hiding in this cage
of visible matter
is the invisible
she is singing
~ Kabir, english version by Rushil Rao
Thank you to The Beauty We Love for the beautiful poem, as well as for this wonderful biography of this extraordinary poet:
Kabir is not easily categorized as a Sufi or a Yogi — he is all of these. He is revered by Muslims, Hindus, and Sikhs. He stands as a unique, saintly, yet very human, bridge between the great traditions that live in India. Kabir says of himself that he is, “at once the child of Allah and Ram.”
He was born in Varanasi (Benares), India, probably around the year 1440 (though other accounts place his birth as early as 1398), to Muslim parents. But early in his life Kabir became a disciple of the Hindu bhakti saint Ramananda. It was unusual for a Hindu teacher to accept a Muslim student, but tradition says the young Kabir found a creative way to overcome all objections.
The story is told that on one particular day of the year, anyone can become a disciple by having a master speak the name of God over him. It is common for those who live near the Ganges to take their morning bath there in the sacred waters. The bhakti saint Ramananda took his bath as he did every day, by arising before dawn. On this special day, Ramananda awoke before dawn and found his customary way down to the steps of the Ganges. As he was walking down the steps to the waters, a hand reached out in the predawn morning and grabbed the saint’s big toe. Ramananda was taken by surprise and he expressed his shock by calling out the name of God. Looking down he saw in the early morning light the hand of the young Kabir. After his bath in the early light he noticed that on the back of the youth’s hand was written in Arabic the name Kabir. He adopted him as son and disciple and brought him back to his ashram, much to the disturbance of his Hindu students, some of whom left in protest.
Not much is known about what sort of spiritual training Kabir may have received. He did not become a sadhu or rununciate. Kabir never abandoned worldly life, choosing instead to live the balanced life of a householder and mystic, tradesman and contemplative. Kabir was married, had children, and lived the simple life of a weaver.
Although Kabir labored to bring the often clashing religious cultures of Islam and Hinduism together, he was equally disdainful of professional piety in any form. This earned him the hatred and persecution of the religious authorities in Varanasi. Nearing age 60, he was denounced before the king but, because of his Muslim birth, he was spared execution and, instead, banished from the region.
He subsequently lived a life of exile, traveling through northern India with a group of disciples. In 1518, he died at Maghar near Gorakhpur.
One of the most loved legends associated with Kabir is told of his funeral. Kabir’s disciples disputed over his body, the Muslims wanting to claim the body for burial, the Hindus wanting to cremate the body. Kabir appeared to the arguing disciples and told them to lift the burial shroud. When they did so, they found fragrant flowers where the body had rested. The flowers were divided, and the Muslims buried the flowers while the Hindus reverently committed them to fire.
Thank you soundnself, your comments are much appreciated :)
I find Luke’s Newfoundland Meditations to be amazingly well written sources of inspiration, the amount of emotion in these and the atmosphere that’s built is amazing.
These are worth the read:
The leaves are falling, falling as if from far up,
as if orchards were dying high in space.
Each leaf falls as if it were motioning “no.”
And tonight the heavy earth is falling
away from all other stars in the loneliness.
We’re all falling. This hand here is falling.
And look at the other one. It’s in them all.
And yet there is Someone, whose hands
infinitely calm, holding up all this falling.
— by Rainer Maria Rilke
(Painting: Egon Schiele, “Four Trees,” 1917)
Thank you Luke:) Reconnaissance(yama-bato)
Thank you, yama-bato.
Of the two witnesses, hold the principal one,” is saying that one witness is everybody else giving you their feedback and opinions (which is worth listening to, there’s some truth in what people say) but the principal witness is yourself. You’re the only one who knows when you’re using things to protect yourself and keep your ego together and when you’re opening and letting things fall apart, letting the world come as it is—working with it rather than struggling against it. You’re the only one who knows.