Friday, October 31, 2008

saint kabeer

Religious affinity
Kabir did not classify himself as Hindu or Muslim, Sufi or Bhakta. The legends surrounding his lifetime attest to his strong aversion to established religions. From his poems, expressed in homely metaphors and religious symbols drawn indifferently from Hindu and Muslim belief, it is impossible to say of their author that he was Brâhman or Sûfî, Vedântist or Vaishnavite. He is, as he says himself, "at once the child of Allah and of Râm."[14] In fact, Kabir always insisted on the concept of Koi bole Ram Ram Koi Khudai..., which means that someone may chant the Hindu name of God and someone may chant the Muslim name of God, but God is the one who made the whole world.

In Kabir's wide and rapturous vision of the universe he never loses touch with the common life. His feet are firmly planted upon earth; his lofty and passionate apprehensions are perpetually controlled by the activity of a sane and vigorous intellect, by the alert commonsense so often found in persons of real mystical genius. The constant insistence on simplicity and directness, the hatred of all abstractions and philosophizings, the ruthless criticism of external religion: these are amongst his most marked characteristics. God is the Root whence all manifestations, "material" and "spiritual," alike proceed; and God is the only need of man: "Happiness shall be yours when you come to the Root." Hence, to those who keep their eye on the "one thing needful," denominations, creeds, ceremonies, the conclusions of philosophy, the disciplines of asceticism, are matters of comparative indifference. They represent merely the different angles from which the soul may approach that simple union with Brahma which is its goal, and are useful only insofar as they contribute to this consummation. So thorough-going is Kabîr's eclecticism, that he seems by turns Vedântist and Vaishnavite, Pantheist and Transcendentalist, Brahmin and Sûfî. In the effort to tell the truth about that ineffable apprehension, so vast and yet so near, which controls his life, he seizes and twines together—as he might have woven together contrasting threads upon his loom—symbols and ideas drawn from the most violent and conflicting philosophies and faiths.[14]

His birth and death are surrounded by legends, as nothing certain is known about his birth or death. He grew up in a Muslim weaver family, but some say he was really son of a Brahmin widow and was adopted by a childless couple.

One popular legend of his death, which is even taught in schools in India (although in more of a moral context than a historical one), says that after his death his Muslim and Hindu devotees fought over his proper burial rites. The problem arose since Muslim custom called for the burial of their dead, whereas Hindus cremated their dead. The scene is depicted as two groups fighting around his coffin one claiming that Kabir was a Hindu, and the other claiming that Kabir was a Muslim. However, when they finally open Kabir's coffin, they found the body missing. Instead there was a small book in which the Hindus and Muslims wrote all his sayings that they could remember; some even say a bunch of his favourite flowers were placed. The legend goes on to state that the fighting was resolved, and both groups looked upon the miracle as an act of divine intervention. In Maghar, his tomb or Dargah and Samadhi Mandir still stand side by side. [15]

Another legend surrounding Kabir is that shortly before death he bathed in both the river Ganges and Karmnasha to wash away both his good deeds and his sins.