Satguru Kabir Das was on the forefront of Bhakti Movement
Satguru Kabir Das was on the forefront and the backbone of the Bhakti Movement in the 14th and 15th centuries in India. Other worship worthy Saints (gurus) were Raidass, Nanak and more. However, as far as caste is concerned, Guru Nanak can be put ahead of others. He was a ‘Kshatriya’ -a high caste Hindu. The other two were of low caste. All of them were not in favour or against any particular religion. But they mocked and ridiculed the prevalent religions of that time on one aspect or the other, whether it was Hinduism, Buddhism or Islam. They all preached for profound ‘universal brotherhood and equality of human being’ on the basis of evolution and ethics. The material aspect of their teachings remained only up to the earning of basic ‘livelihood’ without any huge profit by taking undue advantage of one’s position. We know the examples of these Saints of their own life. Kabir weaved, Raidas cobbled and Nanak plowed. They knew that corruption, intolerance, fanaticism and superstitions were termites of any religion. Today, a simple difference of opinion results in the killings of innocents in huge numbers. This is the fate of any ethics tainted with materialism. The source of all evil is the nature of man. Instead of a “wholesome spirit of competition,” man is afflicted with the desire to be the first in the row. Healthy competition is necessary for development but it should not overshoot the mark and become a goal in itself. It may assume all sorts of aspects -greed, authority, fame – all of which are detrimental to the real efforts toward improvement and development. In fact, it is a distraction from the real aim. It may even turn into one of the most dangerous vices of intelligence: lust for power. Given a chance, most of us are would-be dictators in our personal and professional spheres. It can be in the family or the community. It can be in our economic, political or religious domains. The desire to be an ‘international dictator’ cannot be ruled out. Two World Wars, Cold War and the ensuing dangerous conflicts today are testimonies to this state of affairs. Sometime back I wrote a column for The Link Paper under the heading “Show me the followers and I will show you the worth of the Guru”. Without any personal favour for our Saints (Gurus), it is clear that because of his followers, Guru Nanak today stands far ahead of his senior and able contemporaries. To me, most of the teachings of Guru Nanak are in continuation of the teachings of Satguru Kabir, whether it be against religious bigotry, superstitions, rituals and dogmas and in favour of equality on the basis of gender and caste.
Zile Singh – Retired Deputy Consul of India to Canada