Saint Kabir (1290-1410 A.D ?.)
- Life and Message: By Dr. H. K. Gandhi
From the dawn of human civilization and pre-historic millenniums, India (Bharat) has remained a land of God search, religious debates and spiritual quest. During the long span of evolution innumerable visionaries (Darshniks), saints, poets, noble kings, Rishies, (Philosophers), Bhaktas (Devotees), and Acharyas (founders of religious cults) have contributed their wisdom in the Vedas, Upanishads, Gita, Hindu Darshans and scriptures of Jainism and Buddhism. They provide moral guidelines not only for the people of India but for entire mankind. India may be backward in scientific developments, but she is the richest land of religious literature, noble conduct and moral guidelines for all classes of people. India possesses wonderful scriptures of philosophy and God search by self search.
This literature was created during the BC. centuries. In those times Europe was living in dark ages. The scriptures were usually created in a poetry format so that people can memorize it and pass over to the next generations.
Great saint, poet and Bhakta Kabir was one such `Kohinoor' of India who lived during the 13th century AD. The exact date and place of his birth and the names of his parents are not available because he was an abandoned orphan. He was cared and raised by a Muslim weaver couple. The art of weaving cotton was invented in India since prehistoric centuries, but the class of weavers was looked upon as an untouchable class by orthodox Brahmin priests.
During young age Kabir came in contact with a great Hindu Acharya Ramanujacharya. He was a true devotee of Rama preaching one God theory. Inspired by this divine teacher of God,
Kabir became a devotee of God.
Kabir had created nearly 3000 original Dohas (two line verses of poetry). They possess great wisdom and give practical moral guidelines in common people's dialect. His poetry has the touch of a sweet breeze flowing from the ocean of great religious wisdom. The words of enlightened souls spring from heart and convey a direct message of God and human equality. Such souls don't do verbatim translation of ancient scriptures which most traditional priests usually do.
Like any true saint, Kabir had a broad minded attitude towards all religions like Islam and Hinduism. But his broad views were strongly opposed by priests of both the groups. Kabir was imprisoned, harassed, tortured, poisoned, and many attempts were done to kill him. Lord has promised in Gita "My true devotee never perishes".
"(Na me Bhakataha Pranashyati)". He was saved in all these events. Kabir lived a long life of 120 years.
The words flowing from the lips of Kabir were so appealing that in course of time many saints, kings and people of Hindu and Muslim faiths became great devotees of Kabir.
Islam was started by Mohammed in the middle east during 7th century AD. It united many Arab tribes fighting in names of many pagonic idols of Gods. Lot of gold had accumulated in the temples of India like the Shiva temple of Somnath in Gujarat. There was lack of unity among the Hindu kings. Priests preaching different faiths in name of different Gods and practice of untouchability as a religious custom had failed to create religious unity in India. All these factors invited the Arab tribes to invade India from 10th century onwards. After some invasions, a Ghori dynasty was established in Delhi. It was followed by a Lodi dynasty. Ibrahim Lodi was the ruler of Delhi in the time of Kabir.
Kabir mostly lived near Kashi (Benarasa) in a small hut. He earned his livelihood by doing the job of a weaver - the art of his foster parents. Visitors came from all parts of India to hear his devotional songs and learn about the practical religion in daily life. One day an unknown woman came and requested to stay with Kabir and serve him for life. Kabir accepted her request and she took care of his home affairs. People thought they were husband and wife, but it was not true. They lived a chaste life. They adopted an orphan boy Kamal and a girl Kamali and raised them. Many verses of Kabir are addressed to Kamal, in the style of a father giving good advice to a son.
Kabir kahe Kamalko, do bataa shikh le;
Kar Sahib ki bandgi aur bhukheku kuch de.
Kabir says to (son) Kamal " Learn two things in life. Pray God and give something to a hungry person". Hunger in this verse has two meanings. Hunger of food and hunger of knowledge. Do not withhold knowledge if some one comes to learn from you. Give good advice freely to a lost path soul.
During the last years of his life Kabir shifted his residence from Kashi to his native place of Mazaharpur in U.P.-India. His Hindu and Muslim devotees came in great numbers to visit the departing saint. Muslim devotees wanted to bury his dead body in a grave and build a monument. Hindu devotees wanted to erect a Samadhi on the cremation site. Kabir could foresee that these people would fight for the final rites of his dead body.
He indicated an exact date and time of his death and entered a room for final prayers and meditation. When the devotees opened the room next morning, they were surprised to find that there was no trace of any body but a pile of fresh flowers on the bed.