Kabir was a well-known saint and a mystic poet of India. His poems have influenced and given way to the Bhakti movement. Kabir comes from the Arabic word Al-Kabir meaning “The Great.” It is also the 37th name of Allah in Islam. Here are a few facts about Sant Kabir that will fascinate you.
- Sant Kabir’s legacy is carried forward today by Kabir Panth, a religious community, which recognizes him as its leader and founder and is a Sant Mat sect. The members of this community, known by the name Kabir Panthis, are said to be around 8.6 million.
- The early life of Kabir is not certain. Indians believe that Sant Kabir lived for almost 120 years, starting from 1398 to 1518, and this long life associates him with other popular saints like Sikander Lodi and Guru Nanak. But the exact date of his birth and demise are unknown.
- According to a traditional report of his ancestry, he was born to a widow in Lahartara, which is near Kashi (Varanasi). The lady abandoned him to avoid dishonor related to birth outside marriage. Kabir was then brought up by a family of Muslim weavers Nima and Niru. Swami Ramananda, the Vaishnava saint, accepted Sant Kabir as a disciple. Kabir was only 13 years of age when Swami Ramananda died.
- In his poems, Sant Kabir does not address himself as a Brahmin, but he says he was born a Julaha. Kabir’s contemporary, Bhagat Ravidas also mentioned in his poem that Kabir was born to a Muslim family, who killed cows.
- Sant Kabir was enrolled by Swami Ramananda- an exponent of the philosophy of Vishishtadvaita, who considered Rama to be I??a-devat?. Sant Kabir also often refers to Lord Rama as his worshipped Lord. Kabir did not as such turn into a sadhu, and he did not totally leave worldly life. Instead, he chose to live a balanced life of mystic and a householder, a contemplative and tradesman. However, the views on whether he entered into a marriage or not is contradictory.
- Sant Kabir addresses his Bhagwan by the name of Rama. His Rama, however, is not the Rama of Ayodhya. Nirakar (without form) Niranjan (taintless), and Nyara (extraordinary) are his Rama.
- The Hindi he spoke was the vernacular, and straightforward, much similar to his thoughts and philosophies. The major areas of Kabir’s work were collected by Guru Arjan Dev, the fifth Sikh guru and were incorporated in the holy book Guru Granth Sahib. Kabir’s work includes two line couplets, commonly referred to as ‘Kabir ke Dohe.’
- The influence of Kabir was so great that, much like how different communities asserted to cremate Buddha on his death, on Kabir’s death, both Hindus and Muslims were at loggerheads to cremate his body at his hometown Varanasi or take the body Maghahar and bury him there according to their tradition. His death was mourned by thousands of his followers.
Sant Kabir’s dohas are read by little children in schools even today. He remains one of the greatest saints the country has produced.