Dohe of Kabir 1

Kabir Doha on Awareness: नींद निशानी मौत की, उठ कबीरा जाग

नींद निशानी मौत की, उठ कबीरा जाग,

और रसायन छाँड़िके, नाम रसायन लाग

(Unawareness is a sign of death, wake up, Kabira! Leave aside all the drugs and practice the drug of meditation )


It has been quite a few weeks and I have not written anything on Kabir. Today, a friend of mine asked me to suggest her few Kabir Dohe. While suggesting her, I came across this Kabir Doha, which talks about awareness. There are many debates going around use of chemicals and drugs to boost awareness. This Doha of Kabir, guides all the seekers that they should never depend on chemicals to maintain their awareness. It seems, use of chemicals to maintain awareness is not something which has recently started and even in those days, drugs were used for lifting awareness.

In the first line of this Doha, Kabir says that sleep is an indication of death. Needless to say, when Kabir uses word ‘sleep’, he is talking about our unawareness. He is not talking about the sleep which we have every night, but the sleep which controls us every moment even when we are fully aware. If one observes her life closely, it can be easily known that even when we are awake, we are under sleep. We talk, walk, and take crucial decisions in the spell of this sleep. Whenever we fight with someone or hate someone, we do it in the sleep. Kabir says, this sleep is an indication of death. So true, if we live our lives under the without awareness, we are not at all living.

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Kabir is humbly telling us all that whatever time we have spent on this earth, we have not lived at all. We are all dead men walking. Kabir is asking us to wake up. He is calling us back to life again. He is inviting us to become alive again, full with our awareness.

It seems Kabir knew us very well. When he says ‘get up!’ he was sure that we would ask him- how? Hence, in the next line of this Doha, Kabir himself answers the question. He says,

और रसायन छाँड़िके, नाम रसायन लाग

In one simple line, Kabir tells us the right way and also the wrong way. It is very easy to get hooked to something which assures a fast success. There are many experiments, conducted by different bodies about use of drugs to attain bliss and awareness. It has been found out that some drugs can take us to the same heights where some form of meditation will take us. There is a glitch here which everyone should understand.

Drugs make you dependent. The first thing which a seeker should always accept is, he should not be dependent on anything. The true bliss and awareness comes from within and not from outside. Kabir rightly warns us- he says, live all the drugs and chemicals aside. The only thing which you should practice is meditation, he says.

If one takes the meaning of the second line literally, it simply means, leave aside all the drugs and start taking the name of the lord. Considering Kabir and his broad perspective, he is asking us not to endlessly chant lord’s name, but to dive in within us. He wants us to go within ourselves and find the source of awareness inside us.

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Dohe of Kabir 1

Kabir Ke Dohe: सुखिया सब संसार है Kabir Doha on Finding True Happiness:

Kabir Doha on HappinessKabir has spoken a lot about man and his sleep and his hunger. In the last Doha of Kabir on time management, he tells us how the hunger and lack of awareness waste our entire lives. Isn’t it quite interesting to know what happens to the one who is awake? The one who has come out of his sleep and hunger? How does that person live his life, the one who is beyond this delusion and hunger to gain something?


This Doha of Kabir answers this question. I would like to thank my friend Sachin who shared this Doha with me. The inherent beauty of this Doha made me take out time and write. This Doha is very simple and yet can be misinterpreted very easily. It is quite easy to take its meaning upside down.
सुखिया सब संसार है, खाये और सोये I

दुखिया दास कबीर है, जागे और रोये I
(The entire world is happy, engrossed in sleep and hunger. Look at poor Kabir, he is awake and crying!)

The first line of this couplet is,

सुखिया सब संसार है, खाये और सोये I

(The entire world is happy, engrossed in eating and sleeping)
This is quite true. See the people around- they are so happy with their daily lives. Look at the students who have just passed out from their colleges and joined their jobs freshly. Huge and lavish offices, anytime access to coffee and fruit juices, salaries dropped into their accounts on the last day of every month. Life is so perfect! Music, movies, dine outs with friends; there is so much of fun in the life.
Almost all the people we see around, are happy with their lives- full of delusion and the eternal hunger of collecting more and more stuff. Then sometimes, they get troubled by something- some rape happening somewhere, elections, reservations. They read and immaturely respond to the manipulated news and fabricated photos on social media; that gives them a feeling of bringing about a change. Once their feeling of guilt goes away through all these activities, they are back to the routine- sleep and hunger. The life goes on..

The one who has come out of the trap of sleep and hunger, is an altogether different person. He is no more in delusions. He is no more interested in gathering useless things to fulfil his hunger and possessiveness. He never does anything to fulfil his mind- to maintain his social status, image or come out of his guilty feeling. He does things because he understands the need of doing them. He has actually passed the stage of being obsessed with oneself. He can think beyond himself. He is ready to identify a need and start doing something about it. The next line of this Doha is,

दुखिया दास कबीर है, जागे और रोये I

Please pay attention to the words Kabir uses in this Doha. This is a taunt from Kabir to those around him who would be saying to him-
“Why are you so worried about others? Leave it, enjoy your life. Eat good food, sleep well and be happy”

Almost each and every saint gets this kind of reactions from people surrounding him. Everyone who tries to do something different, gets this advice. I also often get a similar advice from many around me. Kabir is pointing out this irony- the world thinks that those who eat and make merry are happy and the ones like Kabir or Socrates, who are awake, trying to wake up others are drenched in sorrow.

I can actually see the Kabir in front of my eyes- sitting in the market place and selling pieces of fabric. While doing so, he is endlessly awakening people through his couplets. People around are thinking- ‘What’s wrong with Kabir? If he focuses his energy on his work instead of all this advice, he can sell much more fabric, earn more money, eat well, collect many more things around him and sleep peacefully’

Those who think Kabir is sad, are absolutely wrong. He is not sad, he is full of bliss and compassion. His compassion makes him look sad; but remember, he is happier than all the people surrounding him; he is floating in bliss.

In these two lines, Kabir tells us the delusion. We are all like the dog licking the dry bone. The bone is rough. As the dog goes on licking it, his tongue gets cut all across. His own blood comes out and the dog is under the delusion that the blood is coming out of the bone. Those who are living their lives under the influence of sleep and hunger, are like this dog- hurting themselves in order to suck out more pleasure from the life.

In these two lines, Kabir is highlighting the eternal truth- unless you go beyond yourself, you will not find happiness in your life. Of course, you can have a delusion of happiness and enjoy it for your entire life, but you will totally miss the taste of true happiness and satisfaction.

Dohe of Kabir

Doha of Kabir on Love: Dhai Akhar Prem Ka

पोथी पढी पढी जग मुवा पंडित भया न कोय

ढाई आखर प्रेम का पढे सो पंडित होय


[Entire world is engrossed in reading scriptures but no one has become ‘learned’. The one who understands two and half alphabets of love, attains the wisdom.]

Kabir walked the path of love. This doha of Kabir on love is unique. This doha is probably the most famous of all of his couplets. ‘Dhai Akhar Prem Ka’ is probably the most used phrase which is used to describe the love. Long ago, I used to participate in state and national level debate competitions. Many of these competitions would have at least one topic related to love. It used to be a tough task when almost each of the contestants would repeat this Doha of Kabir in his speech, to describe the love. At that time, I along with many other participants, used to curse Kabir for coming up with this couplet.

Fun apart, when I grew up, studying philosophy, religions, spirituality, at some point I realised that ultimately, everything ends (and hence starts) at love. Love is the point of liberation, love is the boundary line, between human and divine. After this realization, I completely changed my way and this Doha of Kabir, which describes love in all its grandeur, has helped me a lot. It will be very interesting as well as enlightening to explore this wonderful piece in more depth.

[Entire world is engrossed in reading scriptures but no one has become ‘learned’. The one who understands two and half alphabets of love, attains the wisdom.]

Sant Kabir makes some things clearly visible in this doha on love. The first bold point which he makes is about the futility of reading scriptures. This was a very bold statement if one considers the time frame in which Kabir existed. Kabir was a sober saint, who unlike Osho, avoided controversy. But still, Kabir finds it necessary to tell masses that scriptures have lost their edge; that they have lost the magic, the power to transform the lives. It is important to understand that in Kabir’s era, people were engrossed in not only reading scriptures but also in debating and arguing with scholars. People were taking everything intellectually, without catching the flavour. As we are aware, we can write and talk a lot about love. But, unless you actually experience the love, there is no way of knowing it. Imagine Kabir, the one who had tasted this eternal nectar of love, surrounded by scholars (Pundits) endlessly arguing and debating about love. The first line is for all those scholars- who reduce everything to mere intellectual level. Kabir rightly says,

‘The entire world is reading scriptures but no one has become ‘learned’’

Kabir somewhere wants to point out that this direction is itself wrong; the practice of reading scriptures is itself wrong. It’s like finding gold in vegetable market. It is a fundamental mistake.

What is the correct way to understand love?

The next line of this doha of Kabir on love tells the correct direction in which one can find love. Kabir says, the one, who understands two and half alphabets of love, attains the wisdom. In his native language, love is called ‘Prem’ which is a two alphabet word. In spite of this, Kabir says the one who understands two and half alphabets of love, attains wisdom. What is this half alphabet to which Kabir is referring? This puzzle has been a topic of discussion among scholars for years!

Read: Kabir Doha on Importance of Master (Guru)

Now this is utterly ridiculous. In the first line of this Doha, Kabir clearly indicates that love is not for scholars, engaged in debate and arguments. But sadly, for centuries, the scholars are fighting with each other about the interpretation of this Doha, about the meaning of this half alphabet which Kabir has mentioned. As wise seekers can make out, these scholars have still not got the point which Kabir wants us to understand. Through this Dha on love, Kabir simply wants us to understand that love is something beyond words. The literal word love consists of two alphabets; but actual love is something beyond. What is the half alphabet which is invisible? That half alphabet is just an indicator, a pointer telling us to not to stick to words only. That half alphabet is something which one has to discover by living life and not by reading scriptures. Scriptures can only teach you the two alphabets of love. If you stick to scriptures, you will never discover the remaining half alphabet, which has the real essence of love.

Read: Kabir Doha on Truth 

Discovering that half alphabet is the real stuff. Learning scriptures and definitions of love is easy. To understand these definitions verbally and intellectually is also easy. To discover the essence of love through one’s life is difficult. This discovery is the journey on which the seeker is transformed. This Doha of Kabir on love is unique- it clearly tells the limitations of knowledge. It tells the importance of actually walking on the path.




Dohe of Kabir

Kabir Doha on Guru : Importance of Guru (Master)

यह तन विषय की बेलरी, गुरू अमृत की खान

सीस दिये जो गुरू मिलै, तो भी सस्ता जान

This body is full of desires and Guru (master) the source of unperishable. It is still cheaper if you meet your Guru (master) at the cost of cutting your head.


This doha (couplet) of Kabir raises many questions in the mind of the reader. Why to condemn our body as a source of desire? Why do we have to find a master or Guru? Can we not manage without a master? Why Kabir says that meeting one’s Guru is more valuable than the life itself?

The sad part is, we always go ahead on the path through the means of questions and looking forward for some answers. The answers which we get, do not solve our questions but rather make us ask more questions; more complex and subtler.

Still, in order to better understand this Doha (couplet), we will go through its elaboration and all the questions which can come up in one’s mind.

Are not desires natural? Why do all the saints keep on cursing the desires so much? Personally, I do not think that Kabir is condemning the desires. He is just putting up a fact in front of us. Nowhere has he said that these desires are to be condemned. He just reminds us that we are full of desires. On the other side, he again tells us that master or Guru is the one who is full of unperishable, free from all the desires. Kabir simply wants us to have a look at the master and then at ourselves.

All of us know that we are full of desires. Few of us who have some spiritual interests, know that we should go beyond the desires. But, in the course of everyday life, we find it hard to tackle the desires and just go along with them. Kabir wants us to just have a look at ourselves and then at the master. The very act of seeing is enough to liberate us from our desires.

Depending on what kind of master he his, a master can either set us free from the desires or he can make our desires universal. Other day, I was reading some teachings of Sri. Nisargadatta Maharaj. Maharaj points out that the problem with desires is their large number and their timid nature. As he teaches, if we transform all these desires in one single universal desire, the desire of the liberation, this single desire will set us free from the very act of desiring.

The other approach is that of Zen masters. They directly talk of going beyond thought as desires are nothing but aggravated form of thought. Whatever may be the way of a master, it points to the state where desires do not exist.

In the next line of this doha, Kabir enlightens us about the ‘value’ of a Guru. We are well aware that everything comes at a price. Sadly, we are quite comfortable paying the cost in terms of money but we can hardly pay in terms of our attention to something, our dedication to something. The only cost which one has to pay to attain truth is desires, greed, anger, lust etc. All of us have all these things in plenty, but we cannot give away even a bit of them for our own interest. Kabir very well knows this. He understands very well the worldly meaning of word ‘cost’ which we have in our minds. To cut away all this questioning, he simply says,

  It is still cheaper if you meet your Guru (master) at the cost of cutting your head.

Actually, that is what a master does- he cuts your head. We are away from the truth only because of our head, it is the single block of our body that is preventing us. Head is a source of thought, logic, desires and everything that follows. Master or Guru is the one who has mastered this surgery- of taking away the head of a person, setting him free from his own desires.

Master teaches us how to observe things and learn without the involvement of thoughts. He shifts the centre of operation from head to heart.


Be assured, you will meet your master only at the cost of your head!


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Kabir on truth – Doha #8 [Truth and Falsity]

सांच बराबर तप नही, झूठ बराबर पाप ।
जाके हिरदय म साच है, ताके हिरदय हिर आप
[There is no meditation is effective as truth and no sin as grave as falsity. Lord is present in the heart of one, whose heart is filled with truth.]
Once again, Kabir left me speechless. I have a collection hundreds of dohas of Saint Kabir. I make it a point to go through them once a few months and then elaborate one of them. Today, in the process of finding a doha, I stumbled upon this piece, a Doha of Kabir on truth . What makes these two lines so special?
Being truthful brings a joy along with itself and that is enough reason to be truthful. Hence, there is no point in describing the benefits of speaking truth. We are many times told to speak truth for some particular reason. The one, who speaks truth for some reason is not a truthful being. Saint Kabir deliberately says ‘the one whose heart filled with truth’. He did not say the one who always speaks truth. Speaking truth is not important but it is important to have a heart full of truth.
When we decide to speak truth, it is a decision of our mind. It is a calculated decision- as we speak truth only if it benefits us in some form or the other. This doha of Kabir on truth is not talking about such superficial truthfulness. Kabir here is talking about a heart which is full of truth and hence, has no space left for falsity.
At the same time, Kabir says that there is no sin as grave as falsity. This sounds quite contradictory with the everyday experience- where telling lies is the easiest way to cope up. Infinite are the occasions where one is tempted to tell lies. Kabir says, Hari (Lord Krishna) stays in the hearts which are full of truth. But, as we all know, Lord Krishna’s life was itself full of diplomacy and lies. When we give it a bit of thought, we realize that Kabir is not talking about the truth and lies in ordinary sense. He is talking about being true to yourself. You can tell lies to people and still be truthful to yourself. This does not justify frequently telling lies, but just emphasises that being truthful to yourself is the most important thing.
I remember beloved Osho saying that it can be tolerated if you cheat others but never cheat yourself, the Buddha inside.
This may suddenly trigger the question- “Is it okay if we tell lies?”
My take is, why bother about lies? As Kabir says, try to have a heart full of truth. In your sincere and honest journey, there might come an inevitable occasion where you need to lie. Just ensure that you are truthful to yourself!
As Saint Kabir says, having falsity in your heart is the sin. These two lines of Kabir make me think- we have so many people who are always right and always speak true. How many of them have authenticity in their hearts? Speaking truth is very easy, but attaining is a heart full of truth is meditation, an outcome of awareness. Such truthfulness is not an outcome of fear, pretention or anything else but it is born out of a clarity- a clarity about yourself. When one clearly understand who he is and what his way is, truth becomes his basic nature.

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Power or No Power?

I stumbled upon a very interesting quote, by Homi J. Bhabha, which he made much ahead of the time. The quote is about power, made by this genius scientist from India around 20 years ago. Bhabha made this comment when someone argued that nuclear power was too costly and hence India should not go for it. The quote is as follows-

No power is costlier than ‘no power’.

This statement is an eternal truth- being true for all the times throughout the human history and future. Power opens up the doors to progress and prosperity. In India, we can observe that the states which assured uninterrupted power supply at affordable costs, became home to the industrial growth and hence prosperity. Efforts to install inter country gas pipe lines, thirst for the nuclear power, tall windmills and wide-spread solar plants coherently tell us the same point- no power is costlier than ‘no power’.

Does this quote stand true in spiritual context?

In his book ‘power’, Bertrand Russell has thoroughly explained the role power plays in our lives. I trust in his theory, but somehow, I find what Kabir says to be more realistic as far as the inner world is concerned. In his nice two liner, Kabir says-

 Soil tells the potter, “you might think that you are squeezing me under your feet; but surely will come a day when you will be squeezed under me!”

In these two lines, Kabir tells us how fragile we all are. This Doha of Kabir also enlightens us about the fluctuating nature of power. It will sound too philosophical if I say nothing in this world is permanent. The blunt fact is, the power has no place in spiritual world! Power is the driving factor in today’s world; in the inner world, power has no value.
I would even go a step ahead and would dare to say that the spiritual journey starts when one realizes that no power is going to last forever- be it power accumulated through knowledge, force, money or whatsoever.
Lord Buddha leaving his palace at a tender age realized this truth at a very early stage; we have not yet! Homi J. Bhabha is so true if we look at the physical world; truer are the Kabir’s words if we look within us.


Nirguni Bhajan by Sant Kabir- Where meaning is meaningless

Writings and literature of Kabir are written on two levels, one for the common masses and the other for the meditators. Dohe of Sant Kabir are written for the laymen- those who need simple principles to guide their lives. As one can easily see, these dohe are very practical and easy to follow. They are easy to understand, enlightening and need dedication to inculcate them in one’s life. They speak the common man’s language- gods, heaven, devotion etc. Many of us think that Kabir is limited to this everyday religion, which is very simple and casual. On the other hand, the truth is quite different. Kabir is much more than these two liners. These two liners dwell in the world of meaning whereas Sant Kabir also swims well in the world which is beyond logic and reasoning, where word ‘meaning’ carries no meaning.

The other part of Kabir, of which many people are unaware, is his nirguni bhajans. The word Nirgun means formless. It means something which has no physical attributes like form, color, smell or even physical existence. In India, a large number of religious seekers believes that god is formless, it cannot be identified with any idol, color etc. Sant kabir has written a large number of verses which talk about formless god. These verses, called as nirguni bhajans are at times very difficult to understand as the apparent and hidden meanings differ a lot. Many seekers enjoy debating for hours and hours over the correct meaning of these verses. As my nature is, I never spent my time to find out literal meaning of these verses. On the other hand, I always tried to taste their mysterious nature.

Many times, people keep on asking about the meanings of these Nirguni Bhahans. Politely, I tell them that I do not know the meaning. Often, I receive feedback that as I speak on Kabir, I should be well prepared with their meaning and interpretations as pointed out by different commentators. Here, people fail to understand the whole purpose of Nirguni Bhajan. Can we human beings interpret something which is formless? We and our minds function only in the world of form. Logic, reasoning and interpretation work only in the physical world- where everything has a form and physical existence. If we leave aside our logic and reasoning, we can take a dip in the mysterious ‘formless’ world- the world where Sant Kabir wants us to be.

Nirguni Bhajan by Sant Kabir is a device, to give seeker an opportunity to drop his mind, to enter the world where the word ‘meaning’ has no meaning. Sadly, the intellectual seekers miss the opportunity for the sake of meaningless meaning.

What next?

Visit our Kabir Page to read more about Saint Kabir

Read a Kabir Doha on Guru with explanation 

An article about Kamal, son of Saint Kabir

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Dohe of Kabir-7(Rare is the birth as a human being)

दुर्लभ मनुस्या जीवन है,देह न बरम्बार ।

तरुवर ज्यों पत्ती झड़े,बहुरि न लागे डार ॥

Meaning – 

Rare is the birth as a human being and one does not again again gets this human body. Once a leaf is detached from the trunk, cannot be joint back again.

In these two lines, Saint Kabir points out two universal truth and connects them together to point out the ultimate truth- a call to wake up for all the human beings.

The first line is a truth in itself. It is rare opportunity to get a human life. There are no proofs to show that there are many births. Neither are there any proofs to show that there is only one birth and nothing like soul exists. In other words, we are clueless and helpless as far as validity of the first line is concerned. But, when I look around, it makes sense to think that its an rare opportunity to be a human being. It  even needs a better luck to be born as human being in an atmosphere and conditions where you can really live like a human being and not just survive like ainmals. So, this proves the first line  of this doha of Saint Kabir.

The second line is more clear and striking. It says once a leaf is detached from the branch, it can never be attached to the tree again. In the context of the doha, it means, once this life is gone, once the soul is detached from the body, there is no way back. Everyone has to die a day. The leaf is going to be detached one day for sure. This precious human life will be taken away one day.

When these two lines of dohe of Kabir are contemplated together, it gives us a wake up call. The precious human life can come to an end and then you wont get an another chance. Once the leaf is detached, it is gone. In this doha, saint Kabir shows us the urgency of waking up fast and starting to act. In many of his dohe, Saint Kabir bluntly puts in front of us the way we waste our lives without sumiran (remembrance of the god). This doha once again points out this urgency and fragile nature of human life.

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Dohe of Kabir -6

Dohe of Kabir -5

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Dohe of Kabir # 6

Saint Kabir makes us stop still with the helps of his two liners, called Doha. This beautiful Doha of Kabir is worth a thousand lines-

माँगन मरण समान है, मत माँगो कोई भीख ।
माँगन से तो मरना भला, यह सतगुरु की सीख

English Translation-

(Do not ask for anything. To ask for anything is like being dead. My master teaches me that it is better to die than to ask for something. )

It can be seen that Saint Kabir is very much against asking. Saint Kabir is not saying that asking money is not desirable or asking for favors is bad. He simply says that all the demands should be stopped. Saint Kabir refers to all demands as begging  There must have been some reason behind these lines of Kabir. It is interesting to see the mind of a person who is asking for something. He is not satisfied. All of us are unsatisfied and hence we keep on asking for many things. One more thing is, asking comes out of insecurity. The persons who are insecure are more demanding. Many times, we ask out of our greed. Saint Kabir says, simply drop all the insecurities, greed and leave this habit of asking.

Saint Kabir equates this habit of asking for favors to death. He firmly says that asking for anything is just a sign of being dead. At the end, he says that it is better to die rather than asking favors. The question my come up in the minds of the reader that is it not justified if a really needy person asks for something? The answer is also very clear- when you need something really, you get it without even asking for it. So, if you need something and you ask for it, it shows that you do not have the trust in the existence. If you need something and you do not get it, the conclusion to be drawn is, you do not need it.

Saint Kabir has very rightly said that it is better to be dead than asking for favors. The very process of asking and demanding shows that you do not trust the existence

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Dohe of Kabir Kabir poems

Dohe of Kabir #5

जाती नं पुछो साधू की पुछ लिजिये ग्यान

मोल करो तलवार का पडा राहन दो म्यान….

(Do not ask a holy man his cast, look at his knowledge. One should always inquire about the sword and not its cover.)

One of the basic problem of human beings is, that they need respect. Any person on this earth strives for some respect, some dignity. It is a true fact that not all of us can always get respect, not all of us are able to earn dignity. So, people start designing other which will give them respect. Cast is one of such parameters.

And then comes the climax when people inquire about cast of a holy man.  Kabir asks us to put all these dogmas aside. Kabir says that a holy man is holy in spite of his cast. By telling this, Kabir wants to tell us that holiness is not of the cast. It does not arise out of the cast. It is there irrespective of the cast of the person.

One never looks at the cover from which the sword is taken out. We are always concerned with the sword, its sharpness and its mettle.  Then why do we do not apply this rule to human beings? Why do we judge human beings based on casts from which they come?

We are still engrossed in these ugly ideas and Kabir, 4oo years ago, tells us that holiness does not come out of cast, it is of that person.

Dohe of Kabir #3

Dohe of Kabir #2