Kabir : The Mystic Poet — KabirWeb

Kabir – The Mystic Poet: A Study by Rajender Krishan. A weaver by profession, Kabir ranks among the world's greatest poets. Back home in India, he is perhaps the most quoted author.The first Sikh Guru, Guru Nanak Dev, is said to be Kabir's disciple. The Holy Guru Granth Sahib contains over 500 verses by Kabir. Kabir openly criticized all sects and gave a new direction to the Indian philosophy. This is due to his straight forward approach that has a universal appeal. It is for this reason that Kabir is held in high esteem all over the world. To call Kabir a universal Guru is not an over exaggeration. To me personally, the very name Kabir means Guru's Grace.

Introduction Kabir the Mystic Poet

Introduction Kabir the Mystic Poet – Six hundred years ago Kabir was born in India in 1398 AD.

He lived for 120 years and is said to have relinquished his body in 1518.

This period is also said to be the beginning of Bhakti Movement in India.

A weaver by profession, Kabir ranks among the world’s greatest poets.

Back home in India, he is perhaps the most quoted author.

The Holy Guru Granth Sahib contains over 500 verses by Kabir.

The Sikh community in particular and others who follow the Holy Granth, hold Kabir in the same reverence as the other ten Gurus.

Kabir openly criticized all sects and gave a new direction to the Indian philosophy.

This is due to his straight forward approach that has a universal appeal.

It is for this reason that Kabir is held in high esteem all over the world.

To call Kabir a universal Guru is not an over exaggeration.

To me personally, the very name Kabir means Guru’s Grace.

I have been personally very deeply influenced by reading Kabir.

Why Kabir? reveals my feelings and also, how this idea of my translating Kabir’s verses, came into its being.

Inspite of the simplicity of Kabir’s poetry, I must say, it is hard to translate.

I humbly present some of his Dohas, Love Songs and Mystic Poems, in the following pages.

Please note that what you see today is only a beginning.

As we move along, more verses will be added on regular basis.

It is my intention to include every possible known verse of Kabir on this site.

This is not an easy task as according to rough estimates there are over 700 verses of Kabir.

But I will try my best to do it. It may take its own time though.

I also take this opportunity to acknowledge the support given to me by various people in developing the KabirWeb.

Thank you,

Rajender Krishan
New York.
September 1999

Why Kabir?

Ever since I was a young child, Kabir has mystified me.

Kabir, a saint to millions, a universal Guru, a poet, a lover, a weaver by profession, a Sufi, and last but not the least a mystic.

To read Kabir is a blessing, to hear him is a blessing and to write about him, well for me personally, is a blessing.

Kabir teachings in the form of dohas (two line poems), have been my guide in most of my work-a-day moments of life. 

Kabir touches the soul, the conscience, the sense of awareness and the vitality of existence in a manner that is unequalled in both simplicity and style.

All of Kabir’s recorded verses are in Hindi.

The meter and the simplicity in which they are written, it sometimes becomes very hard to translate.

And, for a person like me, who has nothing to boast about academics, it becomes all the more difficult.

Yet, if I have dared to present Kabir, it is only because Kabir has left a deep impact on my psyche and his teachings have helped me in understanding myself. 

His simple but complicated (read between the lines) verses have helped transform me, as perhaps, many others worldwide have been helped.

To be able to see oneself straight faced in the mirror is not an art, but the ability to see oneself stark naked.

Following Kabir means understanding one’s inner self, realizing oneself, accepting oneself as is, and becoming harmonious with one’s surroundings.

To put the records straight, I have attempted to present Kabir when I am 48, while Kabir was introduced to me when I was but a little kid – as a part of our primary school curriculum. 

Millions worldwide can recite his poetry, but only a handful can claim to  truly understand the essence of Kabir.      

To say this, does not mean that I understand Kabir fully.

No, not the least. To claim this, will be a blasphemy. Kabir is simple. Yet in his simplicity are all the difficulties.

Aren’t all simple things complicated? On the face of it, Kabir says not much, but between the lines, he tends to shake up the entire universe.

I must confess the “taste” that one gets in the original does not and perhaps cannot be cherished in translations.

Keeping this fact in mind, after translating them as best as I can, I have tried to explain the inference drawn from them in as simple a manner as is possible as “My Understanding”.

If I have faulted anywhere in this presentation, then the fault lies with my personal knowledge and ability, not the least with Kabir and definitely not with scholars, writers and academicians through whom I came in contact with Kabir in the first place.

At this point, I take the opportunity of thanking all those, whether my school teachers or my family members or social contacts at large, who somehow motivated me to study Kabir.

I may mention here, that I was born and raised  in a family whose main vocation was to deal in selling books.

It is at my father’s bookshop (less in school) that I got exposed to all kind of literature.

As I write this, I remember my father who laughingly once said, “We all sell books, but my son reads them”. 

Bravo Rajender (self kudos), but it is true that because of my access to my parental shop comprising of thousands of books on all kinds of subjects, I was exposed to the intricacies of life much early in life, as compared to an average person.

Is this a plus point? I wonder! for I have been the prince and the beggar at the same time; many a times. And it has been a great experience.

Life is a great teacher and Kabir projects Life’s ethos only as Kabir can.

I hope you will enjoy “Kabir – The Mystic Poet”, and perhaps, discover yourself, as I am doing.

I hope you like Kabir-The Mystic Poet, then please recommend it to your friends.

Kabir Dohas – 1

Chalti Chakki Dekh Kar, Diya Kabira Roye
Dui Paatan Ke Beech Mein,Sabit Bacha Na Koye

calatI ca@kI doKkr, idyaa kbaIra raoe 
du[- paTna ko baIca maoM, saabaut bacaa na kaoe 

Translation
Looking at the grinding stones, Kabir laments
In the duel of wheels, nothing stays intact.

My understanding

This doha picks up a situation from our daily life. Kabir watches the woman grinding wheat on the flour mill.

I have used the word woman here as generally it is the woman who does this work even today in the rural Indian society.

The wheels are made of stone. 

One is stationary while the other on top is made to rotate by turning it with the help of a handle attached to it.

The grain that is put into it gets crushed and the converted flour comes out. 

Thus the literal translation given above conveys that.

(Diya Kabira Roye) Kabir cries out, however,  is what makes the reader to contemplate on this Doha and realize for oneself the hidden meaning behind this metaphor. 

Dui Patan here signifies earth (Prithvi) and sky (Akash) and within the ambit of these is all creation and life as also the manifestation of all natural phenomenon of dualities – day and night, life and death, joys and sorrows, thereby making life forever in motion (Chalti Chakki) and an ever changing process.

Trapped in this duality, whatever we see is perishable. Nothing that we comprehend is eternal.

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