Kabir and His Thoughts on Death

kabir on deathAfter many days, I am here, writing about Kabir and what he has written about death. Death is probably the only certain thing in our lives, which we have not yet managed to escape from. Death is the ultimate fear we have in our minds. I thought, it would be enlightening to compile different things that Kabir has said about the death and elaborate a bit on the same.

Death is the ultimate fear because we just deny to accept it. While reading Kabir, one first understands that opinion of Kabir on death is very simple- he accepts death as a part of life. Kabir has written generously written about death. He has tried his best to de-mystify it.

Two of the most famous Nirguni Bhajans from Kabir, which were made popular by late Pt. Kumar Gandharva are dedicated to death. The first of these Nirguni BHajans is, Ud Jayega Hans Akela. The other one is, Kaun Thagava Nagariya Lutal Ho…

It will be very interesting to understand what Kabir points about death in these two Bhajans. The first line of the first Bhajan says, the swan (i.e. the soul) will simply fly away and the world cannot do anything except watching it. That’s how death happens- the life in the body flies away and however much you wish, you cannot do anything except watching the dead body. He tells us, it is impossible to stick back the fallen leaf to the tree. In same way, it is impossible to put back the life again in the body. Kabir says, as you are growing older, day by day, you are going closer to your death. He firmly tells us that after the death, the path we follow depends on what we did when we were alive. In his own words, Kabir says that after the death, master will go his way and the disciple will go his way depending on what they did in their respective lives.

All this makes it quite clear that Kabir was more concerned about what we do when we are alive than what happens after we die. Many Dohas of Kabir do not directly talk about the death, but they talk about how we have limited time in our lives. In such couplets, Kabir emphasises a certain urgency that we should stop doing trivial things and start working on ourselves. This urgency indirectly reminds us of death and the limited time we have before it engulfs us.

In one of his couplets, Kabir also says that unawareness is a sign of death. Kabir is more concerned about the death i.e. unawareness in which we live when we are alive. Kabir says that this unawareness is the real death which prevents us from living our life.

Reading a few of Kabir’s literary pieces about death highlighted many things about death. The fact that death is beyond our control and we should accept it is the most difficult one to digest. This wisdom of Kabir resonates with what Jiddu Krishnamurti has also said about death- we are more afraid of the psychological death, the death of ego than actual physical death.Kabir, in his simple words tells us not to while away our time but use it wisely and utilise whatever time we have towards fruitful activities.

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