Mystic Songs


The essence of the whole shabad/poem is in the ‘Rahao’ line. The word ‘Rahao’ means to stop, take a pause to reflect on it. So, let us first try to understand what essential message is that Kabir Ji is trying to convey. He says:

Oh Brother! Perform remembrance and meditation of the Lord of the Universe, don’t forget it. (As) This alone is the purpose of human incarnation. 1. Pause.

Now let us see the rest of the composition.

If you worship God by serving the Guru (by following his teachings), then only you deem to have obtained this human body.

Even the gods/angels long for this human body (as with it only merger with God is possible). So through this human body, think of serving God by meditating. ||1||

As long as the disease of old age has not overpowered the body, as long as death has not come and seized the body,

and as long as your speech does not falter, O mortal being, meditate on the Lord of the World. ||2||

If you do not meditate on Him now, when will you, O Sibling of Destiny? When the end comes, you will not be able to meditate on Him.

Whatever you have to do - now is the best time to do it. Otherwise, you shall regret and repent afterwards as the precious time has been wasted away, and now even regret will not carry you across to the other side. ||3||

He alone is a servant (devotee), whom the Lord yokes in His service. He alone makes a relationship with Immaculate Divine Lord. (God’s service is meditation alone, remembering Him results in purging vices and replacing those with virtues).

Meeting with the Guru, his (strong as iron) doors of mind’s understanding are opened wide, and he does not have to journey again on the path of reincarnation. ||4||

This (human form) is your opportunity, and this is your time (to make that relationship with God). Look deep into your own heart, and reflect on this (how to get rid of vices and become virtuous).

Says Kabir, you can win or lose (based on your relationship in achieving the objective of life). In so many (varied) ways, I have proclaimed this (objective of human life) out loud. ||5||1||9||

My understanding

Kabir Ji has shared the very purpose of human life. According to him the objective of human life is to meditate on God of the universe. (1). Pause.

Kabir starts first by reminding us that how fortunate we are to be blessed with the human body. How the human body has been obtained? He provides the answer that when you worship God, by serving the Guru (in following his teachings) then human form is achieved. He says that it is so valuable, that even the gods/angels desire it. As even they need this human form to get out of cycle of reincarnations. The angels are privy to beautiful life, because of their previous good deeds. As soon as their balance is zeroed out they will be thrown out. He says that this valuable asset (human body) should be used for the service of God by meditating. Otherwise human life is wasted. (1)

Many of us don’t subscribe to this view on the significance of the meditation (‘Naam japna’) in life. When we are young we conveniently cast it for later life, after retirement when we are freed from all our worldly engagements and responsibilities. But no one can foretell if we will actually have the luxury of that time frame. Even if we have that luxury, will we have all our faculties functioning optimally to do it? It is possible that age related wear-tear or unexplained life event may seriously impair them, hampering the future meditation efforts. The fragility of delicate human existence is being emphasized. So, here Kabir Ji is addressing his mind (as his way of advising us) and reminding us to start it earnestly and immediately. (2)

Cautioning us against postponing, he says that when our end comes near we may not be able to worship God. Therefore, whatever (meditation) you want to do, do it right now, instead of regretting later as you won’t be able to swim across (the worldly ocean). (The meditation, contemplation would have emptied the vices –lust (kaam), anger (kroth), greed (lobh), attachment/ego (moh), pride (hankar) from within, enabling you to cross-over or get liberated. But everything came to a naught.) The sense of urgency for meditation is being conveyed by Kabir Ji. (3)

Kabir Ji notes that the realization of significance of this meditation only takes place when God yokes one into His service of meditating on His Name. He says: “ (O my friends), that person alone becomes a true servant (of God, and meditates on His Name), whom He has yoked into His service, and only such persons have obtained the immaculate God. Meeting the Guru, have their minds enlightened and they don’t tread the paths of existences (go through the rounds of birth and death).” The significance of grace of God is being shared with us. (4)

Kabir Ji concludes the shabad with a final reminder, and says: “(O man), many times, and in many varied ways, I have repeatedly stated that it is up to you to win or lose (this game of human life). You may look and reflect within your own heart, (and you would realize that this life alone) is your only turn, and your only opportunity (to meditate on God’s Name, and obtain union with God. Otherwise who knows, after how many millions of years and after going through life in many millions of species, you may or may not get this opportunity again)?” his is like a final call to make use of the opportunity of human life. (5-1-9)

In this shabad, Kabir Ji reminds us that human birth is the unique opportunity to earn the wealth of Name-meditation. We should not lose this opportunity by enjoying false worldly pleasures or in amassing short-lived worldly wealth. The core message is that if we want to win the game of life, then instead of postponing for a later date or old age, we should meditate on God’s Name right now. If we fail to utilize this opportunity in human form for meditating then we will be suffering the pains of birth and death forever. This is the opportunity now; it is your chance to utilize this opportunity – human birth.

The discussion will be incomplete without a query on Kabir Ji’s own achievement on this subject. Kabir Ji has declared his achievement through meditation as:

“Gur Parshad aisee budh samanee. Chook gayee phir awan janee. 3.” — (SGGS, Pg. No. 337)


By Guru's Grace, such understanding is infused into me; my comings and goings in reincarnation have ended. ||3||

Elsewhere, Kabir Ji is reminding us through the following words that without meditation life is wasted:

“Kehath Kabir Raam Bhaj Bourae Janam Akaarathh Jaath. 4. 1.” — (SGGS, Pg. No. 1252)


Says Kabir, meditate on the Lord, O madman! Your life is uselessly wasting away. ||4||1||

October 29, 2020 

Bhupinder Singh
Illustration by Bhupinder Singh
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