Shabd 2

santo jagat nind na kijai,
kal na khai kalp nahi byapai, deh jara nahi chhijai,
nowgrah mari rogiya baithe, jal me bimb prakasai,
bin charnan ko dahudish dhawai, bin lochan jag sujhai,
sasai ulati singh ko grase, i acharaj koi bujhai,
owndhe ghara nahi jal budai, sudhe so jal bhariya,
jehi karan nar bhinn bhinn kare, so gur prasadai tariya,
baithi gupha me sab jag dekhai, bahar kichhu na sujhai,
ulta ban paridhihi lagai, sura hoi so bujhai,
gayan kahai kabahu nahi gawai, anbola nit gawai,
natwat baja pekhani pekhai, anahad het badawai,
kathani badani niju kai jowai, i sab akath kahani,
dharti ulati akasahi bedhai, i purshan ki bani,
bina piyala amrit anchawai, nadi nir bhari rakhai,
kahahi kabir so yug yug jiwai, jo ram sudharas chakhai.

Meaning

O Saints! Being awake, do not fall asleep! Death does not destroy you, nor age affect you; the body is not weakened with old age; The river (meditation) turns and dries up the ocean; it controls both the moon and the sun; The sick mind blocks the nine gates (of the body), and sees its reflection in the water (of the heart); Without feet the mind can run in all ten directions and, without eyes, it sees the whole world; The rabbit (of doubts), in turn, devours the lion (knowledge); some rare person may understand this wonder; The overturned pitcher cannot be drowned in water; but if upright, it can be filled (drowned); That cause which has kept man separated from God can be removed by the Grace of the Guru; The devotee, sitting in the cave of his mind, sees the whole world, and remains unconcerned with the external things; The arrow turns back and hits the hunter (mind); only the brave can understand this; The singer (self-realized) says that he will never sing, but without words he continuously sings; When the puppet (man) sees God manifested in all, he increases his love for the anahad shabd (Divine Melody); Giving up speaking and explaining, he realizes himself; these are all difficult things to talk about; The earth (meditation) turns around and pierces the sky (soul); this is explained by the realized souls. The soul then drinks nectar without a cup, and he keeps his mind (stream) full of the water of love for God; Kabir says that he who tastes the nectar of the Name of God lives age after age.

Commentary

This shabd #2 of Guru Kabir is a very mystical one, and is difficult for the average person, who is not interested in mysticism, to understand. Guru Kabir is using concrete examples to represent abstract ideas and achievements. For example, river means meditation, and ocean refers to all the passions that can drown us in this world. Meditation can control the sun and the moon. The sun and the moon are the right and left nostrils, as explained in the yoga philosophy. The breath must be controlled, in order for meditation to be achieved.

Guru Kabir is telling the saints that while they are awake realizing their own connection with God, that they should not fall asleep. This means that they should not become subject to ignorance, and to the trap of maya. In meditation, the mind must be controlled, but the mind that is sick and affected by all the passions and negative thoughts, actually blocks the nine gates (body), and prevents the body from progression towards God realization. The water is the heart. The mind sees the reflection of his own achievements in the water of the heart. But when the mind attains realization and its unity with God, then it escapes the limitations of time and space. It can thus travel in all directions without feet, and without eyes it can see everything in the world.

When the mind is obstructed with doubts (rabbits) it destroys the lion (knowledge). Guru Kabir is observing that these things are difficult for people to understand.

When the pitcher is held up side down, it cannot be drowned. That pitcher represents the empty mind free of passions and doubts. It cannot be affected. But when the mind is right side up, it becomes full of desires and passions, and therefore it can be drowned.

Man, because of his attachment to his desires and worldly things, remains separated from God; but if he obtains the grace of Satguru, then he can overcome all obstacles. In meditation, the mind enters, figuratively, into a cave from which it can see the whole world with its spiritual eyes, and remains unattached to it.

The arrow is meditation and it turns back and hits the hunter, which is the mind. In meditation the mind must be overcome just as a hunter overcomes an animal with his arrow. Similarly, the person who is self-realized does not need words to sing, because silently he is ever singing with the bliss of God in his own heart. Such a person becomes like a puppet in God’s hands, and he sees God manifested everywhere. His love for God becomes intensified. When a person obtains such realization he, figuratively, drinks the nectar of God without having a cup, for this is all done intuitively within. In meditation the soul realizes its union with God, and so realizes its own eternity.

Thus Guru Kabir explains that such a soul remains in all ages, because it has realized its own eternity. In this very mystical shabda, Guru Kabir is saying that we must be ever alert and remain awake, so that we may not be overtaken by the material passions and worldly desires. We must use meditation to control the mind, and allow the soul to realize its union with God. On obtaining such a realization, man frees himself from the clutches of maya and birth and death.