Shabd 19

ye tattu ram japahu ho prani, tum bujhahu akath kahani
jake bhaw hot hari upar, jagat rain bihani,
dain dare swanha dore, singh rahai ban ghere,
panch kutum mili jujhan lage, bajan baju ghanere,
rohu mriga sansai ban hanke, parath ban melai,
sayar jare sakal ban dahe, machh ahera khele,
kahahin kabir suno ho santo, jo yaha pad arthawai,
jo yaha pad ko gai bichare, ap tare ow tare

Meaning

Oh soul! Recite the glory of God – that glory which is beyond description. He who is devoted to God, awakens from the night of ignorance to the dawn of knowledge; The witch (maya) tries to control the dog (mind), and the lion (ego) surrounds the forest (world); The five relatives (senses) engage in a fight, and battle music (desires) are in abundance; The deer (mind) drives all the doubts from the forest (heart), as the hunter (guru) aims and shoots the arrow of the Word; The ocean of desires is burnt, as does the forest of passions; the fish (soul) enjoys the game of hunting (removing doubts); Guru Kabir says: Listen, O seekers! He who can explain this verse, and he who can sing it meaningfully, will gain liberation, and will liberate others.

Commentary

This again is one of the famous allegorical teaching of Guru Kabir, in which he challenges people to explain the intricacies of the soul, the mind, the ego, the senses and the passions. He starts off by saying to sing the glories of God, but that glory is beyond description. It then necessitates an explanation of how to sing the glories of that which is indescribable. God is beyond description, and Guru Kabir has always taught that we cannot describe God, but we have to realize God. Elsewhere, he stated that if reciting the name of God can give you liberation, then uttering the word sugar will make your mouth sweet. Similarly, saying water will quench your thirst, and saying food will appease your hunger. Obviously this is impossible. Thus, to sing the glories of God means to go on an inner journey, developing deep love for God Who dwells within the heart of all beings. He states that if you are truly devoted to God, then all your ignorance or darkness (night) will be removed, and knowledge will dawn into your consciousness.

He states that the witch which is maya or illusion, is always trying to control the dog which here is the mind. Maya really means false perceptions of the material world as being the ultimate reality. It also means the attractions that allure the senses, and keep them trapped. Similarly, ego remains in the whole world in the hearts of all people. He also talks about the five relatives which are the five senses, or the five passions, all of which keep the mind restless in trying to find their particular satisfactions. These are driven on, figuratively, by the battle music of desires which are aplenty. The deer is the mind which can drive out all the doubts from the forest which here is the hearts of all the people, if they will submit to the arrows (Words) of the Guru. These arrows are the divine words and teachings imparted by a spiritual master to his disciple. Once this happens, Guru Kabir is saying that the whole ocean of desires is burnt, as is the forest of passions. The fish which here is the soul, then enjoys the game of hunting (removing doubts and passions from the heart).

Guru Kabir, in his usual manner, challenges the audience here described as ‘santo’ or saints, to explain this shabd. He said that he who is able to explain it, and to understand it, will himself find liberation, and will be able to liberate others from the bondage of maya.

The Bijak of Guru Kabir means exactly that, i.e. a Bijak or a secret map which shows the way to the hidden treasure. The hidden treasure here is God dwelling in the hearts of all people. But to realize this requires devotion and dedication. It requires the understanding of maya, and the various sense objects and passions, the desires and the ego, which drive all people. These must be brought under control. Only then can the soul enjoy liberation and bliss, which is its eternal and essential nature.