Significance of Kabirdas Jayanti

published on June 13, 2010
V.N. Gopalakrishnan

Kabirdas Jayanti is being observed in India and around the world on the full moon day in the month of Jyeshta (May/June). He was a revolutionary saint, mystic, poet and religious reformer. Meetings, Satsangs and recitals of Sant Kabirdas’ poems are being organized on June 16, this year.

The birth of Kabirdas remains shrouded in mystery. It is believed that his mother was a Brahmin widow and became pregnant after a visit to a shrine in Varanasi. She abandoned the child who was adopted by a Muslim weaver and gave him the name of Kabir. Though his early life began as a Muslim, later he became influenced by Ramananda, the renowned Vaishnava saint. Initially, Ramananda refused to admit Kabirdas as a disciple as he was a non-Brahmin. Raised in a Muslim household, Kabir combined the essential simplicity of Islamic devotion with the intense spiritual yearnings of his guru. During Id-ul-Fateh, Muslims follow the ritual of sacrificing goats. As Kabir was a lover of animals, he persuaded his parents to keep the goats in the household and not send them for sacrifice. Kabir did not allow meat eaters to attend the daily Satsangs which he conducted under the shade of a tree.

Instead of choosing Hinduism or Islam, Kabirdas preached his own religion called Sahaja Yoga (simple union). From Hinduism, he accepted the ideas of reincarnation and the law of Karma but rejected idolatry, asceticism and casteism. From Islam, he accepted the idea of one God and the equality of man before God. He was also influenced by the ideas of Sufis, the Muslim mystics. He was an ardent peace lover and never understood why people should fight in the name of religion. He called himself the child of ‘Ram’ and ‘Allah’ and fondly chanted the name of ‘Lord Ram’.

Kabirdas had a strong belief in Vedanta, Sufism, Vaishnavism and Nath Sampradaya. He applied the knowledge that he gained through the experiences of his life and preached about compassion towards other living beings. He appealed for the need to have company of good people that adhere to values and principles. He advocated the Vedantic concepts of Atman but at the same time supported the idea of minimalist living preached by the Sufis.

Kabir has beautifully expressed his values and beliefs in his writings that include Dohas, poems, Ramainis, Kaharvaas and Shabads. Dohas are two-line verses and are thought-provoking messages and inspirational teachings. They are simple similes and philosophical ideas which have a universal appeal. He wrote many poems extolling the greatness of the oneness of the Supreme Being and a reflection of his philosophy about life.

Kabir wrote simple philosophical thoughts which the common man could understand. His poetry had the knack to raise the conscience level of people and make them walk on the path of spirituality. He sang in simple Hindi, the language of the common people and not in Sanskrit or Persian. Twenty-one books of Kabir’s poetry have been preserved. 100 bhajans of Kabirdas have been included in the Kabir Granth. Devotees derive solace from these bhajans when in distress.

Kabir was always in the pursuit of truth and nothing could hold him back. According to Kabir, the best place to look for God is ‘in the heart of your heart.’ He was personification of humility and according to him, ‘purity is life and sensuality is death’. “A rosary (Japa mala) is rotating in the hand and tongue swings in the mouth. But if the mind is moving in all the four directions, then it is not a meditation of God”, he wrote.

Kabir had a strong faith in the concept of the oneness of God. He preached that the same Supreme Being appears in all religions. The basic idea was to spread the message that whether you chant the name of Hindu God or Muslim God, the fact is that there is only one God who is the creator of this beautiful world.

It is said that a tussle took place between the Hindus and Muslims when he died over the issue of performance of the last rites. Finally, a tomb as well as a Samadhi Mandir was constructed next to each other. According to a legend, before his death, he took a holy bath in Ganga and Karmnasha, so as to wash away his sins as well as the good deeds.

Kabirdas was referred to as the servant of humanity and hence a servant of divinity. History salutes Sant Kabirdas as one of those religious reformers who took his birth to overthrow the mighty barriers which divide man from man and one part of God’s family from another.
 (The author is a social activist and Director, Indo-Gulf Consulting. He can be contacted on [email protected])

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