Shabd 31

hansā sansai chhūri kuhiyā, gaiyā pīwai bachhruwai duhiyā.
ghar ghar sāwaj khelai aherā, pārath otā leī.
pānī māhi talaphi gai bhumbharī, dhūri hilorā deī.
dhartī barse bādar bhīje, bhīnti bhaye powrāū.
hansā udāne tāl sukhāne, chahale bindā pāū.
jowlown kar dole pagu chālai, towlown ās na kījai.
kahahin kabīr jehi chalat na dīse, tāsu bachan kā līje.

Meaning

The swan is cut by the knife of doubts, while the cow milks and drinks the milk of the calf.In every house the wild animal hunts, while the hunter takes shelter by hiding.The fish is suffering in the water, and dust is creating waves.The earth is raining and the clouds are getting wet, while rocks are swimming.The swan flies away and the pond dries up, yet it wishes to keep its feet in the mud.As long as you have the use of your arms and legs, so long do not have hopes on any one else.Kabir says that if you see one not following what he preaches, then do not take his advice.

Commentary

This shabda is one of Guru Kabir’s famous ulta-bani which is a contrary type of language that he uses to get people to think about deep spiritual truths. The topic is that when the soul gets under the influence of false gurus, it becomes destroyed by doubts.

The soul, in truth, is always residing in the ocean of God’s love, but under the influence of false gurus, it is cut up or destroyed by doubts. The cow is Maya, and the calf is the soul. Maya (illusion) is cheating the soul, figuratively drinking the milk of the calf. The wild animal (mind) is hunting, i.e. destroying good thinking, and the hunter is the soul that takes shelter in various deities. The fish is the soul that, living in the ocean of God’s love, is still suffering because the dust (desires), rises up as waves in the ocean. The earth is speech, the cloud is the soul, and the rocks are hypocrisies. The soul actually gets confused with the words of the false teachers, and this causes hypocrisies to prevail everywhere, figuratively swimming. The soul is bound with desires and wishes to stay in the world, thus keeping the feet in the mud. But the soul must fly away from the pond of the body, and the body then dries up or becomes useless. Guru Kabir advises that as long as you have the use of your arms and legs, do not depend on others. He further states that you should not accept the teachings of those who do not live according to what they preach.

The essential message in this shabda is that there are false teachers and there are hypocrisies. Without obtaining true teachings, the soul gets trapped by waves of desires and remains trapped in this world i.e. has to be reborn over and over according to its desires. It is thus deprived of liberation. One must thus obtain the true teachings and become free.