I was introduced to the poetry of the mystical saint, Kabir Saheb, from my 9th standard Hindi textbook and since then, his poems have remained a deep inspiration for me. Hence, it was this impact of Kabir Saheb’s poetry that inspired me to study Kabir Saheb’s life and philosophy in my 12th standard History Research. Through my project, I tried to evaluate the importance of Kabir Saheb’s legacy today, and how his religious teaching can inspire us to move towards communal harmony.

I am from India, where Hindu – Muslim rivalry is an ongoing topic of discussions. There are constant communal riots where innocent people are killed in the name of religious fanaticism. In this context, Kabir Saheb’s Philosophy came to me as ray of hope towards peace and tolerance. For instance, Kabir Saheb says in one of his sakhis that “He resides neither in the temple nor in the masjid or church.” This highlights Kabir Saheb’s appeal to the masses for one God. He drew ideas from a range of religions to express this idea of an Ultimate Reality – from Islam, he took the terms Allah and Khudha, from Hinduism – he draws the concept of Nirankar and Atman. His teaching of Nam-Simran has also become a Sikh practice. This diversity of terms used by Kabir Saheb conveys the message of unity amongst the religious groups.

Another aspect of Kabir Saheb’s philosophy that touched me was his criticism against empty ritualism. At a time when Brahmanical norms and orthodox Islamic laws were very strong, Kabir Saheb raises his voice against the practices adopted by Hindu and Muslim groups. He advocates the inner devotion for God, and a natural unity with Him, rather than mindlessly praying to God without any belief and love for Him.

Kabir Saheb, for me, is not only a preacher of religious harmony but also a source of knowledge and everyday inspiration. I always remember Kabir Saheb’s doha of “aisee vani boliye, mann ka apa khoye. apna tan sheetal kare, auran ko sheetal hoye.”

Whenever I converse with people, Kabir Saheb’s teachings help me to speak in a positive way. Also, during the times when I start procrastinating in my work, I remember his doha, “kaal kare so aaj kar, aaj kare so ab. pal mein parlaya hoye gi, bahuri karoge kab.” This teaches me the importance of time, and motivates me to start working hard again.

During my research, I also had the opportunity to visit the Kabir Mandir on Idgah Road in Delhi, and I distinctively remember looking at the idol of Kabir Saheb, which was adorned with plain white clothes, and it gave me a feeling of adoration on how mere simplicity can look so peaceful and beautiful. The visit to the Mandir will always be memorable to me.

I would really like to give special thanks to Dr. Jagessar Das of Kabir Association of Canada for answering my queries and guiding me throughout. I am glad to say that I have learnt a lot from this project, and it has broadened my knowledge about life and, I am sure, Kabir Saheb’s philosophy will keep on inspiring many more young students like me in the coming generations.

Shimuran Kitahara

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