Shabd 24

avadhu so yogi guru mera, jo yaha pad ka kare nibera,
tariwar ek mul binu thadha, binu phule phal laga;
shakha patra kichchu nahi wake, asht gagan mukh gaja;
pow binu patra karaha binu tumba, binu jibhya gunn gawai;
gawanhar ke rup na rekha, satguru hoi lakhawai;
panchchik khoj min ko marag, kahai kabir dou bhari;
aparam par par purushotam, murati ki balihari.

Meaning

O seeker! That yogi will be my Guru who can explain the mystery of this poem; There is a tree standing without roots, and without producing flowers it bears fruits; It has no branches nor leaves, but reaching the eighth sky it thunders; The petals have no form, and the gourd is produced without flower, and without having a tongue there is the song of God’s glory; The singer has no form nor outline, but if there is a Satguru then he can make Him visible; There are two ways of approaching the Supreme, as the path of the bird, or that of the fish, and Kabir says that both are difficult; The Supreme Lord is fathomless, but for that Supreme Being I sacrifice everything.

Commentary

This shabd is one of the frequent allegorical teachings of Guru Kabir. In order to understand it we will need to understand the meaning of the things to which he refers. The tree is the tree of meditation which actually has no roots. And this tree bears the fruit of bliss but there is no necessity for flowers to precede the fruit. This tree has no branches or leaves, but it reaches the eighth sky. The eighth sky is the eighth chakra, being one above the seven of the traditional yoga teachings. This eighth chakra is called surati chakra or unmuni chakra. The thundering is the anahad nad or divine melody that the devotee hears when he reaches this highest state in meditation. The chakras are represented as lotus flowers. But Guru Kabir says that the petals of this eighth chakra have no form, and is realized as being without flowers. When one is in this meditative state he does not need a tongue with which to sing the glories of God. This is an inner realization and it is a state of bliss which amounts to singing the glories of God. In that state there is no form or outline of realization, for God has no form. But if there is a true Satguru he can help the devotee to realize God who is formless.

Guru Kabir is saying that the devotee can approach God realization in two ways. The first is that of the birds flying free in the air. Similarly, the mind can rise above all the material aspects of life, and float into the vast infinity of God Consciousness. The second is the way of the fish. Just as the fish cannot live without water, just so the true devotee cannot live without God, and he has an intense longing for God realization. Guru Kabir is saying that both of these paths are difficult for the average person to follow. A devotee must have dedication and perseverance, and follow the instructions of the Guru in order to reach this highest state of meditation, in which he realizes the formless God that is manifesting in the whole universe. He states that the mystery of this most exalted Supreme being is fathomless, and cannot be understood by any rational or intellectual exercise. But for the realization of God the true devotee is ready to sacrifice everything.

In this allegorical shabd, Guru Kabir is referring to the tree of meditation. This is achieved when the mind is subdued, and there is no thought in it. There is only a state of pure consciousness. In this state the devotee hears the divine melody, and realizes the formless Supreme Being within himself and, at the same time, seeing the Supreme Being present in all things in the universe.