Saint Kabir (1290-1410 A.D ?.)
- Life and Message: By Dr. H. K. Gandhi
Hindus took half portion of the flowers and cremated them. The Muslims erected a grave on the other half. Today there are two Samadhies at this place, side by side. Thousands of Hindu - Muslim followers come to this place for pilgrimage to pay their respect to Saint Kabir.
One also observes similar incidence in the life story of Jesus Christ. His body was kept in a cave guarded by Roman shoulders. It had disappeared to the utter surprise of everyone. Devoted Christians go to visit this place in their pilgrimage of the Holy Land. An educated man of common sense will not believe in such miracles.
From 12th century onwards one finds two distinct trends in Hinduism, the Bhakti Path of simple prayers and devotion to one Supreme God and Spiritual Knowledge Path of some Acharyas who were Sanskrit Scholars. The great Hindu Acharya Shankara (in 7th cent AD) had started an Adwaita path and organized Hinduism as a religion.
After the 12th century Acharyas like Madhava (12th Cent. AD) started Dwaita Path. Ramanuja (in 13th cent. AD) showed a Vishista-Adwaita and Vallabhaa-Charya (in 15th- Cent. AD) indicated Shuddha-Adwaita Path and founded the Vaishnava Path and many Krishna temples were built. Hinduism got divided into two main paths, the religious cults of Acharyas and simple living Bhaktas like Kabir.
These great Acharyas wrote good commentaries on ancient scriptures like the Vedas, the Upanishads, the Gita and the Puranas. But this literature was written again in the Sanskrit language.The Acharya Path was welcomed by Brahmins who made their living by giving discourses of religions.
But some true devotees of God like Kabir, Surdas, Tulsidas and Meera delivered the message of religion and morals to the people in the common language spoken by the people. This was not liked by traditional Brahmins. Hence these all such devotees had to undergo many hardships at the hands of Brahmin priests of Kashi (Benaras).
In the trend of Bhakti path, the devotees wrote songs and Dohas in the common man's language. Saint
Kabir is looked upon by many true devotees as one of the founder of the Bhakti path. He spoke in people's words and sung devotional prayers in simple words. The style and approach to religion in the songs and Dohas of Kabir's is observed in later devotees like Surdasa (13th cent) and Saint Tulsidas (15th). Tulsidas re-narrated the Sanskrit Ramayan in Doha style in Hindi, and he had to undergo many hardships also. This Ramayan of Tulsidas is very popular today.
Mira (15th Cent. AD) a princess and later queen of a state, renounced her royal position, and adopted a simple life style. She wrote many devotional songs of Krishna Bhakti.
The founder of today's Shikh Sampradaya, Guru Nanak (16th cent) wrote his famous Granth Sahib (The Holy scripture of the Shikh Path) and gave message of one God and practical morals to people and the message of One God in simple manner in Punjabi language.
Though not popular in the west, millions of illiterate masses in the villages of India, and many simple Sadhus sing the Dohas and Bhajans of Kabir today and follow his simple preaching and respect Kabir as incarnation of God. In many villages devotees of Kabir have erected temples of Kabir where Hindus and Moslems pray jointly in a wonderful religious harmony and friendship.
Without attending any school or college for scriptural study, and without having any ability of reading or writing, Kabir has given the entire mankind a treasure of religious literature in form of Dohas and Bhajans (prayer songs) on a variety of subjects, like Omni-presence of One God, time, money, death, happiness and unhappiness, true and false priests and saints, heaven and hell, equality of all human beings, and practical simple codes of moral conduct. The Dohas and songs of Kabir are very popular and quoted by the illiterate and the learned scholars alike. Kabir's literature is a beautiful cocktail of two major religions of India, namely the Hinduism and the Islam. Kabir was a Muslim devotee of Ram, but in fact he was beyond any religious and secular label and attachment.
Today the students of poetry, philosophy and literature in Indian universities study the life and works of Kabir to get their doctorate in philosophy and literature. Kabir was a living university some scholars have remarked.
Is it the monopoly and authority of few scholars, Gurus and Sanskrit Pundits of ancient scriptures and literature only to talk about God and religion? The answer to above question is nicely indicated in the Gita.
Lord clearly declares "Anybody can worship ME, My justice is equal for all creations, men and women. Even women, the Vaishyas and the Shudras (Untouchables) can worship me and excel in life". (Ch.IX- Vs. 29 -31)
Traditional priests (Brahmins), generally preach from the scriptures written in very ancient times. An average men and women fail to receive the correct message of religion and God. At such times few common people get divine inspirations. They peach the true message of scriptures in simple language. This is not liked by the traditional priests because their business of fooling people in name of God is challenged. Such devotees have to face great difficulties created by the religious heads who have great influence upon ruling kings.
This is the story of all great prophets like Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha, Buddha, Kabir, Mira, and Tulsidas and many others. But they are true persons of One God conviction. In course of time they open new doors for worship of God. Their message creates shining mile stones in the religious history of the land. Their words coming from heart spread to different parts of world. They become immortal souls, prophets, messiahs, etc.,
Kabir was one such Immortal Soul of India.
My Salutations to the Great Kabir.