Satguru Kabir was a transformer and not a reformer as some people say that he was. He was talking to people about the Truth and the Reality, both of which are interchangeable terms. And as many people were not cognizant of what Truth and Reality were, he wanted them to awaken to what these were in their life, and that manifested in the universe. We can say that he was teaching them about the Ultimate Reality. This Ultimate Reality must be realized within, and no scripture or lecture/sermon could give that experience. So he wanted to transform the hearts of the people. This had nothing to do with any of the religions prevalent in India during his time, but everything to do with making people realize the Truth of their being.
The reason Satguru Kabir wanted to do this was that he observed the religious practices of people that did not lead to Self-Knowledge. Without Self-Knowledge people could not realize the goal that they wished to attain. For example, people bathed in the Holy Ganga River to wash away their sins and to obtain liberation. On such an occasion he said, “kya pani men mal mal nahaye, man ka mail utaar re prani (What is the value of scrubbing and washing your body, when you still have dirt in your mind. O Man! Wash the dirt from the mind.” He directed his exhortation to the people, independent of reference to religion.
A reformer is a person who belongs to a religion and does not agree with certain rules, teachings, rituals or other aspects of his religion, and endeavors to make changes. A notable example was Martin Luther in Germany who disagreed with the selling of “indulgencies” by the Roman Catholic Church. He thus posted ninety-five theses on the church door. This ushered in the Reformation and a split in the church into Roman Catholicism and Protestantism. Luther was a Reformer. The same could not be said about Satguru Kabir. He questioned, or pointed out, the unrewarding practices of both the Hindus and Muslims, so both conspired to kill of him by seeking the help of then emperor Sikandar Lodi. He told the people, “hindu kahun toh hun nahi, musalman bhi nahi, paanch tattva ka putla, gaibi khele mahin(I cannot say that I am a Hindu or a Muslim. I am a doll made of five elements in which the magician plays)” You can see here that Satguru Kabir, likening himself to a doll, completely surrendered himself to God, the magician. He did not try to reform Hinduism or Islam, but taught from his inner realization the Truth that sets people free.
Dr. Jagessar Das