Shabd 13

ram teri maya dund bajawai;
gati mati waki samujhi parai nahin, sur nar munihi nachawai;
kya semar teri shakha badhaye, phul anupam bani;
ketek chatrik lagi rahe hain, dekhat ruwa urani;
kahh khajur badai teri, phal koi nahi pawai;
grisham ritu jab ani tulani, chhaya kam na awai;
apan chatur owr ko sikhwai, kanak kamini sayani;
kahahin kabir suno ho santo, ram charan rati mani

Meaning

Oh Ram! your maya is the cause of duality (pairs of opposites) Her condition and whereabouts are difficult to understand; she makes the gods, men and munis dance; Oh semar tree! Of what use are your huge branches and beautiful flowers; Many birds await your ripe fruit, and, as they watch, your cotton flies away; Oh date palm! Of what use is your great height, when no one can reach your fruit; When the hot weather of summer arrives, your shade is not of much use to anyone; Some people are clever in the subject of gold and women, and they teach their cleverness to others; Kabir says: Listen, Ohsaints!Offer your love at the feet of Ram.

Commentary

In this shabd Guru Kabir is again talking about the power of maya. Maya is illusory, and many people are fooled by her. The semar tree (silk cotton) produces lovely pods which are like beautiful fruits. Parrots wait for the fruit to ripen, but even while they wait, the pod ripens, bursts, and all the cotton fly away. The parrot is left disappointed. Similarly, people having hopes of satisfying their material desires, find that there is no end to desires for material things. People are often disappointed. The attractions of the world are fascinating but, in the end, disappointing.

Another example Guru Kabir uses is the tall date palm that grows mostly in deserts. A traveller in the desert cannot pluck the fruits as they are very high. The scanty branches also do not provide adequate shade. People in the world often behave like the date palm being full of pride and ego about their greatness. But their pride is not of much use to other people who are in need.

Guru Kabir also talks about the people who are very cunning in terms of obtaining wealth, and with the ways of women. They teach their cunningness to others. In the end, this cleverness is not of much use to them, as old age and death consume them, and they leave everything behind.

Guru Kabir is saying that it is difficult to understand the power of maya that has fascinated the whole world. She has different beings in her grip such as gods and angels, ordinary human beings, and the sages and philosophers. He advises everyone to give up the fascination with transitory and illusory maya, and to offer love at the ‘feet’ of God. Spiritual life is for liberation and not bondage. Maya creates bondage, but the ‘feet’ of the Lord gives liberation.