Shabd 9

santo bole te jag mare;
anbole te kaisek bani hai, shabdahi koi na bichare;
pahale janm putra ka bhayau, bap janmiya pachhe;
bap put ki akai nari, i acharaj koi kachhe;
dundur raja tika baithe, vishahar karai khawasi;
swan bapura dharni dhakno, billi ghar me dasi;
kagadkar karkud age, bail kare patwari;
kahahi kabir suno ho santo, bhainse nyaw niberi;

Meaning

O saints! If I tell the truth people want to beat me; If I remain silent, how can people obtain true knowledge? No one gives due thought to my words; First of all the son (soul) was born; then the father (God) was born; Both the father and the son have the same wife (maya); who can understand this astonishment; The frog (ignorant person) sits as a king on the throne; and the snake (mind) is his attendant; The poor dog (passions, lust) is owner of the house (body), and the cat (attachment) is the wife in the house; The court clerk (preacher) carries his files (scriptures) and the bull (ignorance) acts as the accountant; Kabir says, listen O saints! The buffalo (ego) acts as the judge.

Commentary

This is one of the contrary sayings of Guru Kabir. Yet, it is full of deep meaning which is mystical in nature. First of all, he admits that when he tells the truth, people do not care to listen to it, and they often would turn against him to beat him. This has been the story of many saints throughout history. Yet, saints have to speak, for if they do not, then people will not obtain true knowledge. Having said that, he then enters into the mystical explanation of the condition in which people find themselves. He says that first the son was born, and then the father. It is important to understand that the son is likened to the soul, and the father to God. It appears contrary that the soul should be born before the father. But, mystically speaking, it is a true statement, because if the soul were not present, the question of God does not arise. There must first be sentient beings – humans – who can think about a Superior Being called God. If there were no people then there would be no one to talk about God. Again, Guru Kabir says that both the father and the son have one wife. The wife here is maya which is the illusory energy of God, used to project into the manifold existence all things in the universe. It is maya then, acting as the “wife” of God to create the soul, which is the son. As the sentient son then created God as explained above, He used maya as the wife, figuratively, to produce God. It is thus that the son and the father have the same wife.

The frog spoken of here, is likened to an ignorant person who sits on his throne, and his attendant is the snake which is poisonous. The snake here is the mind. The mind has the power to poison the intellect and consciousness of man, and reduce him to spiritual ignorance, instead of spiritual enlightenment. The poor dog, or the passion, has taken up abode in the house which is the body; and the cat, which is attachment is the wife in this house. Attachment to sensory objects finds the fire of the passions in which the poor house, the person, burns. This is why in spiritual teaching it is said that attachments must be controlled.

When attachment is controlled then the passions are controlled. Guru Kabir says that the clerk carries his files with him. This represents the preacher who carries his scriptures, and he can read and quote the scriptures to others. But the bull, his ego, remains ignorant because he has not achieved God realization, or enlightenment. When ignorance acts as the accountant to keep track of one’s spiritual bank account, then one is really in trouble. Preachers of religion need to become enlightened, and not merely quote the scriptures. They must have inner realization of the truth. Guru Kabir says that when the buffalo, which is the ego sits as a judge, how can any proper justice be done.

In this very interesting shabda, Guru Kabir explains that how can the person, acting out of ignorance, think that what is not good for him, is really good for him? He is blinded by his passions and senses, his desires and ego, etc. The right path is not possible unless one is attuned to the truth.