Shabd 23

avadhu kudrat ki gati nyari;
rank niwaj kare wai raja, bhupati kareĀ  bhikhari;
yate lawang haraph nahin lage, chandan phulan phula;
machh shikari rame jangal me, singh samudrahin jhula;
rend rukh bhaye malyagir, chahun disi phuti basa;
tin lok brahmand khand men, dekhai andh tamasha;
panga meru sumeru ulanghai, tribhuvan mukta dole;
gunga gyan vigyan prakashai, anahad bani bolai;
akashahi bandhi patal pathawai, shesh swarg par rajai;
kahahi kabir ram hai raja, jo kachhu karai so chhajai.

Meaning

O devotee! The ways of God’s maya are strange Its kindness can make a poor person into a king, but it can also reduce a king to a beggar; It is strange that a clove tree bears no fruit, and that a sandalwood does not bear any flowers; The fish (maya) hunts in the forest (world), and the lion (soul) swings in the ocean (of desires); The castor oil plant (devotee) can become a mountain of sandalwood (realized soul), and spread its fragrance all around; One who is blind to desires can see this strange sport in the three worlds, the universe and the earth; The lame person (man) climbs the Meru and Sumeru mountains, and, achieving liberation, moves in the three worlds; The self-realized person speaks of worldly and spiritual knowledge, and of the divine melody of God; God’s maya can tie the firmament and send it to hell, and place the hell-dwelling serpent, Sheshnag, to rule in heaven; Guru Kabir says that God is the supreme ruler, and whatever he does is right.

Commentary

In this shabda Guru Kabir is talking about the power of maya which has strange powers according to our human perception. All things and events that take place in the world are the products of maya. Maya arises from the power of God which allows God to manifest in all forms. But maya, at the same time, also deludes us into thinking that what is apparent to our physical senses is also the reality. There are many contradictory situations in the world which can be reconciled only if we invoke the power of maya. Guru Kabir gives the example of the clove tree which bears a flower but has no fruit, because the clove itself is the flower. Similarly, the sandalwood tree gives neither flowers nor fruit, but gives a beautiful fragrance.

He explains that maya which he describes as a fish, actually roams around in the forest of this world. The soul is rocking back and forth according to the desires which rise up in the mind. Maya can also transform the raw disciple into one who has attained spiritual heights, here compared to the mountain of sandalwood. The person who is blind to the desires i.e. has control over his passions and senses can, figuratively, sit back and watch the play of maya which keeps the world in its clutches.

Guru Kabir says that the lame person can climb the mountain, which means that the mind previously undeveloped, can develop to reach great heights and obtain liberation. He can then realize liberation and move about freely everywhere. Similarly, the person who is self-realized does not speak much, but is full of spiritual wisdom, and hears the Divine Melody of God within himself. For God nothing is impossible, and so that which we may say to be heaven or the skies can be sent to the nether world, and the mythological serpent, Sheshnag, which is supporting the earth, and thus, figuratively, is in hell, can be made to dwell in heaven. Guru Kabir summarizes that God is actually the Supreme Ruler of the universe, and everything that happens, happens because of His maya and its also appropriate. It is His Will that manifests in the universe.

In this shabd Guru Kabir teaches us that we can be fooled by maya which manifests in strange ways. We must develop spiritually and realize the true knowledge of the Self which will give us liberation and release us from the bondage of desires, cravings and materialism.