MY EXPERIENCES IN INDIA – 1985 # 7
About two hundred yards away from the samadhis is the Kabir Gupha (cave) which is a square building with a low-cut door. On entering it there is a narrow stairway leading to about ten feet underground where one finds a small chamber with a small platform, on which there is a simple piece of cloth for sitting on. There is also a photograph of Satguru Kabir. It is thought that Satguru Kabir used this chamber for his meditation during the eight months that he lived there. The building is generally run down. There is a sadhu living here and he closed off the original stairs to the underground chamber, and constructed another one for some reason. However, with the Indian government taking charge, it is expected that renovations will be made to all the structures.
The area of Magahar has been noted for its drought and it is said that at one time the famous yogi, Gorakhnath, brought water to the area by placing his toe at a certain spot and water flowed. Water remained for some time and then dried up. When Satguru Kabir was at Magahar, he brought water by using a stick and marking out a line on the dry earth, and water flowed along that to form the Amin River. Since then this river has remained with water and it is now a beautiful stream bringing water to all the people.
Satguru Kabir gave his teachings to all the devotees who followed him and resided with him at Magahar. Many of his teachings are inscribed in the concrete structures of the samadhis. He departed his life in December 1518, and when there was dispute between the Hindus and Muslims about his body, the Hindus wishing to cremate and the Muslims to bury him, they heard a voice advising them to lift the shroud which covered his body. When they lifted the shroud, they found a heap of flowers. These flowers were divided equally and the Hindus cremated their portion while the Muslims buried theirs.
During this visit to Magahar, we also visited Gorakhpur which was a city nearby. This is the city where the famous yogi, Gorakhnath, resided. There is a beautiful whitish marble temple surrounded by many other buildings, including residences for monks, and the chief priest is called a Mahant, just as in the Kabir Panth. It is said that Gorakhnath engaged Satguru Kabir many times in intellectual and spiritual arguments, but he was never able to defeat Satguru Kabir. Many devotees of the Gorakh Panth came to this area to pay their homage. There was a small building with a perpetual fire. It is stated that Gorakhnath, who used to remain nude a great deal of the time, used to sit in this building to meditate. The whole complex is beautifully located in a park-like setting with surrounding gardens and a central walkway. After a full and memorable day, Jagdish Saheb and I returned to Varanasi at 7 p.m.
Satguru Kabir’s visit to Magahar has a special significance, and the story will not be complete without relating it. He made the visit to Magahar to break a superstition which was prevalent in India that people who die in Magahar will go to hell or be reborn as a donkey, but those who die in Varanasi will go to heaven. This is why devout Hindus will visit Varanasi. No one wished to die in Magahar, especially the priestly or high caste. The Brahmins, being afraid to die in Magahar, challenged Kabir to do so, saying that if he was not afraid, he should die in Magahar. Satguru Kabir stated definitely that he would go and die in Magahar because he was not afraid of going to hell. On that occasion he said: “For me what difference is there between Varanasi (Varanasi) or the barren Magahar when God resides within my heart? If Kabir gives up his body in Varanasi, then what favour has God shown me?”
Satguru Kabir explained to the pandits that if merely dying in Varanasi took them to heaven, then there was no point in believing in God or doing devotion to Him, because Varanasi would of itself ensure that they would go to heaven. Therefore, God did not have to show them any favour, and all their devotion and study of scriptures were in vain. God would really have a chance to prove his favour to them for being good devotees if they went and died in Magahar, because then it was not the place that would take them to heaven, but their true devotion to God that would do so.
On another occasion Satguru Kabir spoke to a pandit named Vyas. He said: “If you are the true Vyas of the city of Mithyla, then you should go and die in Magahar. It is said that those who die in Magahar are reborn as a donkey. What a wonderful faith you have in God!” It is said that the pandit trembled with fear at the thought of going to die in Magahar.
To be continued