Kabir son of niru and neema


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Kabir son of niru and neema

  1. 1. KabirInvocation Om Shree Ganeshaya Namaha!I invoke Lord Ganesha, Vighna Harta, may our obstacles be removed, Sukh Karta, maywe attain success in harmony with the highest energy that resides in each one of us. Iinvoke my ancestors, may I be true to my heritage and be worthy of this opportunity toutter these words in this sacred space. I invoke my Guru Sant Samrat Satguru KabirSaheb. May his spirit guide us to his message. May I speak his words usefully and notin vain and may you listen carefully and hear more than just his words.My name is Adi Pandit and it is an immense pleasure and fortune, thanks to ReverendJudith, to be speaking in this sanctuary about one of my Gurus, Sant Kabir. Who is thisKabir? The first few discussions I had on Kabir with Judith and some other UU friendswere a bit confusing. Kabir? Oh Kabir the Sufi mystic, no the Kabir the muslim Saint, wehave him in the silver hymnal under Islam. Wait he was Hindu. Hold on, I am not surelet me check and get back to you. Lets find out. 1
  2. 2. The Baby on a lotus flowerThe controversy begins, starting with his birth. Ardent Kabir followers, the Kabir Panthi,firmly believe that he appeared floating on a lotus flower in a pond in the holy cityof Benares. Many say he was discovered in a garden next to a pond by newly wedMuslim couple, Niru and Neema, whose name we all know now because they raisedKabir. Some say he was born in the family of these Muslim weavers. Indians are notmuch into history. Not much is recorded, that makes it difficult to be objective abouthistory and also makes it easy to create mythology. Each of that story of birth revealssome aspects of us.The Hindu-Muslim narrative of Kabir’s life starts with his birth. Some propose thatmaybe Niru and Neema were from a family that had recently converted to Islam. That’swhy he was brought up as a Muslim with Hindu customs and traditions still lingeringin this family. A lot of Kabir’s language, poetry, symbolism contains aspects of ancientHindu wisdom of Vedanta, Upanishad, Budhhism, Tantrism and heavy influence ofthe recently arrived religion Islam. So the Hindus go, ‘He can’t be a Muslim’ and theMuslims go ‘He sounds like a Muslim and his name is Kabir, an Arabic name meaningthe most great’.Why do the revealers of truth always end up having virgin births, appearing on lotusflowers and symbolically conceived of white elephant with six tusks. Maybe we areafraid to face the truth they reveal and follow their path of love, compassion andawareness. So let’s make them so special that each one of us has an excuse to 2
  3. 3. continue living in hate, ignorance and suffering. Well, I wasn’t born on a full moon night,the stars had no special message and no flowers were showering from heavens, so Iam no Gandhi or Buddha or Kabir or Dalai Lama.The Mountain ClimbingThere have been many prophets. All have a mysterious aspect. They went over thismountain and came back and started revealing the truth, started preaching love. Whathappened? How did this change come about? Very few like Gautama, the Buddhahave observed and described their own path in detail.What about Kabir? We know some things about Kabir’s mountain climbing. Kabirgrew up in a Muslim family in the city of Benares. Most scholars tend to agree that hisparents may have been first , second or third generation Muslims. The family musthave continued with some Hindu traditions like early adopters of new faith tend to do.Kabir definitely reflects influences of both religions. His God is an image-less entity akinto the Islamic beliefs. His Guru mantra, the mantra he received and in turn he spreadis Ram. One of the most popular Hindu deities. And if you keep delving deeper in Kabiryou will find traces of every known spiritual tradition in his poems.The city where he grew up is teeming with Hindu temples, traditions, sects,monasteries. During that time a Hindu Brahmin Guru Swami Ramananda towered overthis city. Kabir desperately yearned to train under his tutelage.I have only heard him mentioned as the Guru who Kabir yearned for. A Muslim discipleof a hindu Guru is a rare occurrence. It is said that to make Ramanand accept himas a disciple Kabir hid under some steps by the ghats of Ganges. As Ramanandastepped on him by mistake he uttered the mantra he used to chant ‘Ram’. Kabir jumped 3
  4. 4. out and proclaimed Ramanand as his teacher. We do not know further details onwhat training Kabir underwent under Ramanand. Some even claim that Ramanandreached enlightenment only after Kabir. I would not be surprised if Ramanand mayhave requested Kabir to hide under the steps so that he would get an excuse to accepthim as a disciple. Ramanand himself was a social reformer opening up the spiritualpractices to non-brahmins and women. He composed poems and songs, some of whichare in the Sikh holy book, Guru Granth Sahib. He was one of the many forces whichpropelled the Bhakti movement in northern India during the medieval era. Many of hisdisciples went on to estabish their own orders and ashrams.Some words of Kabir on the guru disciple relationship : Guru the potter, Disciple clay, Guru pounding fists outside, Inside protecting, gentle hands lay. -- Kabira says, When the one who has not known teaches The teacher drowns and so do the disciples. -- To Guru what is guru’s To the disciple what is the disciple’s 4
  5. 5. Guru KabirKabir did not become a monk or a sadhu after attaining spiritual enlightenment. He liveda lay person’s life, practiced his trade as a weaver, weaving clothes and selling them inthe market. Give me just enough to feed my family, May I not go hungry nor any saint who visits.The most difficult aspect of any teaching is to imbibe even a small aspect of it. If onlyeach one of us could assimilate the spirit of a simple teaching like this Jesus’s prayerfor just the daily bread this world would be a different place. Kabir is a living teacher. Hedoes not just preach but lives by example.There are many stories of Kabir feeding everybody who would show up at his placeto listen to him. One evening Kabir realized there is not enough food at home. So heasked his son Kamal, lets go and steal some food for our guests tomorrow. Kamalobjected but went along. They stole some food from a house. While they were escapingKamal told Kabir, “It does not feel right about stealing so let me just warn this family thattheir food has just been stolen.” Kamal went in woke up the family and informed them ofthe robbery. While trying to escape he got stuck in the hole they had made in the wall.Kabir was waiting for him outside. Realizing that he could not escape Kamal asked hisfather to cut his head off so that he wouldn’t be recognized and bring disgrace to hisfamily. So Kabir cut Kamal’s head and took it home.Next day Kamal’s body was hung by a tree hoping that his family would come to claim 5
  6. 6. it for the last rites. Kabir fed his guests the next day and as was the custom they set outsinging devotional songs along the roads.As the singing party was passing the Kamal’s dead body. The body started clappingand joined in the singing. The story goes that the head got re-attached to the body andKamal came home. There is a lot to interpret in that story and it gives you some idea ofKabir’s eccentric style of teaching and living.If there is one message Kabir would want you to receive it is the message of Love. Reading books does not make you a pundit, Just find love and in a moment you will be a pundit. --This Kabir doha is one of the most popular couplets in Indian literature. Having Panditas a last name, I have been teased by all my friends; whenever I would say I need tostudy or show off some bookish knowledge. And as soon as Judith and I decided to doa service around Kabir, the first thing we did was to buy some books on Kabir. Kabirnever learnt to read or write. He derided bookish knowledge and acknowledged directexperience as the only way of knowing something. 6
  7. 7. -- O Kabir this cup of love, Once it touches the inner soul, Every atom of my being sways in a trance, Who needs any liqour. --Kabir’s innumerable poems on love make him as one of the foremost Bhakti and Sufisaints.Poetry experts are dazzled by the perfection of the meter, tone and rhyming of all hispoems. His poems inspired singers of all strains, be it qawalli singers, bhajan singers,classical singers or folk singers roaming across the villages of India, all picked up thesepoems and spread them across the land. He has gone viral and keeps going. I was ableto share three different styles of singing in this service.Through many of his poems we can guess his style of his teaching. He extolled hisdisciples to achieve self realization through the mantra ‘Ram’. Kabir’s poems onchanting and the rosary are some of the best training anyone can receive on how to orhow not to chant and recite the rosary using a mantra. The rosary rotates in your hand, the mantra in your tongue. And your mind roams the whole world, well that ain’t no meditation! --We don’t know what type and details of any particular meditation technique that Kabirused. Many of his poems are like zen koans designed to jolt to mind.We heard one from Joe that inspired him and strengthened his practice. The song weheard for prelude is that same poem. Kabir reminds us that God is not found in anytemple or chant or fasting or holy places. An earnest seeker with faith that is all that is 7
  8. 8. needed to find God. Kabir’s method is also known as the easy or sahaja yoga. Tomorrow’s work today, today’s right now, Any moment you’ll be dead now, When are you getting on your path! -- Slowly, slowly my friend. Only slowly every thing unfolds. The gardener may pour a hundred of gallon, only in season shall the fruit come. --Whether a seeker needs to be hurried up onto the path or slowed down on his path, youcan see Kabir deftly guiding the seeker. The spiritual path is confusing, dangerous anddifficult. Anyone who has tried seeking through any path can attest to that. I remembermy first official meditation retreat. A weekend retreat at the Cambridge Zen Center. Wewere being guided by am American master who had come from california. His nicknamewas the smiling master. The retreat was a silent one and we were permitted to talk onlyon the last day. There was a fellow meditator who had spent as many years meditatingas I had been alive. While asking some question he broke down, frustated that he hadmade no progress in his practice and he had no idea what he was trying to do. I wasshaken and left wondering about meditation. I am sure that master must have given thismeditator some similar advice to slow down and wait for the fruit to come. On my shortpath which I have walked a little bit I consider myself lucky. Following a spiritual pathis a luxury. I am thankful for all the support I have received from my family, teachers,friends, enemies and fellow meditators. It took me a while to realize how important theenemies are. I have a friend in India who is also a meditator. Whenever we are chattingand I complain about something stressing me, his reaction will be. That is just great. 8
  9. 9. You should be most thankful to the ones who stress you out. They are just testing yourmeditation practice. It just means you need to practice more. He encourages me to takeup even more stressful jobs to make sure that I keep meditating.Besides the chanting and meditation Kabir’s favorite part was the poetry and singing. IfKabir ever visited this church, he would love the choir but his only complaint would bewhy are you singing in the church. You need to go out and spread the joy and share itwith everybody outside.The Society Around KabirAlong with being a spiritual teacher , Kabir was a social critic par excellence. Nohypocrisy, religious dogma be it hindu or muslim went unscathed by his lashing tongue.He rejected organized religion. Kabir’s idea of religious pursuit is just an individualseeking and realizing truth, that’s it. A Guru for guidance and a few techniques that’sall. Kabir ridiculed each and every aspect of organized religion. Temples, mosques,empty prayers, religious rites, fasts, pilgrimages and holy places, nothing stayed sacred.Kabir was an equal opportunity antagonizer of hypocrites. The hindu and muslim priestswere mocked and shaken. They complained to Sikandar Lodhi, the reigning King. It is amiracle that Kabir was not poisoned like Socrates or crucified like Jesus. He was exiledfrom Benares to maintain the power structure and existing hierarchy of the religiousleaders.Kabir also followed on the footsteps of his Guru and further rejected the caste system.All his teachings are by example and his enlightenment itself unsettled the hinduBrahmins. How could a weaver become so wise and know more about existence than 9
  10. 10. we do. 10
  11. 11. DepartureKabir died we are not sure at what age in what year. Even in his death he challenged hisdisciples. A story goes that he was in Benares when his end came near. Benares is the placewhere hindus go to die so that they can breathe their last breat by the ghats of Ganges and thusget purified and go to heaven. Kabir decided he did not want to die in Benares. He crossed theriver Ganges and started walking away from Benares. He died in a town which had a curse thatanyone dying there is reborn as a Donkey. -- As is Benares, So is Magahar -- In Magahar Nobody dies!Magahar also provided a pun to his followers - maga, marga meaning path and Har, Harimeaning God.After his death as during his life, his hindu and muslim followers started arguing over his lastrites. The muslims wanted a burial and the hindus wanted to cremate him. These words wereheard which revealed that his body had disappeared and only lotus petals were left behindwhich the hindus and muslims split amongsts themselves. -- Lift the veil and see for yourself, There is no one dead, You idiots, You still don’t recognize me. --References/Resources:The Bijak of Kabir - Linda Hess,Sukhdev SinghWebsite : http://www.boloji.com/index.cfm?md=Content&sd=Kabir 11