Sant Kabir or Prophet Kabir
Guru and God are before me. Whose feet should I touch?
I offer myself to the guru who showed me God.
This is one of the illustrious poetry of Sant Kabir who was at the forefront of Sant-mat a loosely related group of teachers that assumed prominence in the northern part of the Indian sub-continent from about the 13th century.
Kabir is a mystic and saint who was accepted and venerated by a major section of Hindu society but till now Islamic society has never accepted his teachings. Islam accepts only the verses of Kabir in which he ridicules ritualistic Hindu traditions. Recently when both PM Modi and CM Yogi started appropriating Kabir by visiting his death place entire Islamic seminary woke up and started owning up Kabir. Liberals always used Kabir teachings to abuse Hindu religion. So this article tries to find out the truth on how Islam treats Kabir and whether they accept teachings of Kabir in their day to day activities as like Hindus.
The basic religious principle of Kabir is, life is an interplay of two things. One is the personal soul (Jivatma) and the other is God (Paramatma). Salvation for him is the process of bringing into the union of both Soul and God. He believed in the Vedantic concept of Atman which was already advocated by numerous Vedantic saints and seers like Adhi Sankara, Gorakhnath, Kalidasa and numerous Shivaite traditions of South India. The way in which Kabir entirely differs is the usage of Hindi. His Hindi was a vernacular, straightforward kind, much like his philosophies. Similar to Akka Mahadevi of Karnataka, Sri Narayana Guru of Kerala he used language as a medium to reach the masses and then penetrated his ideas of spiritualism very easily.
“Moksha Moolam Guru Krupa” Salvation is by the grace of Guru says Veda.
“Hai yahan satguru bina koi, moksha ka data nahi”. It is no one but a Satguru, who is a giver of salvation, says Sant Kabir
Now let us see the acceptance of his philosophy across different religion and cultures:
Sikhism: The major part of Kabir’s work was collected by the fifth Sikh guru, Arjan Dev, and forms a part of the holy Sikh scripture “Guru Granth Sahib”. The presence of much of his verse in Sikh scripture and the fact that Kabir was a predecessor of Nanak has led some western scholars to mistakenly describe him as a founder of Sikhism.
Hinduism: Hindus saints have already explored a lot of Bhakti Vedantic concepts propagated by Kabir. As usual to the nature of Hinduism, Kabir was accepted across all section of societies and sect of people who followed Kabir teachings formed Kabir Panth and gave him title Sant.
Islam: Kabir is a dissenter and protester of Islam. He is the first person who tried to reform Islam by advocating people to see the inner meaning of life instead of blindly following the Quran. But till now not even one voice has come out of Islam which supports the inclusion of his ideas and teachings in Islamic seminaries. Even students who are studying in madrasas will not know much about Kabir except he was a born Muslim and he condemned ritualistic following in Hinduism but the irony is he condemned ritualistic following in Islam too.
Kabir was influenced by Hinduism, Buddhist ideology, teachings of Nath yogis and the Bhakti movement from South India mixed with image-less God of Islam. He got himself exposed to most of research and scholarly following of Hinduism in which consciousness of the individual is given more importance, because of which artistic self-expression came to him as a by-product and it helped him to explore different worlds and teachings in form of artistic self-expression. As like different saints and seers of Indic culture Kabir used language as a medium of expression for mystic thoughts on consciousness. Kabir songs are written in popular Hindi and it is not in orthodoxical literary format. He used all kind of metaphors in simple Hindi while writing about the relationship between Jivatma and Paramatma, respect for guru and following the inner voice instead of ritualistic traditions.
His poems also have the ability to explain the higher concepts of Hinduism like Atma, Jivatma, Consciousness etc easily without dwelling much into the idealistic way of following the traditions. Remember even though he was born Muslim and the days in which he lived can be said as the most aggressive period of Islamic invasion in India, he never used Urdu or Arabic languages as the medium of communication. Urdu has already started evolving much before his time. What made Kabir not to use Urdu as a medium of poetry summarizes the way Islam accepted anyone who speaks about higher truth based on individual experiences instead of following the ritualistic Quran.
Now let us see the acceptance of his poetry across different religion and culture:
Sikkhism: Major part of Kabir’s poetry has been incorporated into Guru Granth Sahib of Sikhism. Most of Kabir’s poetry dvelve over satguru without naming anyone which made people to easily relate to his poetry.
Hinduism: The poetries of Kabir has been seen as the biggest contribution to Bhakti Vedantic literature of Hindi. For most of the people who started to shape ideas and use Hindi as a medium of language for spiritual expressions, used references of Kabir poetry and it made easy for them to express more literature on top of his poetical contributions. After centuries have passed, still people do research and produce scholarly articles on the spiritualism explored by Kabir.
Islam: Urdu scholars never accepted Kabir’s poetry. There might be hardly few people who have converted his poetry into Urdu. The main obstacle why it has not become part of mainstream Urdu literature is the animosity towards other spiritual teachings which does not give much importance to the Quran. Remember there are hardly any references on the poetry of Kabir in Urdu school of thoughts.
Kabir as a spiritual guide:
Kabir did not classify himself with Vedantist, Shivaite, Buddhist or Islamic school of thoughts. Since he lived as the observer who wants to observe the observed i.e soul, he ruthlessly hated and attacked all kind of ritualistic traditions. Because of his very modest upbringings, he always understood the pain of life and he was able to observe the manifestations of consciousness across each and everything in this world. He often immersed himself in different spiritual thoughts but he never practised and followed thoughts from the Quran even though he was a born Muslim.
Since he was a weaver by birth he waved across all traditions and philosophies and always tried to weave the best of all traditions in his poetry and spiritual thoughts. His essence of spiritual teachings can be summarized as God is the root of all manifestations, “material” and “spiritual,” alike and God is the only need of man.
Hinduism completely absorbed Kabir’s thoughts as most of it resonates the deep spiritual thoughts mentioned in Vedas and Upanishads. Even great Vedic scholars wondered the deeper meanings of Kabir’s poetry and often related it with Vedic scripts.
Islam till now has not accepted Kabir as a spiritual guide or philosopher. Islamists always use Kabir’s teachings only to belittle Hinduistic way of living and India’s culture. Not even any accordance of respect has been given to Kabir due to the intolerant attitude of Islam towards the various schools of thoughts which evolves without the support of Sharia or Islamic law.
Liberals, Leftists and Islamists use inference of Kabir only to belittle Hindus but never have given the respect of Grand Ayatollah to Kabir, one of the greatest intellectual born in a poor weaving community but Hindus has given him the title of Sant and revere him like God.
Kabir always will be Sant of Indic Civilization.