One day, Kabir Saheb was walking near a holy lake when he saw Brahmans performing the pinda ceremony for the sake of their deceased ancestors. Kabir Saheb inquired from the Brahmans:
“Why are you pouring this rice into the lake?”
The Brahmans explained that they were offering the rice to their deceased ancestors so that they might live happily in the afterlife. On hearing this Kabir Saheb started pouring water into the lake. The Brahmans became very puzzled on seeing this. They asked Kabir Saheb:
‘Why are you pouring this water into the lake?”
Kabir Saheb replied:
“If the rice you are offering is reaching your deceased ancestors all the way in the netherworlds then surely this water will reach my garden down the street.”
One day, a Sufi Fakir (Jahaniyan Jahangasht) who had heard of the greatness of Kabir Saheb came to visit his hut. On reaching the hut he had seen a pig tied outside and was very repulsed. He said from outside the hut:
“Kabir! I took you to be a very great Fakir but as it turns out you are only a great Kaphir (infidel)!”
Kabir Saheb came out of his hut and addressed him:
“Oh pious Fakir, I have only kept this pig outside of my hut but you have taken it into your heart.”
Kabir Saheb explained to the Saint that by being disgusted and angry by the presence of the pig, his mind and heart have become impure whereas even though he himself had the pig kept outside of the hut, his mind remains pure from such thoughts. In this scenario, the hut represents the body which houses the soul. Many things in this world can approach the body such as impure thoughts and actions but if we let these come into the body and taint the mind, then we too become impure.
As Kabir Saheb’s greatness had spread, many holy men used to come to visit his hut. On one such occasion, a Saint had come to visit the hut of Kabir Saheb. On his way, he had seen the shop of a butcher and his slaughterhouse; he thought to himself:
“How can a pious man be living in such a neighbourhood?”
On reaching the hut of Kabir Saheb, he asked him:
“Oh Saheb, your hut is near a slaughterhouse, does this not disturb you?”
Kabir Saheb then replied to the Saint:
Kabeer: – Tumhaare Jhoompadee, Gal Katiyan Ke Paas; Jo Karenge So Bharenge, Tu Kyon Bhaye Udaas. “Your hut is beside a slaughterhouse; But people will reap as they sow, so why worry.”
That is to say, we should not disturb ourselves with the bad actions and deeds of others as they will reap the fruits of their bad deeds themselves. Instead, we should focus on our own betterment so that we may perform good actions and reap their good fruits.
The Temple of Jaganath
(Note: the following story is not consistent with the traditional origin story of the Jaganath Temple of Puri)
The very pious King, Indradaman (Indradymna), was visited by Lord Krishna himself in his dreams. In the dream, Lord Krishna explained to the King:
“Oh pious King Indradaman, a holy banyan tree is floating in the sea. The log is to wash ashore in the holy city of Puri in Odissa; retrieve this log and make of it my effigy and build a temple at that site where it will be found, this temple will be remembered as the Jaganath Temple.”
The King quickly made the arrangements accordingly and went to find the log by the sea shore. When he found it, he built the temple as he was instructed to by Lord Krishna himself. The finished temple was a grand and truly amazing site; unfortunately, having been built by the seashore, the sea’s thrashing waves very quickly tore the temple down. Like this, the King had the temple built three times only to have it be wiped out by the sea each time.
To resolve this dilemma, Kabir Saheb had visited the very city in which the King’s palace was located in the form of a Saint from the heavens and was received by the King himself. The King arranged for a beautiful seat for Kabir Saheb in his court and welcomed him. King Indradaman then explained to Kabir Saheb his problem:
“Oh Saheb, I have built a very grand temple in the name of Lord Jaganath only to have it destroyed by the sea’s mighty waves; how can I overcome this obstacle?”
Kabir Saheb reassured the King and told him to have the temple built once more. The King did just that, this time, the temple was an even grander sight to behold than ever. Just as it was finished, the ocean’s menacing waves started to thrash. Kabir Saheb went by the seashore and sat down, sticking his kubadee into the sand. Just then, the seas manifested into the form of a Brahmin and addressed Kabir Saheb:
“Oh Saheb, I have come to destroy this temple which houses Lord Jaganath but you stand in my way! On your presence, I no longer have the power to come forth and take my revenge. In Dwaapar Yuga, the same Lord Jaganaath (in the form of Lord Krishna) had stopped me from flooding the city of Dwaarka and in Treta Yuga (in the form of Lord Raam) he had compelled me to become still to build the bridge to Lanka, for this reason, I will take revenge by destroying this temple.”
Kabir Saheb replied:
“Oh Lord of the Seas, in Kali Yuga, the presence of this temple is necessary as it will relieve many jeevas of their sufferings. If it is necessary for you to take your revenge, you may go back to the city of Dwaarka and submerge it.”
The sea took back its regular form and went to Dwaarka to sink it. The Jaganath Temple had been saved and the King and all the people who had witnessed this sight celebrated as they had been blessed. When the King went to sleep the same day, Lord Krishna had instructed him to have another temple built where Kabir Saheb had placed his kubadee and stopped the sea; the sea would never crossed this kubadee henceforth. The King had the temple built, the temple still stands today and is a famous site amongst Kabir Panthis in India. Kabir Saheb told the King:
“I have come to allow the construction of this temple in order to promote the betterment of mankind. Let the concepts of untouchability, the four castes, and high or low status be forsaken upon entrance into this holy temple. In this temple, both the Brahmin and the Shudra will pray and eat together.”
It is known that even today in this temple, untouchability is not recognized and all devotees may enter and make use of the services provided by the temple’s langaar (cafeteria); all people, regardless of caste and status, pray and eat together in this temple.
Kabir Saheb’s ‘Bhandara’
As Kabir Saheb grew more and more famous, the local Brahmins became infuriated and conspired against him. They devised a plan to invite many holy men, Saint and Sages to the hut of Kabir Saheb for a grand bhandara (feast) thinking that since he would not be able to accommodate such a large crowd, he would be humiliated. They sent out the invitations and spread the message all over the country. On the day of the alleged feast, many holy men from all over the country who had heard of the greatness of Kabir Saheb flooded the streets of Kashi to partake in the grand feast. They all gathered around the hut of Kabir Saheb, at this point, the Brahmins thought that their plan had succeeded. Kabir Saheb came from his hut and was surprised to see such a large crowd. He understood that some Brahmins must have conspired against him. He left his hut and wandered off into the forest, his disciples were intrigued; even the Brahmins were puzzled. As time passed, they thought that Kabir Saheb might have left to avoid being humiliated. After a while, Kabir Saheb returned with vessels, pots and dishes all filled with delicious foods and sweat meats. All the Saints and holy men sat down in pangats (rows) and were served by Kabir Saheb’s disciples and devotees, there was miraculously no shortage of food for them. They then gave pravachans (sermons) and engaged in religious discussion and sang bhajans and mangals. As they left, the Saints were offered garlands of fragrant flowers and dhotis, they were all very impressed by the grand feast; even the Brahmins took part of the meal were in awe. Today, bhandaras are still held at that same spot, keeping the tradition alive, by the Kabir Chaura math.