The saint poet Kabir is one of the most interesting personalities in the history of Indian mysticism. Kabir, meaning ‘the great one’, was born in 1398 AD. There are many stories related to the birth of Kabir. According to some legends, his mother is said to have conceived as a result of a blessing by the great teacher of South India, Ramanand. Others state that he was found floating on a lotus leaf in a tank in Benaras by a Muslim weaver. Nevertheless, all stories agree that the child was brought up by a weaver called Niru and his wife Nima.
Kabir, even at a young age, displayed enormous spiritual talent. He wanted to become Ramanand’s disciple but it was impossible for him to get initiation by a Hindu as he was a Muslim. Adamant to make Ramanand his guru, Kabir found a way out of the situation. Ramanand daily went to the ghat for his pre-dawn rituals. Kabir went and lay on the steps of the ghat in such a way that Ramanand stepped on him. Shocked at the incident Ramanand chanted, “Rama! Rama!”
Kabir said that since he had received his teaching from Ramanand in the form of the words ‘Rama! Rama!’ he was his disciple. Ramanand was impressed with his intelligence and devotion and allowed Kabir to become his disciple.
The most important religious teaching that Ramanand gave Kabir was about the impersonal aspect of God, and that is the reason why Kabir was against idol worship. Throughout his life, Kabir preached and worked as a weaver in Benaras. He described himself as the son of both Ram and Allah. He believed that all human beings are equal and found the caste system wrong. He preached that being one with God was the aim of every individual’s life.
Kabir died in Maghar, near Gorakhpur in 1518. His devotion towards the Supreme One and love for Him is reflected in his poetry. Over 500 verses or dohas of Sant Kabir are written in The Holy Guru Granth Sahib and people still read them with awe and admiration.
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