koi Khaat Hai Vish Hai Laage Dhaay Neem Na Koi Peevasi Sabe Rog Mit Jaay ||
--Sugar is loved by all,but it spreads poison. No one likes neem juice,but it is the cure of all illness.

|| Bhookhe Ko Kuch Deejiye Yathashakti Jo Hoye Taa Upar Sheetal Bachan Lakho Aatma Soye ||
--Please offer something to the starving, anything you can, speak sweet honeyed words to all. This is how you will come to know the eternal spirit.

|| Oonche Kul Ke Karane Bhool Raha Sansar Tab Kul Ki Kya Laaj Hai Jab Tan Laago Chaad ||
--Don’t disregard the world at large under the notion that you are of noble birth.Will it hold when it’s time to leave.

|| Sadhu Shabda Samudra Hai Jaa Me Ratan Bharaay Mand Bhag Mutthi Bhar Kankar Haath Lagaay ||

--The words of the wise is like an ocean, an ocean full of gems, The an but the foolish person comes out of it with a handful of sand.

|| Sadhu Bhookha Bhav Ka Dhan Ka Bhookha Nahi Dhan Ka Bhookha Jo Phire So To Sadhu Naahi ||
--A good teacher starves for your faith, not money one who starves for money is not a good teacher.

|| Karata Raha So Kyo Raha Ab Kari Kyo Pachhataye Boye Ped Babul Ka So Amua Kaha Se Paaye ||
--You should have considered this earlier. Now that it’s done why repent. You had sown seeds of babul tree. Now, how can you pluck mangoes. {This is a beautiful way of saying'As you sow,so shall you reap'. So consider the reaction for your actions and proceed}

|| Kabira Garva Naa Kijiye Kabahu Naa Hasiye Koye Aja Ye Naav Samudra Me Naa Jane Kya Hoye ||

--Kabira requests you not to be arrogant, not to mock others, your life is like a boat on the sea, who can predict the next moment. {Often we consider our present situation perennial and look down on the less fortunate. But do we really know what the next moment has in store for us-so be thankful and compassionate so compassionate-these are the entities that truly last}

|| Chalti chakki dekh re Diya kabira roye Do paatan ke beech mein Baaki bacha na koyi Baaki bacha na koyi ||

--Looking at the grinding stone,cries Kabir between the two stones no one is saved,no one is saved. stones-no

{There is a story associated with this Doha. It is said that as a boy Kabir once saw a woman grinding seeds with a grinding stoneyoung Kabir saw the seeds being crushed and was filled with tremendous grief and started weeping. A Sanyasin (learned man) who passed by saw the boy and enquired why he was crying-Kabir explained his plight. The wise man asked Kabir to look at the few seeds that were sticking on to the grinding rod that were unaffected-he explained that same is the fate of the world-most are crushed by the tests of life-but the ones who hold on to God/faith are saved!}

|| Kabira Seep Samudra Ki Khara Jal Nahi Le Paani Piye Swati Ka Shobha Sagar De ||
--Kabira asks to admire the oyster in the ocean-it does not take the salty water of the ocean,instead it takes the pure water of the rain and imparts brilliance to the ocean.

|| Kabira Yeh Sansar Hai Jaisa Semal Phool Din Das Ke Vyavahar Me Jhoote Rang Na Bhool ||

--Kabira says that this world is like the flower of Semal tree. Kabira Don’t be mesmerized, it’s only colour, don’t forget. {Semal tree / silk cotton tree is known for its breath breath-taking blossom. But it has no other value or use. Similarly we should not be blinded the by external beauty, but learn to appreciate the inner beauty. beauty beauty.}

I conclude this rendezvous with an enchanting poem by Kabir Das“The Moon Shines”

Hope you enjoyed this journey….