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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 clear-

cut. 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"
Bijak",
Bijak", from the section called
"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
Please don't open your pouch of diamonds in a vegetable market.
Tie them in a bundle and be on your way.
{Don't discuss gyan (knowledge)
knowledge) with those who are not interested}
Quoted below
elow are a few of his Dohas (couplets),, their translations,
followed by my understanding for some. But you may have a
different interpretation
nterpretation-that
that is the beauty of his simple
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 stone-
your 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
In vain is the eminence, just like the date tree
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
all your growth is in vain.Looking back you wi
will
realise
ealise the vanity of your accomplishments.So share your blessing
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
Reading and reading verses everyone perished, none became any
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-
universe but how many of us can claim
a clear and
d articulate mind.Hence realise this-
this information alone
cannot make you wise-your
wise your heart has to be cleansed with love to
yeild wisdom}
|| Vishaya Vasana Uljhikar
Jaanam Gavaya Baat
Ab Pachatava Kya Kare
Nij Karani Kar Yaad ||
--You were entangled in the sensual pleasures-
Your life has been spent.What can repentance acheive now-
so 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 mind is like a bird


--The 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
wandering but what we have control over is which
thoughts to hold on to-that
to makes the difference}
|| 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 See Sab Hoye
Jasa Dwitiya Ka Chandrama
Shashi Lahai Sab Koye ||

--It
It is always desirable to be humble. Humility makes anything
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


leaf O leaf,
this has been the tradition of this household-
household
when one arrives, one has to leave."

{This Doha is a beautiful example of the depths of a simple


teaching-Here
Here the leaf symbolizes a life and the tree the Universal
Spirit that has witnessed the truth of being
being-So
So it tries to tell the
young leaf that life as we know it is not forever
forever-this
this is a part of the
bigger journey and we will have to give way forfo the next}
|| 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 'Aham-
baavam' 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 abuse the blade of grass even if it is under your feet.


--Dont
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
less fortunate. Considering
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
The words of the wise is like an ocean, a
an
n ocean full of gems,
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
so be thankful and compassionate
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
stones-no
no one is saved,no one is saved.
{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 stone-
young 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
Kabira says that this world is like the flower of Semal tree.
Don’t be mesmerized, it’s only colour, don’t forget.

{Semal tree / silk cotton tree is known for its breath-taking


breath blossom.
But it has no other value or use. Similarly we should not be blinded
the by external beauty,
beauty but learn to appreciate the inner beauty.
beauty.}
I conclude this rendezvous with an enchanting poem by Kabir Das-
“The Moon Shines”

Hope you enjoyed this journey….