Kabir, the illiterate jolaha post who flourished in the 15th century in our ancient land, sang hundreds of spiritual songs and couplets effortlessly.
The first authentic record of some of these of these songs of great spiritual and poetic excellence is to found in the holy Guru Granth Saheb of the Sikhs.
Of these, a large number portray the games between the Soul of man the soul of the supreme. Kabir was firmly of the conviction that God or in other words salvation can be attained by the way of love.
Kabir is now widely read by people in this country and abroad. For the first time, one hundred and one love songs of Kabir are presented in free-verse in simple and lucid English.
The author, a retired IAS bureaucrat, is an expert on Kabir. After retirement he has engaged himself in the study of his life and philosophy and philosophy and produced numerous books on the saint poet of India.
Born 600 years ago and said to live for 129 years (1389-1518 A.D.) kabir belonged to Bhskti Movement with a marked strain of mysticism. It was the time when the Moguls and Afghans had decided that rather than plundering and returning they would occupy what they called Hindustan and settle here for good. In order that a reasonable equation was brought between the two religious, communities, the Sufis and bhaktas started striving for it. A Disciple of Ramanand, Kabir is beloved to have made signification contribution to have made significant contribution towards this cause.
Maybe, Kabir was specifically commissioned for the task. There is an interesting about his birth. It is said that there lived a Brahmin at Varanasi who was a devotee of Ramanand. The Brahmin had a daughter who was a virgin-widow. She longed to pay homage to Ramanand. Her father, one day, took the girl along with him. As she prostrated before Ramanand and touched his feet, the master blessed her with a son. Considering that the girl was a virgin –widow, the Brahmin was in a queer predicament.
Ramadan’s words, however, could not be recalled. In due course, the girl gave birth to a son whom they surreptitiously abandoned by the side of a lake, a little distance away from the town. Soon thereafter the baby was spotted by a spotted by a Muslim weaver and his wife who, as it happened, were issueless; they adopted the child and named him Kabir.
Born of a Brahmin mother and brought up in Muslim family, Kabir as it were, as it were, made for bringing about understanding and amity between the Hindus and Muslims of his time.
He was a no nonsense godman. He rejected ritualism and the unnecessary ceremonials prevalent amongst both the Hindus and Muslims. His approach towards religion was essentially rational. He wanted the Hindus to be good Hindus and the Muslims to be good Muslims. He condemned the curse of caste system and it’s no uncertain impact on Islam in India, vehemently. For him Ram and Rahim were the same. He beloved that there was no such thing as high caste and low caste and low caste. All man are born equal.
He challenged the Brahmin of his day-If you are Brahmin, born of a Brahmin mother, why did you take birth by a different course. How come, I am blood and you are milk.
He found fault with worship of the Hindus. He admonished the devotee telling him every left that he plunked for his offering had life in it which idol he worshipped was lifeless. Says Kabir:
If God can be had by worshipping a stone, I’ll worship a mountain.Better than the stone idol is a handmillThat grinds corn, the man to sustain.
Similarly, he was critical of the Muslim why of life. Not sparing even some of the provisions of the Islamic Shariat. He insisted on dean some of the provisions of the provisions of the Islamic Shariat, He insisted on clean living making no differing between a devout Hindu and a God-fearing, Muslim. Says Kabir:
Make your mind the Kaaba, your body its enclosure,And your conscience the teacher.O Mulla, then only call people for prayer in the mosque That hast ten gates
No wonder that he alienated both the Hindus and Muslim who made a complaint against him to the king kabir was summoned to the court. During the course of argument it was discovered, what to speak of Islam and Brahmanism, Kabir seemed to find fault even with God:
O god, you must decide an issueIf you wish this slave to serve you.Is the soul or to whom it is devoted the greater?Is God or he who knows Him the greater?Is Brahmin or who created him the greater?Is the Pilgrimage or the pilgrim the greater?Says Kabir, this is my predicament.
There came a stage in his life when Kabir without himself from the worldly duties almost altogether and devoted himself exclusively to the worldly altogether and devoted himself exclusively to the spiritual Pursuits. This led to unpleasantness. A family man, quitting his profession and taking to what his people considered ungainful pursuits! An evolved soul, Kabir paid no heed to his sorrowing mother. He has recorded this in one of his hymns:
Kabir’s Mother sobs and screams.How is he going to Maintain his family, O Lord?He has given up his weavingAnd taken to repeating God’s name.Says Kabir, as the thread passes through the spoolIt makes me forget my beloved god for a moment.I am mean a weaver that I am!God’s name is the gift I have gained.
The Sufis of his time believed that one way to attain God (Ishq Haquiqi) was though worldly love (Ishq Majazi). You love the Physical person of your beloved so intensely that a stage comes when the worldly love sublimates itself into spiritual love. That Kabir subscribed to it is evident from his verse. He composed a large number of love-songs that are marked for their sensuous overtones :
Kabir (1389-1518 A.D.) was endowed from birth with deep spiritual insight and strong common sense combined with deep sympathy and love for his fellow beings. He enriched this by taking lessons from the book of life and watching intently the social, political and spiritual scene around him.
As he grew up he spurned the idea of going in for formal education for he considered it enough to learn only the two letters which make rama, His Eternal Supreme God, rather than all the fifty alphabets. And, he should its validity in his own life.
With the guidance of the then eminent spiritual leader Raman and, whom he got his preceptor, and extensive contact and communication with seers and saints of various like Hinduism with its numerous sects as Biashnab, Saiva, Ganapatya, Shakta etc, Jainism and so on which existed side by side occasionally jostling one another, and kabir drew his own lessons from each of them and on their reactions to one another.
As Kabir advanced in his spiritual development he gained the deep rooted conviction that man was created by God in his own image, the soul in man (Jivathma) being part and part and parcel of the Supreme Soul (Paramathma). This idea he accepted from Hindu philosophy. And, though each of the viz Jivathma and Paramathma is ever eager to unite with the it depended on the man (Jiva) concerned how far he was able to help or hinder this process. If he would lead a noble and clean life it would be helpful for soul to achieve the goal of union or else if he indulged in evil deeds it would impede the process by exerting adverse influence on the his soul.
It is, therefore, of utmost importance, Kabir held that man should follow the right path in life in his thought, word and deed and remain steadfast in his devotion to Paramathma. This will facilitate his soul to close and closer to Paramathma till at length the soul in him unites with Supreme Soul.
The whole process of the soul and the Supreme Soul heading towards each other their final union has been termed as Lila or spiritual love game and their ultimate union as spiritual marriage by spiritual leaders, seers and saints, particularly of the Rahasyabad or mystic schools of thought.
Scholars leaders, and seers have racked their brain and gone into intensive enquiry as to why God (Paramathma) being Himself Almighty should have thought of such a process as Lila to effect the union of Jivathma and Paramathma (Himself). They have not found the answerer to that and have remained satisfied holding that Lila is for sake only. There cannot be any explanation for it.
In the view of Kabir love is the basic ingredient of devotion to the Lord. For Kabir without love devotion is meaningless.
Devotion without love of the LordIf held as devotionYou do so of insolenceWasting your life anon.
According to Kabir love plays the most vital part in the union of soul and supreme soul. The following lines f SI. 89 make that self evident:
If my love cold reach himThe heat of my body and mind would vanishSays Kabir if I too could get his loveI would join my face with hisand drink from the same cup of love with Him.
It is said that kabir drew upon the sufi view that the attraction between jivathma and paramathma toward each other is based on love for their ultimate. According to the sufis jivathma (human soul) which should be the prime mover in this game of love between the two is to be taken as the masculine element because they hold that the love of the man for the woman is always because they hold that the love of the man for the woman is always stronger and more eloquent than that of the woman for the man.
Kabir however preferred to accept the Baishnab view that the love of the of the woman is always stronger and more ardent and therefore jivathma which has to be the prime mover must represent the feminine element in the game between the two. Paramathma being the only masculine element (parama Purusha) will be sought after ardently by the feminine element for the union.
In hundreds of his love songs portraying the Prema Lila (game of love) between the jivathma and paramathma kabir has taken the former as the feminine and the latter as the masculine element.
In these songs one hundred and one of which follow the saint poet has in a poignant manner in his homely diction and similes portrayed the urge of love and the pang of separation that the jivathma feels and suffers for want of her love (paramathma) and also the efforts the makes and hopes and fears she entertains in her heart.
They call him ‘Kabir’s man’, a sobriquet anybody would be proud of. For Kabir is one of the most loved of the great saint poets who have trodden the sacred soil of this ancient land and Mr. G.N. Das has been writing for years about him and his teachings in the local newspaper in the local language and in a manner which the common people can understand. His publication include (1) Kabir – Life and philosophy and (2) Kabir shataka (One hundred hymns and one hundred couplets) both in Oriya. Beside he has rendered in to English verse over five hundred couplets three hundreds of which are now under print. None would therefore deserve more than Mr. Das het encomium that the nickname so lovingly bestows upon him.
The present collection has one hundred poems which have been culled from the corpus commonly known as Kabir love songs. In these poems kabir sings of the Prem lila of Jivathma (the individual soul) and Paramathma (the supreme soul) of the ecstasy of love wedlock and pangs of separation. Kabir conceives of jivathma as a part of the Paramathma and sings of the longing of the part for union with the whole;
Long long ago my soul partedfrom my lord, the soul supremeand she craves union with Himbut being unable is sufferingsevere pang of separation
We find the same urge in the following Doha:Says Kabir,The soul craves the Supreme soulTo lose herself in himLove-lorn the soul nears the goalQuivering mingles in the Beam.
In the prem-lila which he sings so ardently in these poems Kabir has assigned to the Jivathma the role of a woman perhaps rightly, so because a woman love is more urgent and more intense than a man and a part has greater urge to unite with the whole like the drop of water vaporized falling into the ocean again at the first whiff of cold air.
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