The tale of Bhagat Kabir
begins when a certain Brahmin lived in Benares who with his daughter
went to see Guru Ramanand (a Swami, and great spiritual
soul). As the girl touched the Swami's feet he, not knowing she
was a virgin widow, blessed her with a child. Her father told Ramanand
that she was a widow. Ramanand said what had been said has been
said and she would have a son but no one will see any signs of her
pregnancy and no stigma would be attached to her reputation.
The most celebrated of the 12 disciples of the great Ramanand
In time on a Monday in 1398 she gave
birth to a baby boy. She left the child on a lotus flower in a lake
called Laher Talao. A Muslim weaver called Ali, of the 'Julah' caste,
also known as Nir for he lived near water (Nir), found the child.
He and his wife Nima, being childless, brought up the abandoned
child as their own. They called upon a Muslim clergyman who opened
up the holy Quran and picked out the name 'Kabir', meaning 'great'
A painting depicting Kabir as a child floating on the lake in a
Bhai Gurdas Ji speaks of an amazing
encounter between Kabir and Ramanand that displays the difference
between faith (being universal) and religion (a desire for society
to split humanity based on labels):
'The Brahmin Ramanand lived at Benaras detached from the world.
Early in the morning, he would visit the Ganga [Ganges] to take
his bath. One time, before Ramanand, Kabir went and lay in his
path. Touching Kabir with his foot, and waking him,
he asked of Kabir to say "Raam".
Just as the iron touched by the Philosopher's stone becomes
gold, and the margosa tree [Azadirchta indica] is made fragrant
by sandalwood, so too the wonderous Guru [enlightened One] can
turn animals and ghosts into divine angels.
Meeting the miraculous [the Guru], the disciple merges into
the spectacle of the wonder [ie. the Lord].
There, the from within the Self emerges a fountain and the words
from the Gurmukh's [follower of the Guru's words] carve the
amazing creatures [ie. the sould is given its beauty]. For now, Raam and Kabir have become identical.'
(Bhai Gurdas Ji, Vaar 10, Verse 15)
Kabir's works are by far the most numerous
in Adi Guru Durbar, 292 Hymns & 249 Sloks. Swami Ramanand became
his teacher which explains the depth of knowledge regarding Yoga
that Kabir portrays in his works. Ridiculed by Brahmins for being
a low caste, his works actively reject caste, and the notion of
the Almighty only being accesible by higher classes.
Kabir actively rejected tyranny (by the muslim 'Mullah'
class and the Hindu 'Brahmin' class). Legend holds that Kabir married
Loi and had 2 children in his lifetime. Going against superficial
and superstitious thinking, Kabir on realising his time of death
was near in order to disapprove an old Brahmnical superstition moved
from so-called 'blessed city' Banares, where he
had lived all his life, to a so-called 'cursed city' of Magahar.
In accordance with a Brahminical superstition any one dying in Shiva's
city of Banares went to highest heaven and anyone dying in Magahar
went to hell.
An old painting depicting Kabir singing devotional hymns to Lord
Kabir died in 1518. On his death a dispute arose,
as on Akali Guru Nanak's death, between Muslims and Hindus. They
both claimed him to be of their faith hence both wanted to dispose
of his dead body according to their respective faiths religious
rights. As a heated quarrel arose a voice came from heaven. When
they then ceased quarrelling they found the corpse had miraculously
vanished. Kabir left upon his death a religious order, the 'Kabir
A painting depicting Bhagat Kabir with his students
His works, ‘Kabirbijak’,
were compiled by a number of his disciples - Dharm Das, Surat Gopal
etc. around 1464 when Kabir was approximately sixty six years of
age. His works include, 'Kabir Granthvali' and
'Bjack'. His followers, known as 'Kabir Panthis'
exist to this day and sing the praises of the Almighty, simplicity