Mirabai-Saint Kabir Das – میرا بایٔ، کبیر داس
Mirabai propagated Bhakti (devotion) through songs & music during the 15th century. Meera Bai: was an aristocratic Hindu mystical singer and devotee of Krishna from Rajasthan and one of the most significant figures of the Sant tradition of the Vaishnava bhakti movement. Some 12-1300 prayerful songs or bhajans attributed to her are popular throughout India and have been published in several translations worldwide. In the bhakti tradition, they are in passionate praise of Krishna. Details of her life, which has been the subject of several films, are pieced together from her poetry and stories recounted by her community and are of debatable historical authenticity, particularly those that connect her with the later Tansen. On the other hand, the traditions that make her a disciple of Ravidas who disputed with Rupa Goswami are consonant with the usual account of her life. Mirabai Museum in Merta City
Do not leave me alone
Do not leave me alone, a helpless woman.
My strength, my crown,
I am empty of virtues,
You, the ocean of them.
My heart’s music, you help me
In my world-crossing.
You protected the king of the elephants.
You dissolve the fear of the terrified.
Where can I go? Save my honour
For I have dedicated myself to you
And now there is no one else for me.
The saffron of virtue and contentment
Is dissolved in the water-gun of love and affection.
Pink and red clouds of emotion are flying about,
Limitless colours raining down.
All the covers of the earthen vessel of my body are wide open;
I have thrown away all shame before the world.
Mira’s Lord is the Mountain-Holder, the suave lover.
I sacrifice myself in devotion to His lotus feet.
Unbreakable, O Lord,
Is the love
That binds me to You:
Like a diamond,
It breaks the hammer that strikes it.
My heart goes into You
As the polish goes into the gold.
As the lotus lives in its water,
I live in You.
Like the bird
That gazes all night
At the passing moon,
I have lost myself dwelling in You.
O my Beloved – Return.
Nothing is really mine
Nothing is really mine except Krishna.
O my parents, I have searched the world
And found nothing worthy of love.
Hence I am a stranger amidst my kinfolk
And an exile from their company,
Since I seek the companionship of holy men;
There alone do I feel happy,
In the world I only weep.
I planted the creeper of love
And silently watered it with my tears;
Now it has grown and overspread my dwelling.
You offered me a cup of poison
Which I drank with joy.
Mira is absorbed in contemplation of Krishna,
She is with God and all is well!
Meera, a Rajput princess was born in Kudki (Kurki), a little village near Merta, which is presently in the Nagaur district of Rajasthan in northwest India. Her father, Ratan Singh, was a warrior of the Rathore clan, the son of Rao Jodha of Mandore (1416-1489 CE), founder of the city of Jodhpur in 1459.
As an infant Meera became deeply enamoured of an iconic doll of Krishna owned by a visiting holy man: she was inconsolable until she possessed it and probably kept it all her life. Her mother was supportive of her religious tendencies but she passed away.
Meera’s marriage was arranged at an early age, traditionally to Prince Bhoj Raj, the eldest son of Rana Sanga of Chittor. However her new family did not approve of her piety and devotion when she refused to worship their family deity and maintained that she was only truly married to Krishna.
The Meera Museum in Merta City The Rajputana had remained fiercely independent of the Delhi Sultanate, the Islamic regime that otherwise ruled Hindustan after the conquests of Timur. But in the early 16th century CE the central Asian warlord Babur laid claim to the Sultanate and some Rajputs supported him while others ended their lives in battle with him. Her husband’s death in battle (in 1527 CE?) was only one of a series of losses Meera experienced in her twenties, including the death of her mother. She appears to have despaired of loving anything temporal and turned to the eternal, transforming her grief into a passionate spiritual devotion that inspired in her countless songs that inspired in her countless songs drenched with eroticism and separation.
Meera’s devotion to Krishna was at first a private thing but at some moment it overflowed into an ecstasy that led her to dance in the streets of the city. Her brother-in-law, the new ruler of Chittorgarh, was Vikramaaditya, an ill-natured youth who strongly objected to Meera’s fame, her mixing with commoners and carelessness of feminine modesty. There were several attempts to poison her. Her sister-in-law Udabai is said to have spread defamatory gossip.
At some time Meera declared herself a disciple of the guru Ravidas (“guru miliyaa raidasjee”) and left for the centre of Krishnaism, Vrindavan. She considered herself to be a reborn gopi, Lalita, mad with love for Krishna. Folklore informs us of a particular incident where she expressed her desire to engage in a discussion about spiritual matters with Rupa Goswami , a direct disciple of Chaitanya and one of the foremost saint of Vrindavan that time . However rupa goswami being a renunciate celibate , refused to meet with a woman . To this meera replied that the only true man (purusha) in this universe is lord Krishna and the living entities , being the expansions of his energy(prakriti) are actually females . There is another variant of this story where we learn that the priest in charge of the temple of Mathura (sometimes identified as Rupa Goswami, a disciple of Chaitanya) refused allow Meera to enter the temple because she was a woman , to which Meera gave the same reply . She continued her pilgrimage, “danced from one village to another village, almost covering the whole north of India”. One story has her appearing in the company of Kabir in Kashi, once again causing affront to social mores. She seems to have spent her last years as a pilgrim in Dwarka, Gujarat.
Meera’s songs are in a simple form called a pada (verse), a term used for a small spiritual song, usually composed in simple rhythms with a repeating refrain. Such collection of songs are called the Padavali. The extant versions are in a Rajasthani dialect of Hindi, Braj, a dialect of Hindi spoken in and around Vrindavan (the childhood home of Krishna), sometimes mixed with Rajasthani, and in Gujarati:
Is my only refuge.
O my companion, worldly comfort is an illusion,
As soon you get it, it goes.
I have chosen the indestructible for my refuge,
Him whom the snake of death will not devour.
My beloved dwells in my heart all day,
I have actually seen that abode of joy.
Meera’s lord is Hari, the indestructible.
My lord, I have taken refuge with you, your maidservant.
Although Meera is often classed with the northern Sant bhaktis who spoke of a formless divinity, there is no doubt that she presents Krishna as the historical master of the Bhagavad Gita who is, even so, the perfect avatar of the eternal, who is omnipresent but particularly focussed in his icon and his temple. She speaks of a personal relationship with Krishna as her lover, lord and master. The characteristic of her poetry is complete surrender. Her longing for union with Krishna is predominant in her poetry: she wants to be “coloured with the colour of dusk” (the symbolic colour of Krishna).
The bhajans of Meera have been translated by Robert Bly in his Mirabai Versions (New York; Red Ozier Press, 1984). Composer John Harbison adapted Bly’s translations for his Mirabai Songs. There is a documentary film A Few Things I Know About Her by Anjali Panjabi. Two well-known films of her life have been made in India.
Meera Bai’s life has been interpreted as a musical story in Meera – The Lover…, a music album based on original compositions for some well known Meera bhajans.
Courtesy of Wikipedia***
Saint Kabir Das
Kabir, Arabic for “great”, dasa, Sanskrit for “slave” or “servant”, is widely acknowledged as one of the great personality of the Bhakti movement in North India.
He was as is widely acknowledged born in Year 1398 A.D.(71 years before Guru Nanak). Kabirpanthis (followers of Kabir) say that he lived upto the age of 120 years and give date of his death as 1518, but relying on the research of Hazari Prased Trivedi, a British Scholar Charlotte Vaudenville is inclined to lend credence to these dates and has prooven that 1448 is probably the correct date of Saint Kabir’s demise.
He could not serve or claim anybody as guru because of his humble birth but was drawn to Ramanand’s teachings. He thought of winning Guru’s blessings in its own way. Ramananda went to the river Ganga, everyday for bath very early in the morning. One day when he was returning from Ghat, his foot touched a human body in the darkness. Startled he exclaimed, “Ram, Ram!” Immediately Kavir got up and with folded hands and appealed to the saint. “Master, you have given me the Ram mantra and made me your Sishya, even though I am only a poor Muslim weaver” and told about his yearnings to reach God. Ramananda was touched deeply by Kabir’s devotion and humility and accepted him as a disciple. he became a worthy sishya in no time by imbibing many secrets of spiritual mysticism from Ramananda.
He started preaching in the most unconventional way. He continued with his vocation of weaving and composed songs as he worked. Though leading a God-intoxicated life, he stressed on manual labor, equality of man and condemned religious bigotry. He stressed on simple life and meditation. People liked the moral message in his songs which poured out from his heart and , who was the very embodiment of things he uttered. He condemned image-worship in temples and mechanical prayers in mosques. he had a large following of Hindus and Muslims. But the orthodoxy of both the religions (Purohits and Mullas) hated him and he was persecuted by both. Ultimately he was forced to leave Banaras and it seems he spent his last days wandering. He was married and had a son and daughter but his family life was not a happy one. According to the legend he died a very old man. On his death, Hindus and Muslims quarreled to claim his body. But when they lifted the shroud, there was only a big heap of roses. It is told that Hindus and Muslims shared equally the flowers and had the last rites per formed of their beloved guru according to their own custom. One community built a temple and another dargah, So goes the story.
- Dukh Mein Simran Sab Kare, Sukh Mein Kare Na Koye
Jo Sukh Mein Simran Kare, Tau Dukh Kahe Ko Hoye
- Bura Jo Dekhan Main Chala, Bura Naa Milya Koye
Jo Munn Khoja Apnaa, To Mujhse Bura Naa Koye
- Kaal Kare So Aaj Kar, Aaj Kare So Ub
Pal Mein Pralaya Hoyegi, Bahuri Karoge Kub
- Aisee Vani Boliye, Mun Ka Aapa Khoye
Apna Tan Sheetal Kare, Auran Ko Sukh Hoye
- Dheere Dheere Re Mana, Dheere Sub Kutch Hoye
Mali Seenche So Ghara, Ritu Aaye Phal Hoye
- Sayeen Itna Deejiye, Ja Mein Kutumb Samaye
Main Bhi Bhookha Na Rahun, Sadhu Na Bhookha Jaye
- Jaise Til Mein Tel Hai, Jyon Chakmak Mein Aag
Tera Sayeen Tujh Mein Hai, Tu Jaag Sake To Jaag
- Mangan Maran Saman Hai, Mat Koi Mange Beekh
Mangan Se Marna Bhala, Yeh Satguru Ki Seekh
- Bada Hua To Kya Hua, Jaise Ped Khajoor
Panthi Ko Chaya Nahin, Phal Laage Atidoor
10. Kabira Khara Bazaar Mein, Mange Sabki Khair
Na Kahu Se Dosti, Na Kahu Se Bair
11. Kabir Man Nirmal Bhaya, Jaise Ganga Neer
Pache Pache Har Phire, Kahat Kabir Kabir
12. Pothi Padh Padh Kar Jag Mua, Pandit Bhayo Na Koye
Dhai Aakhar Prem Ke, Jo Padhe so Pandit Hoye
13. Dukh Mein Simran Sab Kare, Sukh Mein Kare Na Koye
Jo Sukh Mein Simran Kare, Tau Dukh Kahe Ko Hoye
14. Gur Dhobi Sikh Kapda, Saboo Sirjan Har
Surti Sila Pur Dhoiye, Nikse Jyoti Apaar
15. Jeevat Samjhe Jeevat Bujhe, Jeevat He Karo Aas
Jeevat Karam Ki Fansi Na Kaati, Mue Mukti Ki Aas
16. Akath Kahani Prem Ki, Kutch Kahi Na Jaye
Goonge Keri Sarkara, Baithe Muskae
17. Maya Mari Na Man Mara, Mar Mar Gaye Shareer
Asha Trishna Na Mari, Keh Gaye Das Kabir
God to Kabir was all pervading supreme spirit. Ram and Rahim personified the same supreme spirit who could be won over only by pure devotion. Rituals or blind worship had no place in his way of serving God. “Seek him in the depth of your heart!” Kabir advised.
“If God dwells only in the mosque, to whom belongs the rest of the country? Those who are called Hindus say that God dwells in an idol; I see not truth in either sect. Oh God, whether Allah or Ram I live by thy name… Hari dwells in the south. Allah in west. Search in thy heart, search in the heart of hearts, there is His abode,” he exclaimed.
Kabir turned out a saint of the masses. His simple and god-intoxicated life became an ideal. His simple compositions –”dohe”–two liners or “chowtai”–four liners were easy to remember and became popular immensely and enabled to grasp essentials of simple spiritual life. A common guru for Hindus and Muslims was the dire requirement of the age, and arrival of Kabir on the National Scene provided the spiritual bond. His songs profoundly influenced the religious belief of the simple rural folk. As is common in India. Each saint acquires the status of a founder of sect. Innumerable followers in North India came to be known as kabirpanthis and followers of his guru came to be known as Ramanandis.
Through his peculiar use of Hindustani language he achieved linguistic unity. Originally he sang in Bhojpuri a dialect of Hindi in East India. He stayed for long in Banaras and we can detect Awadhi and “Brij” influence. But collected songs of Kabir like (a) Sakhi (songs–dohe), (b) Sabad (sayings, utterances), (c) Ramaini , mainly spiritual guidelines; all have Punjabi influence. His songs find place in Granth Sahib–sacred text of Sikhs. Rabindranath Tagore has translated one hundred of his songs into English. Kabir’s compositions originally existed in hundreds and his disciples of different regions, collected them and popularized throughout the country through wandering ascetics (Gosais).
The followers of Kabir can still be found in present day India (year 2004). They call themselves “Kabir Panthis”
He is one of the medieval Indian saints of Bhakti and Sufi movement whose compositions figure in Sikh Scripture, the Guru Granth Sahib. From among all of them, Kabir’s contribution is the largest, 227 Padas in 17 ragas and 237 slokas. Under each raga or musical mode marking a section of the Holy Book, Kabir’s hymns appear at the head of Bhagat Bani, a generic name for the works of contributors other than the Gurus. The presence of a substantial amount of Kabir’s verse in the Sikh Scripture and chronologically he being the predecessor of Guru Nanak, founder of the Sikh faith, led some Western scholars to describe him as the forerunner of Sikhism. Some have even called him the preceptor of Guru Nanak There is, however, ample evidence to prove that Guru Nanak and Kabir had ever met their periods of time in fact do not coincide. Kabir’s compositions do figure in what are known as Goindval Pothis, anthologies of the hymns of the Gurus along with those of some of the Bhaktas prepared in the time of Guru AmarDas, Nanak III. They were inclucled in the Guru Granth Sahib as well But this happened much later when Guru Arjan, fifth in spiritual line from the Founder, compiled the Holy Book Besides his own works and those of his four predecessors, he entered in it hymns of some saints and mystics, both Hindu and Muslim, Kabir was one of them.
Kabir lived in the fifteenth Century after Christ, which was a time of great political upheaval in India. As is true of many contemporary religious teachers, very little reliable information concerning Kabir’s life is available, though there is no dearth of legend gathering around him. Kabir’s life was centred around Kashi, also called Banaras (Varanasi) Legend has it that he was actually the son of a Brahmin widow who abandoned him and that he was found by a Muslim weaver named Niru, who adopted the boy and taught him the weaver’s trade. It is not clear whether he ever married, but tradition gives him a wife named Loi and two children. His caste was that of Julaha and from his sayings his caste’s heriditary occupation of weaving. On the basis of modern research, it seems probable that Kabir belonged to a family of non-celibate yogis converted, not long before and to a considerable degree superficially to Islam. From the writings of Kabir it seems that his knowledge of Islam was slight, rather in his poetical utterances (Bani) a wealth of Hathayoga terminology and a thought structure which bears obvious resemblance to Nath Yogis. Nath Yogis in addition to the yogic conception that all truth is experimental, i.e. to be realized within the body with the aid of psycho-physical practices, concentration, control of breathing and thus making the body incorruptible and the yogis immortal.
Bhakti movement was started by hindu saints while Sufi mysticism by Muslim saints in medieval India (1200-1700). Kabir immensely contributed to the Bhakti Movement and is considered a pioneer of Bhakti along with Ravidas, Farid, and Namdev. His concept of love as a path of suffering may possibly indicate, in some measure, a debt to the Sufis. These and other elements from Nath tradition, bhakti and sufism, kabir combined with his own mystical nature and produced synthesis which is the distinctive religion of Kabir. Tradition tells us that Swami Ramanand was his Guru (a teacher).
In fifteenth century, Benaras was the seat of Brahmin orthodoxy and their learning center. Brahmins had strong hold on all the spheres of life in this city. Thus Kabir belonging to a low caste of Julaha had to go through immense tough time of preaching his idealogy. Kabir and his followers would gather at one place in the city and meditate. Brahmins ridiculed him for preaching to prostitutes and other low castes. Kabir satirically denounced Brahmins and thus won hearts of people around him. There is no doubt that single most famous important person from the city of Benaras today is none other than Saint Kabir.
Kabir through his couplets not only reformed the mindset of common villagers and low caste people but give them self confidence to question Brahmins. It was 100 years after him that Tulsidas broke the hegemony of Brahmins by writing Ram Charitra Manas, a poem of Ramayana at Benaras which went against the tradition of Brahmins. Kabir was in fact first person to go against Brahmins and be so successfull. Benaras was devasted by an attack by a Muslim invader Tamur Lang or “Tamur the lame” during his time. Kabir also denounced mullahs and their rituals of bowing towards kaba five times a day. Because of open condemnation of established and popular religoins, Kabir became an object of the wrath of both Hindus and Muslims in and around Benaras. Kabir travelled in and around Benaras to preach his beliefs.
Kabir believed in sell-surrender and God’s bhakti. The Kabirpanthis follow a lite of singing the praises of God, prayers and a simple and pure life of devotion. Kabir recommends ceaseless singing of God’s praises. He virtually suggests withdrawal from the world. He is against al1 ritualistic and ascetic methods as means to salvation. It is true that Kabir refers to some yogic terms in describing the meditational and mystic methods of the yogis. But, there is no ground to suggest that he himself recommends the yogic path. In fact, far from recommending yoga, he is quite strong in condemning ascetic or yogic methods, and says that yogis, in their meditations, become prey to maya. The point wil1, however be considered further while comparing Radical bhakti with Nathism.
The moral tone is quite strong in Kabir’s hymns. “Kabir deck thyself with garments of love. Love them is given honour whose body and soul speak the truth.” “The ruby of goodness is greater than all thc mines of rubies, all the wealth of three worlds resides in the goodness of heart. When thc wealth of contentment is won, all other wealth is as dust.” “Where there is mercy, there is strength, where there is forgivenesss there is He.” “The man who is kind and practises righteousness, who remains passive in the aftairs of the world, who considers creatures of the world as his own self, he attains the immortal Being; the true God is ever with him. Kabir suggests inward worship and remembrance of God. For him, true worship is only inwards. Put on the rosary inward. By counting beads, the world will be full of light. He clearly suggests moral discrimination betwecn good and bad deeds. What can the helpless road do, when the traveller does not walk understandingly. “What can one do, if, with lamp in hand, one falls in the well.” “Or goes astray with open eyes. Discern ye now between good and evil.”
It is not surprising that Kabir’s satire was brought to bear not simply on the vices and weaknesses of men but reached through and beyond them to the very system themselves. It was the authority of Vedas and Quran that more then the authority of Brahmin or Qazi which Kabir attacked. He rebelled against the pretension of resolving by the means of books or by way of authority, the mystery of human conditions and the problem of liberation (Moksha). He spent his last 40 days living in a place where it was believed that if you die you will born as a Donkey in next life.
Kabir is a firm advocate of ahimsa. His doctrine extends even to the nondestruction of flowers. ” The life of the living you strike dead and you say your slaughter makes it dedicated. It is blood haunting you and those who taught you.” “They fast all day, and at night they slaughter the cow; here murder, there devotion; how can this please God? O’ Kazi, by whose order doth thou use thy knife.” “When you declare the sacrifice of an animal as your religion, what else is sin. If you regard yourself a saint, whom will you call a butcher ?” “The goat eats grass and is skinned, what will happen to those who eat (goat’s) meat? “Do not kill poor jiva, murder will not be forgiven even if you hear a million Puranas. Among the fifty commandments laid down for the followers of Kabir, vegetarianism is one of them. For Kabir, moral life involves adherence to ahimsa.
In common with all monastic, ascetic or otherworldly sects, Kabir does not think well of women. Ihere is almost a tirade against them in the hymns of Kabir. Woman is characterised as “a black cobra’, thc pit of hell and the refuse of the world.” She is considered to be a hurdle in the path of thc spiritual progress of man. He spoke, “woman ruins everything when she comes near a man; Devotion, salvation and divine knowledge no longer enter his soul.” His views, about woman are also evident from all his vehement attacks against maya. Almost everywhere he links maya to a woman who is out to entice and entrap man, and destroy his spiritual lifc. Such views about woman from a married person arc, indeed, quite uncommon. The cosmological views of Kabir give a clear clue to his worldview. He finds Niranjana to be the creator of the world; maya or woman. And this woman stands between man and god. She is there to entice him away from Him.
Kabir composed no systematic treatise, rather his work consists of many short didactic poems, often expressed in terse vigorous language in the form of Padas, Dohas, and Ramainis (forms of poetry in Indian languages). Besides his work recorded in 1604 A.D. in Guru Granth Sahib by Guru Arjan Dev, Nanak V, and preserved inviolate since, two other collections exist – Kabir Granthavali, and Bijak. In his poems, he was quick to tell the illustrations of moral and spiritual truth in the incidents of everyday life , and many of his similes and metaphors are very striking.
The famous gurbani by Bhagat kabir ji from Guru Granth sahib is Gagan Damama Baajooh pariho nishaan-e-ghao, khet jo maandyo surma aab jujhan ka tao, Sura so pahchaniye jo lare deen ke het, purja purja kate marhe kabho na chhade khet.
Poems by Kabir
I have been thinking
I have been thinking of the difference between water
and the waves on it. Rising,
water’s still water, falling back,
it is water, will you give me a hint
how to tell them apart?
Because someone has made up the word
“wave,” do I have to distinguish it from water?
There is a Secret One inside us;
the planets in all the galaxies
pass through his hands like beads.
That is a string of beads one should look at with luminous eyes.
Are you looking for me?
Are you looking for me? I am in the next seat. .
My shoulder is against yours.
you will not find me in the stupas, not in Indian shrine.
rooms, nor in synagogues, nor in cathedrals: .
not in masses, nor kirtans, not in legs winding.
around your own neck, nor in eating nothing but.
When you really look for me, you will see me.
you will find me in the tiniest house of time. .
Kabir says: Student, tell me, what is God? .
He is the breath inside the breath. .
There’s a moon in my body….
There’s a moon in my body, but I can’t see it! .
A moon and a sun. .
A drum never touched by hands, beating, and I can’t hear it! .
As long as a human being worries about when he will die, .
and what he has that is his, .
all of his works are zero. .
When affection for the I-creature and what it owns is dead, .
then the work of the Teacher is over. .
The purpose of labor is to learn; .
when you know it, the labor is over. .
The apple blossom exists to create fruit; when that.
comes, the petal falls. .
The musk is inside the deer, but the deer does not.
look for it: .
It wanders around looking for grass. .
My body and my mind
My body and my mind are in depression because.
You are not with me. .
How much I love you and want you in my house! .
When I hear people describe me as your bride I look .
sideways ashamed, .
because I know that far inside us we have never met. .
Then what is this love of mine? .
I don’t really care about food, I don’t really care about .
I am restless indoors and outdoors. .
The bride wants her lover as much as a thirsty man .
wants water. .
And how will I find someone who will take a message .
to the Guest from me? .
How restless Kabir is all the time! .
How much he wants to see the Guest! .
The bhakti path.
The bhakti path winds in a delicate way. .
On this path there is no asking and no not asking. .
The ego simply disappears the moment you touch.
The joy of looking for him is so immense that you.
just dive in, .
and coast around like a fish in the water. .
If anyone needs a head, the lover leaps up to offer .