Kabir is a poet I connect with the best. His simple Sakhis can say in two lines what people find it difficult to say in a thousand pages. His poetry comes from his own experience rather than any hands me down knowledge that the poet has no real authority on. There are a lot of things about Kabir that fascinate me. No wonder, he is the only poet I have systematically studied for some time. So, on this trip to Lucknow, I picked up two more books on Kabir. I already have a shelf full of books on Kabir ????
Kabir by noted author Hazari Prasad Dwivedi is an exploration of the origins of the philosophy of Kabir. He goes behind the origins of Kabir to find out what influenced his thought process. Kabir negated all kinds of popular religious practices across religions. He believes in Nirgun Bhakti is what we all know. However, this is the first time I discovered that his Nirgun Bhakti has its roots in Nath Path.
Dwivedi Ji takes us back to the cultural and religious roots of various communities in India around the time Kabir was around. He says the family Kabir was raised in may have converted to Islam but their roots were very much in the pre-Islamic path they followed, and that was Nath Panth. He goes on to explain the verses of Kabir that justify this claim. The words like ‘Avdhoot’ that are used a lot by Kabir. I had often wondered about the meaning and origin of this name. I eventually found it in Kabir by Hazari Prasad Dwivedi.
The author also explores the relationship of Kabir with his Guru Ramanand and the impact of his teachings on him. He corroborates what I always saw in Kabir poetry – the immense knowledge of ancient Indian scriptures, and the philosophies therein. His philosophy is closest to Advaita philosophy that sees everything as part of universal Brahmana. Kabir always says what you are searching for is within you. ‘You are that’ – precisely what both of them say. However, Kabir says it within a language that makes it easy to understand for common persons.
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In Kabir by Hazari Prasad Dwivedi, I also further understood the word ‘sahaj’ or effortlessness that Kabir so emphasizes upon. I understood that it takes a lot of disciplined hard work to reach a state of effortlessness but once you are there, you do not have to make any efforts.
Read More – Kabir in Kashi
There is an exploration of Maya and how it Kabir understands it. Is it possible to be not trapped in Maya or live peacefully with Maya?
In the end, there is an essay on the personality of Kabir and his immense confidence in what he says and the absence of any doubt. His ability to say things as he saw with a carefree abandon that most of us find difficult to attain.
Read More – Kashi Ka Assi by Kashinath Singh – Book Review
There is a comparison between the poetry of Kabir and Tagore, which has now prompted me to pick up Gitanjali by Tagore as it seems to be rooted in Kabir poetry. Hope to read this Nobel prize-winning work. I wonder why these are not taught as part of school curriculum to us.
In the end, there are 250+ poems of Kabir that come with easy Hindi translation. 100 or so poems are the same ones that Rabindranath Tagore chose to translate and the others are picked up by the author. I am reading them one poem at a time once again after a gap of 5 years. There is no better way to savor Kabir and actually live him.
Read More – Ekla Chalo Re by Rabindranath Tagore
If the poetry of Kabir interests you or intrigues you, as it does to me, this is a must-read book. Not an easy book to read, it demands complete attention and some basic knowledge of works of Kabir and Indian philosophies. Having said that, it is definitely worth making that effort.
I read Kabir by Hazari Prasad Dwivedi in Hindi. I do not know if the English version of it is available.