Kabir [1440- 1518]

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.

Miraculous legends surround the birth of Kabir. His mother was said to be a virgin widow who conceived through a blessing given by the great teacher of South India, Ramanand, on a visit to the spiritual guide. Ramanand, while blessing her, offered her the usual wish that she might conceive a son, not knowing her state of widowhood. The sequel is variously reported. It was impossible to recall the blessing; but, while one version states that the mother abandoned the child to escape disgrace, another relates that Ramanand contrived that the child should be miraculously born from his mother’s hand. All stories agree that the child was brought up by a weaver named Niru and his wife Nima. The details of Kabir’s life are mixed with legends - some say he married one Loi and brought up two adopted children Kamal and Kamali, and that Emperor Sikandar Lodi, angered by Kabir’s refusal to salute him tried to get him killed by drowning, burning and other means of torture.

Throughout his life Kabir preached and worked as a weaver in the neighbourhood of Benares. Owing to his teachings he was an object of dislike both to Hindus and to Mohammedans, and it is said that he was denounced to Sikandar Lodi, king of Delhi, as laying claim to divine attributes, but escaped by his ready tongue.

Kabir died at Maghar near Gorakbpur, and a dispute at once arose as to the disposal of his remains, which were claimed, by Hindus and Mohammedans, the former desiring to cremate and the latter to bury them. While they wrangled, Kabir himself appeared and bade them raise the cloth which covered the corpse. When this was done, it was found that the body had vanished, but a heap of flowers occupied its place.

Half of these were burnt after the Hindu custom at a spot now known as Kablr Chaura in Benares, and the rest were buried at Maghar, which became the headquarters of the Mohammedan portion of the sect that still follows Kabir. They are named Kabirpanthis. A tomb was built there which was subsequently repaired about 1867 by a Mohammedan officer of the Mughal army.

The basic religious principles he espouses are simple. According to Kabir, all life is an interplay of two spiritual principles. One is the personal soul (Jivatma) and the other is God Paramatma.  It is Kabir’s view that salvation is the process of bringing into union these two divine principles

Man, here is your worth:
Your meat is of no use!
Your bones cannot be sold
For making ornaments,
And your skin cannot be played
On an instrument!