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Kabir - The Timeless Torch Bearer Share This Page
by Dr. Satish Bendigiri
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Kabir, who was born in mediaeval times, still exists in the form of philosophical couplets, famously called Dohas, composed by him. His couplets are timeless, because every time you try to comprehend them, each instance gives you a new meaning, in whatever way you try to decipher them. These Dohas can be compared with none other than the timeless Bhagavad Gita, whose verses still hold true, though Lord Krishna recited these verses to Arjuna almost five thousand years ago, in the middle of an iconic battlefield of Kurukshetra; with a chaotic situation around him, the cacophony of the galloping and neighing horses, unruly elephants pounding their huge feet on the ground; scattering thick film of dust in the air in the process, the gigantic soldiers from both the parties shouting relentlessly; ready to release their pointed arrows on the enemy, the huge wrestlers carrying their maces to break the heads of the opposition and ready to spray the blood on the battlefield.

Kabir was also surrounded by a chaotic situation of social turbulence of Hindu Muslim enmity culminating into a precarious pandemonium, both ready to break each other's head over the idea of monotheism and polytheism. The arrival of Islam in India was also through the battlefields of North, right from the days of Mohammed bin Qasim's invasion on Sindh up to the establishment of Delhi Sultanate it was all bloodshed and stayed here on the point of sword. Islam stood for the singularity of God, whereas 330 million gods and goddesses in Hinduism, according to myths and traditions, was unbelievable for the followers of Islam. The number of those who worshipped 330 million was much lower than that. Although the Sufis attempted to alleviate social tensions by adapting to a more liberal version of their faith, the arrival of Islam at the point of the sword undoubtedly resulted in social conflicts. The two competing identities of God - Allah and Ishwar - remained intact, and the rivalry and conflict prevailed in their followers as well.

A resolution of this controversy was the result of Kabir's genius. The solution Kabir provided was extremely simple, even though the problem was incredibly complex. He gave Tauhid, an Arabic term for the singularity of God or monotheism, a very simple Indian version. He called for unifying both the sects and said that they all are the same.

Looking at the multiplicity of Ishwar in Hinduism, and the freedom of worshipping any God one chooses, either in the form of Lord Rama, Krishna, Shiva, Laxmi, Sarasvati, Durga and so on, the questions about the existence of the singularity of God, which led to the questioning the legitimacy of prophethood, although Islam allows asking such questions. Al-Ghazzali, (AD1058-1111) an erudite in these matters, had objected to these dissents and firmly placed the faith of Tauhid. But then, Ibn al-Arabi (AD-1165 - 1240) proposed that God’s singularity be perceived and approached in multiple forms. Ibn al-Arabi is known for his radical monotheism. In fact, he gives it the technical term: ahadiyyat al-kathra, the Oneness of the Many – as opposed to ahadiyyat al-ahad or ahadiyyat al-ayn , the Oneness of the One, or the Oneness of the Essence. Diversity within unity is of such importance to Ibn al-Arabi. Ahadiyyat al-kathra, the unity in multiplicity the formula that Indians believed in so fanatically seemed to catch the imagination very well. Besides, Sufi Muslims identified the doctrine of Hag and Khalg, the creator and created, only the creator is not possible "It meant that God is the unity behind all Purity and the reality behind all phenomenological appearances. In other words, they believed in the doctrine of Wahdat-Al-Wajud or unity of being.

Hinduism stands for Sanatana Dharma and has been much older in origin as compared to Islam which came into being just seventeen hundred years ago. Every other religion has a founder of its own, but Sanatana Dharma has no founder. This onset of the situation became disorderly amongst the two believers and at this juncture, Kabir intervened.

Kabir Said, “Bhai re do jagdis kahan se aaya; kahu kaune bauraya (Brother, where have two gods come from, who has misled you into believing it?),” He questioned two widely held beliefs: the existence of rival Gods and the need for religious rituals in order to worship Him. He imagined a single universal God in place of Allah and Ishwar, and a universal religiosity in place of traditional religions. He further asserted. “Alla, Ram, Karima, Kesav Hari Hajrat naam dharaya (Allah, Ram, Karim, Kesav, Hari, Hajrat – they are all the same identity). Lord Vishnu has thousand names (Vishnu Sahasrnam) but they all refer to one, Lord Vishnu. It was like a Sanskrit Shloka ,"akasat patitaṃ toyaṃ yathagacchati sagaram sarvadava namaskarah kesavam

Pratigacchati" (As all rains falling from the sky reach the ocean; so also, the prayers to all gods ultimately get to the Lord Keshava.) He also mocked the religious procedures of travelling to temples or masjids to worship God. He went a step further and stated that the God which was being searched in Masjid and Mandir is not to be found there but to be found within. Said he:

Moko Kahan Dhunde Re Bande, Mein To Tere Paas Mein.
Na Mandir Mein, Naa Masjid Mein, Na Kaabe Kailash Mein.
Na Main Jap Mein, Na Main Tap Mein, Na Main Vrat Upvas Mein.
Na Main Kriya Kram Mein Rahta, Na Hi Yog Sanyaas Mein.
Nahi Pran Mein, Nahi Pind Mein, Na Bramhand Aakash Mein.
Na Main Trikuti Bhawar Mein, Sab Swanso Ke Swas Mein.
Khoji Hoye Turant Mil Jaun, Ek Pal Ki Hi Talaash Mein.

Kabir, through his couplets and poetry, strived to bring unity among Hindu and Muslims. Not only he unified these two sects which were constantly at loggerheads but was instrumental in attracting many Muslim philosophers to become saints and Ram bhakts and Krishna bhakts.

Lord Krishna recited Bhagavad Gita to a very few select audience. The contemporaries who listened to Bhagavad Gita Live, were only six. Arjuna, (From Krishna) Sanjaya (Through Mystic Vision) Dhritarashtra (Through Sanjaya) Lord Hanumana, who was seated on the flag of Arjuna's chariot, Barbarik, (son of Ghatotkach) sitting on a hilltop, and then Divine Veda Vyasa who remembered all the events, and then spread The Gita to the world.

Kabir recited his couplets and poetry to all and sundry, going to the masses. Whereas Krishna encouraged Arjuna to fight the war, Kabir preached for stopping the war between two sects in order to bring peace, the stupendous effort in which he emerged as a winner.

Kabir, thus stands tall in unifying the two opposite religious philosophies by offering a solution which was accepted and loved equally by the different types of believers, through his poems and couplets that are as valuable as the verses from the revered Bhagavad Gita.

February 5, 2022

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Comments on this Essay

Comment Thank you so much Mahadevji for your appreciation and motivation.

Satish Bendigiri
07/30/2022 11:03 AM

Comment Amazing article..,

07/30/2022 00:44 AM

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