“साधो, देखो जग बौराना ।
साँची कही तो मारन धावै, झूठे जग पतियाना ।
(O saint! See the world going mad.
If you say the truth, they are prepared to kill you; liars become heroes here.)”
Who was Kabir? A mystic? A Sufi? An enlightened being? Kabir said – “The self forgets itself, as a lion jumps into the pond on seeing its own reflection.” More important perhaps is his story. A man born into a Muslim family accepted a Hindu guru and later discovered a path that is independent of both the sects or any sect whatsoever.
At a time when secular ideologies are being threatened and a politics of colour is gripping the country, the verses of Kabir and his life itself has to become a message to all of us. The west rediscovered him at a time when Rumi and Shams were being immigrated from Persia with their message of cosmic love. For us, however, Kabir has gradually turned into a distant voice, cocooned into the image of an enigmatic teacher, and often a holy ‘messenger’ – the very idea that he repelled.
“The river that flows in you also flows in me. We are one and the same.”
Kabir’s philosophy was that of an existentialist who believed in the sanctity of this life, this existence.
“If you don’t break your ropes while you’re alive, do you think ghosts will do it after?”
Kabir resonates with us. In a world shattering itself into pieces – religions, sects, ideologies – Kabir reunites us with our inner selves. The self that is accountable for things and the self that has the power to change.
“बुरा जो देखन मैं चला, बुरा न मिलिया कोई। जो मन खोजा अपना, तो मुझसे बुरा न कोई।।
(As I searched for the devil, I didn’t find one. As I looked within me, I found that I was the evilest of all.)”
Kabir asks us to retrospect. To break free of this carnival of dead emotions and hero worship. To seek the truth that is beyond any ‘ism’ or divided ideologies. His message is simple – as timeless has his legacy – the message of the inner truth, the self, the wonder of this life. Nothing else matters.
“O Slave, liberate yourself.
Where are you, and where’s your home,
find it in your lifetime, man.
If you fail to wake up now,
you’ll be helpless when the end comes.
Says Kabir, listen, O wise one,
the siege of Death is hard to withstand.”