KABIR – MYSTIC SAINT OF INDIA
KABIR – MYSTIC SAINT OF INDIA (1398 – 1518)
Satguru Kabir was found as a baby among lotus flowers at Lahartara Lake near Varanasi. He was raised by a young Muslim couple that were weavers known as Julaha. In childhood he became the disciple of the famous Hindu saint Swami Ramanand. He did not go to school, and he did not read or write anything. He wove cloth for a living and, while weaving, he mentally composed and sang his bhajans (shabdas) and sakhis (dohas). His disciples wrote these down. His bhajans and sakhis are very popular, and are sung by Indian people in all parts of the world.
The life and teachings of a Satguru Kabir (Eternal Teacher) serve as a lighted path through the tangled complexities of our material life. They breathe into us the life sustaining principles of spiritual life that alone can bestow upon us an understanding of what it means to live in freedom. This freedom is not to do as we please, but freedom from passions, illusion, negativity, ego and ignorance of the Divine Self. Such an Eternal Teacher was Satguru Kabir. He quickly deflates our puffed up ego and vanity, showing us their negative influences in our relationships with others, and, more so, in our relationship with God. The passions of lust, anger, greed and hate which we harbour, and which, characteristically, govern much of our lives, he renders to pieces. He shows us the serenity and bliss that await us once we know our Self that is Divine. The empty religious practices in which people engage in the hope of gaining spiritual merit, and the meaning and logic of which they do not understand, become mere mechanical repetition of words and rituals. He taught the uselessness of such practices. His intent was to make us think of our spiritual state, to realize the futility of what we do in the name of religion, and to show us the straight and enlightened path to God.
Satguru Kabir was hailed as the Father of Hindi poetry, and as the greatest exponent of Nirgun Bhakti (devotion to God who is above form and attributes). He was the first to introduce Sant Mat (company of saintly people) and the first to teach the concept of Sahaj Yog to attain Sahaj Samadhi (easy realization of unity with God). He the first to synthesize the various branches of Yoga into a single process of living to attain the highest spiritual knowledge. His life and teachings give ample testimony to them, and research has validated them. He was always attuned to God, and gave his mystical teachings from that vantage point. Many people are familiar with the refrain: “kahat kabir suno bhai sadho” (Kabir is speaking: O brother sadhus! Please listen). This was his poetic stamp of instruction to the people. And he did not make use of any existent scripture, but taught from his inner knowledge. He did not isolate himself from humanity, but taught publicly for the benefit of all people: kabir khada bazar men, sab ko chahe khair; na kahu se dosti, na kahu se bair (Kabir is standing in the marketplace and wishes the welfare of all impartially. He is neither a friend nor an enemy to anyone).
The scholar Charlotte Vaudeville stated: “Kabir is one of the best-known and most revered names in Indian tradition. From the Panjab to Bengal and from the Himalayan frontiers to South India, he has long been hailed by Hindus and Muslims alike as a great mystic and bold religious reformer….In Indian religious history, Kabir is unique: to the Hindus, he is a Vaishnava bhakta, to the Muslims a pir, to the Sikhs a bhagat, to the sectarian Kabir-panthis an avatar of the Supreme Being; to modern patriots, Kabir is the champion of Hindu-Muslim unity, to neo-vedantins a promoter of the Universal Religion or the Religion of Man…”
Here are a couple of his sakhis:
awwal allah nur upaya, kudrat ke sab bande; ek nur te sab jag upajaya, kown bhale ko mande (The Divine Light has produced all of us, and we are all his devotees; that Light produced the whole world. Who then is good and who is bad?)
sab ghat mere saiyiya, suni sej na koi; balihari ghat tasu ki, ja ghat pargat hoi (The Master dwell in every heart, and none is devoid of Him. It is the great fortune of the one who manifests Him in his heart).
Kabir lived to be 120 years. Both Hindus and Muslims accepted him as their Guru or Pir. He attained mahasamadhi in Maghar. The Hindus wanted to cremate him, and the Muslims wanted to bury him. When they opened the shroud, they found only flowers. The Hindus and Muslims divided these and did their final rites according to their customs. Today the Hindu samadhi and the Muslim tomb are side by side at Magahar.
It will benefit us to reflect on his teachings and to try to inculcate them into our daily life. The benefit will be ours. Our spiritual life will be more meaningful and enriched.
Dr. J. Das