The Relevance of Kabir Saheb’s Teachings

Mahant Jagdish Das Shastri
Kabir Ashram, Jamnagar, Gujarat, India

The relevance of a certain fact depends on its utility at any given time, but he who has his inner eyes opened reveals the Truth for all time, and that Truth remains relevant always because Truth is eternal. It never changes. The message from a true saint is for every age.  The land of India produced such a saint named Kabir. The beauty of India is that she has so many things to give to the world. That is why Max Muller wrote: “If I were to look over the whole world to find out the country most richly endowed with all the wealth, power, and beauty that nature can bestow in some part a very paradise on earth – I should point to India.  If I were to ask under what sky the human mind has most fully developed some of its choicest gifts, has most deeply pondered on the greatest problems of life, and has found solutions of some of them which well deserve the attention even of those who have studied Plato and Kant – I should point to India.  And if I were to ask myself from what literature we, here in Europe, we who have been nurtured almost exclusively on the thoughts of Greeks and Romans and one of the Semetic race, the Jewish, may draw that corrective which is most wanted in order to make our inner life more perfect, more comprehensive, more universal, in fact more truly human, a life, not for this life only, but a transfigured and eternal life, again I should point to India.”

The main reason why Max Muller described the dignity of India in such poetic words is that the teachings for humanity by the great souls, saints and sages, were always for all humanity and not for a particular class or race. The true religion which they taught was humanity, not Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, or Buddhism. That is why when someone asked Kabir Saheb about his religion, whether he was Hindu or Moslem, he replied:

hindu kahu tu hun nahi, musalman bhi nahi.
panch tattwa ka putala, gaibi khele mahi.

“If I say I’m Hindu, I am not, and also I am not Moslem.  The body is made up of five gross elements and the Divine Being who is dwelling in it is ‘I am.'”

He named only two religions, but the same holds for all religions. He taught that humanity is above all religions, or we can say that his view was that humanity is the only religion. He said that God is the father of all. Why do we have to fight then if we are all brothers?

He said:

awwal allah nur upaya, kudrat ke sab bande.
ek nur se sab jag upaja, kaun bhale ko mande.

“God is only one and all are his children, because they all come from the same Light.  So all are the same; who then is good or bad.”

Nowadays everybody talks about peace, but peace can come only with tolerance, with humanity, not by fighting. People sometimes say that God is one but has many names, but they do not accept it in their hearts. To live in the multi-cultural and multi-religious world we have to understand what Kabir has said about God and his names.

bhai re dou jagadish kahan se aye, kahu kaune bauraya.
allah ram karima kesho hari hajart nam dharaya.

“O brother, tell me from where two gods came? Who made you mad?  Allah, Ram, Karima, Kesho, Hari, Hajart are all names of the same God”.

ram rahima ekai hai re, kahe karo larai.

“Don’t fight, Brother!  Ram and Rahim are one”.

Also he said:

ko hindu ko turk kahawai, ek jani pe rahiye.

“Who is Hindu or who is Muslim?  All have to live on the same earth”.

hindu kahe mohi ram piyara, turuk kahe rahimana.
apas me dou lari lari muye, maram na kahu jana.

“Hindu says that Ram is dear to him, and the Muslim says its Rahiman. Both fight between themselves and die, and do not know the secret.”

This one of his teachings is very relevant to our time and also forever. Fighting in the name of religion is not accepted.  He showed the path of love and harmony. He was also opposed to dividing people by caste and creed.  He said:

ek bunda se shrishti rachi hai, ko brahman ko sudra

“All are from the same Source then who is Brahmin and who is Shudra.”

All these teachings are relevant now more than ever because of intolerance of religions, castes and creeds. The relevance of his teachings is that he has given hope to the common people for God realization.  He taught that God is dwelling in you – in your own heart. It is not necessary to go to the forest to do austerity to realize God. If you will clean your heart, you can realize God within yourself. He emphasized the fact that every person must have to be of good morals and good character.  He said that there is no greater person than one having good character.

silwant sabase bada, sab ratno ki khan.
tin lok ki sampada, rahi sil men an.

“A person of excellent character is great.  He is the mine of all jewels. The wealth of all three worlds is in good character”. Here character is not merely morality, but also modesty and chastity, and also the best behaviour throughout life.  Character is said to be the most valuable of all things.  A famous proverb says:

“If wealth is lost nothing is lost.  If health is lost something is lost.  But if character is lost everything is lost.”

It tells us the importance of character. That is why Kabir Saheb’s teaching on character is valuable for the world.  It has also been said: “Sow a desire and reap a habit; sow a habit and reap character; sow a character and reap a destiny.”

His message is also very relevant for the world today which is facing a dreadful disease called AIDS.  As we know, the most important reason for the spread of AIDS is illicit sex, or sexual affairs with many partners or homosexuals.  Kabir Saheb had mentioned the danger of illicit sex.  He said:

parnari paini chhuri, mati koyi karo prasang.
ravan ke das sis gaye, parnari ke sang.

“Don’t be involved in illicit sex with the other ladies except your wife. Illicit sex inflicts wounds as a sharp and pointed knife.  Even a powerful person like Ravan, who had ten heads (he had the strength of intellect of ten persons) lost his heads when he became involved with another woman.”

He also mentioned that those people who are involved in illicit sex hide it from society, but after a few days it shows its effects, and then both partners of that act destroy themselves.

parnari rata phiri, chori bidhata khahi
divas chari sarasa rahi, anti samula jahi.

“Those who are involved in illegal sex with others’ wives or husbands eat stolen fruits. They enjoy pleasure for four days but at last destroy themselves rapidly with shame”.

We know that illicit sex is not only harmful for society but also for those who are involved in it.  If people would stop changing their sexual partners, then many of the moral problems of the world will be solved easily. I think that if one man and one woman live together for their whole life then there will be no fear of sexually transmitted diseases such as AIDS. It will also solve the problem of divorce.  Breaking up of marriages is increasing rapidly in the world. In the United States over fifty percent of marriages end in divorce causing fragmented families and social problems. If the man and wife live with love and be faithful to each other, their life will be full of joy and peace.

Kabir Saheb said much about the dignity of a faithful lady.

pativrata ko sukh ghana, jako pati hai ek.
man maili bibhicharini, take khasam anek.
kabir kalijug aye ke, kiye bahut jo meet.
jin dil bandhi ek su, te sukh sowai nischint.

“Pativrata – the lady who is chaste and faithful to her husband – lives in happiness with only one best friend, her husband. But the woman whose mind is full of rubbish, that wanton woman who has many friends, cannot live happily.”

“In this Kaliyug she who keeps many illegal friends cannot be happy. But she whose heart is full of love for only her husband, sleeps without worries”.

The same thing applies to the husband also.  We can see that in this “modern society” the teachings of Kabir Saheb is most essential for maintaining love, peace, brotherhood, fidelity etc., and for the removal of many religious, social and personal evils which rob people of their happiness. His teachings are most essential also for those who earnestly wish to grow spiritually.

Blessings to all for life improvement.

Kabir Association of Canada.