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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

Translation:

[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.

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By Mandar Karanjkar

Mandar Karanjkar is author, motivational speaker and consultant based in Pune. Mandar works with handful of organizations helping them with strategy, communication and culture. Mandar is trained in Indian Classical Music over a decade. He is a classical singer and flute player.

Mandar has written columns for many reputed newspapers. Engineer by profession, he conducts workshops and delivers talks on subjects as wide as strategy, innovation, online marketing, spirituality, Kabir, Zen etc.

Mandar is a published author.

12 replies on “Doha of Kabir on Love: Dhai Akhar Prem Ka”

Simple thought with deep meaning..i ws feeling eternal peace while reading this article..it helped m to find answers to the questions i had since few days..thanks mandar!

A very Ancient word – Love, which is debated , and mostly misunderstood for centuries together has been expressed so correctly in a few words by the Great Saint Kabirji . Most of us must be feeling a little bit illumined just to have read this Doha.

Dear Mandar you have selected a very important Doha of Kabirji and I also liked the way in which you have expressed your thoughts on it , especially the invisible half alphabet part. I truly feel that only a Divine Being like Kabirji would grasp the exact meaning of the Half Alphabet. remember having met you during the MTA festival at FC College campus some time back. Thankyou .

Dear Sanjay Ji,

Thanks for sharing your thoughts here! Saints like Kabir are indeed divine and their words have power to transform lives.
Looking forward to meet you again sometime.

Regards,
Mandar

Thanks Mandar for reading my thoughts and saying that you are looking forward to meet me sometime .I am also sorry for reading your message late ie. Just now. I would really like to meet you sometimes. How can we get ahead with it ? When are you usually free please and at what place do you usually meet people .Thanks and Regards. Sanjay Warde.

i read the article. the line, which i lykd d most is, ‘everything ends, ( hence starts)’.
its d grt truth. we must detatch ourselves wid materialistic comforts.
thanku mandar sir.

I came across this site when searching for Kabir. It is very nice.
One query regarding above doha. Why are you saying the ‘prem’ is a 2 alphabet word? It is half ‘pa’, full ‘re’ & full ‘ma’, together becomes two & half. So I thought Kabir is asking us to understand love fully by mentioning to learn all the two and half alphabets.
All the best for your future work.

Dear Bharat, thanks so much for sharing your thoughts. I called it a two akshar word just to emphasise the significance of intangible half alphabet.

But your point is also valid ☺
Thanks again

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