Brij Mohan Sharma
Sant Kabir is one of the most revered personalities in the history of Indian mysticism. His life was both worldly and spiritual. He was one such bold and fearless saint who never shirked to impart true energy and direction to people. He meditated on eternal truth and expressed his spiritual experiences without any fear or inhibition. Both Hindus and Muslims accepted and treated him as a great spiritual teacher.
Kabir was also a great social and religious reformer. His mystical poetry is supreme and matchless. It has kept Kabir alive to this day in the hearts of Indians. His wonderful songs are spontaneous expressions of his vision and a display of his extreme love for mankind. In his poems a wide range of mystical emotion has been brought into play, and he has expressed his thoughts in a beautiful manner using homely metaphors and religious symbols drawn from both Hindu and Mohammeden beliefs. From his poems, it is difficult to divine whether the author was a Brahman or a Sufi, a Vedantist or a Vaishnavite.
Not only his birth and death are shrouded in mystery but the entire life of Kabir is an enigma.
The common belief is that Kabir was found at the bank of a large and deep pond at Lahartara near Kashi (Varanasi) some time in Samwat 1455 (corresponding to 1399 AD) by a weaver couple Neeru and Neema who were Mohammedans and were childless. For them, the child was a gift from God. So, they brought him up as their own son with all the love and care at their disposal.
While growing, Kabir learnt the art of weaving, and throughout his life continued with this profession. Cloth-weaving in those days was not as lucrative as it is today. Kabir had therefore to live a hand-to-mouth life. In one of his verses he portrays his life as : “Jati Julaha, nam Kabira, bani-bani phiron udasi”. He never hankered for wealth, and prayed to God: “Sain itna dijiye jame kutum samaya, mein bhi bhukha na rahun sadhu na bhukha jaye”.
To quench his thirst for spiritual knowledge, Kabir adopted Ramanand, a religious and spiritual master of Banaras, as his `Sadguru’. “Rama-Rama” became his Guru mantra. For Kabir, however, his Rama was formless, shapeless Absolute Braharrian, who creates all and pervades in all.
Kabir also did not believe in religious rituals and idol worship. He proclaimed that to search God, one has not to run from pillar to post. The Brahaman (God) is very close to man and lives in him. He can turn around and see Him. He can look inside and find Him for He is everywhere.
In one of his poems, he says: “O, Man! Where do you search Me? I am just by your, side. I am neither in temples nor in mosques neither in rites nor in ceremonies; neither in yoga nor in renunciation; If you are true seeker, you can see Me at once, you will meet me in a moment’s time. Listen to me O, Sadhu! God resides in the breath of each breath.”
To be more explicit, it may be pertinent to quote Swami Vivekananda here. Swamiji says…. “Why does man look for God? Why does man, in every nation, in every society, want a perfect ideal somewhere either in man, in God, or elsewhere? Because the ideal is within you. It is your own heart beating and you did not know; you were mistaking it for something external. It is God within your own self that is propelling you to seek him, to realize Him. After, long search here and there, in temples and churches, in earths and heavens, at last you come back, completing the circle from where you started, to your own soul and find that He, for whom you have been weeping and praying in churches and temples, on whom you were looking as mystery of all mysteries shrouded in clouds, is nearest of the near, in your own self, the reality of your life, body and soul….”
Kabir’s poem, quoted above, is indeed a masterpiece. He has cocooned the whole wisdom and mystery of divine realization in six or seven lines of his verse.
Some say Kabir followed and advocated Sahaj Yoga for God-Realization. It is believed Sahaj Yoga does not practice chanting mantras or physical exercises. Instead, the Sahaj Yoga develops a quiet awareness of subtle energy (prana) within. Sahaj Yoga claims to increase your focus and concentration, makes you feel more energised, makes you experience inner peace and tranquility, helps you to control your thoughts, imparts clarity of thought and increases the level of self-awareness. It claims to bring happiness and change in your life.
Kabir’s practicing Sahaj Yoga gets further confirmed when he says “Sur samano Chandra main, duhan kiya ghar ek; Man kä cheyata tab bhaya, kacchi purbala lekh”.
A devotee when in meditation mixes the breathing of his right nostril (sun-nostril) and with the left nostril (moon-nostril) known as Ira or Ganga and Pingla or Yamuna, with the central (Braharnan nostril) he is able to control the whole of respiratory system and enjoys the illumination and union with Divine.
In fact, this is the purpose of all Yogas inherited by us from our ancestor saints, such as Hatha yoga, Raja Yoga, Dhyana Yoga, Kriya Yoga, Bhakti yoga, etc. etc.
Kabir also staunchly believed in and stressed for Love Divine, which is the primary and most essential prerequisite for attaining self-realization. It is the common factor which unites the finite with infinite. All is soaked in love the love describes the “Form of God”, the whole creation is the play of Eternal Love; the living, changing, growing expressions of Brahman’s love and joy.
Asserting that LOVE is the only means to reach God, Kabir says: O, man! Put thy cleverness away; mere words shall never unite thee to Him. Do not deceive thyself with the witness of the scriptures; Love is something other than this, and he who has sought it truly has found it.”
In another poem he says: “I did all, made all the efforts by meditation, penance, self-control and regular bathing, but when everything failed then I started emotional worshipping of the Lord.”
For the mere intellectualist, as for the mere priest, he had little approbation. Love has been throughout his “absolute sole Lord”; the unique source of the more abundant life which he enjoys. According to him, love totally absorbs the soul in the Being of God. Kabir further says: “The body and mind cannot contain themselves when they are touched by His great joy; He is immersed in all consciousness, all joys, and all sorrows; He has no beginning and no end; He holds all within His Bliss.”
Kabir was absolutely drunk with the nectar of Divine Love. He was intoxicated by the bliss of the Lord. When asked about his experience of the Divine bliss, he says: “It cannot be told by the words of the mouth; it cannot be written on paper; it is like a dumb person who tastes a sweet thing – how shall he explain the taste”.
In another place he says: “Par-Brahman ke tej ka kaisa hai unwan; Kahi be ka shobha nahi, dekh jahan parwan.” None can guess the depth, width and brightness of the illumination of the Absolute Brahman. It can only be felt, it cannot be described.
(The writer is former Addl. Secy. to Govt.)
Brij Mohan Sharma