रुखा सुखा खाईके ठंडा पानी पी |
देख पराई चुपडी, मत ललचा जी |
[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.