“ पोथी पढ़ि पढ़ि जग मुआ, पंडित भया न कोय,
ढाई आखर प्रेम का, पढ़े सो पंडित होय”
Words of a mystic poet, a great saint, a messenger of love, of oneness – Sant Kabir Das, a man who moved hundreds and thousands of hearts with his wisdom, his love and his teachings. His life resonated the very meaning of his name ‘Kabir’ which means ‘the great’. Born in 1398 A.D., he is known as one of the most renowned saints of the medieval era whose teachings made a significant difference in the Bhakti movement. He is said to have lived for 120 years according to his followers (Kabir panthis).
Legends say he was born as a Brahmin boy but was abandoned in his early days. Later he was adopted and raised by a Muslim weaver named Niru. He couldn’t go through a formal education due to poor conditions, but later on was adopted as a disciple by Saint Swami Ramananda. In the fifteenth century, Varanasi was the learning centre for the Brahmins and the seat of Brahmin orthodoxies. As they had a strong hold over the city, Kabir who was a Julaha (low caste) had to face a tough time in preaching his ideas. He was often ridiculed by the Brahmins for preaching to the low caste and prostitutes alike. With his couplets filled with wisdom and learnings from life, Kabir changed the mind-sets of the people from low caste and common villagers. He believed in surrender to God and recommended singing of God’s praises, praying and a pure life full of devotion.
Sant Kabir Das’ writings were greatly inspired by life around him and exuded a lot of wisdom. His compositions are to be seen in Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh Scripture. He is known to have made the largest contribution – 237 shlokas, 227 padas in 17 ragas. He has also been known as a predecessor of Sikh Guru, Guru Nanak. Several evidences indicate that both had met during their life span.
In the medieval India, during 1200 – 1700, we can find a lot of contributions made towards the Bhakti Movement by Sant Kabirdas. The movement was actually started by both, Sufi and Hindu saints. He is considered as the pioneer of Bhakti and shares the position with Namdev, Farid and Ravidas.
Life of Sant Kabir Das is humble and yet full of wisdom. He was a selfless soul who wandered only to share his wisdom and love. Today, his preachings have enlightened thousands of souls from across the world.