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Monday, July 02, 2007

Bhagat Kabeer jeeoo...

Kabir was one of India’s leading spiritual saints who lived in the northern part of India in (and around) the holy city of Benares (also called Varanasi). He is widely renowned for his pithy couplets and songs that connect life and spirituality in a simple yet powerful way. His words were in a universal language that, literally and figuratively, broke down barriers to experiencing the divine.

Very little appears to be known about Kabeer jee with any degree of certainty. Hindus want him to be a representative of their religion. They claim that he was born to a Hindu woman, even though he was raised by a Muslim family and that he was a disciple of a Hindu Guru, Ramananda. Muslims tend to emphasize his Muslim upbringing and his initiation into the Sufi traditions. The celibate/ascetic sects claim that Kabeer never married and if evidence of his marriage is presented, they retort that he never had an intimate relationship with his wife. Sikh and Shabad-based traditions say that the essence of Kabeer’s practice was based on tuning in to the internal sounds. Even though his exact birth and death times cannot be ascertained reliably, it is quite likely that he lived beyond the age of 50. He was not formally educated because his songs and couplets lack the erudite tone and have a refreshing rustic quality. That he may have been a weaver is evident from his songs and couplets that draw inspiration and metaphors from the weaving profession. It is also likely that he was born and brought up poor and continued to work throughout his life as he strongly upheld the working-to-earn way of life.

What is clear is that Kabeer was courageous enough to speak his truth even in face of societal pressures and coercion. From his work, we know that he was quite critical of hypocrisy especially among religious leaders. Even though we cannot ascertain whether he was tolerant of genuine devotees who worshipped physical forms of God, we can be reasonably confident that his own spiritual path was focused more on an internal form of devotion to God and Guru – terms that he often used interchangeably to convey the cosmic force. In essence, the core of Kabir’s life and teachings are based on honesty, truth, conviction and simplicity, renewed continuously by inner experience and propelled by an unceasing detachment from the web of physical and mental realities.

Kabeer speaks to us in a direct and uninhibited tone that invariably shakes us out of our slumber-like existence. His candid and frank style is so beautiful and refreshingly crisp. The instructions are simple yet deep, obvious yet multi-layered, challenging yet caring, powerful yet empowering, irreverent yet deeply devotional. Indeed, Kabeer, lived what he preached, or, more accurately, preached what he lived. Like a true master, he always spoke the highest truth regardless of the circumstances. Kabeer’s completeness and humility becomes obvious in how he addresses every seeker as a Sadhu and himself as the commoner, Kabeera. Sometimes one gets the feeling that the conversational teachings of Kabeer, are actually a dialog between Kabeer, the Master and Kabeer, the disciple, inside of him. Despite his open criticism of dogmas and sects, Kabeer is very embracing of every seeker and includes himself in that category.

Article by - Maalok.



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