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Dohe of Kabir

Kabir Ke Dohe : पिसती चक्की देख दिया कबीर रोय

पिसती चक्की देख दिया कबीर रोय।
दुई पाटन के बीच साबूत बचा न कोय।।

 

Meaning : Kabir cries when he looks at these grinding wheels, churning endlessly (Pisati Chakki) and mercilessly, crushing everyone in between them, not sparing anyone. 

 

This is one of the most commonly known Dohas or couplets of Kabir but often, it is misunderstood and misinterpreted.  Kabir is talking about the pair of grinding wheels in between which, we are all getting crushed. 

What does Kabir mean by these grinding wheels? As per the normal understanding, the grinding wheel which Kabir is talking about is this universe. The earth is the base wheel and the sky is the upper wheel. And we humans are like the grains trapped in between these two, getting crushed endlessly. 

So, many people also conclude that Kabir suggests, it is impossible to be happy in this world. This somewhere leads us to inevitability of pain and suffering in life. 

Is that really so? The same Kabir, who talks about the shower of bliss, would he just conclude that suffering is unavoidable? We need a completely different approach to understand this Doha and to catch its real essence. 

The two wheels necessarily symbolise friction. They convey a sense of constant conflict to me. If there is no friction, i.e. no conflict between these two wheels, the ‘suffering’ would immediately stop. I feel, the wheels Kabir is talking about are reality i.e. what exists and our expectations – how we want the things to be. 

If we look at this Doha with this new definition of the grinding wheels, it makes total sense. We are constantly getting crushed by the conflict between ‘what is’ and what we want. A major chunk of our energy goes in fighting with what is and changing it to something that we imagine or some ideal which the society, our parents or we ourselves have given to us. 

This is the part where Kabir and Krishnamurti come very close to each other. J. Krishnamurti says, when we know (at a superficial level) that we are violent, we invent a non-existent ideal – nonviolence. Which means, the reality is North Pole and we invent a South Pole which is the ideal. An our life becomes a constant struggle between these two poles. 

Acceptance, Krishnamurti says, is the answer and not creating a radically opposite, non-existent ideal. Kabir has put up this problem very nicely. He has explained it very nicely, using a simple metaphor of grinding wheels. What solution does he propose to this problem?

Kabir shares an answer somewhat similar to J. Krishnamurti but in form of another Doha and another analogy.

पाटी पाटी सब कहे, कील कहे ना कोय।
जब कोई कील कहे, तो दुख काहे को होय।।

 

Meaning: Everyone talks about the two grinding wheels and no one talks about the motionless point of pivot which lies at the centre of these two wheels. If one rests there, pain and suffering end. 

 

If you ever have observed the actual grinding wheels, you must have seen the small portion at the centre of the wheels where the movement is almost negligible. The few grains which stay at that spot, remain intact. Kabir is using this analogy to make us move towards our own centres. We are constantly moving out and that’s why the conflict. Can we move in? Can we touch ourselves? Can we, with all our energies look at us and accept us as we are? 

This very acceptance, Kabir says, is liberating. 

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Kabir mysticism osho

Key to Happiness : A Few Insights from Ashtavakra Mahageeta

Ashtavakra Muni can be said to be one of the most rational sages we ever had in India. We often think that spirituality is very thinly related to rationality. The root of this misconception lies in the fact that we, our relationships and our society primarily works through a false structure. The structure itself is irrational and hence, we often find spirituality irrational. In very simple words, if my ruler itself is bent, I will find every straight line skewed. Some of the fundamental truths which Ashtavakra Muni explains in a very straight-forward language, might appear to be absolutely illogical to us. Yet, I am going to talk about a few of them. 

Throughout his Mahageeta, Ashtavakra talks about Sakshibhava (साक्षीभाव) which simply means to be a witness. He calls this witness Drashta (द्रष्टा). Who is witness? A witness is that part of us, or rather that state of being where we just observe things and events without getting affected by them or their outcomes. A witness is concerned about witnessing what is happening and has zero attachment to what happens. Generally, whenever we look at something, we look at it with some sort of attachment. We are concerned more with the outcome as it might either be favourable to us or might also be detrimental to us. When we truly become a witness, Ashtavakra highlights, we move in a state where nothing can affect us; there is nothing favourable and nothing harmful or detrimental. 

Osho, in his volumes of Ashtavakra Mahageeta has explained the concept of ‘Drashta’ or witness in a very unique way. With little help from him, I would be trying my best to simplify what Ashtavakra is hinting at when he says be a Sakshi or Drashta. 

We normally exist in three states. The first mode of being is a Drishya (दृश्य) which means ‘object of someone’s attention’. In this state of being, we strive to be an object of someone’s attention. Most of us are in this state most of the times. We want to get noticed, we want to be talked about. All of us in some way or the other, keep trying to be an object of people’s attention. Our interactions and updates on social media are a testimony to this thirst of almost all of us. The root of our desire to be a ‘Drishya’ is the hollowness that we find within ourselves. We want people to look at us so that we can portray we have some ‘substance’ and we are not hollow. 

The next state of being is Darshak (दर्शक) or the viewer. For someone to be a Drishya, there have to be at least a few Darshaks. While some people try becoming Drishya to fill up their hollowness, some try doing that by being a Darshak. Being a Darshak is far easier than being a Drishya and that’s why, whenever people find a Drishya, they gather around him or her. A Darshak looks at things out of his or her boredom and out of inability of looking within oneself. When a child is bored with one toy, it chases the other; in same way, a Darshak keeps moving from one Drishya to the other. 

When a child is bored with one toy, it chases the other; in same way, a Darshak keeps moving from one Drishya to the other. 

The third state of being is a Drashta (द्रष्टा), the Sakshi or the Witness. A witness is not an ordinary viewer like Darshak. For Drashta, Darshak is Drishya. Which means, a true witness is no more interested in looking at others. He is no more concerned with what happens outside. He observes how the Darshak in him/her is eluded by the Drishya/s outside. 

What Ashtavakra says about being a Drashta, the same thing has been said by Sant Kabir, in a very different language:

बुरा जो देखन मैं चला, बुरा न मिलिया कोई। 

जो मन खोजा अपना, तो मुझसे बुरा न कोई।।

(I started searching for the devil but could not find anyone. When I searched inside me, realised, the devil is inside me!)

This is the whole gist of being a witness. Looking at oneself; closely observing how we get dragged away and get attached to what we see around us. Once we start understanding how we attach our personal interests to each and everything happening around us, we start realising how being detached from these things leads us to acceptance.  

The outcome of being a Sakshi is to arrive at the magic key to happiness : acceptance. 

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Kabir

The Art of Swimming Through Life Without Getting Entangled : Wisdom of Sant Kabir

Kabir.

When we hear this name, the picture that our minds create is of a saint, living a minimalistic life while maintaining a distance from the society. Living silently in his Kuti, may be surrounded by a few disciples. Loi, which we all assume to be his wife, would be sitting silently in a corner. The constant sound of this weaver’s loom might be the canvas on which the couple lived their ‘non-happening’ life.

Kabir might be going out every day for a few hours to sell the fabric he religiously wove. On the way back, he would be buying few vegetables and some rice. Such a boring life!

On the face of it, the life of Kabir seems so much devoid of ‘life’! People writing and talking about Kabir or singing Kabir have much busier and much more happening lives than the saint himself!

Was Kabir happy with his life? If he comes back on earth now, having lived a simple life, how will he feel when he finds out that people singing his Bhajans and Dohas are celebrities? Kabir, the ultimate creative being, might have lived in a leaking hut all the life. Will Kabir get depressed looking at the scenario around now?

I know the answer. In fact, I know it because Kabir himself has given the answer in one of his Doha’s. He says,

फुलवा भार न ले सके, कहे सखियन सो रोय |
जो जो भिजे कामरी, त्यो त्यो भारी होय ||

We are so delicate, that weight of even a flower is too much to bear! Still, we get involved in life and become heavy like a drenched blanket!

In these two lines, Kabir has beautifully demonstrated a middle way to live life. We are used to live life at the poles; either we get extremely involved in the life or we start rejecting it straight away. Not even one of Kabir’s Dohas are against life. The very fact that Kabir worked as a weaver tells us how well he accepted life and was a part of it.

Kabir asks us neither to get involved in life nor to reject it. He hints at the third possibility – living life totally, without getting entangled in it. The problem is not with life; the problem is when we start getting entangled in it.

To be honest, Kabir is not the only saint who has emphasised this middle way. Another mystic from India, Ashtavakra Muni, who lived much before Kabir, has said the same thing. In fact, not running from life, but living it and looking at it without getting attached has been a central thread running in the wisdom of most of the Indian saints and mystics.

If we take a closer look at the above Doha of Kabir, it is quite clear that the saint was against even slightest of attachment.

We are so delicate, that weight of even a flower is too much to bear!

Attachment is the problem. How large or small that attachment is, makes no difference.

What’s wrong with being attached?

The most fundamental principle in Eastern Philosophy is the principle of ‘negation’. To put it simply, truth cannot be found out positively. Rather, you can just find out what truth is not.

Kabir says,

साहिब है घट माही

Which means, god or truth is within you, rather, you are it!

The problem is, we have identified ourselves with too many things which we are not! In other words, we have attached ourselves to what we are not. When we detach ourselves from all that we are not, we are left with what we are – the Truth.

So, the shortcut to finding god or truth is not finding out what we are, but rather realising what we are not!

We misinterpret that all the saints, including Kabir, are against life. It’s our misinterpretation. They were in fact very much for life; but life devoid of attachments. More entangled and involved we are, farther we are from the truth.

How to cut through the entanglements of life? Again, the answer comes from Kabir.

राम निरंजन न्यारा रे, अंजन सकल पसारा रे

Ram is not the god that we worship. The Ram in Kabir’s Dohas and Bhajans is located inside us. The one who gets entangled, attached and involved.

Kabir says, the Ram within you is the only truth and not the things in which he is involved.

To make it simple, when we get attached to something, we should move the eyes within and try finding out the one who is being attached. When this process happens more frequently, one realises that this feeling of attachment is just an illusion. The Ram within is beyond any attachment.

The simplicity in Kabir’s life is not because of lack of life; that simplicity came out of lack of attachments. Though his life looks non-juicy on the face of it, it was throbbing with the nectar of life!

Steering through life without getting entangled is one of the most precious pearls of wisdom which Kabir gave the world!

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Kabir

Kabir and Krishnamurti : Drawing Some Parallels

Kabir and the simplicity of his words have always stunned me. So has the intensity of the words of Jiddu Krishnamurti. While reading and singing Kabir with one’s totality, one can experience the truth, suddenly flashing like a thunder in the dark sky filled with clouds. On the other hand, when one completely surrenders to Krishnamurti’s writings and flows with them without holding anything back, one can actually see the movement of the mind. And then comes a moment, when the mind completely stops; and the truth again shines itself up like a thunder in the dark sky.

Kabir shares his experience of truth while Krishnamurti, through his writings, pushes you to it.

Some two years ago, I happened to listen to a Kabir’s Bhajan sung by Pt. Kumar Gandharva : नैय्या मोरी निके निके चालन लागी. The Bhajan compares us to the boatman sailing his boat through the turbulent currents of life. Kumarji’s rendition of this Bhajan is extraordinarily beautiful and I listened to this particular composition dozens of times. I always stumbled upon the last stanza:

कहे कबीरा जो बिन सिर खेंवे, सो यह सुमती बखाने ।

या बहू हित की अकथ कथा है, बिरले खेवट हि जाने ।।

(Kabir says, the one who sails without using his head, becomes available to the wisdom (intelligence). This secret to the wisdom cannot be told by one person to the other; rarely, a sailor will be able to discover it.)

In short, Kabir is talking about a way of life which involves keeping aside one’s ‘head’! I found it very difficult to grasp this line fully. Once again, Kabir had shared a thunder, a pulse of truth which my mind was unable to comprehend.

After few days, while I was reading one of the Krishnamurti’s books, where he was talking about how mind is a result of conditioning, I stumbled upon the following line:

“Any action that has come out of an idea, will lead to sorrow.”

Krishna ji tried so hard to make us realize that we are constantly operating from our mind, which is essentially a collection of memories, which is adding further to our misery. Only a quiet yet alert mind, which seeks nothing, can operate through the intelligence, says Krishna Ji.

What Krishnamurti has shared so elaborately and step by step, hoping that we would not only read his books but will actually observe our minds and the movement of thought, Kabir has revealed that in a single stroke.

Both the saints are pointing in the same direction – where mind sees its own limitation and becomes quiet; to make way for the ‘सुमती’ in Kabir’s words and ‘intelligence’ in Krishnamurti’s words. The containers are different, content is same.

 

 

 

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Kabir

The Current Crisis at Infosys and a Few Words From Kabir

Infosys. This word resonates with a loss of almost INR 22,000 crores for its share holders. A company, which was once talked about for its work culture and for being a great work place, is today being talked about for the turmoil, which reflected into a huge loss to the share holders.

On the surface, there might be many reasons, including the Panaya deal and others which we believe, have led to this chaos; but if one analyses the situation closely, the main reason behind all this chaos is lack of trust or at least a feeling of lack of trust.

The founder share-holder has his own reasons to doubt and disapprove the moves of the CEO. The other board members doubt the founder-share holder’s accusations. The CEO says he is not getting the required support, which simply means he does not trust the board and finally quits.

Kabir says,

पढ़ा सुना सीखा सभी, मिटी ना संशय शूल |

कहे कबीर कैसो कहू, यह सब दुःख का मूल ||

We keep doubting and cannot trust in spite of all the knowledge that we gather.  Kabir says, it pains to explain that confusion is the root of sorrow.

Great technology does not build  great company. Great systems and procedures do not build a great company. Technology, systems and processes and other such things certainly contribute to the growth of a company but great companies are built by great culture and trust is undoubtedly the most important contributor to build a great culture. If one looks at the situation at Infosys, the trust is missing at the apex level.

Corporate world would be so much better if companies focused on culture instead of just profits.

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Dohe of Kabir

Kabir Doha on Recognizing Hidden Gems Around Us

चन्दन गया बिदेस, सब कोई कहत पलास।
ज्यो ज्यो चूल्हा झोंकिये, त्यों त्यों महके बास।।

Imagine a block of sandalwood visiting another country, where people do not know anything about it; people will simply think that it is an ordinary block of wood. But when they start burning it in their stoves, due to its unique and beautiful smell, they will soon realize their mistake.

Once the sandal is put in the stove, it’s gone!

Similarly, we fail to recognize great people when they are among us and realize their value only after they are gone, burnt in the crematoriums.

When I look at my own life, I feel grateful that I could meet so many beautiful souls and mentors. At the same time, I also realize that many of my friends and other people in my circle who also meet and interact with these ‘gems’ fail to recognize them and their grace.

Kabir has used a very beautiful metaphor for what we experience in our lives. He says, not everyone is able to recognize a block of sandalwood by just having a look at it. Some will know its value just by looking at it, while some will find it out only after burning it.

Why is it so? Why we fail to recognize ‘sandalwoods’ around us? One of the most common reasons is, we never look at a person with open heart; rather we just look at him or her through lenses of our own expectations, priorities and demands. Before we truly know a person, based on our impression and our expectations, we create a static image of that person and then we keep on referring to that image instead of the actual person. In order to discover a gem, one has to keep aside all the expectations and demands.

Secondly, one has to be at ease and without any hurry. If you take a block of sandalwood in your hand and just hold it for a few seconds, you will start getting the mild smell of it. Same is with people. We always meet for a purpose, are in a hurry to talk rather than listening to the other person. We always have an agenda and are never at ease. To feel the grace, one has to be at ease; without hurry and without any agenda.

The society is full of so many incredible people! One just has to keep aside the baggage to feel their grace…

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Dohe of Kabir

How to live a fruitful life: Wisdom from a Doha by Sant Kabir

हरिजन तो हारा भला, जीतन दे संसार ।
हारा तो हरी सो मिले, जीता जम के द्वार ।।

English translation of Doha:

A seeker of truth is happy with the fact that he has not conquered anything and is a loser from the worldly perspective. The whole world is after conquering something and let them conquer. The one who conquers will meet death and the so called loser will meet the lord.

Kabir says, a true seeker is happy as he or she is. He is not looking after conquering anything. Strangely, whatever we call as ‘living’ is nothing but an unending quest to conquer. Our education system is based on defeating others and securing the first position. The competition everywhere around us forces to conquer. Sadly, life is nothing but an unending battle. After we win one battle, a bigger and more complex one is always waiting for us.

When Kabir says a true seeker is happy with not conquering anything, he is highlighting that true seeker is no more interested in the competition. His growth is inspired from within and not forced from outside. Interestingly, when one is caught in this endless cycle of conquering, there is no time left to remain still and reflect.

This is exactly what happens with us. We have kept our lives so busy that we do not have time even to pause for a minute and question where are we heading! The one, who is not in a hurry to win the next battle, has ample of time to reflect, contemplate and improve. Zen saints as well as Indian mystics like Ashtavakra have given a lot of importance to witnessing. Just observe yourself, your thoughts as a third person. This witnessing can only happen when one is not in hurry; when one is at ease with himself or herself. Kabir says, better to be a loser, who has ample of time to be at peace with himself than a blind winner.

In the second line of this doha, Kabir says, the so called loser will meet the lord and the conquerer will meet the death. Clearly, the one who is not in the race will first think and then choose what he wants in his life and has a  higher chance of ultimately finding it. His actions wont be governed by others and the outer circumstances. He will act out of his wisdom. Such a person is more likely to have a fruitful life. On the other hand, the one who is tirelessly fighting and competing in his life, will one day realize that his time has come to an end before he could really ‘win’ anything.

This doha of Kabir enlightens us about two modes of living our lives – the first one is blind, governed by outer competition whereas the second one prompts us to know ourselves better and ultimately accomplish something fruitful. Both the doors are open; which one to choose lies in our hands!

 

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Dohe of Kabir

Kabir Doha on Patience: धीरे-धीरे रे मना, धीरे सब कुछ होय

धीरे-धीरे रे मना, धीरे सब कुछ होय,
माली सींचे सौ घड़ा, ॠतु आए फल होय।

(Be patient, my mind. Everything takes its own time to take place. Look – even if the gardner pours hundred jugs of water, the trees will bear fruits only when the right season comes.)

One of the values and capabilities that human beings are losing very fast is our patience. Advances in the technology have given us a lot of convenience but have taken away our patience.

screen-shot-2016-10-15-at-5-05-24-pmYesterday, while teaching Indian Classical Music in a school, I made the 20 kids just to sit silently for 45 minutes. It is so frustrating to see impatience everywhere. Students are impatient and want to learn fast. Teachers are impatient and want to get done with teaching as soon as possible. While all this speed looks very fascinating and thrilling, we are losing our capability of pursuing the finer things which need patience.

Kabir, in these two lines highlights that things take their own time in spite of you doing whatever you can. Students of arts will agree with Kabir for sure. In spite of you practicing for hours every day, the difference shows up only after a few months or years.

Everything in our life, which is of some value, is never an instant happening. Relationships are built over time. Trust is gained over time. Art is mastered over a period and not overnight. Right success comes after years of consistency, dedication and excellence.

In the fast moving world, being patient is probably the most difficult thing; but in long term, it pays off.

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Kabir

Wisdom of Kabir: The Art of Sailing without ‘Head’

कहे कबीर, जो बिन सर खेवे, सो यह सुमती बखाने

Sant Kabir says, the one who sails without head, gets the ultimate wisdom.

Why so?

For our entire lives, we have been told that our head is what guides us in this world. We firmly believe that our mind is what helps us to remain and succeed in the world. We are always interested in the minds of people- minds of scientists, minds of artists, minds of entrepreneurs like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos these days!

kabir on mind

When we live our lives, the focus is always the mind- how to make it sharper, how to make it more logical, how to increase the memory and retain the information for a longer time etc.

So, our entire life is focused on making the mind stronger. And on the other hand, Kabir says, the one who sails without the head i.e. the one who lives the life without his mind, gets the ultimate wisdom.

Why so?

At this point, one has to understand two things clearly. First – our mind is a utility and certainly helps us with the day-to-day activities of our life. Second –  our mind has no value beyond that; it likes things to remain always good, which is contradictory to the nature.

When Kabir says live the life without your mind, he is not asking us to stop using our mind in our day to day life. He is not asking us to stop thinking or memorizing the important things. On the other hand, he is asking us to be free of the limitations that our mind imposes on us. The true wisdom lies beyond the cage which our mind is. Fear is a byproduct of mind; so is greed, lust, ambition, ego and everything else. Mind itself is changing and distracts the walker from the path. Mind is not subtle to catch the subtle wisdom.

Condemning the mind or criticizing the mind is not the solution; rather one should understand the mind in its totality and simply move beyond it. Using mind and not getting used by it is the key.

 

 

 

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Dohe of Kabir

How Can Indians Become Tolerant? By Understanding Kabir!

हिन्दू कहें मोहि राम पियारा, तुर्क कहें रहमाना,
आपस में दोउ लड़ी-लड़ी  मुए, मरम न कोउ जाना।

(Hindus say we worship Rama and Muslims say Rahman. They both die, fighting with each other without even getting a glimpse of him.)

Look at Facebook walls, flooded with posts about intolerance, religious hatred and you will realize the significance of what Kabir said many centuries ago.

As Kabir says, we have converted gods into our possessions and we have brought into limits the limitless.

If one looks at it closely, we stick to a god or a religion because it  makes us part of a tribe, or a group. Belonging to a group gives us a feeling of tremendous amount of safety and security. Religious people are not at all interested in god, they are rather interested in this feeling of security that being part of a cult brings.

I can surely say that the intolerance is born out of a false understanding of religion. Rather, a deliberate and wrong understanding of religion which is born out of our insecurity as an animal.

All the spiritual masters spoke about religion at an individual level. Some masters like Osho and Buddha did talk about being part of a community of seekers; but there focus was always an individual.

It is quite clear that the kind of religions we have today, will lead to more and more tension and intolerance. As the times become more difficult, due to increasing population, limited resources, uneven distribution of wealth, people will be more concerned about their own religion and less tolerant about the others.

tolerance

On a different level, the issue of tolerance is not only about religion. I would rather say, in this particular view, we are rather over tolerant- we tolerate it when people have no water to drink, work in unhealthy and unsafe work conditions, die without getting a morsel of food, are subjected to forced labor etc.

We discuss religious tolerance so much simply because we belong to a particular religion and are afraid of some other religion becoming more powerful than ours.

I look at the above couplet of Kabir in a much wider sense. A Hindu loves Rama, Muslim loves Rahman, Christian loves Christ and so on. Similarly, a capitalist loves situation to make money, a social worker loves the problems in the society, political leaders love divide among the people.

As Kabir rightly says, everyone loves what gives him security and a true religious man is one, who dares to face this insecurity, discovers his individuality and ceases to be a part of a cult.