Who is an Avadhuta (अवधूत)?

The word Avadhuta – अवधूत comes quite often in Kabir’s Nirguni Bhajans. In fact, most of the Nirguni Bhajans are addressed to Avadhuta, like this one :

युगन युगन हम योगी
अवधूता, युगन युगन हम योगी
आवे ना जाये मिटे ना कबहुं
शब्द अनाहत भोगी
अवधूता, युगन युगन हम योगी ||

Over the years, the biggest obstacle in making sense out of Kabir’s mysterious language was the very subject of it – Avadhuta. I could intuitively sense that an Avadhuta would be some sort of a seeker; someone who is walking on a chosen path. As I read more about Kabir and poked a little deeper in his words, some revelations took place. For instance, whenever a Nirguni Bhajan is addressed to Avadhuta, it has contradictions in it. A nice example of this is Avadhuta, Kudrat Ki Gat Nyari. This Bhajan is full of paradoxes like a king begging on street, a fisher hunting in the jungle or a dumb person displaying extraordinary knowledge.

The Bhajan which I mentioned right at the beginning – Yugan Yugan Ham Yogi, also has some paradoxes in it – हम सब माय, सब है हम माय, हम है बहुरि अकेला (I am in everyone, everyone is within me and yet, I am alone).

Here is the third Avadhuta Bhajan which puzzled me and fascinated me :

सो योगी गुरु मेरा अवधू , जो या पद को करे निबेरा

पैर बिन निरति, करौ बिन बाजे, जिभ्या हीना गावैं

(Avadhuta, my Guru is the one who can answer this riddle : Who can walk without legs, clap without using the hands and sing without a tongue? )

The Bhajan goes on and on with riddles and puzzles like this.

Kabir has addressed Avadhuta in a large number of his works and hence, better understanding of the term Avadhuta is essential to fully understand his works.

If one has studied basic Sanskrit, the word Avadhuta means the one who is’ shaken’. If we refer to a Sanskrit dictionary, the word अवधूत has a range of meanings – from the one who is insulted and despised to the one who has embraced the life of an ascetic. In its essence, the word means the one who has shaken off his duties and responsibilities.

As it is true with all words, certain words are far more nuanced than their mere dictionary meanings. Avadhuta is definitely one such word. It is equally important to understand that certain words are interwoven with certain paths, sects or traditions. Word Avadhuta is connected with Nath Parampara. Kabir had close connections with the Nath Vichar and hence, the term Avadhuta finds the continuance in his works. सिद्ध सिद्धांत पद्धति (Siddha Siddhant Paddhati) is probably the oldest text about Nath Parampara which is said to be a compilation of teachings of Macchindranath and Gorakhnath. This text has a full chapter on Avadhuta and defines ‘Avadhuta’ in details.

The third line from the above photo says – the one who has washed off his Vikaras born out of the Prakriti is an Avadhuta. The text goes on further describing how an Avadhuta behaves.

The one who has cut the bonds of sorrow and the one who is free of all the ‘states’ is an Avadhuta.

The text sort of put an Avadhuta ‘above’ everything – the rules of society or eventhe rules of spirituality or spiritual practices. An Avadhuta is described as one who can follow or break the law as and when he wishes. He has the liberty of acting like a ‘pishachh’ or a ‘deva’ as per his wish.

The text also associates an Avadhuta with certain Lakshanas or features – torn ears (an indication of a Nath Yogi), possessing a Khappar (mud pot) etc. Avadhuta, the one who stands for freedom is himself bound by the so called ‘karmakanda’ or meaningless rituals.

It is important to note that whenever Kabir refers to Avadhuta in his works, he is not worshiping or even expressing his reverence; rather he is challenging the Avadhuta. He is throwing puzzles and riddles to confuse them. Probably he is trying to tell them that just renouncing the structure of society does not free one from the structure of mind itself. Wearing robes of a Nath Yogi does not mean one has found or is likely to find anything meaningful. He often also hints that there is much more beyond what can be achieved by renunciation and following dead practices.

Kabir was certainly influenced by the Nath Vichar but at the same time, like he opposed to the malpractices in other religions, he also poked these Avadhutas and reminded them that the the only thing worth attaining in the life love!


Looking at Maya (माया) from Kabir’s perspective. 

Maya (माया) is a very common word used in the spiritual world. Often associated with a web, as per the Advaita school of thought, Maya stops us from experiencing the non-duality in the world. That’s why, often the word माया is often used with another word – पाश which literally means a web. 

It is Maya which creates the illusion of separation. Maya creates attachments, desires and suffering. We find references to Maya in multiple texts –  from Advaita schools texts like Brahma Sutras and Nath Panthi old texts to work of Sant Kabir which are comparatively modern. 

In schools of Advaita, Maya is either looked as a facet of Brahma itself or as its weakness. Avidya – which means lack of knowledge or presence of wrong knowledge if often attributed to presence of माया. As per Nath Sampradayi Yogis, Maya is the cosmic counterpart of Kundalini – the spiral energy in the body. The energy which manifests as Maya in the universe, the same energy manifests as Kundalini in the body. 

Kabir has used the word माया quite often in his numerous Bhajans and Sakhis. 

माया महा ठगनी हम जानी,

तिरगुन फांस लिए कर डोले बोले मधुरे बानी 

The great deceiver, Maya holds the webs of tri-gunas in her hands and entices with her melodious speech. 

Wherever you find Brahma, you will find Maya around says Kabir. She is present with Shiva as Bhavani, near Bhakta in form of the idol, with Yogi in form of Yogini and so on. In another Bhajan of his, the same Maya has been described as रमैय्या की दुलहिन – the bride of Ram! 

In these two Bhajans, Sant Kabir has taken great efforts to describe how nothing and no-one  can remain untouched from the delusions created by Maya. That being said, Kabir has also hinted towards the path to save oneself from the web of Maya. 

Kabir says : 

हम तो बचीगे साहेब दया से, सब्द डोर गहि उतरे पार 

कहत कबीरा सुनो भाई साधो, इस ठगनी से रहो होशियार 

He says, name of the lord – Bhakti is the only way one can save oneself from the claws of Maya. Kabir describes Bhakti and Naam (नाम) as the strong rope which will save one from sinking down the waters of Maya. 

How does Bhakti help is evade Maya? If you engage with Maya, you are already under attack by her. The best way to escape from Maya is not being seen by her. Maya acts on one’s ego. When there is no ego, Maya has nothing to hold on to. 

As Sant Tukaram has said in Marathi : 

तृण नाही तेथे पडिला दावाग्नि, जाय तो विझोनी, आपासया |

(If a burning coal falls on land without grass, it will get extinguished as it has nothing to burn). 

In same way, lack of ego makes Maya helpless. Kabir has his unique way of describing this. 

 He says : 

धीमर जाल डार क्या करिही मीनहि हो गयी पानी  

If all the fish become water, will the fisherman’s web catch them? 

The key is losing existence as individual fishes in this vast ocean of divine. Living as consciousness and not as merely the ‘body-mind’. 

Kabir says only Bhakti has the power of turning a fish into water – turning a limited being into limitless consciousness. 

Famous Musicians of India music

It’s Time We Stop Associating Great Music With Greater Whims!

The world of Indian Classical Music had (and has) musicians full of whims. These whims vary over a wide range of notoriety – from as harmless as expecting the host to feed them Sabji they liked to as nuanced as expecting a host to provide them Nivea cream right before the concert begins at 7 am when all the shops are closed. These whims are often substantial topics for long discussions among musicians, hosts, and people who are madly in love with Indian Classical Music and I often sense an urge in young musicians – one day, I will be such a good performer that my hosts and audience will also tolerate my whims as they did with these great maestros.  

In one such discussion, the topic of our discussion was a great musician with great whims. Mundane and insignificant whims were already covered and someone had to raise the bar. 

“You know what, once she actually slapped her Tabla accompanist on stage in middle of the concert because he didn’t play the correct theka!” Said one of the participants in this discussion over the coffee. 

“Yes, that actually happened. It is not good but when I heard her Yaman, I was like, everything is maaf for you,” said another member of the party. 

The discussion went on but I could not stop thinking about this accompanist as well as the main artist who slapped him. More than that, I kept wondering about the whole ecosystem where all of this is considered to be okay. 

Whims of an artist – especially the atrocious like the one mentioned above do not make their art less great but at the same time, greatness of art cannot be an excuse to accept such actions. An artist in position of power and authority doing this and an accompanist who is probably in a state where he has no option than to accept this kind of behavior represent that the system is not healthy. 

An artist, especially a musician who weaves subtle web of notes and can tap into the most sensitive core of the audience, how can she or he be so insensitive? Such behavior certainly indicates unaddressed issues – like trauma, prejudices, suppressed feelings, unexpressed anger accumulated over years and years. Isn’t it sad that there is no ecosystem to address and resolve such deep rooted issues? 

Being a musician is a tough task, especially for those who come from disadvantaged backgrounds. There is tons of handwork without sure returns. By the time a musician becomes famous, he or she has already gone through a lot – I am specifically talking about the era when instant celebrities did not exist. Most of the musicians have been forced through brutal hard work in their childhood by their musician parents who often looked at their future generation as a way to the glory they themselves dreamt of. As a result of this all, addictions, stress, mood swings, whims are common among musicians. I am not justifying the whims but just trying to explain why they exist. 

Unfortunately, with artists, these issues are not identified and resolved. Imagine an IT project manager who slaps his junior team member. We would not give excuses and justify the whims stating very high performance by the manager. We would take action and more important than that, we would provide required help to that person so that his or her behavior can change. Why don’t we do that with musicians? Why no-one tells a musician that he or she needs help? 

When a musician excels in his or her art, that same greatness is transferred to the personality of the musician. When I remember the incident of this musician slapping her accompanist, following possibilities come to me – she was trying to go very deep in her exploration and the accompanist playing wrong theka acted like a speed-breaker in her exploration within and out of anger, she slapped or she could not tolerate incompetence of this level from a musician who was part of her performance or it was just a whim – to show how great artist she is and how the world – including her accompanist does not deserve the great music she produces. 

No matter what might be the reason, none justifies this kind of ghastly act. The purpose of writing this article is not criticizing someone but to clearly state a problem with music ecosystem – musicians do not have a support system where issues are brought to their notice and help is provided. More important than that, often, musicians consider themselves ‘above the notch’ and are themselves okay with their whims. Accompanists, especially in old days, were solely dependent on main artists and bringing up these issues would have lead to unemployment or lack of opportunities. Hosts and organizers are thirsty for good music and often do not care about these issues with the artists. 

How do we solve this problem? First of all, it is very important that awareness about mental and emotional well-being is created among the artists. We should stop equating greatness of art with greatness of whims. As a community, artists including accompanists, hosts, organizers and audience should openly talk to the artists about the issues that they observe and should offer required support as per their capacities. 

When musicians gossip together, everyone discusses these issues which means that these issues do not escape the observations of fellow musicians, hosts etc. The problem is lack of healthy communication among artists about these challenges. 

मराठी ललित

कलाकारांची आत्मग्लानी कलेच्या ऱ्हासास कारणीभूत ठरतेय का?

कबीर त्याच्या गुरूंकडे गेला. 
कबीर ‘एन्लायटन’ झाला. 
कबीर त्याच्या गुहेत गुडुप्प झाला. 

बुद्ध निर्वाण अवस्थेच्या शोधात वणवण भटकला. 
बुद्ध निर्वाणावस्थेला उपलब्ध झाला. 
बुद्ध एका घनदाट अरण्यात लुप्त झाला. 

वरील दोन्ही घटनांच्या पहिल्या दोन ओळी सत्य आहेत. वरील दोन्ही घटनांमधील तिसरी ओळ मात्र धादांत खोटी आहे. 

कबीर गुहेत नाही जाऊन बसलेत. त्यांनी थेट बाजाराच्या मध्ये उभं राहून डरकाळी फोडली – कबीर खडा बजार में, लिये लुकाठी हात. 
असं म्हणतात की निर्वाणावस्थेनंतर बुद्धांना स्वर्गाच्या दारावर नेण्यात आलं. स्वर्गाच्या आतील मंडळी दारावर एक उतावळी थाप पडेल असं गृहीत धरून होती. सर्वांची धडपड मोक्षासाठी असते. बुद्ध मोक्षात प्रवेश करण्यासाठी आतुर असतील अशी आतील मंडळीची धारणा. परंतु दारावर थाप पडलीच नाही. गांगरलेल्या स्वर्गातील कर्मचाऱ्याने स्वतःच दार उघडले. दार उघडून पाहतो तर काय! बुद्ध मोक्षाकडे पाठ करून उभे. 

“आत नाही यायचं का तुम्हाला? इथे प्रवेश घेण्यासाठी लोक अनेक जन्म पणाला लावतात.” इति कर्मचारी. 

कर्मचाऱ्याचे हे शब्द बुद्धांच्या कानावर पडले. परंतु, बुद्धांना इतरांना त्यांच्या दुःखावस्थेत सोडून मोक्षात प्रवेश घेण्यात रस नव्हता. 

ज्ञान माणसाला अलिप्त करते, अगम्य करते असं आपल्याला सतत सांगण्यात येतं. परंतु, इतिहासाचा अभ्यास केला तर लक्षात येतं की ज्ञानी मंडळी अविरतपणे झटत होती. 

बुद्ध आणि कबीर सोडा, तुकाराम, रामकृष्ण परमहंस आणि अगदी जवळचं उदाहरण घ्यायचं झालं तर कृष्णमूर्ती आणि निसर्गदत्त महाराज देखील सदैव लोक-प्रबोधनच करत होते. निसर्गदत्त महाराजांना आणि रामकृष्ण परमहंसांना तर गळ्याचा कर्करोग होता तरीदेखील त्यांनी बोलणे थांबवले नाही. 

वास्तविकता अशी असताना आपण ज्ञानाचा संबंध अलिप्त होणे किंवा ‘रेक्लूज’ होणे याच्याशी का जोडतो? 

अलिप्तपणा आणि ज्ञानाची गाठ घालून आपण आपल्या कलांची, साधनेच्या विविध शाखांची अपरिमित हानी करीत आहोत. 

अगदी साधे उदाहरण – वीस ते तीस वर्षांपूर्वी महाराष्ट्राच्या छोट्या गावांमध्ये उत्तम दर्जाचे गाणं सादर करू शकणारी लोकं होती. आज त्या दर्जाची कला सादर करणारे पुण्यात आणि मुंबईत देखील हातावर मोजण्याएवढे लोकं आहेत. थोड्याफार फरकाने साहित्य, चित्र, नाटक, शिल्प आणि अन्य कलांची साधारण अशीच अवस्था आहे. कला सोडा, विविध ‘क्राफ्ट्स’ची देखील अवस्था बिकट आहे. सुतारकाम, गवंडीकाम, बागकाम उत्तम करू शकणाऱ्या लोकांची संख्या निश्चितच खालावली आहे. 

या खालावत जाणाऱ्या आलेखाचे कारण कुठेतरी सोयीस्कररीत्या किंवा परिस्थितीमुळे ओढलेल्या अलिप्ततेच्या पांघरुणात असेल का? कोणावर टीका करणे किंवा उगाच भावना दुखावणे हा या लिखाणाचा हेतू नसून काय चुकते आहे ते समजून घेण्याचा आणि त्या दिशेने काही विचार मांडण्याचा प्रामाणिक हेतू आहे. माझा प्रांत गाण्याचा. त्यामुळे त्या क्षेत्रातील माझ्या काही नोंदी मी खाली मांडतो आहे. 

काही दशकांपूर्वी उत्तम दर्जाचे गायक छोट्या शहरांमध्ये आणि अगदी खेड्यांमध्ये जाऊन कार्यक्रम करायचे. या कार्यक्रमाचे आर्थिक गणित जेमतेमच असायचे परंतु मोठ्या शहरातील किंवा परदेशांतील दौरे देखील काही खूप नसायचे त्यामुळे रिकामं बसण्यापेक्षा कलाकार लोकं हे छोटेखानी कार्यक्रम करायचे. आता अशा कार्यक्रमांचं प्रमाण खूप कमी झालं आहे. या कार्यक्रमांमुळे होणाऱ्या सर्वंकष फायद्यांचा विचार करणे आवश्यक आहे. 

१. श्रोत्यांना उत्तम दर्जाचं संगीत ऐकायला मिळायचं. नकळत त्यांचे कान तयार व्हायचे. 
२. स्थानिक कलाकारांना अव्वल दर्जाचे कलाकार कला कशी सादर करतात, रियाझ कसा करतात हे थोडक्यात का होईना, अनुभवता यायचं आणि त्याचा त्यांच्या साधनेवर निश्चितच परिणाम होत असणार. 
३. या स्थानिक कलाकारांची मुलं, शिष्य यांना देखील बाहेरून येणाऱ्या कलाकारांच्या सहवासाचा फायदा व्हायचा. माझे गुरुजी पंडित विजय सरदेशमुख यांना पंडित कुमार गंधर्वांच्या गाण्याची ओढ अशा कार्यक्रमांमुळेच लागली आणि त्यामुळेच ते त्यांचे शिष्य झाले. छोट्या गावात देखील अशा प्रकारे अव्वल कलाकारांना शिष्य किंवा किमान सांस्कारक्षम तरुण गायक/गायिका /वादक मिळत असणार. 
४. गावात मोठे कलाकार आले की ते स्थानिक कलाकारांचं गाणं ऐकायचे. 

कल्पना करा. माझ्या गावात जर वर्षातून एकदा पंडित भमसेन जोशी येत असतील आणि ते जर मला ‘ऐकव काहीतरी’ म्हणत असतील तर त्याचं कितीमोठं दडपण आणि जबाबदारी माझ्यावर येणार आणि तिचा माझ्या गाण्याच्या दर्जावर किती परिणाम होणार!

मोठे कलाकार छोट्या गावी जाणे थांबल्याने किंवा कमी झाल्याने वरवर वाटते त्यापेक्षा खूप खोलवर कलांची हानी होत आहे. आधी उल्लेख केल्याप्रमाणे हीच परिस्थिती थोड्याफार फरकाने इतर कलांची देखील असणार. यावर तोडगा काय? कलाकारांना जबरदस्तीने छोट्या गावांत पाठवणे? 

मला वाटतं की हा प्रश्न जबरदस्तीने नाही तर संवेदनशीलतेने सुटू शकतो. कसा? 

दोन उदाहरणे तुमच्यासमोर मांडणार आहे. या दोन उदाहरणांतून अनेक गोष्टींचा उलगडा होईल. एक उदाहरण गाण्याच्या क्षेत्रातील आहे आणि दुसरे नाटक क्षेत्रातील. 

टी. एम. क्रिष्णा आज कर्नाटकी अभिजात संगीतातील एक अव्वल कलाकार. काही आठवड्यांपूर्वी त्यांनी फेसबुक आणि इंस्टाग्राम वर पोस्ट टाकली – मला लोकांच्या घरी येऊन गाणे ऐकवायचे आहे. पैस्याची अपेक्षा नाही. सोबत साथीदार किंवा अन्य काही लवाजमा नाही. फक्त यायची-जायची आणि राहायची सोय करा. मी येईन आणि तुमच्या घरी गाऊन जाईन. आम्ही स्वतः आमच्या एका मित्र-मैत्रिणीच्या घरी अशी एक बैठक ऐकून आलो. कुठलेच सोपस्कार नाहीत. फक्त गाणं आणि गप्पा.

टी. एम. ची राजकीय व सामाजिक विषयांवरची मते सर्वांनाच पटायला हवी असं नाही. परंतु फुकाचा अलिप्तपणा न पांघरता ते ज्या पद्धतीने त्यांची विचारधारा आणि त्यांचं गाणं पुढे नेत आहेत, ते अभ्यासण्यासारखं आणि अनुकरणीय आहे. 

दुसरं उदाहरण म्हणजे दिग्दर्शक आणि लेखक अतुल पेठे यांच्या रंग-संगत कार्यशाळा आणि त्यांची प्रायोगिक नाटके. 

दिवसेंदिवस नाटक करणे कठीण होतं चाललं आहे, नाटकापुढे अनेक समस्या आ वासून उभ्या आहेत हे आपण अनेक वर्षे ऐकतो आहोत. पण करायचं काय? 

अतुल पेठेंनी देखील काही महिन्यांपूर्वी फेसबुक आणि इंस्टाग्राम वर पोस्ट टाकली. उत्तम नाटक करायची इच्छा आहे? कुठल्याही मोबदल्याच्या अपेक्षेविना आम्ही येऊ आणि नाटकाची कार्यशाळा करू. शहरांतून, खेड्यांतून आणि पाड्यांतून लोकांचा प्रतिसाद आला. अतुल पेठे, अभिनेता ओंकार गोवर्धन आणि डॉक्टर दीपक मांडे हि मंडळी गावोगावी जाऊन हि दोन दिवसांची कार्यशाळा घेताहेत. मागील दोन कार्यशाळांमध्ये दाक्षायणी आणि मी देखील शामिल झालो. 

‘कोणाला काही पडली नाही आहे’, ‘उत्तम कलेची कोणाला जाण नाही आणि कदर नाही’ , ‘फार कमी लोकांना खरी कला कळते’ हि अलिप्तवादी मंडळीद्वारा सतत पुढे केली जाणारी कारणे किती पोकळ आहेत हे या कार्यशाळा पाहिल्यावर कळले. लोकांना जाणून घ्यायचं आहे. त्यांना देखील त्यांची अभिरुची वर न्यायची आहे. त्यांच्यासमोर देखील त्यांच्या समस्या आहेत. त्याची देखील लिमिटेशन्स आहेत. परंतु, त्यांच्यात प्रज्वलित होण्याची शक्यता आहे. ती शक्यता होती म्हणूनच बुद्धांनी मोक्षाकडे पाठ केली आणि कबीर बाजारात ठाण मांडून बसले. 

नाकर्तेपणाची किंमत फार मोठी असते. आजचा नाकर्तेपणा अनेक कला लुप्त होण्यास निशचितच कारणीभूत ठरू शकतो. थोरांनी उठून, त्यांचे अलिप्तपणाचे धोरण बाजूला ठेवावे. ती खरी कलेची सेवा ठरेल. 


Sant Kabir’s Wisdom and E.F. Schumacher’s Economics : Drawing Some Parallels

साहेब सो सब होत हैं, बंदे से कछु नाही |
राई सो परबत करें, परबत राई माही ||

Translation : All doing is done by Him (the lord). How can I claim doing something? He can turn a mustard seed into a mountain and fit a mountain in the mustard seed!

Nothing comes close to this Doha of Kabir when it comes to singing out gratefulness in the heart. In today’s world, imagining a task without a doer is implausible. Every action is performed to pursue some motive of the doer. This almost inevitable presence of a doer leaves no space for gratefulness. If I and many more people like me are doing everything and literally running the world, what one has to be grateful about?

Does gratefulness have any place in an economist’s heart?

After reading quite a few economists, I had concluded that the answer was ‘no’. For an economist, everything has ultimately to be ‘profitable.’ He takes everything that ‘is’ as a given to create something which will in turn produce money and if required, occasional employment. Economists, for me, were always the people of brain and no heart. Osho would often say that logic is like a prostitute. I had similar feelings for economics. It serves the best those who have money. For last few decades, economics has played huge rule in increasing the economic polarity.

‘Small is Beautiful’, a book by British statistician and economist E.F. Schumacher came as a ray of hope. Schumacher, in this book, has raised many questions about economics and its purpose. Most of the times, we believe the only way things can be done is the way they are being done. For the economy to grow, we need more automation and as a result, jobs will be gone; we see this happening around us and believe that that’s the only way to prosperity. For raising the standard of living of every person on the earth, we need to destroy and deplete earth’s natural resources. We are being told this and we believe it. That’s the only way things can be done, we console ourselves if we care a bit about ecology.

A tool serves the best the person who holds it. Who is holding the tools for attaining the so called financial prosperity and wellbeing? Who has defined ‘prosperity’? Are those definitions valid? We hardly ask such questions.

In our blindfolded journey towards raising the ‘standard of living’ and living conditions, a lot is being destroyed irreparably. Small is Beautiful forces us to let go these blindfolds and forces us to take a panoramic look at the mess that we are creating.

Sant Kabir or any saint for that matter, looked at human beings as just a part of the life.

पत्ती न तोडू जी , पथ्थर न पुजू जी, ना कोई झाड़ सताऊ जी |

Even for my worship and prayers, I would not hurt a tree, says Sant Gorakhnath.

When you read the Dohas or couplets of Kabir, though he does not directly talk about conservation of nature, one can always feel the reverence about ‘what is’. It is this ‘what is’ which is termed as ‘capital’ in an economist’s language.

Small is Beautiful begins with highlighting the utter disregard and lack of reverence we have for the huge capital that we have got. E.F. Schumacher argues that we are taking our capital for granted and using it as if it is income – something that we have earned. One can exercise some free hand while putting to use their income; one has to be extremely cautious about spending capital.

As Schumacher rightly points out, we are thoughtlessly wiping out our capital – clean air, richness of soil, fossil fuels, diversity of species etc. What would be the costs incurred to restore the imbalances caused due to climate change? Hardly anyone knows the answer. The capital that we are using, is invaluable and we have not figured out how to restore it once it is gone.

What’s the problem here? How do we grow sustainably?

In Small is Beautiful, Schumacher beautifully pinpoints the wrong notion on which today’s growth breeds. What Schumacher points out resonates very well with what Kabir professed.

Over the generations, we have been brainwashed that economic prosperity is going to end all human problems. If everyone has enough money, why would people steal and kill? Not religion and philosophy but money will solve all human miseries is the consistent message that every one of us has been hammered with. It seems very logical and utterly sensible, on surface. Schumacher often takes his readers’ attention to the USA – a country which had hardly 5% of the world population at that time but consumed 30-70% of world’s resources and still, was far form being a land of peace. In fact, even today, it is far away from being a land of peace.

Somewhere, we have to understand that material comforts cannot fill the void within. They cannot make humans free of their jealousy and greed. Otherwise, one would not find world’s largest corporations and richest people involved in tax frauds and other serious crimes. If money solved all the human problems and brought true satisfaction, the European Union would not have to fine top German automakers – BMW, Audi, Porsche and Volkswagen for colluding to slow down the rollout of emission control technology. We have to carefully examine whether economics and money in general can really fulfill the promises they make.

While this being said, we cannot ignore what money brings in our lives. Especially when a large portion of the humanity faces hunger and poverty, we have to talk about money reaching more people. Unfortunately, today’s economic models perform poorly when it comes to fairly distributing money. In ‘Small is Beautiful’, Schumacher has in detail laid out parallel models, other ways of deploying technology so as to generate income for a larger number of people. I do not think the economists in demand would pay any serious attention to them as these means, though they would create many jobs and actual prosperity, would slow down the crazy speed of wealth accumulation in the hands of HNIs.

साईं इतना दीजिये जा में कुटुम समाय |

I do not need much, just enough to take care of my family, says Kabir.

For Kabir, that’s where the role of money ends. Where does it end for you and me? For individuals who have a zillion times more money than you and me, it has not yet ended. Rather, they are more insecure, they want even more. Where does this cycle end?

Both Kabir and Schumacher had seen that this circle can never complete itself. When will you, me and our so called economists see this?

Famous Musicians of India

Dear Indian Classical Musicians, Either Use a Tanpura Or Disassociate With Your Lineage!

In an ecosystem running on blatant lies and dogma, someone has to call a spade a spade. I am on that task today. If we make a list of fields where pride of tradition and culture of telling majestic stories of tradition and lineage prevails, Indian Classical Music would be in top five if not on the top. Sadly, students of music pickup myths and anecdotes much faster than actual music. It’s not a coincidence that musicians (even senior ones) these days enjoy telling stories more than presenting quality music.

While there are many things to talk about, today I will be focusing myself on Tanpura. Everyone calls it the foundation of Indian Classical Music but very few actually end up using it. Look at this pic of Mogubai Kurdikar. Clearly, she is old. At this point, she has stopped performing as well. She had mastered the notes to such an extent that she actually did not need a Tanpura when this picture was clicked. But still, she is using one 🙂

Photo credits : I am really not aware. Please let me know and I will put the name here.

And then, here is one more musician who had stopped performing at an early stage of her career but had influenced (and even taught I guess) three giants : Lata Mangeshkar, Kishori Tai and Kumar Ji. She is Anjanibai Malpekar. Again with a Tanpura at very old age!

I have heard that Kumar Ji had a basic rule : He would not accept a concert if he could not manage a pair of Tanpura. Ustad Amir Khan often ditched the tradition of using two Tanpuras and instead used three. Ustad Abdul Karim Khan was so particular about javhari of his Tanpura that he started using a kurta made using the thread which was his preferred thread for adjusting javhari.

Well if you think that only vocalists used Tanpuras, I have got some pictures of instrumentalists using Tanpura :

Photo Credit : Raghu Rai. To know more :

Not one, two. Three Tanpuras. That too, full scale Tanpuras. Not the Tanpuris.

It seems as if today’s musicians are so seasoned and have mastered such a grip on swaras that they don’t need the crutches of Tanpura. Poor Mogubai, Anjanibai, Kumarji, Ravishankarji Ali Akbarji and probably all other such maestros…practiced music for so many hours a day for so many years and could not reach the stage today’s many young musicians have reached.

I am not getting sentimental about Tanpura. I am not putting it on a pedestal. As a student of vocal music, I have seen quality of my own music go down when there is no acoustic Tanpura. As a listener of music, I have seen quality of music of many musicians (including today’s senior maestros) dwindle down considerably when they ditch an acoustic Tanpura. Of course, there is considerable audience for mediocre music. I am not talking about music that wins claps but music that leaves a lasting impact.

Why is Tanpura so integral to Indian Classical Music? First of all, Indian Classical Music is not static. The ability of taking birth in that very moment is integral and inseparable attribute of Indian Classical Music. An acoustic Tanpura, which actually gets tuned slightly different every time you tune it is the living canvas. We need not only a canvas but a living one. Electronic Tanpura is indeed a canvas but a dead one.

Look at it this way – can one compare the taste of home cooked fresh food with ready-to-cook packaged meal?

If you spend hours tuning the acoustic Tanpura and carefully listen to it, you would start noticing the interferences that emerge out of electronic Tanpura and would not primarily depend on it as your canvas.

The mental state in which an artist has to go to tune a Tanpura is pre-requisite to present authentic music. If you just casually sit on stage, turn on your electronic Tanpura and start, you are not doing your pre-concert homework. Athletes need warmup before they actually do the drill. A musician needs to dive within his or her own sonic and emotional sensitivity which is essential for sharing it with the audience. When artists use electronic Tanpura, they are sidetracking this important phase of the performance which reflects very much in the quality of the music that they present.

Most of the musicians know this. They know that the Tanpura is their playground. Many musicians are performing sitting in their houses because of the lockdown; still, they find it difficult to use an acoustic Tanpura. If one can invite accompanists for Tabla or Harmonium, getting a Tanpura player is not that difficult.

As a rule of thumb, if I and Dakshayani do not see an acouctic Tanpura, we just walk out or in these days, close the tab. Listening to an archival recording is much better.

J. Krishnamurti osho

यु. जी. कृष्णमूर्ती : एक वेडा संत

विसाव्या शतकात भारतात खरंतर नको तितके संत होऊन गेले. रमणा महर्षी, ओशो, जिद्दू कृष्णमूर्ती, मेहेर बाबा, निसर्गदत्त महाराज.. यादी करायची म्हंटली तर फार मोठी होईल. एखाद्या व्यक्तीचं संतात रूपांतर होणं म्हणजे दुर्लभ घटना. असं असताना देखील विसाव्या शतकात संतांची श्रीमंती होती. या सर्व यादीमध्ये एक महत्वाचं नाव वगळयल्या जातं. ते नाव म्हणजे यु. जी. कृष्णमूर्ती.

आमच्या पिढीला ओशो चांगलेच माहिती आहेत; स्वतःच मार्केटिंग अँड पॅकेजिंग कसं करायचं हे ओशोंना चांगलच ठाऊक होतं. सेक्स गुरु, ९३ रोल्स रॉयस गाड्या, अमेरिकेतील ओरेगॉन येथील गमती-जमती अशा अनेक बाबींमुळे ओशो खरंतर मृत्यूनंतर बरेच ‘पॉप्युलर’ झाले. नेटफ्लिक्स वरील ‘वाईल्ड वाईल्ड कंट्री’ या वेब सिरीज मुळे अध्यात्माच्या पलीकडील वर्तुळाला देखील त्यांची ओळख झाली. जिद्दू कृष्णमूर्तींची प्रसिद्धी होण्यास देखील अनेक कारणं होती. त्यांचा थिऑसॉफिकल सोसायटी बरोबरचा सुरुवातीचा प्रवास त्यांना लहानपणीच जगभर प्रसिद्ध करून गेला. धनाढ्य उद्योगपती, राजकीय व्यक्ती, सामाजिक कार्यकर्ते हे जेके अत्यंत तरुण असतानाच त्यांच्या जवळच्या वर्तुळांत होते. जेके ऐकून, वाचून, त्यांच्या सहवासात राहून काहीतरी हाती लागणार, आपले रूपांतर होणार या आशेने ४०-५० वर्षे लोकं जेकेंच्या व्याख्यानांना जायचे. कृष्णमूर्तींचं शिक्षण क्षेत्रांतील लिखाण, शाळांची स्थापना इत्यादी गोष्टींमुळे आमच्या पिढीतल्यांना देखील त्यांची किमान तोंड ओळख आहे. या तुलनेत निसर्गदत्त महाराज सुरुवातीच्या काळात प्रसिद्धीपासून लांब होते. मॉरिस फ्रीडमन यांनी लिहिलेल्या ‘आय एम दॅट’ या पुस्तकामुळे मोठ्या स्तरावर लोकांना निसर्गदत्त महाराजांची ओळख झाली. थोडक्यात, अनेक कारणांमुळे ओशो, कृष्णमूर्ती, निसर्गदत्त महाराज इत्यादी संत मोठ्या जनसमुदायापर्यंत पोहोचले.

यु. जी. कृष्णमूर्ती अनेक कारणांमुळे फार थोड्या लोकांना परिचित झाले आणि मृत्यूनंतर देखील त्यांचे विचार आणि पुस्तके कमी लोकांना माहिती आहेत. यु. जी. कमी प्रसिद्ध असण्याचं एक कारण म्हणजे त्यांचा स्वभाव देखील. यु. जी. वाचत असताना सतत एक प्रामाणिक ‘वेडेपणा’ जाणवत असतो. सर्वच संत खरंतर सांगतात की खरं सत्व हे त्या संतांच्या सहवासात असतं; पुस्तकं आणि संस्था या मृत आहेत. असे असून देखील ओशोंनी पुस्तके, मेडिटेशन्स विकल्या आणि त्यातून संस्था उभारल्या. कृष्णमूर्तींनी देखील संस्था निर्मिल्यात. मी काय चांगले, काय वाईट, काय चूक, काय बरोबर यात नाही शिरत आहे. कोणी काय केलं त्याचा हा आढावा आहे. ‘ट्रुथ इज अ पाथलेस लँड’ असे म्हणून कृष्णमूर्तींनी अनेक व्याख्यानं दिलीत जी नंतर पुस्तकरूपाने प्रकाशित झाली. यु. जी. इथे सर्व संतांपेक्षा थोडे वेगळे ठरतात. त्यांनी कोणतीच संस्था, आश्रम, मठ स्थापन केला नाही. त्यांची शिकवण देखील अशी होती की त्या आधारे काही ‘विकणे’ केवळ अशक्य आहे. त्यांनी त्यांच्या मित्रांशी केलेले सर्व संवाद देखील सदैव विनामूल्य राहतील याची तडजोड त्यांनी करून ठेवली. आयुष्यभर एका सुटकेस मध्ये सामान घेऊन ते फिरतीवर होते.

यु.जी. सर्व प्रकारच्या मेडिटेशन्स, योग, साधना यांच्या विरुद्ध होते. ते करून तुम्ही तुमच्या ध्येयापासून लांब जाता अशी त्यांची धारणा होती. त्यांच्या अष्टावक्र महागीतेतील प्रवचनात ओशो अष्टावक्र मुनींनी जनक राजाला दिलेला खूपच मूल्यवान उपदेश अधोरेखित करतात – तुझं साधनेचं अधिष्ठान तुझं सर्वात मोठं बंधन आहे. जे आहे, त्याचा स्वीकार करून या क्षणी सुखी हो! परंतु, हा संदेश केवळ जनक राजाच्या ‘लेव्हल’ ला उपलब्ध झालेल्यांनाच लागू होतो हे देखील नमूद करतात. यु. जी.कृष्णमूर्ती मात्र ‘तुमच्या करण्याने काहीच होणार नाही’ या त्यांच्या जागी अढळपणे टिकून राहतात.

यु.जी. दीर्घायुषी होते. जिवंत असेपर्यंत तरतरीत होते आणि स्वतःची सर्व कामं स्वतः करायचे. एकदा एका पत्रकाराने त्यांना ‘सेहत का राज’ विचारताच त्यांनी उत्तर दिलं – मी व्यायाम करत नाही, व्हिटॅमिन्स खात नाही आणि सकस अन्न देखील खात नाही!

अनेकांना यु.जी. म्हणजे स्वतःच स्वतःला ‘एनलाइटन्ड’ म्हणवून घेणारा कोणीतरी विक्षिप्त माणूस वाटतो. अनेकांना त्यांचे विचार ‘निहिलिजम’ कडे झुकणारे वाटतात. अनेकांना यु.जी. म्हणजे ठार वेडा माणूस वाटतो. त्यांची भाषा सर्वार्थाने ‘रफ’ होती. त्यांचे आणि जिद्दू कृष्णमूर्तींचे अनेक वर्ष संबंध होते. यु. जी. कृष्णमूर्तींना आणि त्यांना उपलब्ध झालेल्या सत्याला मानायचे परंतु जेकेंच्या ज्या बाबी त्यांना खटकायच्या, त्यांचा ते अत्यंत शेलक्या शब्दांत उद्धार करायचे. अनेकवेळा त्यांना भेटायला, प्रश्न विचारायला आलेल्या लोकांना ते पिटाळून लावायचे. अनेक लोकं सत्य जाणून घेण्यासाठी यु.जी. कडे गेले आणि आठवडाभर त्यांच्या खमंग आणि विनोदी गप्पा ऐकून हात हलवत परत आले.

यु.जी. कृष्णमूर्तीची बरीच पुस्तके मी अभियांत्रिकी महाविद्यालयात असताना घेतली होती; परंतु फार काळ मी ती वाचू नाही शकलो. खरंतर त्यावेळी जिद्दू कृष्णमूर्ती वाचणे देखील अवघड जायचे. त्यामुळे ओशोच वाचले गेले. त्यानंतर जिद्दू कृष्णमूर्ती आणि मग गेले काही महिने यु.जी. कृष्णमूर्ती. यावेळी यु.जी. वाचतांना बऱ्याच गोष्टींचा उलगडा झाला. त्यांच्या विक्षिप्तपणाच्या आवरणाला छेद देऊन थोडं आत देखील जाता आलं.

सर्व संत आपल्याला सांगतात की शरीर क्षुल्लक आहे आणि मन, आत्मा, माईंड म्हणजे आपली कर्मभूमी. सत्याला उपलब्ध व्हायचंय? तुमच्या मनावर, डोक्यावर, हृदयावर, आत्म्यावर काम करा. यु. जी. म्हणतात हा शुद्ध बकवास आहे. आपल्या शरीरात असामान्य ज्ञान ‘कोडेड’ आहे; आपल्या जीन्समध्ये, आपल्या मेंदूतील अज्ञात भागात इत्यादी. आपल्या मनावर झालेले संस्कार, म्हणजेच आपल्या मेंदूतील धोपट ‘न्यूरल’ मार्ग आपल्या शरीराला, त्याच्या असामान्य ज्ञानाला आणि हुशारीला व्यक्तच होऊ देत नाहीत. यु.जी. म्हणतात ज्या क्षणी तुमचं ‘माईंड’ मालक न राहता सेवक म्हणून काम करू लागतं, त्या क्षणी तुमचं शरीर त्याच्या पूर्ण क्षमतेकडे झेप घेतं. कुंडलिनी शक्ती जागृत होते इत्यादी संकल्पनांच्या बरंच जवळ जाणारं त्यांचं म्हणणं आहे. गमतीचा भाग असा आहे की यु.जी. च्या म्हणण्यानुसार, हे परिवर्तन तुमच्या काही करण्याने नाही होणार आहे. ते होणं किंवा न होणं हा एक ‘ऍक्सीडेन्ट’ किंवा जनुकीय योगायोग आहे.

अनेकांना यु.जी. म्हणतात ते पटणार नाही. हा विचार जर कबूल केला, तर साधना, अभ्यास, जप, तप, योग या सर्व कृती निरर्थक आणि वेडेपणाच्या ठरतात. पण, खरंतर सर्व संतांनी देखील हेच सांगितलं आहे ना?

कबीर म्हणतात –

अंजन उतपति, ॐ कार, अंजन मांगे सब विस्तार,
अंजन ब्रह्मा, शंकर, इंद, अंजन गोपी संगे गोविंद रे ॥१॥
अंजन वाणी, अंजन वेद, अंजन किया नाना भेद,
अंजन विद्या, पाठ-पुराण, अंजन घोकतकत हि ग्यान रे ॥२॥
अंजन पाती, अंजन देव, अंजन ही करे, अंजन सेव,
अंजन नाचै, अंजन गावै, अंजन भेसी-अनंत दिखावै रे ॥३॥
अंजन कहां-कहां लग केता ? दान-पुनि-तप-तीरथ जेथा !
कहे कबीर कोई बिरला जागे, अंजन छांडी अनंत इज़ारा रे ! ॥४॥

ओशो, कृष्णमूर्ती, कबीर, व अन्य संतांनी खरंतर हेच सांगितलं आहे परंतु, कुठेतरी या संतांनी सामान्य जनांच्या पातळीवर यायचा प्रयत्न केला होता. जप करा, डायनॅमिक मेडिटेशन करा, इत्यादी इत्यादी उपदेश दिले आणि यातच त्यांचे भक्त गुरफटले. यु.जी.मात्र याबाबत फारच स्पष्ट होते. तुमच्या साधनाच तुम्हाला बांधून ठेवता असं म्हणून यु.जी. त्यांना सरळ कचऱ्याच्या डब्यात टाकून देतात.

करायची, मिळवायची, साधायची इच्छा असल्यास यु. जी. वाचू नये. फ्रस्ट्रेशन येईल. करून काही होत नाही ही जाणीव होऊ लागली असेल तर सर्व सोडून यु. जी. कृष्णमूर्ती वाचा.

Dohe of Kabir Dohe of Kabir 1

Kabir Doha on Guru and Guru’s Grace

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!

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J. Krishnamurti Kabir

Kabir, J. Krishnamurti and Nisargadatta Maharaj : One Truth, Three Manifestations

One of the legendary vocalists of India, Pt. Kumar Gandharva would often say something about Ragas in Indian Classical Music which holds equally true for the absolute truth. As he would say, if you just know trunk of an elephant, you have not known the elephant fully. Knowing elephant fully means being able to recognise it from any angle and perspective. Kumar Ji would often present well known Ragas in perspectives unimaginable to not only listeners but also fellow musicians.

As he would often say, if you just identify an elephant with one of its organs, you are far away from knowing what an elephant is. Once you know what a Raga has to tell, you can go beyond the conventional ‘bookish’ definition of that Raga and unshackle it from the rules. The new perspective might not be as per the definition of that Raga but it will still say what the Raga essentially has to say.

Of course, an artist can take this kind of liberty only after complete understanding of the Raga.

Same holds true for truth and its expression. Roses in a bunch are bound to have different size and shape. The fragrance is essentially the same. When we look at works of different saint or masters, their statements or expression differ but they essentially carry the fragrance of the same truth.

I have been reading Kabir as a little boy and was introduced to Jiddu Krishnamurti during my engineering. Nisargadatta Maharaj, another realised being came into my life much later, in 2016.

Kabir was a 15th century saint who had training in Advaita as well as Nath Panth. Jiddu Krishnamurti was raised under the Theosophical teachings but unlearned and emerged anew. Whereas Nisargadatta Maharaj was a common man with uncommon intelligence who as he would say, sincerely followed what his Guru told him to do.

If we go through teachings of these three saints, we realise that in spite of their different backgrounds and different ways of expression, they were essentially sharing the same fragrance.

For instance, look at these three statements by these three masters :

A Doha (couplet) of Kabir :

कबीर खड़ा बज़ार में लिए लुकाठी हाथ |
जो जारे घर अपना चलो हमारे साथ ||

(Kabir stands in the market with a burning stick in his hand. The one who can burn his house, can join me on my way)

Here is a quote from Jiddu Krishnamurti :

Have you not noticed that love is silence? It may be while holding the hand of another, or looking lovingly at a child, or taking in the beauty of an evening. Love has no past or future, and so it is with this extraordinary state of silence.

Here is a statement by Nisargadatta Maharaj :

You may die a hundred deaths without a break in the mental turmoil. Or, you may keep your body and die only in the mind. The death of the mind is the birth of wisdom.

If we relook at the Doha of Kabir above, he says only the one who burns his house can join Kabir on his path (the path of truth). By burning house, Kabir is talking about burning our accumulations; not the physical ones but the accumulations in our mind. Our mind is a storehouse of memories, fears, hopes, and what not. Our first step on the path of truth is burning this junk in our mind; Kabir calls it burning one’s house.

If we read the quote by Jiddu Krishnamurti again, he talks about silence. What is the silence he is talking about? This silence is what follows when one realises that ‘I’ is a fabricated entity. He says love has no past and future. Past and future are products of mind; in present, there is no mind.

Nisargadatta Maharaj says it even more crisply – The death of the mind is the birth of the wisdom. Death of body does not necessarily mean death of mind and death of mind happens without death of the body.

In short, these three masters, in their own words are communicating the same fragrance – our falsely created sense of ‘I’ hinders the direct realisation of the truth. We often debate whether tail of the elephant is really the elephant or the legs! Once we focus ourselves on ‘elephant’, trunk as well as legs are parts of the same elephant. In same way, once we realise that the truth that all masters pointed out is one, the expression no more matters or bothers!

Current Issues Kabir

How would have Sant Kabir responded to the COVID 19 crisis?

How has been the year 2020?

I know, everyone would respond differently to this seemingly simple question. The major length and breadth of 2020 has been occupied by the most unexpected phenomenon : COVID 19. As I go out every morning or evening for the routine walk, I can see a shop or two closing every day and some other shop sprouting with fresh branding and fresh hope.

Well, this one observation sums up what the coronavirus has done; for many of us, it has completely shattered or at least slowed down what was going right whereas for some few, it has opened new doors.

As I do weekly mentoring calls with the participants of ‘Unlock Your Self the Kabir Way‘, a course on Kabir that I teach (this course was started as a result of COVID-19 in the first place!) I realise how the pandemic has positively as well as negatively affected so many of us. since the course is woven around the wisdom of Sant Kabir, often, the participants ask how would have Kabir responded to a pandemic like this.

We believe that many of the problems that we face today did not exist when Kabir lived. Loss of jobs due to artificial intelligence, addiction to cellphones, large number of people turning homeless due to a lockdown, forceful sterilisation of animals; these problems are in a way contemporary, born out of progress(?) of humanity and technology. Would Kabir’s wisdom be inadequate or incapable of solving these multi layered problems?

If we read the words of Sant Kabir, we realise that he has actually touched a large number of issues like untouchability, orthodoxy, religious hatred etc. in his couplets. But it would be a grave mistake to conclude that these problems is what defines the scope of the solution that Kabir has offered.

Kabir had a very integral approach towards problems. Rather, if we study Kabir’s work and dive within with that understanding, we will realise that the core problem is just one. The numerous problems that we face are just manifestations of the one core problem. And since there is just one problem, there is only one solution. What’s that one problem and what’s the one solution?

In one of his Nirguni Bhajans, Kabir says :

पांच पचीसों पकड़ मँगाउजी
एक ही डोर लगाऊंगा |

I will catch the five and twenty five with a single rope.

The word five could mean five senses. These five senses give birth to twenty five problems. If we keep the numbers aside, Kabir is simply highlighting the fact that all the problems that we face are actually born out of disturbances created by the five senses in our mind. As per Kabir, tackling each problem independently is not going to help. One needs to understand the plain simple fact – the problem is because of the ripples created in our mind by these five senses. For example, we get disturbed when we see something that we do not like or when we see cruelty around. We are disturbed when we hear something that is unpleasant to us. Whatever could be the problem, it creates ripples in our mind through our senses.

As per Sant Kabir’s wisdom, as long as the ripples exist in the mind, whatever the mind does to solve the problem, it will rather add to the problem. The first step, the very essential condition for a solution to come up is lack of these ripples.

That is why Kabir is talking about the one rope- that one rope is awareness. In order to act on a problem, we need a firm ground, a ground which is untouched by the problem. If there are ripples in the mind, the ripples will distort the way the problem is perceived and the response of the mind would also be distorted.

Once we understand this, it is very easy to understand why most of the solutions offered to the problems we face are skewed.

It is very easy to wrongly conclude that by awareness, Kabir means only being aware when you are solving the problem. That’s how generally all the commonly available solutions are. Have a flu? Take a pill and get rid of it. Have inequality? Pass a new legislation and get rid of it.

Interestingly, such solutions give birth to many more problems. The legislation, which is proposed as a solution gives birth to ten more problems – is it drafted fairly, will it be executed properly, will it cause innocent people to suffer?

We have arrived from one problem to infinite problems because of our own solutions. Had we followed Kabir’s approach – awareness, our problems would have been fewer and simpler to deal with.

So, the solution cannot be a ‘use and forget’ kind. When awareness becomes uninterrupted, we realise the most profound fact of the life :

घट घट में राम रमैय्या

In every body, the lord lives.

If we look at all the problems that exist – for humans, animals, environment etc. they are all born out of our belief that we are a separate entity from the rest of the world. This separateness gives rise to all the ripples in our mind. The ripples of insecurity lead to hoarding, the ripples of greed lead to extremely skewed distribution of wealth, ripples of dominance leading to use of this planet as a resource to be exploited.

If we had ingrained this solution of awareness, most of the problems that we are facing, including the coronavirus pandemic, would have not born in the first place. But that does not mean that the solution of awareness is ineffective against the crisis.

If we all look around, we are all panicked or challenged by the pandemic and the suffering it has caused. At the same time, we are doing very little to actually help someone or even ourselves. All our frustration is coming out in the most worthless manner it could – on social media.

If we listen to Kabir, be aware of the situation, observe how it has been playing with our minds, how it has further strengthened our sense of being ‘separate entity’ and with that understanding look at the problems being faced by us as well as people near us, we will be far better at dealing with this crisis!