Why is Sant Kabir one of India’s most quoted mystic?
26th June is Sant Kabir’s birth anniversary. Why is Sant Kabir so significant to seekers of truth? What is his message? Why were the great learned pundits of his times baffled by Kabir though he was unschooled? Why he is one of India’s most quoted mystic? What is his contribution to Sikhism?
In India, anybody can be a saint despite their caste, upbringing, social class, literacy, knowledge or otherwise. A Saint in India is called ‘Sant”. The term “Sant” is derived from the Sanskrit “sat” referring to truth or reality. Sant is “one who knows the truth” or “one who has experienced the Ultimate Reality”.
Says the great mystic Osho,
“In the East, one cannot conceive that a ‘Sant’ needs anybody’s certificate… Sainthood is, in itself, self evident. The moment you see it, you know it. The moment you feel it, you know it. It needs no other approval”.
India has seen quite a few saints of both genders who were uneducated, illiterate or even utterly below the poverty line by any standard.
From our deep cultural heritage, we have inherited one such Sant in Sant Kabir. Sant Kabir is considered to be one of the greatest mystic ever born in India and one of the most loved saints revered by many enlightened masters. He is undoubtedly one of India’s most quoted poets and mystics because it is filled with such deep spiritual insights that baffled even the great learned pundits of his time.
In his own time, Guru Nanak and several other spiritual leaders acknowledged Kabir’s greatness and in later times, Rabindranath Tagore is among the literary giants who have spread Kabir’s message. Over 500 verses by Sant Kabir finds place in the holy Granth Sahib -sacred text of Sikhs. Kabir’s works have been sung and recited by millions throughout North India for half a millennium.
Sant Kabir who lived during the fifteenth century was a mystic poet and saint of India, whose sayings and poems have greatly influenced the Bhakti movement. He was a weaver by profession, a simple and unlettered man, who earned his living at the loom. He was never formally educated and was almost completely illiterate. According to legend, the only word that he ever learned how to write was “Raam”.
There are many legends abound about the birth, life and death of Kabir. What is known though is that he was brought up in a family of Muslim weavers. Early in his life Kabir became a disciple of the Hindu bhakti saint Ramananda. Not much is known about what sort of spiritual training Kabir may have received. He did not become a renunciate. Kabir never abandoned worldly life and chose to live the balanced life of a householder and mystic, tradesman and contemplative instead. Kabir was married, had children, and lived the simple life of a weaver.
What’s unique about Sant Kabir is that he is spiritually significant to Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims alike. Kabir was an unschooled saint who preached that Ram or Rahim, Krishna or Karim were merely the different names of the Supreme One.
The beauty of Kabir’s poetry and two line couplets (dohas) is that he picks up situations that surround our daily lives and the market place. Kabir had created nearly 3000 original Dohas. They possess great wisdom and give practical moral guidelines in common people’s dialect. His greatest work is the Bijak(means ‘Seedling) expounds Kabir’s universal view of spirituality. His sayings teach us that human beings are equal and being one with God is our ultimate aim. His love and devotion towards the Supreme One clearly reflects in his poetry.
Generations of Indians have grown up singing Kabir poems from oral traditions to classical traditions, from rustic village gatherings to classical vocalists like Kumar Gandharva who popularized many of Sant Kabir’s bhajans. Almost every Hindustani classical vocalist aspires to sing the poetry of Kabir, sometime in his or her singing career. An entire raga, Kabir Bhairav has been dedicated to his work.
God to Kabir was all pervading supreme spirit. He always advocated the Impersonal Aspect of God (Nirguna). As per his view, all human beings are equal and the societal caste system is fallacious. He said that true guru is the one who can be attained through direct experience. The common ways of realizing God like chanting, austerities, rituals or blind worship had no place in his way of serving God. “Seek him in the depth of your heart!” Kabir advised. His dohas are still read and quoted by people with awe and admiration. Through his dohas Sant Kabir’s expressed love, mysticism and philosophy in the most beautiful manner. Here are some popular dohas.
Pothi Padh Padh Kar Jag Mua, Pandit Bhayo Na Koye
Dhai Aakhar Prem Ke, Jo Padhe so Pandit Hoye
[Reading books where everyone died, none became anymore wise
One who reads the word of Love, only becomes wise]
Dukh Mein Simran Sab Kare, Sukh Mein Kare Na Koye
Jo Sukh Mein Simran Kare, Tau Dukh Kahe Ko Hoye
[In anguish everyone prays to Him, in joy does none
To One who prays in happiness, how sorrow can come]
Chalti Chakki Dekh Kar, Diya Kabira Roye
Dui Paatan Ke Beech Mein,Sabit Bacha Na
[Looking at the grinding stones, Kabir laments
In the duel of wheels, nothing stays intact]
Jyon Naino Mein Putli, Tyon Maalik Ghat Mahin
Moorakh Log Na Janhin, Baahar Dhudhan Jahin
[Like the pupil in the eyes, The Lord resides inside
Ignorant do not know this fact, They search Him outside]
Jaise Til Mein Tel Hai, Jyon Chakmak Mein Aag
Tera Sayeen Tujh Mein Hai, Tu Jaag Sakay To Jaag
[Like the Oil is inside the Seed, Just as the Fire is Inside the Flint Stone; Your God is Inside You, If you have the Power to Wake Up, then Wake Up]