Shabd 14

ramura sansai ganthi na chhutai, tate pakari pakari yam lutai,
hoi miskin kulin kahawai, tum yogi sanyasi,
gyani guni sur kavi data, i mati kinahu na nasi,
sumriti ved puran padhe sab, anubhav bhav na darse,
lohh hiranya hoi dhown kaise, jo nahi paras parse,
jiyat na tareu muye ka tariho, jiyatahi jo na tarai.
gahi partit kinhh jin jason, soi tahan amare,
jo kachhu kiyau gyan agyana, soi samujh sayana,
kahahi kabir tason ka kahiye, jo dekhat drishti bhulana.

Meaning

Oh soul, since you do not give up your knot of doubts, Yama repeatedly attacks and robs you; You speak of your humility and your noble birth; that you are a yogi and sanyasi; You say of your wisdom, virtue, bravery, poetry and giving. But you can’t get rid of this thinking; You have read the Smritis, Vedas and Puranas, but you have not experienced the reality; How can iron turn to gold when it is not touched by the touchstone? If you cannot liberate yourself while alive, how can you do it after death? Whatever you deeply believe and to which you are attached, that is what you will become after death; Oh wise man! Try to understand that whatever you did through knowledge or ignorance, that is what you will reap. Kabir says: What can I say to him who, while seeing, is still lost?

Commentary

There are many people in the world who feel that they are living a religious life, yet they are full of spiritual doubts. They perform all the external religious activities, but their own hearts are not enlightened with divine knowledge. Guru Kabir is talking about such people. These people feel themselves to be of noble birth, or full of wisdom. They pride themselves about virtuous deeds and their learning and charity. They read the scriptures and say their prayers. But in the depth of their hearts they have not experienced Reality. Guru Kabir asks how can iron become gold when not touched by the touchstone? This is a popular mythological story. Guru Kabir here means that how can a person become divine if he is not touched by the grace of a spiritual master? In another place Guru Kabir has said that just as the touchstone converts iron to gold, just so the Guru imparts, through his grace, spiritual teachings, and converts the disciple into a Guru.

Many people feel that they are liberated because they say they are “born again”. Some feel that they are liberated because they perform their religious duties regularly. But when they do not have direct perception of God in their own lives, how can they obtain liberation? Many people are taught that liberation is obtained after death. Guru Kabir points out that it is only while a person has consciousness can he ever hope to attain liberation. The dead cannot perform anything. Whatever the person strongly adheres to, and desires while alive, that is what he will become after death. He has to continue on an onward journey before he can obtain liberation. The Law of Karma assures that whatever one does in thought, word and deed, that is what he will reap in this life, or in another life.

In spiritual life one cannot fool himself or God by taking part in the various paraphernalia of religion. He may fool people but his actions are recorded in the ‘Cosmic Computer’, and that is what he will reap. Guru Kabir asks what can he say to that person who has eyes but he is not seeing. In fact he refuses to see. Such a person is spiritually lost. When he properly perceives, then he will start his spiritual journey.