Shabd 4

santo dekhat jag bowrana;
sanch kahown to maran dhawai, jhuthe jag patiyana;
nemi dekha dharmi dekha, prat kare asnana;
atam mari pashanhin puje, un me kichhau na gyana;
bahutak dekha pir awliya, padhe kiteb kurana;
kai murid tadbir batawai, un mein uhain jo gyana;
asan mari dimbhdhari baithe, man men bahut gumana;
pitar pathar pujan lage, tirath garab bhulana;
topi pahire mala pahire, chhap tilak anumana;
sakhi shadai gawat bhule, atam khabari na jana;
hindu kahain mohin rampiyara, turak kahain rahimana;
apus men dou lari-lari muye, marm kahu nahi jana;
ghar-ghar mantar deta phirat hain, mahima ke abhimana;
guru sahit shisya sab bude, ant kal pachhitana;
kahahi kabir suno ho santo, i sab bharam bhulana;
ketik kahown kaha nahi mane, sahaje sahaj samana.

Meaning

O Saints! I see the world is going mad. When I tell the truth, they rush to beat me, but they believe in falsehood; I have seen people practicing their religious disciplines, and bathing in the morning; They kill living beings and worship the stones; they appear not to have any wisdom; I have seen many Muslim priests and holy men reading their Koran and holy books; They make disciples and teach them the way of sacrificing, according to their limited knowledge; The Hindu priests sit in various postures and pretend to meditate, but their minds are full of pride; They worship images made of brass and stones, and they pride themselves on their pilgrimages; The priests wear their particular caps and garlands, and wear their distinctive sandal paste marks on their bodies and forehead; They sing the sakhis and shabdas but are lost, as they do not know the secret of the soul; The Hindu says that Ram is dear to him, and the Muslim says that it is Rahiman; They both fight among themselves and die, and neither of them know the secret of God; They wander from house to house giving mantras (making disciples), and they pride themselves on their greatness; Along with their gurus, the disciples drowned and, in the end, they suffer great regrets; Kabir says listen, O saintly people! All of them are lost in doubts; How much can I say when they do not accept that those who follow the easy path unite with God in easy union.

Commentary

In this ramaini Guru Kabir is pointing out the general spiritual condition of the people of the world. The majority follow the superficialities of spiritual life and, leaving the kernel, they grasp at the chaff. When the real truth about spiritual life and their soul are explained to them, they do not follow that, but will pay lip service to it. They follow the more convenient and easy way of observing their religious disciplines and ceremonies, and wearing their distinctive types of clothing, and sandal paste marks, or safron marks, on their bodies and faces. Guru Kabir observes that in doing these things, the world appears to be mad.

He declares that he has seen what these people are doing. They kill living animals and then they worship dead images made of brass or stones. How can they kill the living and worship the non-living? He has observed that the priests and holy men of both Hindus and Muslims practice similar religious activities. They make many disciples and teach them the same knowledge and activities they, themselves, practice. Although outwardly they practice religious disciplines, they are often full of pride and ego. They do not know the secret of their own souls.

Many of these “holy” people will instruct their disciples and sing various couplets and hymns (bhajans) but they do not understand the truth of their own souls. In India, where there is a large population of Muslims among the majority of Hindus, there are frequent religious quarrels. In Ayodhya, the Hindus and Muslims were fighting and killing each other. Hindus say that Ram is dear to them, and the Muslims say that it is Rahiman. Both of them fight among themselves and die, but neither of them realize the truth about God, that Ram and Rahim are the same.

These holy men wander from house to house, propagating their teachings and making disciples, but along with them, their disciples drown in the false teachings, without realizing the true spiritual knowledge. In the end, they are full of regrets, but then it is too late, as they have to endure the effects of their own karmas. Guru Kabir is saying to all those who are wise that people, who follow the above practices, are still living in doubts. He observes that hardly does anyone listen to the truth, as he explains that when you simplify your spiritual life, and live truthfully in sahaj samadhi, you easily unite with God.

It is important to distinguish between the teaching of the great mystic saints, and that of the average religious priests, whether Hindu, Muslim, or Christian, etc. The saints teach an easy path, uncomplicated by all kinds of rites, rituals, pilgrimages and dogmas. They teach that you need only to develop a knowledge of the union that exists between the soul and God. With such a knowledge you are, automatically, following and even surpassing, all the religious practices. For those who do not obtain a spiritual awakening and knowledge of their own soul, they continue to suffer in the bondage of materialism and ignorance. They long for liberation, but they follow the path prompted by their desires and passions.