To learn something, being with a Guru is inevitable. To land up on the truth, one has to unlearn. The role of a Guru in unlearning is equally or more important than it is in the process of learning. Sant Kabir has spoken many Dohas or couplets which highlight the role and importance of Guru’s grace. Kabir was a disciple of Ramananada Swami who was himself trained in two distinct traditions – the tradition of Advaita as well as the Nath tradition which has connections with Tantric Buddhism.
While Kabir never explicitly spoke about his Guru, in many of his couplets or Bhajans, he invariably points his listeners or readers to a Guru. In one of his most famous couplets, he says –
गुरु गोबिंद दोनों खड़े काके लागू पाय बलिहारी गुरु आपनो, गोबिंद दियो बताय
(If I encounter God and Guru both on my way, I will first bow down to the Guru as he is the who showed me where to look for the God.)
In of his other Bhajan, Kabir says :
गुरुजीने दिया अमर नाम, गुरु तो सरीखा कोई नाही अलख भरा है भण्डार, कमी जामे है नाही
(My Guru introduced me to the inexhaustible one – the god. No one can replace a Guru. He opens up the treasure which is beyond all the measures.)
Most of the times, the quest for truth takes the path of knowledge and what ultimately we reach is a pile of dead information which further confuses us. That’s why, Kabir never talks about reading or studying scriptures. On the other hand, the Guru is the one who has walked on the path. He is the one who has found the key and has also unlocked the puzzle of existence using that key. If one wants to unlock this puzzle for oneself, the only way to do it is being in the company of someone who has already done it.
If one reads all the couplets or Dohas of Kabir and goes through many of his Bhajans, the only actionable guidance that he gives to a seeker is finding a Guru and being in his company. Why so much emphasis on being with a Guru?
Whatever we are seeking, whether we call it truth, god, love, reality – it exists within us and not outside. The Guru is the master of this art of going within. Having known the tricks that our mind plays, Guru is the one who knows how to circumvent those. A seeker can carry out this journey on his own but being with a Guru makes the whole journey smoother and shorter!
(I started searching for the devil but could not find anyone. When I searched inside me, realized, no one is more devilish then me.)
This Doha of Kabir nowhere talks about change. Still, I have titled it as a Doha on change in society. The reason is, the point which Kabir makes in this Doha is most important to expect any change in the society.
Why do we need change in the society? Simply, because we want the devil to disappear. Change means fading away of devil from the society and the rise of goodness. So many reformers, sociologists have been talking about changing the society; still, we can see, hardly anything has happened. Man is as greedy as he was. On the worse side, he has all the tools and technology available to exploit others in the society to fulfill his greed.
Isn’t it surprising, that in spite of all the religions, their spiritual masters, social scientists and philosophers trying for so long, we have not been able to initiate the change.
This couplet from Kabir unlocks the path to change in the society. It highlights what is preventing the change from taking place. What is it?
In the very first line, Kabir says,
बुरा जो देखन मैं चला, बुरा न मिलिया कोई।
I go on finding the devil in others; but I could find none.
जो मन खोजा अपना, तो मुझसे बुरा न कोई।।
When I peeped and searched inside my own mind, I realized that there is no one more devilish than me out there.
Please, do not take this literally but try to understand the gist of it. Changing others is certainly not in your hands. You can change yourself but. How is the social change going to happen? Thousands of people telling others that they need to change? Or thousands of people, where each one of them has realized that he needs to change himself?
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I think, all the efforts to change others are an excuse not to change ourselves. Kabir is unlocking a mystery in front of us through these two lines. He says, when you realize and not just intellectually understand that changing yourself is the first urgent step, there won’t be a change in the society.
Kabir tells us to peep inside ourselves and see what lies there- hundreds of desires, frustrations, ambitions, anger, greed and what not. He is suggesting us, that we should first clear our slate and make it clean. This is the true process of change in the society- where every individual tries to change himself, where everyone is concerned more about his own purity than teaching and guiding others.
Many of us will not agree with Kabir and his way of bringing about the social change. We are too much taken up by the thought of changing others and helping other solve their problems. AN unclear mind cannot help other minds be clear. It will just clutter it more.
I find Kabir and his thought about the change most relevant today. He is simply telling us that changing yourself is the only way of changing the society.
(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.
Kabir 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.
(You waste the night sleeping and the day eating. The precious life which you have got, will be of no use!)
This is a wonderful Kabir Doha on time management. Do we know the cost of time which we waste each day? A spiritual seeker is equally concerned about his time as an industrialist is. Time is probably the biggest equalizing factor. Everyone is equal as far as availability is concerned. Time does not run slower for a CEO and faster for a beggar; it runs at the same pace. Though time is available equally to everyone, not everyone uses it with equal efficiency.
This Kabir Doha on time management is all compassing- if you think it is only about spirituality, you are mistaken. Through this Doha, Kabir is talking about our life style.
Finding someone, who is 50 years old and thinks that he has wasted his life is not very rare. Almost all of us, at the end of our lives, will feel that we have wasted a whole lot of time in our lives- or our entire lives to be precise. In this Doha, Kabir is reminding us about how we waste our life.
My observation tells me that one of the most important reason behind us wasting our time is our habit of postponing. Let it be spirituality or your normal office work, we tend to postpone things. We like to postpone for many reasons- we are afraid of taking decision, we are not capable of taking decisions, we do not want to hurt anyone by taking any decision.
We postpone in such a way, that no one should come to know that we are postponing. To do that, we make ourselves busy. We keep on doing unnecessary things in our lives, which add zero value, just to keep ourselves away from the things which really matter.
These two simple lines of Kabir subtly bring up this whole fallacy which we continue throughout our lives. Kabir says,
Raat Gavaai Soy ke, Divas Gavaayaa Khaay (You waste the night sleeping and the day eating)
Do not stick to the superficial literary meaning. In case of Kabir, one has to dig a bit. In the first two lines, Kabir has written about sleep and hunger. Do not take these two words literally; that would be a grave mistake. The sleep is all the delusion and the unawareness. The unawareness about what you want to do, what you really love and what you feel for and care about. This unawareness is the sleep in which we are operating. It is the veil- which keeps us away from doing something that really matters, getting involved with something which we really like.
On social media, a quote from Steve Jobs is often shared, in which he says,
You have limited time. Do not waste it living someone else’s life
Steve Jobs is iterating the same message which Kabir has given centuries ago. Kabir does not want us to do anything fancy. He wants us to do something which is quite obvious- wake up!
The second word in this Doha of Kabir, which catches my attention is ‘hunger’. When Kabir says we waste our days eating, he is not concerned about how much and what we eat. He is bothered about our hunger. The hunger is again a wide term; an umbrella covering many things under it. The normal hunger which we all have, is well justified. The hunger for power, money, fame and what not; that is also justified. The only thing about hunger is, it keeps on growing.
Let us be very frank about it. Every person has his mix of hunger. Some may have large hunger for money and sex but no hunger of fame; some may be concerned only about fame and nothing else! Everyone has his mix. When one is away, away from the sleep, he realizes his hunger and this realization brings about the change. Someone spending 10 years to fulfil his hunger for power and then realizing how futile it was, is okay. The problem which Kabir is pointing out in this Doha is, our hungers expand to fill our available life.
Just today, I read about Parkinson’s Law. It says,
The work expands to fill the time given to complete it.
This is true about our hunger also. Our hungers expand to fill our entire lives. We live for 70-80 years and still we are hungry.
The best way to deal with hunger is, identify it, fulfil it and get rid of it.
I appreciate Kabir so much because of the fact that he was awake and he knew problems of the sleepy people so well. Kabir knows very well how our sleep and hunger work together to keep us away from doing something remarkable. Something remarkable- as remarkable as a gaining a mind which is free from delusions to creating music which takes us away from violence and rage.
Unless one wakes up and comes out of this ever growing hunger, his life will add no value!
Kabir says: “I stand in a market place and I desire the welfare of all. I am neither looking for any friendship, nor am I an enemy to any one.”
I am sure this is the right time to share this doha of Kabir on relationship and networking with you all. The insight which Kabir shares from this Doha, is absolutely valid even today and will certainly remain so. This Doha of Kabir is certainly most relevant when it comes to networking.
Today’s world moves around relationships. Everyone tries to connect with more and more people. Everyone is ‘networking’ for a ‘mutually beneficial’ relationship. We have hundreds of social networks at our disposal to do it. We are active there; posting updates and waiting for others to like or retweet these updates. Then we have some more serious stuff like LinkedIn and Meetups. The utterly big number of social networks highlights the human instinct to connect with others.
But honestly, we are all using social networks for our own benefits- you to share some pictures which tell how different you are from others, pictures which tell how you are more successful or happier than others etc. and maybe I to promote my blog and capture more readers. Most of the times, we connect out of our psychological need or some selfish motive. Hardly someone becomes a Seth Godin and writes purely for others to learn something from it.
Kabir, through this Doha on relationships, is touching upon this fallacy. See how wonderfully Kabir has described today’s situation. He says,
Kabir Khada Bazar Me (Kabir is standing in a marketplace)
True, we are also standing in marketplace, in a Bazaar where everyone has come to get more in less money. The fact about market place is, most competitive ones become the most famous ones and make more money. Social networks or all our relationships for that matter are like marketplace where everyone wants more publicity, more likes and ultimately more fame and money. So, it might be digital in nature but we are also standing in the same market place about which Kabir is talking. But, these is a big difference between the ways we stand. This difference is made clear in the second half of the first line.
The difference is, Kabir is in marketplace for everyone’s welfare.
Kabir was a weaver by profession. He used to weave and sell fabric in the market. He could have easily wished for selling more fabric than his competitors; he instead wished for everyone’s welfare. It is this tendency that makes the difference. This is what makes Kabir different from us. If we sit down honestly and open up the boxes of our relationships, what are they filled with? It’s all about taking. We like someone because he makes us laugh, someone other because we become more knowledgeable, someone other because he makes us feel safe or protected and this goes on. There might be some relationships where we give; but we give for some subtle gain- the subtle satisfaction which our ego gets.
Kabir is not interested in all this, he is just concerned with welfare of others. The next line- Na kaahu se dosti, naa kaahu se bair
Though Kabir is for everyone’s welfare, he is not interested in any kind of friendship with anyone, nor does he want to make an enemy with anyone. To put it simply, he is talking about a relationship which is beyond friendship and enmity. I guess almost every one of us might have been through the ‘best friend’ ships. Most of the times, these relationships fail. Why is it so? The relationships fail because they are built to take something from the other. Kabir is no more interested in give and take. He is no more bothered about the relationships- where people come together to give and take.
Kabir is talking about the attitude which brings about the change. The activities which are done without any kind of expectations bring about phenomenal change. Take example of Baba Amte, the Magsaysay Award winner. He started without without any expectation, not at all bothered about fame, publicity and money.
We need change makers who will work without any selfish motive; Kabir is certainly a lighthouse!
[Eat dry and simple food and drink cold water. Do not look at the buttered bread of others and long for it.]
After many days, today I am all set to write about this Kabir Doha on greed. The literal meaning of this Doha is –
Eat dry and simple food and drink cold water.
Do not look at the buttered bread of others and long for it.
On the face of it, it seems as if Saint Kabir is telling us to keep away from a lavish life style. For the ages, saints and spiritual preachers tell us to live a simple life. Many of them go ahead and condemn a life which is luxurious and comfortable. Some saints even go ahead and say that a spiritual person can never have a life full of comfort. These saints have somewhere associated luxury and comfort with lack of spirituality.
On all this background, it makes sense to understand what Kabir wants to tell us. When Kabir says eat dry food and drink cold water, does he want us to lead a harsh life which is deprived of any comfort and pleasure? One has to be very careful to understand what Kabir is actually saying versus someone else’s interpretation of what he is saying.
On the face of it, this Doha of Kabir is not about leading a harsh and dry life, but it is about being free from any kind of greed. As far as my understanding of Saint Kabir goes, he is not against a luxurious life; he is against comparison with someone who has something better and then longing for it. Kabir will certainly disapprove comparison. Why so?
If one gives it a bit of thought, comparison always comes along with the greed. When I compare myself with other, immediately there is some form of greed associated with it. The longing which Kabir is talking about, it comes out of greed. The problem with one who eats dry bread and drinks cold water is, he is always full of comparison and jealousy. But, the interesting part is, the one who has the buttered bread, he is also sailing in the same boat. He is also comparing endlessly with others- the others who have better bread (multigrain/oregano!!) or more butter.
In these two lines, Kabir describes the whole vicious circle of endless human greed which is born out of comparison or vice a versa. Those who think this Doha of Kabir preaches a simple life, they have completely mistaken. This Doha, opens up the infinite world of human greed in two short lines.
If one looks at the long string of saints which have spoken a lot about simple lifestyle, most of them could not go to the depth where Kabir goes. Kabir is not bothered about how simple or comfortable your life is; he is bothered about the mind which engages in endless comparison and longing.
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.
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.
You are welcome to go through commentaries over more Dohe of Kabir
I enjoyed a long discussion which went on on a forum. The topic of the discussion was- Can we measure creativity. The most of the replies posted in the forum said that yes, it can be measured. On the other hand, we had a few members who thought that measuring creativity is very difficult task. The reason given by these persons was that creativity is too subjective to be measured. There are so many parameters to determine.
All these members were of opinion that to measure creativity, you will have to understand too many factors- the field of the idea, the people who will be touched by the idea, the problems which will be solved using the idea and etc.
I had a totally different take on the issue. According to me, yes, it is very difficult to measure the creativity. The funny fact is, the person who is creative, he never bothers about measuring the creativity of the idea. As expected, this was questioned by many members and I was asked for an explanation.
To answer the question, I had to take help of Kabir. Kabir has written many two liner poems. All these poems are source of innovation. But, Kabir himself never analyzed his two liners. Many persons have analyzed them. We have persons who have done PhDs and written lengthy thesis on these two liners. But what about Kabir? He never bothered about analyzing. He was creative in a true sense. A creative person never bother about measuring creativity.