Shabd 10

santo raha dunon ham ditha;
hindu turuk hata nahin manen, swad saban ko mitha;
hindu barat ekadasi sadhe, dudh singhara seti;
ann ko tyage manko na hatke, paran kare sagowti;
turuk roza nimaz guzare, bismil bang pukare;
inki bihist kahan se howe, sanjhai murgi mare;
hindu ki daya mehar turukan ki, dono ghat se tyagi;
i halal ve jhatka mare, ag dunon ghar lagi;
hindu turuk ki ek raha hai, satguru ihai batai;
kahahi kabir suno ho santo, ram na kaheu khudai.

Meaning

O saints! I have seen the ways of both (Hindus and Muslims). Both Hindus and Muslims do not listen to my instructions; both are very fond of satisfying their tastes; Hindus observe the fast of Ekadasi and eat water chestnuts with milk; They give up regular food, but do not control the mind. When they break the fast they indulge in meat-eating. The Muslim observes the fast of Roza and offer Namaz. From the minaret they shout “bismillah”; How can they obtain heaven when at night they kill the chickens? Both Hindus and Muslims have given up mercy from their hearts; The Muslim kills the goat by halal and the Hindu by a sudden chop. Fire burns in both their homes. Both Hindus and Muslims follow the same path of violence; Sat Guru has demonstrated this; Kabir says, “Listen, O saints! Neither Ram nor Khuda instructed them to kill”.

Commentary

In this shabd Guru Kabir is talking about hypocrisy he has been seeing around him practiced by both Hindus and Muslims. They have been practicing violence, although they say that they are religious and are supposed to have mercy in their hearts. First of all, he speaks about fasting which the Hindus observe on the Ekadasi, or the 11th day of the lunar half month. They may partake of milk and certain fruits or water chestnuts, but they avoid grain and other regular types of food. But after breaking their fast, they often revert to killing the chicken and feasting. Many Hindus will engage in similar behaviour after religious functions. The Muslims, on the other hand, fast during the month of Ramadan. The fasting is called Roza, and during the fast they pray and offer the Namaz, or praying towards Mecca five times a day. In the name of their religion, the Mullah will go on to the Minaret and loudly shout “bismillah”. The Muslims hope to go to heaven, but Guru Kabir is asking how can they go to heaven when they practice violence at night, killing the animals? He observes that both the Hindus and the Muslims have given up compassion and mercy from their hearts. If they had mercy in their hearts, they would not sacrifice the life of any of God’s innocent creatures. They do that only to satisfy their own tastes and, sadly, they do it in the name of religion.

Among the Muslims the animal must be sacrificed by halal, which means a slow cutting of the throat to allow the blood to drain out. The Jewish people call this Kosher. If the animal is not killed in this way, then it is said to be haram or unclean. The Hindu, on the other hand, kills by a sudden chop severing the head of the animal from the body. Both forms are violent, and are not becoming of people who are supposed to have mercy in their hearts. Both their homes are burning with the fire of violence. (The fire is also burning to cook the meat). Guru Kabir observes that both the Hindus and the Muslims are really practicing the same thing, as far as following certain religious observances and then practicing violence. This is truly hypocritical for one who professes to be on a religious path. Religion really means to have compassion and mercy for all life. God is merciful and loving of all of his creatures. It is not right or ethical for human beings to kill animals to satisfy their tastes. Humans can live healthier and happier lives by being vegetarians. Guru Kabir observes that God, whether you call him Ram or Allah or anything else, does not instruct anyone to be violent.

From this shabd it is important for us to learn that hypocrisy and violence are not part of a spiritual life. Let us have compassion and love instead, and follow a non-violent way of sustaining ourselves.