My Experiences in India – 1985 – #4

My Experiences in India – 1985 – #4

My Experiences in India – 1985 - #4

Niru and Nima lived here with Satguru Kabir, and the spot of their hut is now occupied by a low-lying concrete building used as a Dharamshala (hostel). Right in front of this building there are the tombs of Niru and Nima. The area is called Niru Tala. There are several other buildings in the Kabir Chaura compound. The samadhi temple, which is a white concrete building, houses a white marble tomb which contains the remains of some of the flowers that were left behind when Satguru Kabir disappeared in Magahar. A second important building there is the Bijak Building which has some inscriptions of the text of the Bijak on the marble outer walls. On the inside there is a photograph of Satguru Kabir on an altar, and in front of the photograph there is the original pair of wooden sandals worn by Satguru Kabir. The sandals show their age by being worn down and cracked in places, and the pegs for the toes are absent showing only the nails where they were supposed to be. Beside the sandals, there is an old wooden water jug which Satguru Kabir used. One side of the mouth is broken and it shows the wood grain. Both the sandals and water jug have become dark with age. Beside the altar lies a large iron Trishul (trident) of the famous yogi Gorakhnath. On the other side of the trident is a whole collection of large beaded wooden garlands that were used by Ramanand Swami. Because of these relics this spot is very sacred to the followers of Satguru Kabir.

Other buildings on the site include a library which stores the original manuscripts left by various Acharyas of the Kabir Panth. There are also living quarters and kitchen for various monks who live there, and for male guests to stay. The present Acharya of Kabir Chaura is Amrit Das (1985).

In June l984 the president of India, Gyani Zail Singh, visited Kabir Chaura to pay homage. He gave a beautiful lecture in Hindi on the importance of Satguru Kabir and his teachings for the modern age. He said that the teachings of Satguru Kabir should be translated into the various languages and be made available to the whole world. Many years previously Mahatma Gandhi also visited Kabir Chaura. Gandhiji’s mother was said to be a devotee of Satguru Kabir and Gandhiji, quite early in his life, was taught the various teachings of Satguru Kabir. He thus had a definite closeness and sympathy with the teachings of Satguru Kabir. He demonstrated this in his life. Ahimsa (non-violence) was central to the teachings of Satguru Kabir and this was also the central teaching of Mahatma Gandhi. Kabir Chaura also has a school which teaches Sanskrit and philosophy. On our arrival, an impromptu reception was held in which several speeches were made, and in which I was able to contribute in a small way. I did emphasize that there is need for scholars to be versed in the English language, so that people in the western countries can benefit from their teaching of the philosophy of Satguru Kabir.

It was in Kabir Chaura that Satguru Kabir wove the cloth that he sold in the market. He is known for giving away half of his earnings to the poor and needy. He gave food to the hungry and clothes to the naked, and that is what he practiced.

Although he spent most of his life in Varanasi he travelled to Magahar, in 1518, prior to his Nirvana. He had a large number of disciples who followed him to there. Among them were Vir Singh Baghel, the king of Varanasi, Ram Singh, the king of Rewa, Bijli Khan, the ruler of Gorakhpur, and Varanasi Naresh, also a king of Varanasi. They walked to Magahar, a distance of 220 kilometres. Satguru Kabir stayed in a hut which is called Kabir Kuti. That is where he surrendered his life, and the Hindus and Muslims found only flowers under the shroud.

During the time that Satguru Kabir lived in Varanasi, he travelled to various parts of lndia. He preached his message of universal brotherhood, non-violence, the giving up of all superstitious beliefs and practices, and to realize God within oneself. His teachings are contained in his bhajans (hymns) and sakhis (testimonies). Outside of India he is known to have visited Mecca, the holy city of Islam, and the Kaaba, which is the most holy shrine of the Muslims, and it is located in Mecca. The Kaaba houses a black stone, supposedly given by the angel, Gabriel, to Abraham. Muslims from all over the world turn towards Mecca five times a day to offer prayers. They are also advised that, at least once in their lifetime, make a visit to the holy city of Mecca.

There is a story that after travelling on foot all day, Satguru Kabir rested near the Kaaba with his legs towards it. The Muslims objected and told him to place his legs in another direction. He told them that he was tired and that they can move his legs. When they did so, they saw that the Kaaba also moved in that direction.

(To be continued)

Dr. Jagessar Das